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Monday, September 17, 2018

THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS IS A-CHANGING

Right off the bat I want to say that I am not going anywhere.  Far from it in fact.  However what I can say today is that The Fantasy Sports Boss will be changing and for what I think is for the better.  The first thing that will be different going forward is that the website will be no more or at least only used for special occasions.  The amount of work that needs to be put in daily on the site since its inception 9 years ago has become quite the chore and the cost to do everything involved has also developed into a burden as well.  While the site was the original ground zero debut of The Fantasy Sports Boss, you all have probably noticed my increase in the use of Twitter at @RotoBoss over the last year.  With my Twitter following growing quickly in that span, I felt this avenue was so much more efficient and a better resource to get the latest fantasy baseball and fantasy football news items and analysis out to you in the quickest manner.  It also allows me to connect directly to the audience as well as many of you exchange with me on a daily basis.  That has lessened the need for the website and in fact makes it kind of pointless in the sense features placed on there are just long-hand versions of what I am saying on Twitter.  So with that said, The Fantasy Sports Boss website will go into hibernation and maybe extinction while I ramp up my presence on Twitter and it will also allow me to delve into posting more Podcasts as well which I think is a plus.  In addition, some other things that WON'T change:

-My annual Fantasy Baseball, Fantasy Football, and NFL Draft Guides will still be produced and made better than ever every season.  They will be sold on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and also through my personal bookstore online.

-When fantasy baseball season comes around, the daily WRAPUP will live on.  Each morning I will post a link with the daily wrapup which was the feature that first put us on the map.  So don't worry my fantasy baseball friends.  It is not going anywhere.

-My access to you.  Follow me on Twitter @RotoBoss and you are just a click away from me answering any question you have.

So while we are changing a bit, I think it is for the better and so yours truly is not leaving you by any means.  It will just be a different forum but as they say, sometimes change is good.  I do want to thank all of you for putting this site on the map and making us the success we have turned out to be.  We couldn't have done it without you.


Sunday, September 16, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: DANNY AMENDOLA EXITS WITH UPPER BODY INJURY

Miami Dolphins wideout Danny Amendola was forced out of the team's Sunday game versus the New York Jets after suffering an apparent upper body injury.  Amendola took a hellacious shot to the chest after hauling in a second quarter pass and was in immediate pain while staying down writhing on the ground.  He was tended to by trainers and then exited the field.

Analysis:  Amendola is no stranger to injury and this looked to be a big hit.  Maybe Amendola got the wind knocked out of him but stay tuned for an update.

UPDATE:  Amendola was taken to the tent on the sidelines to possibly be evaluated for a concussion. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: EAGLES RB JAY AJAYI HEADS TO LOCKER ROOM WITH LEG INJURY

Coming off a big Week 1 performance, Philadelphia Eagles starting RB Jay Ajayi was forced out of the team's game versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with an apparent leg/knee injury.  Ajayi went out after taking a six-yard loss on an early carry and then was in clear pain as he quickly went to the locker room.  

Analysis:  This did not look good at all so already we have to wonder if Ajayi is seriously hurt.  Remember he has a bone-on-bone condition on one of his knees so it could be related.  Either way, Corey Clement now looks like a big potential add this week.  


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK 2 ISSUES: OPEN SEASON ON TITANS OFFENSE

Wow things are already looking downright putrid for the Tennessee Titans offense as they are down not one, not two, but now THREE offensive tackles for Sunday's game versus the ferocious pass rush of the Houston Texans and with tight end Delanie Walker done for the year and QB Marcus Mariota unable to adequately grip the football, this could get downright ugly.  Last night it was backup Titans tackle Dennis Kelly who ended up in the hospital with some sort of virus which follows the loss to starters Jack Conklin (knee) and Taylor Lewan (concussion) that has forced the team to turn to the practice squad to fill the ranks along the starting line.  With Jadeveon Clowney, J.J. Watt, and company licking their chops, those who own the Texans defense have as good a matchup as possible.  Just look away Tennessee fans as it will be comical out there. 






2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL LINEUP WATCH: AARON RODGERS (KNEE) TO START SUNDAY

                                                                

Despite missing almost the entire week of practice, Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers will START Sunday versus the Minnesota Vikings.

Analysis:  This is a matchup that doesn't make you feel good if you are a Rodgers owner like yours truly is.  The Vikings defense is very capable of knocking Rodgers out early and making this knee situation even worse and also the running part of his game figures to be non-existent as well which is another negative.  I picked up Case Keenum this past week off waivers and am tempted to start him versus the woeful Raiders as a hedge but will likely play this out in my mind until 1:00.  Way too many things can go wrong here.  

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL INJURY FALLOUT: PRIME CHANCE FOR TEVIN COLEMAN TO PUSH DEVONTA FREEMAN ASIDE

It has become increasingly clear over the last season or so that Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman might have reached a tipping point with his all-out hard-charging running style given the fact that he is now slated to miss the next 2-3 games with a knee injury.  Already having a history of concussions that go back to his college days, Freeman will miss games for the second season in a row due to knee trouble.  Still just 26, Freeman was knocked a bit coming out of college due to an upright running style that makes him a big target to hit by defenders and perhaps now we are seeing the physical fallout.  What this means now is that backup Tevin Coleman has a prime chance to shine and show what he could do for an extended run and this carries with it some terrific upside given the fact he has the ability to start for most teams in the NFL.  Coleman is a very good combination of speed and pass-catching ability and he should be graded as a strong RB 2 for the time that Freeman is out.  Also like in New Orleans with Alvin Kamara playing over the suspended Mark Ingram, Coleman has the chance to steal the gig if he can light things up.  Since Coleman is fresh with not a lot of wear on his tires, we like his chances to at least be an impact player for the next few weeks while Freeman is out. 


Saturday, September 15, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL POSTSCRIPT: CLAY BUCHHOLZ SP ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Count longtime veteran starter Clay Buchholz as another member of the pitching "reinvention" club as the 2014-17 punching bag turned in what can only be described as a surprisingly very good 98.1 innings with the Arizona Diamondbacks last season.  Things didn't start off so hot in 2018 for Buchholz however as he was forced to accept a minor league deal with Kansas City as a last resort effort to hang around in the majors and even that failed as he got his release on May 1st after the rebuilding Royals decided they had no use for him.  It was when Buchholz signed a minor league pact with the Arizona Diamondbacks soon after his Royals release that the statistical planets aligned for the righty as he shockingly pitched to a splendid 2.01 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and a .217 BAA.  Buchholz pitched so well and so in control (2.01 BB/9) that is hard to even believe this was the same pitcher who almost nobody wanted to even look at prior to the start of the 2018 season.  Having previously lost his strikeout ability (pathetic K/9 rates under 7.00 in three of his previous four MLB campaigns), Buchholz made it a point to rely more on his offspeed stuff and pitch to contact at a higher rate than ever before with Arizona.  Things obviously worked out for the better as Buchholz actually became a big mid-season add in fantasy baseball leagues given his string of dominant outings during the summer before the fun ended in mid-September due to a strained elbow.  Now it does need to be noted that Buchholz' .255 BABIP was well into the lucky range but even his FIP (3.40) and XIP (4.00) ERA's were very good to decent enough respectively.  We worry more about Buchholz' very small margin for error going forward due to the fact his average fastball velocity sank to a career-worst 90.7 last season despite all his positive results.  Thus, it is imperative Buchholz continue down his pitching-to-contact path and that old home run troubles don't resurface.  Finally, considering his age (35 this August) and increased propensity for getting injured, Buchholz should only be graded as an SP 5 for fantasy baseball purposes in 2019.  While it was a fun story last season, we suggest you not go out of your way hoping for an encore.
2019 PROJECTION:  9-7 3.97 ERA 1.22 WHIP 143 K 

Friday, September 14, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL GUYS I LIKE/HATE WEEK 2

Week 2 is already underway as Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals took care of the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday and so let's take a closer look at the remaining games to identify the players I like and hate in terms of fantasy football:

Falcons VS. Panthers:  Really like the potential of Devin Funchess in what could be a shootout-type game against an always leaky Atlanta secondary that lost Keanu Neal.  On the flip side, it seems like C.J. Anderson can be released outright in leagues as Christian McCaffrey is going to be force-fed the ball by Ron Rivera.

Chargers VS. Bills:  Mike Williams already looks like he is taking off in his sophomore campaign and Philip Rivers loves to sling it deep as we all know.  Meanwhile pretty much bench every Bills position player including LeSean McCoy for another week. 

Vikings VS. Packers:  I would go heavy on Randall Cobb for a second week in a row even if DeShon Kizer gets the start over Aaron Rodgers.  Kizer will be leery of throwing downfield given his struggles with INT's and this will play right into Cobb's strengths in the slot.  Along the same lines I would bench Geronimo Allison is Rodgers sits out.

Texans VS. Titans:  Derrick Henry has to earn back the confidence of the fantasy football community before using him again and his limited offensive game (almost a zero in the passing side of things) will be up against it versus what looks to be a potent Texans defense.  I would check out Jonnu Smith in place of Delanie Walker as QB Marcus Mariota will continue to fixate on his tight ends. 

Browns VS. Saints:  Dial up Duke Johnson in a matchup that will likely have the Browns playing catch-up in the second half and thus being forced to throw a bunch.  While the Saints did get completely torched on defense last week, they have a history of defending tight ends well which means look beyond David Njoku. 

Dolphins VS. Jets:  Quincy Enunwa seems to be the number 1 target of rookie QB Sam Darnold and this is especially the case near the red zone.  While the resurgent Jets defense doesn't rush the passer well, their athletic linebackers are very good in coverage which could put a cap on Danny Amendola's production. 

Chiefs VS. Steelers:  Both defenses should be benched in this one as the points and the passing offenses will be in high gear.  This applies more to the Steelers unit then the Chiefs' since the latter is not a highly-owned commodity.  Tough to find anyone to really bench here under the premise above.

Eagles VS. Buc's:  Sorry but I am not going to go back to the well on Ryan Fitzpatrick.  Remember that if you weren't there for the wedding, don't be there for funeral.  Meanwhile, Nelson Agholor is becoming quite the PPR gem and he is in line for another big day this week.

Colts VS. Redskins:  Jamison Crowder has a great opportunity to get his season going in a potential shootout versus a brutal Indy defense.  Stay the course with the guy.  We don't feel as strongly for Ryan Grant who needs to concretely show he can be a contributor before we throw him out there. 

Cardinals Rams:  With Larry Fitzgerald likely getting double-teamed, tight end Ricky Seals-Jones has a good chance to bust out with a decent game.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, we think Robert Woods is going to be the one who loses out the most in terms of numbers between he, Cooper Kupp, and Brandin Cooks. 

Lions VS. 49ers:  Dante Pettis should be dialed up everywhere with Marquise Goodwin likely out this week with a quad injury.  In terms of the Lions, Marvin Jones Jr. seems to be getting hurt the most with Kenny Golladay breaking out in Week 1. 

Raiders VS. Broncos:  Leery of Marshawn Lynch this week since the Broncos will likely stack the box after Derek Carr's horrendous performance a week ago.  Speaking of Carr's ugly outing, that puts a major hurt on Amari Cooper who needs to sit until he gets himself going.

Patriots VS. Jaguars:  Chris Hogan was brutal last week and now it is a tall order asking him to get on track versus Jalen Ramsey.  That also means Philip Dorsett is worth trying out again off his nice performance in Week 1. 

Giants VS. Cowboys:  It looks like Cole Beasley will be the main target of QB Dak Prescott and the Giants have a history of struggling to contain him.  Also with the massive amount of targets now at the disposal of QB Eli Manning, wideout Sterling Shepard is looking like he will be the odd man out. 

Seahawks VS. Bears:  Tough to depend on Chris Carson going against a ferocious Bears defensive line when Rashaad Penny remains involved.  One guy we do like is Brandon Marshall who is now the Seahawks' number 1 receiver. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL THURSDAY WRAPUP: BENGALS/RAVENS

-Bengals QB Andy Dalton is now 2-for-2 in putting up very good performances to begin the 2018 fantasy football as he completed 24-of-42 throws for 265 yards with 4 touchdowns in the team's win over the Baltimore Ravens.  Dalton has been exceptionally on target with his throws so far which is no small thing since he has been INT-prone at times in his career but clearly the fact he now has some fresh and healthy receiving weapons to join ace wideout A.J. Green has made all the difference for the guy.  Obviously in two QB formats you need to continue to ride out this Dalton run for as long as it goes and even in single passer leagues Dalton should at the very least be owned as a top backup.  We have seen good seasons out of Dalton in the past that have made an impact in fantasy football which makes what he is doing not a total surprise but keep in mind his history of inconsistency.  

-John Brown has made a nice initial impact with the Ravens as he caught four balls for 91 yards and a score Thursday night.  The history on Brown is that of a big-play threat who is in the mold of a DeSean Jackson and that goes right to their injury history as well.  Brown has much more value in standard leagues given his lack of big receptions campaigns but even in PPR he can work for now as a WR 3.

-Alex Collins fantasy football owners are getting very antsy now after seeing him carry the football just 12 times for 35 yards; while adding 3 catches for 55 more.  Buck Allen received a goal-line carry which he converted early in the game and that is a big potential problem long-term for Collins' fantasy football value.  I myself had good things to say about Collins coming into the season but now things look murky to the point he may only be able to be classified as a RB 3.  

-The bad Joe Flacco returned Thursday night as the Ravens QB completed 32-of-55 throws for 377 yards with 2 TD's, 2 INT's, and a lost fumble.  Flacco missed some easy throws throughout the game and once again held the football too long in taking sacks.  Already Flacco's opening game against Buffalo is being taken with a grain of salt given how bad the Bills are and the chorus for Lamar Jackson will only grow if this continues.  

-Bengals running back Joe Mixon gutted through a knee injury to rush for 84 yards on 21 carries; while catching one ball for 3 yards.  The knee injury cropped up early in the game which sent Twitter ablaze with concerned Mixon owners but he came back to finish it out.  Mixon has gotten bellcow work so far which his owners are happy about and the results have been very good.  Overall, the investment in Mixon has been a good one so far.

-Yeah I personally played the A.J. Green owner in the Experts League last night and it was tough to watch as the Bengals ace wideout caught 5 balls for 69 yards and 3 touchdowns.  Green hauled in the three scores in the first quarter and then went a bit quiet as the Ravens D doubled him.  Either way, it was a tough one to endure facing Green.  On the bigger picture, the health and impact of the Cincy supporting cast of offensive players has done nothing but help Green's upside.  


Thursday, September 13, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL INJURY WATCH

Lots of injury talk for fantasy football Week 2 as already many lineup are in flux.  Let's get to all the latest:

-Already with QB Aaron Rodgers not practicing this week and look quite iffy for Week 2, top wideout Davante Adams has been limited with soreness in his shoulder. Adams did say he felt "great" on Thursday which speaks to the likelihood he will be able to give it a go.  Still, if Rodgers were to miss the game, Adams would drop to WR 2/3 status.

-It didn't take long for New England Patriots running back Rex Burkhead to get hurt as the oft-injured speedster is in serious jeopardy of missing Week 2 due to a concussion.  This is par for the course for Burkhead who has been an intriguing running/receiving talent but he can't ever seem to be able to hold up to NFL pounding. 

On the flip side, top rookie back Sony Michel got in a limited practice on Thursday but he may not be able to get enough reps to be a go himself in Week 2.  That means James White all of a sudden becomes a major RB 2 asset if both Michel and Burkhead can't go. 

-Tennessee Titans wideout Corey Davis is dealing with some hamstring soreness that kept him from putting in a full practice on Thursday but he claimed he was good to go for Sunday versus the Houston Texans.  Davis finally looked like a potent wideout in Week 1 as he drew a high amount of targets from QB Marcus Mariota and the latter should be good to go himself as his thumb injury from Week 1 is healed enough for him to go out there. 

-Texans wideout DeAndre Hopkins was limited again Thursday with an injured foot but there are zero indications that he won't be able to go.  As a result, Hopkins will once again be the second wideout in all of fantasy football behind only Antonio Brown. 

-Marlon Mack continues to be plagued by the hamstring he injured in the preseason and he is iffy at bets to go in Week 2 because of it.  Even if Mack were to go, Nyhiem Hines and Jordan Wilkins will both be involved which keeps each as a RB 3/4. 

-Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is now dealing with an elbow injury after a concussion issue plagued him during the summer.  Big Ben doesn't seem at risk to be a no-go Sunday but his availability at practice tomorrow should tell more the story of what will take place with the veteran. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK 2 QUARTERBACK RANKINGS

Here are the fantasy football Week 2 quarterbacks rankings based on opposing matchups.

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


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL POSTSCRIPT: GREGORY POLANCO OUTFIELDER PITTSBURGH PIRATES

It was yet another year of unfulfilled expectations for Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco in 2018 as his first half was marked by some horrendous batting slumps and then was followed by him missing the last month of the season due to a deep knee bone bruise that overshadowed a decent second half with the bat.  Then once Polanco was officially done for year with the knee injury, he surprisingly underwent surgery to remedy a dislocated left shoulder in the middle of September.  Having made his debut at the age of 22 back in 2014, Polanco looked destined to be the next version of his then-teammate Andrew McCutchen in terms of possessing five-tool ability and in the process reaching a top-tier status in yearly fantasy baseball leagues.  Alas, it has been nothing but a bumpy road since that time for Polanco as ongoing injuries, inconsistent offensive numbers, and a reputation for not being the hardest worker have made him one of the more volatile players to own in the game.  With that said, Polanco's talent is still obvious and 2018 was a decent overall season as he hit 22 home runs, stole 12 bases, and collected 81 RBI.  Polanco has established a 20-25 home run baseline to go with 10-15 steals which is certainly quite valuable in today's fantasy baseball but there are also negatives in terms of a batting average that has yet to top the .258 he hit in 2016.  The average red flag is certainly being dragged down by a putrid .218 career mark versus lefties but his .263 output against righties is certainly nothing to write home about.  Digging into the numbers a bit more, Polanco is a very rare and strange case of a player who has good speed and who also draws walks (excellent 11.4 BB/9 in 2018) but who for some reason can't reach .300 in the BABIP realm.  With strikeouts not overly concerning either (generally in the 20.0 range in his career), Polanco is actually doing what he should be doing in terms of his approach at the dish but the batted ball luck has not been there.  That could certainly change in 2019 and with some good health, Polanco may finally put forth that upper-level campaign we all have waited for.  While the odds say that won't happen, Polanco can still be a decent OF 2 capable of a 23/12-ish output in homers/steals to go with decent counting numbers in runs and RBI.  Any average uptick would then be treated as a bonus.  If you can snag Polanco at an OF 3 price (and you should be able to given the negative narrative surrounding his stock), then you did well.
2019 PROJECTION:  .263 24 HR 86 RBI 84 R 14 SB  

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK 2 ISSUE: INJURY AND BAD HISTORY VERSUS VIKES CLOUD AARON RODGERS; WEEK 2 OUTLOOK

If there were one person who could write a book (non-fiction and nothing of the fantasy variety) about how to try and stop Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers from ruining a game for your team under a hail of passing yards and touchdowns, Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer would be the guy.  Going back to his days as the team's defensive coordinator and now as the coach, Zimmer has been a decent source of frustration for Rodgers not only in putting a cap on his numbers but also through injury (having been the team that knocked him out with a broken collarbone a year ago).  It is under this premise where we take a closer look at what to do with Rodgers for Week 2 in fantasy football.  Ordinarily you wouldn't waste one second deciding whether to start Rodgers or not but this week we at least need to have a discussion considering Rodgers' shaky history versus Zimmer defenses and now for the fact he is dealing with a knee injury suffered last week versus the Chicago Bears.  Rodgers already failed to practice on Wednesday as he rests the knee and GReen Bay head coach Mike McCarthy has said he is not not anywhere near 100 percent as of this past Monday.  So while the thinking is that Rodgers will be able to go, there is some risk involved here as the Vikes defense looks as potent as ever and one big hit could send him out of the game and ruin his weekly point total.  Now yours truly is invested here as I own Rodgers in the Experts League and his big second half last week allowed me to win my opener.  However I picked up Denver Broncos QB Case Keenum off waivers today and given his very good matchup versus the Oakland Raiders in Week 2, I have myself covered in case I decide to go away from Rodgers.  Again,. I would never ordinarily think of not going with Rodgers in any given week but considering the issues I noted earlier, the conversation should be had.  

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL POSTSCRIPT: SEAN MANAEA SP OAKLAND A'S

It was a tale of two halves for Oakland A's starter Sean Manaea in 2018 as he opened up the first month of the season with arguably one of the most impressive outings of the year when he no-hit the Boston Red Sox with 10 strikeouts and that splendid performance helped fuel him to a composite 3.42 ERA and .212 BAA prior to the All-Star Break.  The second half would be nothing but frustration for Manaea however as his ERA during that span shot up to 4.14 and the BAA was not so hot either at an ugly .284.  The bottom then completely fell out in August when Manaea hit the DL with a left shoulder impingement and that ailment ultimately led to season-ending arthroscopic surgery in early September.  As far as the overall numbers were concerned, Manaea actually had a really nice season as he logged an ERA of 3.59 and a WHIP of 1.08 which played well for his fantasy baseball owners.  However if you were to dig deeper on the numbers, you would see that Manaea really didn't pitch as well as his surface ratios suggested.  For one thing, Manaea's .247 BABIP was well into the "lucky" range and when adjusted, his FIP (4.26) and XFIP (4.33) ERA's were quite shaky.  In addition, Manaea didn't miss a lot of bats (his no-hitter notwithstanding) as shown by a very poor 6.05 K/9.  With Manaea not having the ability to extricate himself from trouble via the strikeout, he could see a lot more trouble in 2019 if his BABIP luck goes back toward the mean as expected.  Add in an elevated 1.18 HR/9 and Manaea is looking like a sizable regression candidate this season.
2019 PROJECTION:  14-10 3.85 ERA 1.17 WHIP 155 K  

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK 2 ISSUES: NO COMMITTEE FOR CARLOS HYDE

As 2018 fantasy football drafts were just getting underway this past summer, I went on record saying how Cleveland Browns running back Carlos Hyde was shaping up as an excellent value play given my belief about how talks of a three-headed committee involving he, rookie Nick Chubb, and pass-catching back Duke Johnson Sr. were overblown.  I felt the Browns singing Hyde to a sizable free agent contract suggested they wanted him to be the primary runner and coming off a terrific 2017 where he showed decent improvement both in running and catching the football, reduced draft ADP was presenting the guy as someone well worth investing in.  Fast forward to present day and everything I said about Hyde over the summer came to fruition in Week 1 as the breakout in carries came out looking as follows:

Hyde:  22 carries for 62 yards and 1 TD
Chubb:  3 carries for 21 yards
Johnson Sr.:  5 carries for 17 yards

As you can see, it was pretty much Hyde dominating carries as Chubb and Johnson Sr. both made cameo appearances toting the football.  While Hyde was not great in terms of average, he picked up where he left off in terms of dominating touches in the preseason as well which means he is the guy to own and carries firm RB 2 value in all fantasy football leagues for the time being.  Now Hyde should be treated as such going in Week 2 and he should even see an uptick in receptions as well given the gains he made in that area last season.  So while Hyde won't win you any leagues by any means, he surely looks like someone who can do his part in claiming your league title. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL MONDAY NIGHT WRAPUP

Already Week 1 is in the books in 2018 fantasy football as Monday brought up the Detroit Lions absolutely getting destroyed at home by the New York Jets; while the Oakland Raiders came up short in Jon Gruden's return to the team also at home versus the Los Angeles Rams.  As always, let's get to the pertinent fantasy football happenings.

-New York Jets fans you finally have a quarterback.  While things didn't start off well as rookie QB Sam Darnold's first pass was picked off and returned for a score, the USC product was terrific from that point onward in completing 16-of-21 throws for 198 yards and two TD's with the one pick.  Darnold showed great poise throughout the game and deftly scrambled out to complete throws on the run to add another dimension to the Jets passing attack.  Despite it being only one game, Darnold should be added where available as he could gain QB 1 value before too long if this keeps up.

-Not to be overlooked in Sam Darnold's big debut was the smashing performance of running back Isaiah Crowell who rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns on just 10 carries in his first game with the team after coming off in free agency.  What is interesting is that Bilal Powell drew the start and got more snaps than Crowell and so this looks like a strict 50/50 committee despite the latter's big game.  That keeps both Crowell and Powell as firm low-end RB 2's.

-Quincy Enunwa made his own return to the Jets after missing all of 2017 with a neck injury and he seemed to quickly become Sam Darnold's number 1 target as he caught 6 balls for 63 yards and one touchdown.  We saw Enunwa do some good things in 2016 in a WR 3 sense and that seems to be where he resides for now in terms of 2018 fantasy football. 

-You couldn't draw up as worse Week 1 for Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford who completed 27-of-46 passes for 286 yards with 1 TD and FOUR INT's while getting banged up on numerous occasions.  At one point Stafford went to the bench after taking a big hit in the first half as veteran backup Matt Cassel came on in relief but he was able to return to what was an epic blowout.  This looks like simply a rough game for Stafford as he has been incredibly productive and consistent throughout his underrated career and so don't cut him loose or jump to any massive conclusions here. 

-While Golden Tate caught the one TD pass from Matthew Stafford, second-year man Kenny Golladay was very good himself in catching 7 balls for 114 yards Monday night.  We all know Golladay has big-play potential and his presence will likely do more damage to Marvin Jones Jr. than Tate.  If available, Golladay should be added where available. 

-The Lions run game was a complete joke last season and so far it seems nothing has changed as starter LeGarrette Blount rushed for just -3 yards on 4 carries before injuring his knee.  While Theo Riddick remains the locked-in receiving back, rookie Kerryon Johnson now has a prime chance to steal the starter's gig with Blount looking unlikely to go in Week 2. 

-Picking up from his insane fantasy football MVP campaign in 2017, Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley was a monster again in Week 1 as he rushed for 108 yards on 23 carries, while adding 3 catches for another 39 yards and a touchdown.  If you own Gurley, you should at WORST make your league's playoffs. 

-Just when you thought Matthew Stafford took the title of worst quarterbacking performance for Week 1, the Oakland Raiders' Derek Carr gave him a run for the money as he completed 29-of-40 passes for 303 yards and 3 INT's.  While the overall accuracy was good, when Carr missed it was a complete disaster.  While Carr looked like a star in 2015, he has really taken a firm step backwards in his development since then and so he has little to no current fantasy football value.

-Raiders tight end Jared Cook had a game for the ages Monday night despite his QB's struggles as he hauled in 9 passes for 180 yards.  Cook has always had uncanny athletic ability for a tight end but never has found much consistency.  It looks like Jon Gruden wants to feature Cook however and so he should be right there as the top add this week and that goes for those who owned stock in Jimmy Graham or Delanie Walker. 

-Another year and another letdown from Raiders wideout Amari Cooper who managed just one catch for 9 yards to go with one carry for another 9.  This is a reminder of how bad Cooper was a in 2017 and despite his terrific overall talent, he looks set to disappoint again this season. 


Monday, September 10, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK 1 INJURY REPORT

Monday is Injury Report day where we look at some of the key injuries from the games the day before in terms of its potential impact for Week 2.  Let's get right to it.

-Obviously the biggest injury news of the day was the knee injury suffered by Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers but amazingly, he came back to the field for the second half and engineered a monumental comeback that included three scoring tosses.  Rodgers admitted after the game there was some "damage" in the knee and head coach Mike McCarthy spoke on Monday about how he has to be looked at by the doctor's again in terms of whether he can go for Week 2.  The key is what the actual damage is and this is no doubt going to remove the running aspect of Rodgers' game which is a decent negative in terms of his immediate fantasy football outlook.  Also the Packers have to weigh whether sitting Rodgers for a game or two to fix the issue is worth it long-term here.  For now all Rodgers owners should be looking at Case Keenum on the waiver wire as a good replacement option. 

-Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette will have to try and come back from Sunday's hamstring injury which has his Week 2 status a bit cloudy but backup T.J. Yeldon played well in his place and is right there as one of the top adds off waivers.  As far as Fournette is concerned, he has a history of being a slow healer and so his status for Week 2 can't be anything better than 50/50.

-Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota suffered an elbow injury that knocked him out early in the team's opener to the Miami Dolphins.  While head coach Mike Vrabel said Monday it seemed like Mariota would be all right, he took is likely looking at a 50/50 deal for Week 2 which means the woeful Blaine Gabbert would be under center.  The latter would be very bad news for Corey Davis and Rishard Matthews.

-You can already go ahead and cut loose Titans tight end Delanie Walker who is done for the season after suffering a broken ankle and ligament damage in the joint Sunday.  Jonnu Smith will take over for Walker and he has some deep league appeal given his decent receiving ability. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK 1 WRAPUP

-On a day that included some shockingly great performances by passers who were almost completely ignored in summer fantasy football drafts, Baltimore Ravens veteran Joe Flacco had a day in the park as he completed 25-of-34 passes for 236 yards and 3 touchdowns.  Clearly the additions of John Brown and Michael Crabtree (one TD a piece) boosted Flacco in this one and this was a good way for him to quiet the Lamar Jackson chorus for a bit.  Despite the big game, Flacco is still just a backup QB in single passer leagues but he may be worth a look now in two-passer setups.

-Even the biggest fantasy football novice knew that Buffalo Bills QB Nathan Peterman was no good and he actually made it a debate about whether his outing in Week 1 was just as bad as his five-INT meltdown in his one 2017 start.  Peterman completed just 5-of-18 throes for 24 hours and two INT's before mercifully being sent to the bench.  This has to be the Josh Allen show now but the bigger story has to be how running back LeSean McCoy was completely bottled up in facing stacked defenders in the box.  Anyone who owns stock in McCoy can't be feeling very good about their investment.

-The sophomore campaign of Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon is off to a smashing start as he rushed for 95 yards and a score with one TD; while also adding 5 catches for 54 yards.  This is the kind of monster PPR output expected of Mixon in his disappointing rookie campaign but the talent was never in question here.  Those who bought low on Mixon this summer are already well ahead of the game.

-It was a very successful return to the field for New York Giants ace wideout Odell Beckham Jr. Sunday as he hauled in 11 balls for 115 yards in the team's loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.  After missing almost all of 2017 due to a broken ankle, Beckham looked none the worse for wear in quickly getting back on the same page with QB Eli Manning.

-Typical Tom Brady Sunday as the ageless wonder completed 26-of-39 throws for 277 yards with 3 TD and 1 INT.  No matter how old he gets, Brady doesn't seem to ever drop-off statistically and 2018 looks no different.  After Aaron Rodgers, Brady is right in the conversation as the second-best QB in all of fantasy football.

-We spoke for much of the summer about how Houston Texans QB DeShaun Watson was concerning to us coming back from the second torn ACL going back to his college days and he struggled badly Sunday as he completed just 17-of-34 throws for 176 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT.  Clearly there is a rust factor here as Watson hardly played at all in the preseason and he missed almost all of 2018 after that amazing but short-lived debut run.  Have patience here as Watson looked good running in picking up 40 yards on 8 carries but there could be some short-term growing pains.

-Having lost his favorite receiving target in Marquise Goodwin early in the game, San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo was terrible Sunday in a tough matchup versus a top Minnesota Vikings defense.  Garoppolo completed just 15-of-33 throws for 261 yards with 1 TD and 3 INT but we can overlook this one a bit given the level of defensive competition.  Still, we advised you all not to pay teh exorbitant cost on Garoppolo in drafts this summer as he could be going through some growing pains in his first full season as a starter.

-While he was bottled up for most of the day, New York Giants superstar rookie running back Saquon Barkley got his big-play TD as part of his 18 carries for 106 yards and a score outing versus the tough Jaguars defense.  He also added two catches for 22 yards in showing off his pass receiving game as well.  Considering that Barkley still went for over 100 rushing yards against the toughest defense in the league, bright days are ahead.

-Cincinnati Bengals ace wideout A.J. Green had a typical day at the office for him as he caught 6 balls for 92 yards and a score versus the Indianapolis Colts.  With the Bengals now having some weapons to help Green out in the offense, he could be headed back toward 80-plus catches and around 10 scores.

-It was the stuff of legend Sunday night as Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers took his fantasy football owners on a roller coaster of emotions.  First it looked like Rodgers was done for the season before even playing a half as he injured a knee and then went to the locker room, on a cart. Rodgers would return for the second half though and would throw three touchdown passes to lead the Pack to the win over the Chicago Bears.  Overall Rodgers completed 20-of-30 passes for 286 yards and the 3 scores basically on one leg.  While Rodgers may be limited in practice this week, he should be ready to go in a tough matchup versus the Minnesota Vikings.

-Packers wideout Randall Cobb was the main target of Rodgers in the great second half comeback last night and the slot man looks to once again be a top WR 3 who could maybe reach 2 status in PPR formats.  Cobb wound up catching 9 ballsfor 142 yards and a score and for now should be placed as a firm every-week guy as long as Rodgers is upright. 

-Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton has never been someone I actively chased in yearly fantasy football given his inconsistency the last two seasons and the fact only once in his career has he been a big passing numbers guy.  Sunday was no different as he completed 17-of-26 throws for just 161 yards but Newton did pick up a rushing score in rushing for 58 yards on 13 carries.  As always, it comes down to what Newton does in the run game that makes a big difference in his weekly outings and I still would not feel comfortable having him as my weekly starter. 

-With the Seattle Seahawks having seen tight end Jimmy Graham leave for Green Bay and ace wideout Doug Baldwin not even be able to finish the opener, veteran wideout Brandon Marshall may have a fantasy football role to look into as he caught 3 balls for 4 yards and a score.  While the last two seasons have been rough, Marshall could be back as a number 1 wideout in an offense if Baldwin sits this week.  Pick him up.

-It was a mixed bag outing for Tennessee Titans wideout Corey Davis on Sunday as he hauled in 6 balls but for just 62 yards.  Now with QB Marcus Mariota banged up, Davis remains a shaky WR 3 going forward.

-Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey had arguably the most impressive preseason of any offensive player in football which caused his stock to soar in summer drafts but he was back to his more usual self on Sunday in catching 6 balls for 45 yards and adding 50 yards rushing on 10 carries with a lost fumble.  Ron Rivera has made it a point to get McCaffrey more involved in the run game but C.J. Anderson got 7 carries and of course Cam Newton got the rushing score.  McCaffrey is still a top RB 2 in PPR formats but in standards his weekly output may not be as conducive to that format. 

-The Miami Dolphins backfield setup was a hot topic during the summer drafting season and the opener gave credence to the notion that Frank Gore would split work with Kenyan Drake.  Gore wound up rushing for 61 yards on 9 carries as he showed terrific burst and cutting ablility despite his advanced age and he was much better on that side of things than Drake who rushed for just 48 yards on 14 carries.  Now Drake did add 3 catches for 18 yards which helps in PPR but this looks like a frustrating setup for the latter. 

-I said all week that Dolphins wideout Kenny Stills was a big play with Devante Parker out injured and he came through by catching 4 balls for 106 yards and 2 scores.  Stills has always had a knack for scoring touchdowns and Sunday was no different.  He remains on the WR radar in all leagues. 

-Let's not go overboard with Seattle Seahawks tight end Will Dissley who known for his blocking in college and not much else.  Yes the 3 catches for 105 yards and a score was a nice surprise Sunday but Dissley likely just caught Denver defenders off guard.  For now just monitor Dissley's progress but an add is not yet needed. 

-Alex Smith has a new favorite toy in the Washington Redskins offense and it is running back Chris Thompson as the latter caught 6 balls for 63 yards and a score; while also adding 5 carries for another 65 on the ground.  Thompson has already stamped himself as a very good RB 2 in PPR formats and this just confirms such a notion. 


Sunday, September 9, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: LEONARD FOURNETTE (HAMSTRING) TO GIVE IT A GO IN SECOND HALF

Updating an earlier item, Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette will give it a go to begin the second half after getting his injured hamstring wrapped. 

Analysis:  Good news I guess for Fournette's owners but no guarantee this will work.  Also the Jags have been in control throughout the game as well so maybe no need to throw Fournette back out there as well. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: MARQUISE GOODWIN EXITS WITH INJURED QUAD

San Francisco 49ers wideout Marquise Goodwin was forced out of the team's opener versus the Minnesota Vikings with an injured quad and is questionable to return. 

Analysis:  Just minutes after Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette exited with his own injury, Goodwin goes out with the quad.  Having failed to even catch a pass prior, we could be a looking at a complete waste of a game for Goodwin depending on if he can return.  There were great expectations attached to Goodwin this season given his rapport with Jimmy Garoppolo but now his immediate outlook is dicey at best. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: LEONARD FOURNETTE NOW HEADED TO LOCKER ROOM, DOUBTFUL TO RETURN

Updating an earlier item, Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette went back into the team's locker room due to the hamstring injury he suffered in the second quarter of the team's game versus the New York Giants.  Fournette was first being stretched out on the field but then quickly went back to the locker room when that failed.  T.J. Yeldon is now working as the primary back. 

Analysis:  Wow already.  Fournette is a magnificent talent but can't ever stay healthy.  Yeldon would be the add this week if Fournette were to miss time but obviously this is an early blow to all the LSU product's owners. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: LEONARD FOURNETTE HEADS OFF WITH APPARENT INJURY

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette hobbled off the field with an apparent hamstring injury during the first quarter of the team's game versus the New York Giants and is uncertain to return. 

Analysis:  Forunette was off to a nice start before limping off clutching his hamstring and so his loss would be big.  He has a long history of injuries though so this is also par for the course here.  Stay tuned for an update.  


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK 1 LINEUP ISSUES: CAMERON MEREDITH AND RONALD JONES INACTIVE HAVE MAJOR RAMIFICATIONS

Some surprises came down the pike when it came to the inactive lists for the early 1:00 games and the two that really stood out were New Orleans Saints wideout Cameron Meredith and Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie back Ronald Jones being placed in street clothes.  Now in terms of Meredith, I said from the beginning to pick up rookie wideout Tre'Quan Smith who was excellent all summer and really opened the Saints coaching staff's eyes.  Smith could have a big Week 1 and then stake his firm hold on a starting WR 1 role in a loaded offense.  Meanwhile, the Buc's will now make Peyton Barber a workhorse back which means he should be started everywhere in Week 1 as a big runner/receiving option.  Two guys I told you all summer looked like major values and the early inactive news point both in that direction. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: NO CHARGES FOR LeSEAN McCOY

Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy will not be charged due to a lack of evidence from the offseason home invasion of his former girlfriend and ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports he is not likely going to be suspended for any games by the NFL as well. 

Analysis:  McCoy has a terrible Week 1 matchup versus the Baltimore Ravens and he needs Josh Allen to get under center quickly in order to not have so many stacked boxes to face but at least he is in the clear in terms of possible charges.  Try and avoid his Week 1 matchup and then proceed with him as just a RB 2 beyond. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK 1 LINEUP NEWS: WILL FULLER (HAMSTRING) OFFICIALLY OUT

Updating an earlier item, Houston Texans wideout Will Fuller is OUT Sunday due to a hamstring injury. 

Analysis:  Apparently things didn't go well during warmups as Fuller can't give it a go.  Fuller has a world of talent but he has never been able to stay healthy going back to his college days.  His loss is a big one for his fantasy football owners in an anticipated shootout versus the New England Patriots on Sunday.  

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK 1 LINEUP NEWS: JOSH GORDON (HAMSTRING) TO START SUNDAY

Despite battling a sore hamstring leading up to the game, Cleveland Browns wideout Josh Gordon will start Sunday for the team versus the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Analysis:  Gordon has had a tough offseason as he missed extensive time in the summer with off-the-field issues and now is battling the bum hammy.  While he is starting today, Gordon will be on a snap count and there is brutal weather in Cleveland which will make throwing tough.  Your best course of action then is to bench Gordon if you can.  

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK 1 TIGHT END RANKINGS

Here are the fantasy football Week 1 tight end rankings based on opposing matchups.

1.  Rob Gronkowski
2.  Jimmy Graham
3.  Travis Kelce
4.  Trey Burton
5.  Delanie Walker
6.  Jordan Reed
7.  Kyle Rudolph
8.  Evan Engram
9.  David Njoku
10. Jack Doyle
11. Greg Olsen
12. Austin Seferian-Jenkins
13. Ben Watson
14. Ricky Seals-Jones
15. George Kittle
16. O.J. Howard
17. Tyler Eifert
18. Ryan Griffin
19. Eric Ebron
20. Cameron Brate
21. Jared Cook
22. Antonio Gates
23. Charles Clay
24. Mike Gesicki
25. Jake Butt


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK 1 WIDE RECEIVER RANKNGS

Here are the fantasy football Week 1 wide receiver rankings based on opposing matchups.

1.  DeAndre Hopkins
2.  Keenan Allen
3.  Antonio Brown
4.  Michael Thomas
5.  A.J. Green
6.  Davante Adams
7.  Adam Thielen
8.  Stefon Diggs
9.  Odell Beckham Jr.
10. Larry Fitzgerald
11. Tyreek Hill
12. Golden Tate
13. Chris Hogan
14. Jarvis Landry
15. Mike Evans
16. Amari Cooper
17. Brandin Cooks
18. Emmanuel Sanders
19. Marvin Jones Jr.
20. JuJu Smith-Schuster
21. Demaryuis Thomas
22. Doug Baldwin
23. Robert Woods
24. Allen Robinson
25. Corey Davis
26. Jamison Crowder
27. Cooper Kupp
28. Josh Gordon
29. Michael Crabtree
30. Marquise Goodwin
31. Kenny Stills
32. Devin Funchess
33. Mike Williams
34. Pierre Garcon
35. Robby Anderson
36. John Ross
37. Danny Amendola
38. John Brown
39. Kenny Golladay
40. Jody Nelson
41. Sterling Shepard
42. Keelan Cole
43. Sammy Watkins
44. Randall Cobb
45. Tyler Lockett


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK 1 LINEUP NEWS: TEXANS WIDEOUT WILL FULLER (HAMSTRING) UNLIKELY TO BE A GO

                                                              

Houston Texans wideout Will Fuller will test out his injured hamstring during pregame warmups but the expectation among various reports is that he will be OUT Sunday. 

Analysis:  If Fuller does sit as anticipated, this is a big loss for his fantasy football owners as he developed a tremendous rapport with QB DeShaun Watson a year ago and the game versus the New England Patriots figures to be a major shootout.  With Fuller out and DeAndre Hopkins getting double-teamed, Bruce Ellington and tight end Ryan Griffin should have a chance to be decent DSF options and for those in deeper leagues. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK 1 LINEUP NEWS: DEVANTE PARKER (FINGER) OUT SUNDAY

                                                                  

As anticipated given the doubtful label heading into Sunday, Miami Dolphins wideout Devante Parker will be OUT due to an injured finger.

Analysis:  Those in PPR formats should be all over Danny Amendola as he will get a bunch of targets from QB Ryan Tannehill working in the slot and also rookie tight end Mike Gesicki has a golden opportunity to hit the ground running with a solid receiving game as well.  In addition, look for running back Kenyan Drake to be heavily involved in catching passes out of the backfield which makes him a prime RB 2.  For those who are in standard formats, Kenny Still is the big-play man in the Miami passing offense and should have a good chance to reach the end zone given the injuries on the Tennessee defense.  


Saturday, September 8, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK 1 GUYS I LIKE/HATE EACH GAME

Today we unveil a new feature where yours truly zeroes in on guys I LIKE or HATE in each game of the NFL slate in terms of fantasy football.  This will mostly be a list of guys who are not considered top guys and possibly available on waiver wires since we all love Antonio Brown or David Johnson every game.  So let's get to it:

Steelers VS. Browns:  I LIKE David Njoku a ton for the Cleveland Browns not only for this game but long-term.  This optimism will only go up once Baker Mayfield is installed as the starting QB.  One guy I HATE is Jarvis Landry who I don't think sniffs 100 catches this season given the proclivities of Tyrod Taylor under center and the vast arsenal of receiving weapons on the Browns.  

Bengals VS. Colts:  I LIKE John Ross to finally show his breakneck speed and big-play ability in a game that could have shootout tendencies.  On the flip side, avoid Eric Ebron as I think Colts QB Andrew Luck will be keying on more on Jack Doyle.  

Titans VS. Dolphins:  I really like Miami Dolphins wideout Danny Amendola and especially in PPR formats with Devante Parker our injured.  Try to avoid Corey Davis as Delanie Walker and Rishard Matthews figure to be the primary receivers for QB Marcus Mariota.  

49ers VS. Vikings:  In another game that could have a ton of points, Marquise Goodwin should get a ton of looks from QB Jimmy Garoppolo and this is especially true with since the 49ers will likely be coming from behind later in the game.  This scenario hurts 49ers running back Alfred Morris who doesn't catch the football and could be looking at a quiet game.

Houston VS. New England:  James White is going to catch 5-8 balls for sure in this one as the Texans and Pats will be marching up and down the field all game long.  Just be sure not to go overboard with Philip Dorsett after a decent preseason.  The guy stinks.

New Orleans VS. Tampa Bay:  Peyton Barber should be started everywhere as the Buc's will lean on the run game to try and keep this one close and that also means a bunch of short throws from QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.  Also, while I do like the long-term outlook on Tre'Quan Smith, Cameron Meredith seems like he is healthy enough now to hold him off.  

Jacksonville VS. Giants:  Keelan Cole is now the new number 1 wideout for the Jaguars with Marqise Lee out for the season and his skill set torched the Giants defense a year ago.  I do think Sterling Shepard should be benched for Week 1 just to see how things play out given the massive competition for catches on the Giants now.  

Buffalo VS. Ravens:  I am not liking most offensive players in this one but John Brown seems ready to do his big-play thing again now that he has his health in order.  Just do yourself a favor and bench anyone in a Bills uniform who plays offense.  

Kansas City VS. Chargers:  Mostly big-name players all around in this one but I do think Mike Williams is well worth starting since the shootout scenario is in play here and he is the team's top red-zone weapon.  Meanwhile, Antonio Gates needs to work off a bunch of rust before we go down that road again.  

Seattle VS. Denver:  I'm a Chris Carson fan all the way and he needs to be in your lineup Week 1 since the Broncos are horrible stopping the run.  Just be careful with Tyler Lockett who does have a prime spot now in the Seattle offense but needs to prove he can do it before entering the circle of trust.  

Washington VS. Arizona:  Jamison Crowder will catch 80 balls at least this season.  Mark it down.  Just don't fool around too much with Adrian Peterson.  

Dallas VS. Carolina:  Michael Gallup looks to honestly be the only competent receiver on the Cowboys this season which is telling how bad this group is.  That makes him a decent play in PPR leagues.  Just leave Dak Prescott on the bench for the reasons stated above.

Chicago VS. Green Bay.  Liking Randall Cobb a bunch now that he is healthy and working the slot with Aaron Rodgers slinging it.  Mitchell Trubisky has all the toys now but again we got to see him do before diving in.

Jets VS. Detroit:  Bilal Powell has always been underrated and he can also catch the ball very well which will help in a game that could see a bunch of points.  Just don't go back to the well on Kenny Golladay just yet before seeing if there is enough leftover behind Marvin Jones Jr. and Golden Tate.  

Rams VS. Oakland:  Jared Goff is the real deal and he will show that once again this season as he looks out at a tremendous batch of receivers.  As far as Oakland is concerned, Marshawn Lynch is gimpy and running into a fierce Rams defensive line that is legit.  


Friday, September 7, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK 1 INJURY REPORT: CHARGERS DEFENSE A SHELL OF ITSELF VERSUS CHIEFS

Friday is always Injury Report day in the world of fantasy football so let's get to the pertinent health questions going into Week 1.

-On paper the Los Angeles Chargers had one of the best defenses in the NFL and they often went as a top-five unit in summer fantasy football drafts.  That defense has been decimated however going into Week 1 as top corner Jason Verrett was already now and now star pass rusher Joey Bosa will join him on the sidelines.  With the Kansas City Chiefs and their plethora of offensive players staring back across from the Sunday, the Chargers defense now looks like a shaky play.  In fact, this one has shootout written all over it. 

-Miami Dolphins wideout Devante Parker is doubtful to go on Sunday which means Kenny Stills takes on firm WR 3 appeal and rookie tight end Mike Gesicki has a prime opportunity to come firing out of the gates with his massive potential.  Both guys should be started. 

-Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Vance McDonald will join holdout running back Le'Veon Bell on the sidelines Sunday which removes two key weapons for QB Ben Roethlisberger.

-All signs point to the knee injury suffered by Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman Thursday night as nothing major but still we have to be a bit concerned about how banged up he has been going back to the start of 2017.  Freeman runs very hard and upright as well which lead to big hits and the injury problems and so this is something that bears watching going forward.

-Cleveland Browns wideout Josh Gordon is no longer on the injury report despite being limited by a sore hamstring this past week but he will remain on a snap count according to head coach Hue Jackson.  This makes Gordon a very risky WR 3 in all formats as it makes it imperative he scores on the few plays he will be in for. 

-Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack is questionable for Sunday with a sore hamstring of his own but he got in practices both Thursday and Friday.  If Mack does play, he will split work with Jordan Wilkins which makes them both non-starters in terms of fantasy football usage.  If Mack sits, Wilkins has some FLEX appeal but not much. 

-Hoston Texans wideout Will Fuller will be a game-time call with his own hamstring injury but the signs point to him sitting out.  Like with Gordon, Fuller would be on a snap count if he does play so it is best to go with more stable options for Week 1.

-New England Patriots rookie running back Sonny Michel is questionable for Sunday but even if he goes, Rex Burkhead is expected to get the majority of carries for the team during the game.  Michel carries good long-term upside but for now his usage will likely be unpredictable to begin the season. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: MIKE GESICKI TE MIAMI DOLPHINS

Yesterday we took a closer look at Chicago Bears tight end Trey Burton who is right there as one of the most popular sleepers for 2018 fantasy football and is on most everyone's firm draft lists this summer.  Today we look at another tight sleeper for the upcoming fantasy football season but one who comes much cheaper and who in fact may be sitting on your league's waiver wire right about now.  We are talking about Miami Dolphins rookie Mike Gesicki who first caught fame by doing a Saquon Barkley-like performance at the NFL Combine but in a tight end version and then later when the team made him the 42nd overall pick of the draft.  Almost from the minute training camp got underway and through the preseason slate, Gesicki has earned nothing but positive reviews from the Miami coaching staff all the way to the reporters who cover him.  Now with the Dolphins going into the opener without top wideout DeVante Parker, Gesicki is in play to be a heavily targeted weapon in the passing game right from the jump.

Standing 6-6, 245 pounds, and able to run very well for a big man, Gesicki is already drawing comparison's to the Kansas City Chiefs' Travis Kelce which will get the radar's going for those in the fantasy football community.  The Dolphins and head coach Adam Gase have spoken non-stop about their desire to turn the tight end into a major portion of the passing offense and QB Ryan Tannehill in the past has been keen on looking toward whoever was lined up in that spot in the past when going back to past.  When you factor in the athletic tool, role in the offense, and the positive words from the coach himself; it is easy to see why Gesicki is being looked at as such a prime fantasy football sleeper.  While you can let others pay through the nose to get their hands on Burton, your better bet may turn out to be getting your hands on the cheaper Gesicki this summer.


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL THURSDAY NIGHT WRAPUP: FALCONS/EAGLES

Boy that was ugly.  With penalties on seemingly every play, idiotic challenges, and an Atlanta offense that still makes you want to rip your hair out, the NFL Thursday night opener was rough.  There were still some fantasy football items worth discussing though so let's get to it. 

-Any notion that Falcons QB Matt Ryan would be more comfortable in Year 2 with Steve Sarkisian as the OC went up in the smoke in the opener as the Falcons struggles all night to score from in-close and it went all the way to the buzzer when they failed FIVE times at the goal line.  Ryan was terrible in completing 21-of-43 for 251 yards with zero TD's and 1 pick and in the second half it was obvious he was looking at the rush.  He remains just a backup in fantasy football which is where Nick Foles belongs too.  While Foles added another catch just like in the Super Bowl, he completed just 19-of-34 for 117 yards with zero TD's and one pick of his own.  The only time Foles was in a groove was in the hurry up but otherwise he remains barley worth owning.

-Jay Ajayi looked like he had missed a meeting or something in the first half as both Corey Clement and Darren Sproles got carries before he saw the field.  Be that as it may, Doug Pederson dusted him off in the middle of the second quarter and then rode him the rest of the way to the tune of 62 yards and two scores on 15 carries.  Ajayi also added a two-point conversion to cap the night.  Keep in mind though that both Clement and Sproles got five carries so the split means Ajayi is just a RB 2 in all formats (and barely that in PPR since he doesn't catch the ball much).  Speaking of Sproles, Pederson seems to want him heavily involved so put him on your bench in PPR.

As far as the Atlanta run game, Devonta Freeman ran for an impressive 36 yards on just 6 carries and added 3 catches for 14 more but the game flow hurt him.  I thought Freeman was a nice second-round bargain in drafts this summer but the mess that is the Atlanta offense could be an impediment. 

-Julio Jones remains a monster between the 20's but not near the red zone which has been the story of his career.  He hauled in 10 balls for 169 yards but Ryan could not find him where it counted the most.  Andre Johnson is the comparison here as Jones is a guy who will always pile up the WR 1 receptions and yards but not much in the way of TD's.  He also got no help from rookie Calvin Ridley who got shut out with zero catches.  Again the mess that is the Atlanta offense has me leery of holding Ridley.

On the other side, Nelson Agholor led the way in the receiving game for the Eagles with 8 catches for 33 yards but obviously, it was the dink-and-dunk variety.  Zach Ertz did his job with 4 catches for 48 yards but there was no red zone magic like he continually had with Carson Wentz a season ago. 


Thursday, September 6, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK 1 ISSUES: DALVIN COOK WORKLOAD MAKES HIS OUTLOOK UNPREDICTABLE

Heading into the preseason, Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook was a big fantasy football target given how great he looked the first four games of 2017 before a torn ACL interrupted the fun.  Despite the long layoff, many envisioned Cook being a RB 1 in all fantasy football formats and carrying even more appeal in PPR setups due to his terrific running/receiving ability.  Then the preseason games started and Cook was pretty much held out of all action as the Vikings made it an obvious point to limit his workload and take things slow given the ACL the previous season.  Even now with the opener just days away, Vikings beat reporters have openly said they are not sure whether or not Cook will be on a "pitch count" in terms of workload.  Add in the very capable Latavius Murray who remains in the picture and someone who could be a good goal-line back and Cook dropped into RB 2 status in the opinion of many. 

So where do we stand on this?  Count myself as someone who suggests trying to trade for Cook right this very moment before we get clarity on Week 1.  Even if Cook is babied in September, he will likely be getting the lion's share of work starting in October and through the end of the season.  As noted earlier, those in PPR formats need to be especially interested.  Cook has true RB 1 ability and he is absolutely capable of repeating what he did the first month of 2018.  So while he may be a bit risky in Week 1 compared to preseason expectations, Cook is still set to be a major weapon in all leagues. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL POSTSCRIPT: BUSTER POSEY C SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

In one of our more pointed and accurate critiques heading into the 2018 fantasy baseball season, we labeled annually overrated San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey as the latest Joe Mauer in terms of the former MVP continually losing almost all of his power and also succumbing to increasing injuries as he continued to move into his 30's.  While no one can take away how great a hitter Posey has been in his career, the fact of the matter is the guy has been trending the wrong way statistically since 2014; with the ravages of catching having a lot to do with that.  It was during the 2014 season when Posey reached the 20-home run mark for the second time in his career with 22 but since then his totals in that category have slipped from 19 to 14 to 12 and then all the way down to just 5 in 448 at-bats a year ago.  That is as clear a trend as you can get and it doesn't even touch on how Posey's health has increasingly gone into the toilet.  When it comes to the latter, Posey was forced to undergo hip surgery last September and given the six-month recovery timetable, there is no guarantee he will be ready to go for Opening Day 2019.  So like we noted in our original point, Posey is the new Joe Mauer (but still carrying catcher eligibility unlike his former backstop counterpart) with regards to being capable of posting a useful but ultimately empty batting average; while also spending more and more time in the trainer's room.  Again, we are not taking away from the fact that Posey can still hit (BB/9 and K/9 rates remain in line with the career trends) but you will be lucky to get more than 8-10 home runs here at this stage of the game and that is only if the guy can stay healthy which is becoming quite the challenge as shown by the hip surgery.  Eventually, even the biggest name brand players need to be passed over for good and Posey has reached that point in our opinion.
2019 PROJECTION:  .286 9 HR 73 RBI 74 R 1 SB  

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK 1 RUNNING BACK RANKINGS

Here are your fantasy football Week 1 running back rankings based on opposing matchups.

1.  Todd Gurley
2.  David Johnson
3.  Ezekiel Elliott
4.  Alvin Kamara
5.  Leonard Fournette
6.  Melvin Gordon
7.  Kareem Hunt
8.  Christian McCaffrey
9.  Saquon Barkley
10. Devonta Freeman
11. Jordan Howard
12. Joe Mixon
13. Kenyan Drake
14. Dalvin Cook
15. Lamar Miller
16. Royce Freeman
17. Alex Collins
18. Derrick Henry
19. Le'Veon Bell
20. James Connor
21. LeSean McCoy
22. Peyton Barber
23. Carlos Hyde
24. Jamaal Williams
25. Dion Lewis
26. Rex Burkhead
27. Chris Carson
28. Tarik Cohen
29. Marshawn Lynch
30. Kerryon Johnson
31. Tevin Coleman
32. Adrian Peterson
33. Jordan Wilkins
34. Alfed Morris
35. Chris Thompson
36. Matt Breida
37. James White
38. Theo Riddick
39. C.J. Anderson
40. Isaiah Crowell
41. Ty Mongtomery
42. Latavius Murray
43. Bilal Powell
44. Marlon Mack
45. Sony Michel
46. Gio Bernard
47. LeGarrette Blount
48. Nick Chubb
49. Ronald Jones II
50. Jeremy Hill


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL QUARTERBACK WEEK 1 RANKINGS

Already we have our first batch of weekly fantasy football ranking based on the upcoming opponent so let's see where the quarterbacks stand going into Week 1.

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

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: TREY BURTON TIGHT END CHICAGO BEARS

What happens when an offensive coordinator credited with turning a player into arguably the best receiving tight end in the game moves to become the head coach in a new locale and then talks up the player who will man the same position for 2018?  The answer is you have one of the bigger breakout candidates for the upcoming fantasy football season in the form of the Chicago Bears' Trey Burton.  By now the word has circulated all across the fantasy football community regarding how former Kansas City Chiefs OC/new Bears head man Matt Nagy believes he can turn Burton into another Travis Kelce and that is all anyone needed to hear when it came to stamping the Chicago tight end at the top of all their sleeper lists this summer.  Burton certainly seems up to the task as he was very good in a backup capacity to Zach Ertz with the Philadelphia Eagles last season; showing terrific hands and impressive speed by hauling in 23 passes for 248 yards and 5 scores.  We got a glimpse of what Burton could do on his own in Week 14 when filling in for an injured Ertz when he went out and grabbed 5 passes for 73 yards and two touchdowns and it is that kind of production we could now see on a weekly basis in 2018.  Since we are always on the lookout for tight ends on the brink of reaching upper-level status, you can count on some major competition for Burton's services at the draft.  In the end, though, the guy may very well be worth whatever is required to get him onto your roster.

2018 PROJECTION:  67 receptions 688 yards 7 TD

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: GREG OLSEN TE CAROLINA PANTHERS

It was a shockingly disappointing year for Carolina Panthers stalwart tight end Greg Olsen in 2017 as the rock of dependability that went along with the guy throughout his standout career went by the wayside to the tune of 9 missed games due to suffering a broken foot.  Even when Olsen returned from the break, he struggled initially to gain separation from defenders which brought a whole host of new concerns given the fact he is aging at 33.  Fortunately, Olsen was back to his old Pro Bowl self in the postseason and so the fact he ended things on a high note bodes well for his fantasy football prospects in 2018.  While it was a serious break that Olsen suffered in his foot, he reportedly is running at full speed and doing all sorts of workouts as of this writing.  Keep in mind as well that previous to the broken foot, Olsen went 11 seasons without so much as missing one game.  One bit of injury misfortune should not automatically remove the durability label Olsen always carried around and so he remains a top-tier tight end for at least one more season.  With the Panthers having traded away Kelvin Benjamin midway through last season and still breaking in Devin Funchess as their top wideout, Olsen will likely continue being the top passing target for QB Cam Newton.  That has resulted in a bunch of numbers during their time together (over 70 connections each of the last four seasons) and so Olsen should be right there as the second tight end off the board once Travis Kelce.  

2018 PROJECTION:  74 receptions 1026 yards 5 TD

ASIDE:  We got reaction on saying Olsen should be picked after Kelce but that was under the premise that he is so much more durable and if you had to bet your house on it, who would you think had the better chance to catch 70 balls:  Olsen or Gronk?  The answer is Olsen.  So while on TALENT Gronk is the first or second tight end in the game, in fantasy football you can surely make the case he or Zach Ertz is the better investment.  

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL NEWS: LE'VEON BELL MAY NOT REPORT WEDNESDAY

Speaking with reporters early on Tuesday, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin only gave a "We'll see" when it comes to whether or not star running back Le'Veon Bell returns to the team on Wednesday.  With the Steelers ramping up preparations for Week 1, any more of an absence by Bell would put his status for Sunday's game in serous jeopardy.  Bell has held out all summer like he did a year ago in hopes of landing a new contract but so far he is still no showing up at the team's facility.

Analysis:  What a mess this situation is becoming but it also not a major shock considering all the issues we have talked about previously with Bell.  Bell's conditioning is very much up for debate right now and the fact he is still not with the team means James Connor could actually draw the start and thus remove one precious game from Bell's fantasy football ledger which his owners don't want to see given how pricey he was in drafts.  Stay tuned. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: MELVIN GORDON RB LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

One of the more polarizing players in annual fantasy football drafts is Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon and that same premise will likely follow him as leagues get underway this summer.  While Gordon is almost universally considered to be an RB 1 in all fantasy football formats due to the fact he is a rare bellcow back in today's game, the guy also has received quite a bit of justified criticism as well.  Moving away from the fact Gordon yields very good value due to being such a heavily used runner and receiver for the Chargers, there are some obvious red flags such as the fact he has yet to rush for even 4.0 yards per carry in any of his three NFL seasons.  Even last year when Gordon rushed for a career-best 1,105 yards, he averaged a mediocre 3.9 per carry.  Clearly, Gordon is not a tremendous runner by any means and he mixes in explosive carries with many that go nowhere as he dances around in vain looking for room.  With that said, Gordon's 18 rushing touchdowns the last two seasons are a very good number and he also has developed into one of the better receiving backs in the league as well (posting another career-best in receptions last year with 58).  So while Gordon has been banged up in his young career (5 missed games total), he should once again be a moderate RB 1 in all fantasy football leagues this season given his high expected workload.

2018 PROJECTION:  1,089 rushing yards 9 TD, 55 receptions 452 yards 3 TD

Monday, September 3, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK 1 INJURY WATCH: DON'T COUNT ON MARLON MACK FOR OPENER

With 2018 fantasy football set to officially begin this week, the Monday practice session helped shape up some injury issues to watch going into the openers around the league.

-As assumed all along, Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack did not take part in practice on Monday as he continues to deal with soreness in his hamstring.  After being a complete boom-or-bust guy on any one carry as a rookie in 2017, Mack was set to be the starting running back for the Colts this season.  A stubborn hamstring has changed that idea though and rookie Jordan Wilkins will now be the guy in all likelihood in Week 1.  Wilkins failed to impress in the preseason though so he is really best left on the bench if you have good depth since you don't want to make speculative calls right out of the gate.

-New York Giants tight end Evan Engram practiced on Monday as he is free from the concussion protocol and set to go Week 1.  Engram has much more competition for looks from QB Eli Manning among Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard, and rookie Saquon Barkley which makes him outlook a bit more murky compared to his excellent rookie campaign but he should still be a top-five guy at the position regardless. 

-Cleveland Browns wideout Josh Gordon returned to practice after dealing with a balky hamstring the last few weeks and some off-the-field stuff.  Gordon won't start Sunday but he is set to play a bunch despite rookie Antonio Callaway getting the nod to begin the game.  I said from the beginning though that Gordon continues to be overvalued as the fantasy football community keeps thinking he can automatically go back to the WR 1 he was earlier in his career but this looks like more boom-or-bust scenarios this season.

-Nick Foles will go in Week 1 for the Philadelphia Eagles which was to be expected and now we have to see if he will go in Week 2 which is entirely possible as the team remains careful with starting QB Carson Wentz.  Anyone who invested in Wentz is watching this closely but he should still be fine (albeit with less running) when he does return. 

-Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker will go in Week 1 despite a stubborn toe injury in training camp.  Walker remains a puzzle to me in terms of the fact he always is or is close to being a top-five performing tight end in yearly fantasy football leagues but nobody ever seems to want to own him.  He was a tremendous value according to ADP this summer though and 70 catches in a new Titans offense is very possible. 

-Eagles running back Jay Ajayi participated in practice on Monday which was a big deal since there was some speculation he may not be able to go Week 1 due to yet another bout of knee trouble.  With a bone-on-bone issue in his knee always a major worry, Ajayi will have a chance to stake his firm claim to be the primary running back on the Eagles and thus, try to hold off the charging Corey Clement. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK 1 ISSUES: NO LE'VEON BELL AT MONDAY'S PRACTICE A BAD SIGN ALREADY

All throughout the summer yours truly has made it his mission to spread the word about trying to avoid Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell at or near the top of 2018 fantasy football drafts.  While I did own Bell in the Experts League last season and through his monster campaign ended up with a runner-up finish, I didn't go back to the well here for 2018 due to a number of reasons and this despite owning the third overall pick in the Experts Draft this summer.  And I ended up having a shot at Bell after Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott went with the first two picks but I wasted no time in going with David Johnson.  So in essence my reasons for avoiding Bell were numerous, with the first being that he represents a big injury risk coming off a 400-plus tough season in 2017 and the guy has quite the extensive history on that front as well.  Then there was the fact that Bell was pretty terrible last September coming off his first summer holdout as he clearly was rusty and it took until October for him to get going.  Finally, Bell averaged just 4.0 per carry last season which was a red flag right there. 

Perhaps the biggest omen here however is the fact Bell has missed the entire preseason slate and training camp with another holdout and there is no telling what kind of shape he will be in again coming off such a big workload and being another year older.  Now we also get word that Bell did not show up for practice on Monday as many assumed he would and that adds another layer of concern.  Is Bell actually thinking of holding out Week 1?  He had to no doubt take notice how fellow holdout Khalil Mack got what he wanted in terms of a new monster deal and so Bell may be chapped regarding that issue.  Be that as it may, if Bell is not back by Wednesday then all bets are off for Week 1.  This is why I said to avoid Bell at all costs this summer as the drama increases yet again. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: LOS ANGELES RAMS WIDEOUTS

Brandin Cooks:  Even getting traded into fantasy football paradise (i.e. joining Tom Brady) with the New England Patriots prior to the start of the 2017 season failed to curb the extreme swings in production from wideout Brandin Cooks on a game-to-game basis.  While Cooks has a knack for dropping a 9-catch/150-yard/2-TD bonanza in any given week, he also is just as prone to posting a 2-catch/15-yard abomination as well.  The fact Cooks has now put forth this trend both in New Orleans and New England means it is time to accept this is what you sign up for when selecting him in fantasy football drafts.  This reputation will now follow Cooks to Los Angeles as well; with the Rams completing a trade for him this past April to replace the departed Sammy Watkins.  While a fresh start is always nice, the trade serves as a clear downgrade to Cooks' potential impact since he will now compete with the very capable Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp for targets from QB Jared Goff and Goff himself is a downgrade from Tom Brady as well in terms of passing acumen.  Put all of that together and Cooks now looks like more of a WR 3 than the WR 2 he appeared to be a year ago.

2018 PROJECTION:  79 receptions 1,115 yards 8 TD

Robert Woods:  Apparently, Los Angeles Rams wideout Robert Woods was severely underutilized during his initial four years in the NFL spent with the Buffalo Bills.  While Woods performed solidly as a borderline fantasy football backup receiver with the Bills, his per game numbers exploded in 2017 with the Rams as he hauled in 56 passes for 781 yards and 5 TD's in just 12 games.  A late-season shoulder injury stalled Woods' momentum when the fantasy football season was entering into crunch time but the overall year was a success as he became the go-to-receiver for second-year QB Jared Goff.  Whatever sleeper hype Woods did have at the start of the offseason, however, went by the wayside in April when the Rams acquired Brandin Cooks from the New England Patriots.  While he should remain heavily involved in the offense, Woods will lose targets both to Cooks and Cooper Kupp which will likely prevent him from reaching the per game production in 2018 that he had a year ago.
2018 PROJECTION:  84 receptions 1,095 yards 9 TD

Cooper Kupp:  In one of the more quirky developments during fantasy football drafts last summer, it was a previously little-known wideout from Eastern Washington by the name of Cooper Kupp who all of a sudden became a staple on sleeper lists everywhere you looked.  Despite having been selected in just the third-round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams, Kupp was instantly viewed as the prospective number 1 target of second-year QB Jared Goff and he was drafted accordingly despite the presence of both Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins on the team.  Usually, in a situation such as this, the opposite of expectations occur but Kupp pretty much came through as he caught 62 passes for 869 yards and 5 touchdowns in 15 games for the team to carve out decent WR 3 value.  It was at this time too where Woods became the clear top target of Goff and so Kupp will likely take a back seat not only to him in terms of production for 2018 but also to new arrival Brandin Cooks who the Rams acquired through a trade with the New England Patriots.  With Kupp being a tad light in the TD department but at the same time producing good totals in catches/yards, WR 3 in PPR formats looks to be in the cards again for him this season.
2018 PROJECTION:  73 receptions 948 yards 6 TD

Sunday, September 2, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL INJURY FALLOUT: LOSS OF JERRICK McKINNON MAKES ALFRED MORRIS RELEVANT AGAIN

Every summer the four-game NFL preseason slate serves as nothing but one major source of agita for those in the fantasy football community.  With fantasy football drafts already well underway at this point, each week of the four preseason games brings more worry and stress wondering if their players will succumb to serious injuries before a game that counts is even played.  Think Jordy Nelson in 2016 or Julian Edelman last summer as prime examples of big-name drafts picks whose fantasy football owners ultimately wasted an early-round pick on as they failed to make it to Week 1 before their season went up in smoke.  This summer was certainly no different but you could almost hear the collective exhale once preseason Week 4 went in the books a few days ago.  The exhibition games are over so we are home free to Week 1 went the thinking.  Well maybe that should be amended going into next summer after we saw San Francisco 49ers running back Jerrick McKinnon suffer a season-ending torn ACL in his knee during a workout on Saturday and his loss is a big one considering the massive expectations that were attached to his name after head coach Kyle Shanahan made it his chief priority to sign him over the winter.  Shanahan had major plans for McKinnon and those in PPR formats had to be extra pumped about his outlook given his ability to both run and catch the football.  Now all that has gone up in smoke and recently signed off the street veteran Alfred Morris unbelievably is in line to be the starter for Week 1. 

Now as far as the fallout here, Morris is set to be the primary runner going forward and he has looked fresh in the limited time he has played this summer which makes sense since he was just a backup with the Dallas Cowboys in 2016 and 2017.  Originally a sixth-round find of Mike Shanahan with the Washington Redskins, Morris had a very nice start to his career as he rushed for a massive 1,610 yards as a rookie and then went for 1,275 and 1,074 the following two seasons.  While he was almost a complete zero catching the football, Morris's power running ability and nose for the end zone made him a nice weapon in standard formats.  

Ultimately, the wheels began to come off in 2015 when Morris dropped off to just 751 yards at 3.7 per pop and that brought his backup status with the Cowboys the last two seasons.  The fact Morris rushed just 185 times total the last two seasons means he is likely quite fresh despite getting up there in age at 29 and so there is a decent chance he can yield RB 2 status in standard league in 2018.  Those in PPR formats should be more interested in Matt Breida who will come in on third down and be the Duke Johnson or Theo Riddick in this offense but he is nothing more than a speculative RB 4/5 in that setup.  Either way, the loss of McKinnon is a reminder we are never in the clear in terms of injuries in fantasy football at any point in the season.  


Saturday, September 1, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: JERRICK McKINNON SUFFERS APPARENT NON-CONTACT INJURY SATURDAY

Oh boy.  San Francisco 49ers starting running back Jerrick McKinnon suffered an apparent non-contact injury during the team's workout on Saturday and NFL Network's Ian Rapoport is saying it is of the "concerning" variety.  Obviously we have seen countless non-contact injuries turn into torn ACL's (Jordy Nelson in 2016, DeShaun Watson in 2017) which makes this very worrisome.  All of a sudden Alfred Morris looks like a major add and Matt Breida a speculative one as well.  This would be a real shame if McKinnon were to be seriously injured as he carries some immense PPR upside given his spot in the Kyle Shanahan offense but now things look very dicey.  

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL ISSUES: KHALIL MACK MOVING TO THE BEARS MAKE THEIR DEFENSIVE UNIT POTENTIALLY GREAT

The news came in before 9:00 AM Eastern Time Saturday but it quickly rocked the NFL world when it was learned the Chicago Bears had acquired pass rushing phenom Khalil Mack from the Oakland Raiders for what is reportedly two first-round picks and perhaps something more.  Considered the best pure pass rusher in football, Mack by himself instantly transforms the Bears defense from a very solid unit to one that could be great.  Already possessing prized rookie Roquan Smith and Pro Bowler Leonard Floyd at linebacker, the Bears are also very stout on the defensive line with Akiem Hicks (8.5 sacks) and now Mack coming aboard.  In short, the Bears are going to be a pass rushing unit that will have few peers in the NFL after adding Mack and if they were not drafted at this point in your league, do yourself a favor and pick them up.  While the Week 1 matchup versus Green Bay is one that should be avoided, picking up the Bears defense and stashing them for a week is a good idea if you have a deep enough roster.  The pieces are now all there for the Bears to put forth a monster defense and Mack will only enhance their potential going forward in a major way. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: JOSH DONALDSON HEADS TO CLEVELAND AT LAST MINUTE BEFORE DEADLINE

With just hours to go before the MLB deadline to complete trades for players that would still be eligible for the postseason, the Cleveland Indians picked up former All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson from the Toronto Blue Jays late Friday for cash and a player to be named.  Having not played since late May, Donaldson will man third for the Indians when he is ready to suit up, with MVP candidate Jose Ramirez going back to second base and Jason Kipnis shifting to the outfield. 

Now as far as Donaldson is concerned, to say 2018 has been a physical challenge for him would be a massive understatement.  As I noted both last season and in this spring's draft guide previewing 2018, Donaldson's years of playing an aggressive and all-out third base are really taking a toll on his body as we can see with all of the injuries the last season-plus.  While he is still just 32, Donaldson is what you would call an "old" 32 which is why the Blue Jays are willing to move him.  Once considered a slam-dunk first-round monster in yearly fantasy baseball leagues (having hit 37 homers with 116 RBI as recently as 2016), Donaldson carried just a .234 average and 5 home runs in 159 at-bats before he hit the DL with calf and general leg pain.  What was striking about Donaldson before he got hurt was his spike in strikeouts as his 27.7 K.9 was way up from 22.4 the year prior.  Age and injuries always conspire to take a chunk out of a hitter's offensive numbers and Donaldson seems to be going down that road.  With this being said, a healthy Donaldson could be a force the last month of the season in the stacked Cleveland lineup which means he should be dusted off when he does return to the lineup in the next week.  While his best days are no doubt behind him, Donaldson can still be a big help to the fantasy baseball community in September when leagues are decided.