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Thursday, December 13, 2018

2019 FANTASY BASEBALL WINTER SIGNINGS: FLURRY OF ACTIVITY WEDNESDAY

While the biggest names remained on the market, there were still a bunch of signings Wednesday at the Winter Meetings which will impact respective fantasy baseball values:

Charlie Morton:  Morton heads to the Tampa Bay Rays for two years and $30 million and will look to pick up where he left off as a monster first half performer in 2018 for the Houston Astros.  By now we all know how Morton unleashed additional velocity midway through his career which greatly upped his K/9 rate and he was cruising with a sub-3.00 ERA last season before injuries derailed things.  Morton has never been the picture of health and his home run problems will likely be exacerbated a bit in the AL East.  That will push Morton down from SP 2 territory to more of an SP 3. 

Lance Lynn:  3 years and $30 million was the freight the Texas Rangers handed Lance Lynn which is surprising considering he was brutal for almost all of 2018.  With a K/9 rate that has cratered after Tommy John surgery a few years back, Lynn logged a 4.77 ERA and 1.53 WHIP but he is still only 31 which lends hope he can come back a bit.  Be that as it may, going to the offensive haven in Texas is a potential recipe for disaster and so Lynn is really just AL-only fodder for now.

Jeurys Familia:  The New York Mets bring back long-time closer Jeurys Familia but this time to work in setup in front of newly-acquired monster closer Edwin Diaz.  The cost was three years and $30 million which is a lot for setup but the Mets are not paying Diaz much will offsets things.  In the end though, Familia only has moderate value in holds leagues.

Justin Bour:  One of our favorites for a number of years, first baseman Justin Bour inked a one-year deal worth $2 million with the Los Angeles Angels. Unfortunately, Bour had a rough 2018 and now will likely share first base/DH duties with Albert Pujols and Shohei Ohtani.  Not much value here outside of AL-only leagues.

J.A. Happ:  While you never like to get in bed with pitchers who operate in the AL East, J.A. Happ has proven he can succeed here as he was excellent during his time with the Toronto Blue Jays and then with the New York Yankees last season.  The Yanks brought Happ back on at hree-year deal at $17 million per and so he will remain in the top SP 4 range off a 2018 where his K/9 was at his highest level ever. 


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

2019 FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING WINTER MEETINGS NEWS: YANKS BRING BACK J.A. HAPP ON THREE-YEAR DEAL

By Michael Wong

Las Vegas, NV--Lots of drama here this morning with free agent starter J.A. Happ who has come to agreement to return to the New York Yankees on a three-year deal.  The drama centered on the fact Happ got the Philadelphia Phillies to go three years on a prospective deal last night and the Philly media contingent said they deal was pretty much done.  Not so fast as Happ's representation took the offer to Yanks GM Brian Cashman this morning to see if the team would match.  While it may not have been a straight match all the way down the line in terms of dollars, the Yanks went from two to three years on their original proposal which was enough to land Happ.  Happ only has to pass a physical for it to get done.  Good stuff here as the Yankee reporters were circled in a cluster this morning waiting for updates as this was going on.  With Happ now in the fold, look for Cashman to quickly move to trade Sonny Gray and also possibly step up his pursuit of Manny Machado. 


2019 FANTASY BASEBALL AT THE WINTER MEETINGS: INCREASED CHATTER THE YANKS WILL GET MACHADO

By Michael Wong

Las Vegas, NV--With the majority of personnel departing Thursday, these Winter Meetings so far have fallen well short of expectations in terms of big deals being signed or trades consummated.  With that said, there are some embers burning that could turn into a transaction inferno before too long.  Specifically speaking, the general consensus here is that it is only a matter of time before the New York Yankees reel in Manny Machado.  GM Brian Cashman has already met TWICE with Machado's agents since arriving here and there has been mutual interest for awhile here.  Where there is smoke, there is fire and the fact that word publicly got out that the Yanks are willing to move 2018 rookie sensation third baseman Miguel Andujar means a framework could already be in place here.  Finally, there has not been any other team other than the Phillies and the White Sox who have been overly aggressive on Machado like the Yankee have.  Stay tuned.

-Speaking of the Yankees, they remain very interested in top setup men Adam Ottavino and Andrew Miller and last night met with Ottavino's agent.  Ottavino has stated publicly his affinity for New York and the Mets are also engaged here as well.

-In terms of the J.T. Realmuto talks, the three-team deal with the Mets, Marlins, and Yankees never really went anywhere and those talks morphed into Miami asking the Mets straight up for Amed Rosario for the All-Star backstop.  The Mets don't want to move Rosario since it would be just moving pieces around and in fact, they began peddling back to Martin Maldonado last night as now the Phillies are becoming more of a prime factor in the Realmuto talks.

-There were instantly raised eyebrows regarding the three years and $50 million the Phillies handed aging outfielder Andrew McCutchen.  While McCutchen is still productive, he is a level down from his past MVP days with the Pirates and is not the kind of move that Phillies fans were expecting going into the winter. 

-The Cincinnati Reds have been quite active here as they look to engage the Dodgers in talks for outfielder Yasiel Puig and the Yanks for pitcher Sonny Gray.  They also are open for bringing back Matt Harvey on a short-term deal. 




Tuesday, December 11, 2018

2019 FANTASY BASEBALL WINTER MEETINGS SIGNINGS: ANDREW McCUTCHEN NETS A THREE-YEAR DEAL WITH THE PHILLIES

As he gets set to likely join his fourth team in the span of two years after coming to agreement on a free agent deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, former MVP outfielder Andrew McCutchen is having a tough time holding his offensive numbers at the age of 32.  In a 2018 season split between the San Francisco Giants and New York Yankees, McCutchen batted a career-worst .255 with a paltry 20 home runs and 65 RBI in a massive 682 at-bats.  Yes, a bunch of those plate appearances was in the spacious San Francisco ballpark but McCutchen's numbers started sliding a few seasons which is a trend that seems to be picking up speed.  Speaking of speed, McCutchen's 14 stolen bases last season was his most since 2014 which is at least encouraging for his overall value but we saw the effects of age through another personal-worst 21.3 K/9.  With McCutchen posting a neutral .304 BABIP last season and still drawing walks in the process (13.9 BB/9), we are getting a true reading of the type of player he has become of late.  While McCutchen can still help you hold down an everyday starting spot this season as he remains in a prime hitter’s park, it centers mostly in the OF 3 range.

2019 PROJECTION:  .262 20 HR 75 RBI 79 RBI 11 SB  

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL QB RANKINGS

With the 2018 fantasy football playoffs now into the semifinal rounds, let's see where the QB's stand as we get ready to put the finishing touches on the proceedings. 

1.  Patrick Mahomes:  Meet the new no-doubt top QB for present and 2019 fantasy football.  Not even close for second.
2.  Drew Brees:  Tremendous season until Brees has hit the skids in December for the second year in a row.  Still showing troubling road issues as well. 
3.  Andrew Luck:  It goes to show you that when healthy, Luck is still as good as there is.  His days of running however may be finished given that he has just 101 on the ground for the season as of this writing. 
4.  Aaron Rodgers:  Not the year Rodgers' owners were anticipating but a new offense tailored to his strengths should ensure a nice rebound in 2019. 
5.  Jared Goff:  Give me Sean McVay's QB anytime. 
6.  Cam Newton:  Newton was having an MVP season until his shoulder went bad.  Still the premier run/pass QB in all of fantasy football.
7.  Philip Rivers:  A lifetime underrated achievement award belongs here.
8.  Matt Ryan:  Ryan is back in the fantasy football good graces with his second monster year in three seasons.
9.  Ben Roethlisberger:  The numbers are phenomenal but we put Big Ben here given the uncertainty of his coming back for 2019.
10. Russell Wilson:  There are some razor-thin margins here given that Wilson has thrown it at a rate below everyone listed above him but high TD total and continued rushing contributions make him worth being placed higher.
11. Carson Wentz:  Take full advantage of any Carson Wentz discount next season. 
12. Tom Brady:  It goes to show you how deep QB is now that we have Brady this far down.  The overall numbers are down this season and Brady may lose Gronk for 2019 due to retirement as he heads into his age-42 campaign.  A smidge less confidence than we previously have had here. 
13. Mitchell Trubisky:  Yes the interceptions have spiked lately but other than Cam Newton there is not a better run/pass QB in the game.  Also gets bonus points for being in a Matt Nagy offense.
14. DeShaun Watson:  We always have to worry about injuries but Watson has generally been very good this season coming off the ACL tear.
15. Kirk Cousins:  Given the offensive weapons at his disposal, there is no reason Cousins should have the mediocre numbers he is carrying along all season. 
16. Matthew Stafford:  Rough season for sure here but Stafford has generally been a very good buy throughout his career.  Don't count out a nice rebound.

THE REST
17. Jimmy Garoppolo
18. Baker Mayfield
19. Josh Allen
20. Marcus Mariota
21. Jameis Winston
22. Lamar Jackson
23. Dak Prescott
24. Josh Rosen
25. Eli Manning
26. Josh Rosen
27. Andy Dalton
28. Derek Carr
29. Blake Bortles
30. Case Keenum


2019 FANTASY BASEBALL AT THE WINTER MEETINGS: THREE-TEAM DEAL FOR J.T.REALMUTO/THOR JUST TALK FOR NOW

By Michael Wong

Las Vegas, NV.--It generated a ton of headlines late Monday night but no deal is close regarding the New York Mets/Miami Marlins/New York Yankees trade entering on Noah Syndergaard and J.T. Realmuto.  Besides the obvious challenge of the Mets doing a deal with the Yanks, the Marlins are not very keen on doing another deal with Brian Cashman considering how much grief they got over the Giancarlo Stanton swap.  In addition, the Mets only will deal Thor in a trade where they are overwhelmed and getting just Relamuto doesn't qualify according to team sources.  In terms of where this deal is from Miami's end, they are willing to take Brandon Nimmo for Realmuto if it is a deal involving just the two squads but then they also want shortstop Amed Rosario which Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen won't do.  So as of now, there is nothing concrete here other than some rumors that could serve as posturing.

-The catcher market is heating up here as Wilson Ramos and Yasmany Grandal are meeting with various teams and the Boston Red Sox are floating around Sandy Leon and Christian Vasquez in trades.  Also, the Toronto Blue Jays will basically give Russell Martin away if they can.

-Yanks GM Brian Cashman reiterated he is not interested in meeting with outfielder Bryce Harper which removes a big possible destination for Scott Boras' client.  There is much more chatter here regarding Manny Machado who Cashman will meet with Tuesday.

-The Tampa Bay Rays are in ongoing talks to bring in Nelson Cruz to be their everyday DH and there is interest from both sides.  They also are interested in chatting with Adam Ottavino to possible serve as their closer since he will likely come much cheaper than Craig Kimbrel, Zach Britton, and David Robertson. 

-J.A. Happ is in talks with the Phillies, Braves, and Yankees at this point but the Noah Syndergaard talks are at least quieting his dialogue with the latter right now.

-The Dodgers continue to mull whether to dive fully in on Machado but they also are exchanging some ideas with the Detroit Tigers for Nick Castellanos. 




Monday, December 10, 2018

2019 FANTASY BASEBALL HOT STOVE SIGNINGS: BILLY HAMILTON HEADED TO THE ROYALS

The first signing of the 2018 MLB Winter Meetings in Las Vegas will likely become official by the time you read this and it centers on the rebuilding Kansas City Royals bringing in outfielder Billy Hamilton on a likely short-term deal.  After being non-tendered by the Cincinnati Reds earlier this winter in coming off a rough season at the dish (.236, 4 homers, 74 runs), the Royals snatch him up to fill an outfield spot on a team expected to be one of the worst in the majors in 2019.  Now in terms of Hamilton the player, he obviously is known for his massive stolen base potential and the 34 thefts he had a year ago snapped a string of FOUR straight years of going for over 50 in that category.  Unfortunately, Hamilton has pretty much proven himself to be a one-trick pony as he has hit .250 or worse in four of his last five full seasons and he is an almost complete zero in home runs and RBI.  So in essence what we have is a two-category guy (runs, steals) whose ugly averages and non-contributions in the power categories remove some shine from the all the stolen bases.  That means Hamilton remains just a low-end OF 3 based almost solely on his ability to pick up a high number of steals but in actuality you can snag someone off waivers who may be able to do contribute a similar haul of numbers. 


Sunday, December 9, 2018

2019 FANTASY BASEBALL AT THE WINTER MEETINGS: LOTS OF BIG NAMES SHOULD FIND NEW HOMES

By Michael Wong

Las Vegas, NV.--Ready for some action?  The trades and signings should come fast and furious over the next five days as the much-anticipated Winter Meetings gets underway.  We will be here to provide all of the transactions as they occur and the thought is that some major movement will be seen in all directions.  With that said, let's check in on some key names before the moves get going:

Bryce Harper/Manny Machado:  These two will continue to be linked together due to the expected $300 million-plus price tags expected to be gleaned by both.  Right now the Machado market seems a bit more crowded than Harper's; with the New York Yankees interest in the former driving a lot of that.  The thought here is that since the Yankees saved so much money in losing out on Patrick Corbin, that they now have more to spend on a potential Machado deal. 

Complicating matters for both is that the St. Louis Cardinals appear to be out on both given their trade for first baseman Paul Goldschmidt so that takes some leverage away.  Additionally, Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said publicly that his team is likely moving on from Harper.  Finally, the Yanks have no scheduled meeting with Harper will further limits his market.  It is currently unknown whether Harper erred in not taking $300 million from the Nats but as of right now, there doesn't appear to be many teams beyond the Phillies and maybe the Dodgers who seem inclined to take on such a mammoth deal for the outfielder. 

Starting Pitching:  With Patrick Corbin and Nathan Eovaldi off the board, the competition will heat up for remaining available arms Dallas Keuchel, Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Madison Bumgarner, Sonny Gray, Charlie Morton, and J.A. Happ.  The Yanks will likely move Gray sometime this week; with the Milwaukee Brewers and Oakland A's serving as current favorites.  Meanwhile, Kluber is getting a ton of attention as the Indians seem very inclined to deal him after re-upping Carlos Carrasco through at least 2021. 

As far as the rest of the arms, almost everyone believes Happ and the Yanks will find common ground on a deal this week, while the Braves and Cardinals will be heavily in on Keuchel and Morton. 

-Relievers:  The bullpen market has yet to get going as the industry waits to see what closer Craig Kimbrel will receive.  Right behind him are Zach Britton, David Robertson, Adam Ottavino, and Andrew Miller.  Once Kimbrel is signed, the rest should go quickly. 




Friday, December 7, 2018

2019 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: PAUL GOLDSCHMIDT MAY SEE SLIGHT DIP IN NUMBERS MOVING TO ST. LOUIS

With just one more year left on his contract and the team showing no interest in re-signing him, the Arizona Diamondbacks traded All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt to the St. Louis Cardinals earlier in the week as the rebuild is now fully underway.  It certainly was a roller coaster ride season for Goldy in 2018 as a truly horrific first two months brought forth questions regarding where he was possible declining at an early stage.  This was then followed by vintage Goldschmidt for the final four months as he looked like his annual first-round self.  Now at the age of 31, Goldschmidt has to start over on a Cardinals team that is looking to shake things up in order to get back into contention in 2019.

Now in terms of Goldschmidt, he finished 2018 with the following numbers:

.290
33 HR
83 RBI
95 R
7 SB

Considering how bad Goldschmidt was the first two months of the season, it was double impressive how good he was the last four months.  The 33 homers were also the third time in four years he reached such a level and he has hit .290 or better each of the last six seasons.  Still in his prime years, Goldschmidt looks safe to trust again as a top-five fantasy baseball first baseman for 2019 but there are some small caveats to discuss.

The first is that Goldschmidt is not running as much anymore as the 7 steals he had a year ago were down from 18 the season prior and at the age of 31, his contributions there may not be very potent from here on out.  In addition, Goldschmidt moving to St. Louis puts him into a much better pitcher's park from the launching pad he previously operated in while with Arizona.  So it stands to reason Goldschmidt will lose some homers, RBI, and runs with the Cards this season but mostly in the small range. 

So in the end, Paul Goldschmidt remains a top fantasy baseball first baseman who can be take in the late first round or sometime in Round 2 range.  The move to St. Louis was not great for his numbers but also not a disaster either. 


2019 FANTASY BASEBALL HOT STOVE SIGNINGS: JONATHAN SCHOOP LOOKS FOR NEW START IN MINNY

How do you go from being one of the brightest hitting youngsters in baseball one year and then devolve into a journeyman the next?  Just ask new Minnesota Twins second baseman Jonathan Schoop who was forced to settle for just a one-year deal with the team worth $7.5 million on Thursday.  For Schoop, the short-term deal was a direct result of what became a truly rough 2018 campaign where he put up the following numbers in a year split between the Baltimore Orioles and Milwaukee Brewers:

.233
21 HR
61 RBI
61 R
1 SB
.261 BABIP
3.8 BB/9
23.0 K/9

Those numbers above came just a year from when Schoop became an overnight sensation with the Orioles in 2017 when he slammed 32 homers with 105 RBI and 92 runs scored at the age of 25.  As a result of that type of rare power production from a second baseman, Schoop became a popular target in 2018 fantasy baseball drafts.  The end results for those who took such a plunge were not positive however and that has caused his 2019 fantasy baseball stock cost to sink as far as his new contract terms with the Twins. 

So what went wrong last season and can Schoop go back to his 2017 numbers?  First of all, it did fell like we were witnessing a bit of an outlier campaign from Schoop in 2017 as he had only hit 15 homers the year prior and was not looked at initially as a top prospect.  The big problem for Schoop in every season since becoming a pro has been an utter lack of walks and we saw that again a year ago with his pathetic 3.8 BB/9 mark.  With Schoop not drawing walks, it leaves him susceptible to an ugly batting average and even more so due to the fact he has little speed to overcome any BABIP curves.  So in essence it is all about power here as Schoop really needs to hit 25 homers or more to be an everyday fantasy baseball second baseman and this is now far from guaranteed now that he will be calling spacious Target Field home.  While Schoop does have impressive natural power, his negatives in stolen bases and likely batting average don't make him stand out much in terms of his 2019 outlook. 




Thursday, December 6, 2018

2019 FANTASY BASEBALL HOT STOVE BREAKING NEWS: NATHAN EOVALDI BACK WITH RED SOX ON FOUR-YEAR DEAL

The Boston Red Sox have agreed to bring back starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi on a four-year deal worth around $17 million a year which removes yet another name from the quickly-drying pitcher market.  Just two days after top starter Patrick Corbin inked a mammoth six-year deal with the Washington Nationals, Eovaldi got his new pact with the Red Sox which surely was helped by some epic postseason performances that helped the team claim the 2018 World Series.  After logging a 3.33 ERA with the team after coming over in a midseason trade, Eovaldi went nuts to the tune of a 1.61 mark in the postseason to help further cement his status as a late blooming pitcher.  Having undergone two Tommy John elbow surgeries, Eovaldi's previous seasons spent in various MLB locales were filled with ugly ratios and a K/9 rate that fell way below expectations considering his potent fastball.  While Eovaldi's fastball coming in a bit straight has always been seen as a big reason for the lagging K's, he began to change that narrative last season both with the Tampa Bay Rays and the Red Sox due to fine-turning his offspeed stuff.  Eovaldi now has the payday to prove he has broken through in the minds of the MLB industry and so we need to figure out where he goes from here in terms of prospective fantasy baseball value.  On that front, Eovaldi looks capable of being a decent SP 3 since he will win games on a very strong Red Sox squad and his recent uptick in performance could include an ERA in the mid-3.00 range.  Still, Eovaldi has to prove he can be a consistent strikeout guy over the course of a full season and also stay healthy.  Ideally he looks more of an SP 4 from this vantage point but the Red Sox glare means he won't come that cheap at the draft table.  Ultimately we think Eovaldi has in fact reached a new level of performance that can be trusted. 


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

2019 FANTASY BASEBALL HOT STOVE NEWS: YANKS MOVING ON TO J.A. HAPP, NATHAN EOVALDI, MADISON BUMGARNER

With the New York Yankees refusing to go to a sixth year on Patrick Corbin which essentially handed him to the Washington Nationals, the team and GM Brian Cashman quickly pivoted to engaging with fellow free agents hurlers J.A. Happ and Nathan Eovaldi in order to fill the last opening on the starting staff.  The consensus all along was that the Yanks would be able to bring back Happ with around a three-year deal as both sides were very satisfied with how their relationship went the last two months of last season but Cashman remains enamored of Eovaldi who put himself into postseason lore by coming up big for the Boston Red Sox in the playoffs and into the World Series this past October.  Then there is the Madison Bumgarner issue as the San Francisco Giants seem hell-bent on moving their ace and getting back a prime return to help replenish what is widely considered one of the worst farm systems in baseball.  Bumgarner is receiving a ton of attention though from other clubs such as the New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals, and Milwaukee Brewers and so it likely will take a prime young player/prospect in order to get that deal completed.  

2019 FANTASY BASEBALL HOT STOVE FALLOUT: NATS WILLINGNESS TO GO TO SIXTH YEAR NETS THEM PATRICK CORBIN

Well that certainly went beyond what was originally anticipated.  The shock regarding the massive six-year deal worth $140 million that the Washington Nationals handed to free agent starter Patrick Corbin was still the talk of baseball last night and into Wednesday morning as the numbers and even length of contract went well above what was originally anticipated.  As we tweeted out Tuesday morning, Corbin had eliminated the Philadelphia Phillies from his pursuit but was angling offers from the Nats and New York Yankees in order to try and gain a sixth year and additional dough.  The Yankees reportedly refused to go to a sixth year in Corbin due to their strong belief they can fall back on J.A. Happ for half that contract length and so when the Nats did go that route, they won the sweepstakes despite the player himself growing up a fan of New York.  In the end, six years and $140 million was seen as a gross over-payment by the Nats for a guy already with a Tommy John surgery under his belt and who relies very heavily on a slider that often leads to more health trouble.  

So in terms of the fallout, Corbin will now slide into a very potent Nationals rotation that already has multiple Cy Young winnner Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.  With regards to Corbin and his immediate fantasy baseball outlook, he actually gets a boost going from a prime offensive park in Chase Field in Arizona to a pitching-dominant pad in Washington which will help lower the ratios a bit in ERA and WHIP.  Last season Corbin earned his big payday by posting a 3.15 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and punching out 246 batters in just 200 innings which make him a swell SP 2 in all fantasy baseball leagues this spring.  The only thing holding Corbin back from ace-level is a penchant for getting injured and even last season he frightened his owners a bit when his velocity began to dip in May after a big April.  While that fixed itself once June arrived and there were no issues from that point onward, Corbin should still be graded as a strong SP 2 and nothing more.  


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL ISSUES: TIGHT END POSITION AS ROUGH AS EVER

It goes without saying that when it comes to constructing annual fantasy football rosters, the tight end position is the most frustrating spot to deal with given the lack of depth going back years.  While this was known by all in the fantasy football community, the 2018 season has driven this point home like never before as there has been nothing but disaster here when you move past the unbelievable campaigns of Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz; and to a lesser extent Eric Ebron. 

Things certainly got off to a rough start when popular Los Angeles Chargers sleeper Hunter Henry was lost for the season during summer minicamp and when the actual games got underway, the disappointment was everywhere.  For starter's, consensus number 1 Rob Gronkowski looked old overnight as he has been simply brutal this season as all those years of injuries appear to finally have destroyed his game.  Then there were the injuries and letdown numbers of guys like Evan Engram, Jordan Reed, Jimmy Graham, Greg Olsen, and Trey Burton.  Burton, Engram, and Graham in particular were colossal busts considering the hype that surrounded all of them, while Olsen and Reed simply got too old and once again hurt.  Even early nice stories such as David Njoku, Jared Cook, and more recently George Kittle have failed to sustain themselves which means Ertz and Kelce's tremendous production is even more valuable than one may think.  In fact, I am fully on board for those who choose to use a second-round pick on either guy next summer given the crazy advantage they will supply to you at the tight end position.  Yes things have gotten that bad for a tight end avoidance guy like yours truly suggesting such a plan for next season.  So while there will likely be some more sleepers or upstarts to look at next summer (Henry will be back, Kittle and Engram remain attractive), it is looking like Kelce/Ertz and everyone else in terms of high-end players here for your draft.


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL MONDAY NIGHT WRAPUP: EAGLES/REDSKINS

The Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins finished off Week 13 in fantasy football with a dud of a game overall as the playoff schedule comes into shape in most leagues.  Here are some of the more noteworthy performances that came out of the game:

-After a few weeks of struggles, Eagles QB Carson Wentz got back on the positive statistical track Monday night as he completed 27-of-39 passes for 306 yards with 2 TD and 1 INT in the win.  While Wentz is still not running much coming back from last year's knee injury, this game is a firm reminder that he remains one of the better overall passers in the leagues who decrease in overall numbers this season may make him a nice bargain in 2019.

-Redskins running back Adrian Peterson had a spectacular 90-yard TD during the first half for the team but only 8 other yards the remainder of the game as the Eagles stacked the line once QB Colt McCoy went out with a broken fibula.  It will be especially tough sledding going forward for Peterson who no doubt has had a tremendous comeback season overall in 2018 but with Mark Sanchez under center behind a line with some third-stringers playing, things could get ugly. 

-Eagles wide receiver Golden Tate looked much more at home with the team Monday night as he hauled in 7 balls for 85 yards and a score.  In other words, this is the Tate who made catching 90 passes a year routine during his Detroit Lions days.  Clearly, Tate needed some time to get acclimated to the Eagles offense but he could be back in the WR 2/3 mode given how good he looked in this one.

-On the flip side of Tate, Eagles wideout Alshon Jeffery was terrible as he caught just 3 balls for 31 yards and he has been brutal for the better part of a month now.  With Wentz continuing to favor short to intermediate throws, that really hurts Jeffery's big play potential and makes him especially tough to trust in the playoff weeks.

-Redskins running back Chris Thompson has had yet another season destroyed by injury and he failed to put forth even an adequate outing last night when the team was in obvious passing situations during the second half as he rushed for just 3 yards on 3 carries and caught only 3 passes for another 18.  Keep him nailed to the bench.

-Eagles tight end Zach Ertz is making a run for the NFL record for receptions by a tight end and it looks like he will get there as he caught 9 balls for 83 yards last night.  Ertz is now up to 93 catches for 978 yards and 6 scores and there are still four games to go.  At this rate, Ertz is likely to pass the 110 catch plateau which is really something else.  What I will say too is that Ertz and Travis Kelce are both worth second-round picks in all fantasy football drafts next summer given how massive their numbers trump the rest of the tight end hierarchy. 


Monday, December 3, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK 14 ISSUES: UNDERWHELMING START BY SPENCER WARE CALLS HIS FUTURE STATUS INTO DOUBT

Even though it has been a few days, the news that the Kansas City Chiefs released star running back Kareem Hunt after a video surfaced of him putting his hands on a woman still are reverberating in the world of fantasy football.  Not only did Hunt's owners lose a slam-dunk top player in all of the game just as the playoff week draws near, the installation of backup Spencer Ware into the starter's role created a feeding frenzy on the waiver in those leagues he was still available.  Right off the bat Yahoo projected Ware for 15.5 points in PPR formats and those who were lucky enough to snag him off waiver began to crow about their good fortune.  Alas, Ware's performance in Week 13 was anything but impressive as he rushed for just 47 yards on 14 carries against a miserable Oakland Raiders defense and he managed to catch just one pass for another 5 yards.  Luckily for Ware, he was able to score a rushing touchdown which saved his day as his PPR total came in at just 12.20.  Making matters more concerning was the fact Andy Reid gave 5 carries for third-stringer Damien Williams and also two receptions as well.  Then after the game Reid said he envisioned somewhat of a committee going forward along with UDFA Darrel Williams and that was before the team brought back Charcandrick West who had shown flashes for the team the last few seasons.  Combining all of this together, it doesn't paint the best picture for Ware going forward into Week 14 and other than original Hunt owners who are left in the lurch, the better idea is to probably see what his usage is like this Sunday before going to the well here again.  While Ware is very capable, the workload has to be there for him to make an impact. 


2019 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: JEAN SEGURA TO GET OFFENSIVE BOOST HEADING TO PHILlY

Not wasting any time this offseason as they sit on an endless supply of money to spend during the Hot Stove season, the Philadelphia Phillies will announce sometime on Monday that they have acquired All-Star shortstop Jean Segura from the Seattle Mariners along with reliever Anthony Swarzak for a package of shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford, veteran outfielder Carlos Santana, and perhaps another minor leaguer.  The biggest name in the deal though is Segura who has quietly been one of the better offensive shortstops in yearly fantasy baseball leagues and comes off a 2018 campaign where he put up the following numbers:

.304
10 HR
91 R
63 RBI
20 SB
5.1 BB/9
10.9 K/9

Now going to Philly and their launching pad ballpark, it stands to reason that Segura's numbers that are listed above are just a floor for what he could do in 2019 as he turns just 29 in March.  Long one of the better contact hitters in the game, Segura remains a very good power/speed shortstop who also has the knack for hitting .300.  Having hit 20 home runs as recently as 2016, Segura could easily reach 15 in his new locale and remain in the 20-25 stolen base range with the good average.  So in the end, Segura will remain a locked-in prime shortstop for 2019 fantasy baseball as the trade begins what should be an eventful offseason for his new club.


Sunday, December 2, 2018

2019 FANTASY BASEBALL HOT STOVE ISSUES: INDIANS PREFER TO UNLOAD COREY KLUBER, SIGN CARLOS CARRASCO

Heading into the MLB Hot Stove Season, the Cleveland Indians made it no secret their desire to unload one of their prime three starting pitchers that included two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, and power aces Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer.  Since the start of the offseason, it has become quite clear that the Indians prefer to part ways with Kluber, keep Bauer, and sign Carrasco to a new deal.  The latest has the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers engaged in Kluber talks but the whole endeavor makes sense on a number of levels despite the fact on numbers alone he remains as good as there is in the game.  As we noted a few weeks ago, Kluber in 2018 ran his streak to five in a row in terms of seasons throwing over 200 innings and as we all know, the piper eventually has to be paid in terms of such a workload.  We already are beginning to see this with Kluber in actuality as 2018 marked the fourth straight year his average fastball velocity declined and this time it was down to 92.4 which lessens the margin for error here.  Less velocity means Kluber will likely be giving up more hits and home runs overall which in turn will spike the ratios.  Want more?  How about the act Kluber will be 33 in April and began to deal with some health woes last season.  Combine everything together and it makes sense the Indians are trying to get out from under the final two years of Kluber's deal.  In terms of 2019 fantasy baseball, we went on record in this year's draft guide to avoid paying the freight on Kluber given all of these issues and in fact would prefer the upside of Bauver over the veteran. 


Saturday, December 1, 2018

2019 FANTASY BASEBALL HOT STOVE REPORT: RED SOX ZEROING IN ON ZACH BRITTON AND DAVID ROBERTSON

By Michael Wong

With the New York Mets and Seattle Mariners finishing up their deal for Robinson Cano/Edwin Diaz, let's move on to some other pressing issues going in on the MLB Hot Stove season.

-Not liking the initial request for a six-year deal, the Boston Red Sox are already looking beyond incumbent closer Craig Kimbrel and have now zeroed in on free agents Zach Britton and David Robertson.  Britton in particular seems to be the main target for the Red Sox who are not overly warm to continuing their relationship with Kimbrel.

Meanwhile, the New York Yankees are looking closely at both Andrew Miller and Adam Ottavino and feel confident they can bring one of them in if they lose Britton, Robertson, or both. 

-Speaking of the Yankees, Sonny Gray has drawn interest from 11 teams according to GM Brian Cashman and in particular the Reds, Brewers, and A's seem to be the most ardent in their pursuit.  Given how many teams are currently involved, it looks like Cashman will get a nice haul for Gray who actually pitched quite well on the road last season.

-All seems quiet on the Noah Syndergaard front for the Mets and it will likely take an overwhelming haul for them to even consider trading him.  Since the Sam Diego Padres won't move Fernando Tatis Jr., they are not going to get Syndergaard according to a team source. 

-Patrick Corbin is expected to sign his free agent deal sometime this week before the Winter Meetings get underway and the Yankees are the clear favorites with the Phillies second and the Nationals third according to sources. 

-The Nationals are preparing to pivot right back to Bryce Harper if they lose out on Corbin as expected.

-The catching market in terms of free agency has not gotten going yet as both Yasmany Grandal and Wilson Ramos are not receiving a high amount of attention just yet.  That is due to teams going the trade route like the Nats did with Yan Gomes and cheap options like Kurt Suzuki and Brian McCann getting scooped up instead.