Carlos Carrasco has an ugly 4.74 ERA, and I don’t want to point to his .351 BABIP as an automatic mark due for regression, because Cleveland’s defense is bad. However, getting Yan Gomes back should be a big help, and everything else here screams a pitcher who looks like a dominant ace (his 22.3 K-BB% ranks seventh best in baseball, while his 12.3 SwStr% is also top-10). Carrasco had a 1.72 ERA and 0.90 WHIP over 78.2 innings after the All-Star break last year, and his peripherals look even better in 2015 despite him having to deal with taking a line drive off his head early on. Carrasco could easily be a top-five fantasy starter from here on out, so try to buy him low in your fantasy league.
Entering May 15, Ryan Braun’s OPS sat at .742, which was a career low by a wide margin (his career worst was .777 last season, but a thumb injury that was corrected by surgery over the offseason was to blame). He’s since raised that to .872 over 10 games, thanks to five homers over that span. Braun is now quietly on pace to finish with a .270-96-41-125-15 line. I said I was worried about his power earlier this year, which was clearly wrong and yet another reason for me not to attempt scouting. Braun may very well get hurt again, but he’s back to hitting like a star right now.
Headlines of the Week: Carbon Monoxide Leak Kills Couple Having Sex In Car...Man Swallows Hamster In Front Of Children ‘To Show How Dear Life Is’...Yellowstone Supervolcano Much Bigger Than Thought...Dad Unknowingly Impregnated Daughter, Who Worries How To Tell Their Son His Grandfather Is His Father...Pilot Says Passenger’s Annoying Cough Made Him Forget To Put Landing Gear Down, Resulting in Crash Landing...Chinese Restaurant Discounts Women Wearing Miniskirts – With Shorter Dresses Earning Cheaper Meals...Nintendo Hires Bowser As New VP Of Sales.
Quick Hits: Kendrys Morales has 15 doubles and 37 RBI over 43 games, even adding 32 runs scored. He’s easily been one of the best fantasy bargains so far, and I for one definitely didn’t see this coming...I’m at a loss when it comes to Stephen Strasburg. I own him in multiple leagues, so maybe I’m irrational when I want to say “buy low.” The velocity is fine, and it’s easy to say his .390 BABIP is going to regress (it’s the highest among all starting pitchers in MLB), but his 7.2 SwStr% is well below his career mark (11.0%) and actually quite worrisome...Rusney Castillo should approach something like 15/15 from here on out and needs to be owned in all leagues...Josh Hamilton is owned in fewer than 50% of Yahoo leagues? Please change that ASAP...This play by Joey Votto was pretty ridiculous...He’ll probably get hurt soon, but Brett Anderson is currently owned in fewer than 10% of Yahoo leagues, which seems bizarre. He has a 31:9 K:BB ratio with a 3.33 GB/FB rate while allowing few line drives and pitching for a Dodgers offense that’s been terrific. Anderson’s 66.7 GB% is the highest in all of baseball. I’d add him if he’s available in your league...Since 2013, Madison Bumgarner has as many homers (five) as Joe Mauer in 529 fewer at bats.
Police Blotter: Man Falls Asleep While Robbing Home..23-Year-Old Florida Man’s Driver’s License Suspended 26 Times...Ex-Con Arrested, Jailed For Listerine Battery On Her 70-Year-Old Father...Man Convicted Of Killing Chandra Levy Is Likely To Get A New Trial...Suspect in D.C. Murders Identified From DNA Left On Dominos Pizza Crust.
Quick Hits Part Deux: Since last season, CC Sabathia has a strong 4.5:1 K:BB ratio. Unfortunately, he’s also allowed a whopping 18 homers over 100.1 innings. It would be quite a stretch to call this poor luck. Although it’s impressive he’s managed to still miss bats with such diminished stuff, Sabathia can safely remain on waiver wires...Speaking of former stars no longer performing, how bad has Robinson Cano been? He has one home run on the year and has been caught on three of his four SB attempts. He’s on pace to finish with 41 RBI over 656 at bats while batting third in the lineup. I guess that’s what happens when you hit .179/.250/.205 with RISP...Jake Odorizzi has been given the worst run support (1.89 runs) in MLB this season, while Nick Martinez has received the best (7.67)...Shin-soo Choo still hasn’t attempted a steal this season, but at least his bat has shown life this month, when he’s homered five times...Ryan Zimmerman has the third-most walk-off homers in NL-history, which is pretty crazy considering he’s 31 years old with fewer than 200 home runs in his career...Billy Burns is fast and has a lot of stolen base potential, especially now locked into a regular role in Oakland with Coco Crisp again on the DL. Burns has five steals over the last seven games, so it’s a bit unclear why he’s owned in fewer than five percent of Yahoo Leagues. He had 54 steals in the minors last year over just 473 ABs. I spent $66 on Burns in a high stakes NFBC league, so I’m putting my money where my mouth is.
Song of the Week: Nirvana – “Where Did You Sleep Last Night.”
Longread of the Week: Pam And Tommy: The Untold Story Of The World’s Most Infamous Sex Tape.
Quick Hits Part Tres: Prince Fielder has six homers and 16 RBI over the last dozen games, and he’s also leading the American League with a .351 batting average. He sure looks like he’s back to being a star while half of his long balls this season have come against southpaws. Fielder has more homers (295) than doubles (286) during his career...From May 5-22, Dee Gordon didn’t steal a base, attempting just one over that span. He has five stolen bases over his last three games since then and owns a .376 BA that easily leads major league baseball...Mark Teixeira has more walks than strikeouts and is on pace to finish with 49 home runs...Cameron Maybin has four homers, six steals and a .355 OBP over 105 at bats and has recently been moved into the No. 2 spot in Atlanta’s order. He will be worth using even in shallower mixed leagues until his next injury strikes...Petco Park Has Been A Launching Pad...Brandon Crawford leads all shortstops with a 151 wRC+ and is very good defensively, meaning he’s been one of the more valuable players in baseball this year...Gerrit Cole hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any start this year, has an average FB velocity of 95.6 mph that ranks top-five in baseball and is combining a 10.8 SwStr% with a 2.42 GB/FB ratio. In other words, if a draft were held today, he’d be worth a third round pick.
I'm not going to give you superstars to play; you can talk yourself into Mike Trout and Anthony Rizzo. You don't need any expert help there, right? You know they're pretty good, don't you?
Players to Buy
Mike Napoli, 1B, vs. LAA (Santiago), $2700: For a while, it was a nightmare. Lately, it’s a dream. Napoli is on a 7-for-18 binge over his last five games, with four homers, and he’s a career .276/.389/.521 man against lefties. A lot of pundits scoff at the theory of a hot hand, but there are Stanford Academics who present the other side. You decide what you want to do; in the meantime, give me Napoli at this giveaway price. Xander Bogaerts ($2300) also looks like a reasonable play, especially in the No. 5 slot.
Erick Aybar, SS, at BOS (Miley), $2600: He’s parked in the leadoff spot and hitting .324 against lefties, and you know he’ll put the ball in play against Wade Miley.
Anthony Gose, OF, vs. HOU (Hernandez), $3000: Leadoff spot, mediocre opponent (and a slow delivering one), platoon advantage, all sounds good to me. Gose is a .339/.367/.487 hitter against righties this year.
Yankees left-handers, vs. TEX (Gallardo): Lefty swingers have a .480 slugging percentage against Yo Gabba Gabba, and Yankee Stadium is often a cushy spot for those wielding that platoon advantage. We don’t have the New York lineup because it’s the night game, but you know who their primary guys are - and big names usually get the call in front of a National Audience. Brett Gardner, Mark Teixeira, Brian McCann (rested Saturday), they all look good to me. Should be a fun night in The Bronx.
Jason Hammel, SP, at ARZ (Hellickson), $8800: He's no longer a cheap play in Fan Duel, though you do save $1400 from the Sonny Gray Real Estate price. Hammel has spiked his slider usage in the last two years, and it's helped turn him into a dynamite No. 3 for the Cubs. Take a bow, pitching coach Chris Bosio.
Mike Foltynewicz, vs. MIL (Nelson), $6900: The Brewers are third in strikeout rate and Folty is a strikeout pitcher (better than one whiff per inning). Lame-duck Turner Field has been a mild help to pitchers over the last three seasons.
Seth Smith, OF, at TOR (Sanchez), $2200: We love those cheap platoon options at the top of the order (Smith is actually hitting second), and the Rogers Centre is a fun place to take your hacks.
Players to Fade
Hanley Ramirez, OF, vs. LAA (Santiago), $3400: It’s adorable when some pundits talk about Hanley’s home-run drought. Hosers, the guy is in an offensive drought. Ramirez has a .554 OPS in May, with zero RBIs. There’s been speculation that he’s playing hurt. I need to see a show of faith before I dial him up.
Robinson Cano, 2B, at TOR (Sanchez), $2800: Man, that price is so tempting. But until Cano starts lifting the ball again, I can’t fall into this rabbit hole. He’s once again hitting ground balls over half the time, and his infield pops have spiked as well. Something doesn’t add up here.
Michael Wacha, SP, at KC, $8500: I'm a Wacha guy generally, but he's modest with strikeouts and the Royals put ball in play. Seasonal yes, #DFS Sunday, no. There’s also rain in the forecast to worry about.
Giants and Rockies: Thunderstorms are once again in the forecast in Colorado, which means I have to reluctantly steer away from their hitters. Such a shame (I see you, Chad Bettis), but I’ll respect the bagel risk. If you are willing to toss the dice, make sure it’s in a tournament format, not in a 50-50 game...
Here are your outfielder Shuffle Up prices. We're trying to figure how the players will perform from here on out. What's happened to this point is an audition, nothing past that.
Assume a 5x5 scoring system, as always. Players at the same prices are considered even. I reserve the right to tweak the list on the weekend. And I'll add commentary at some point this weekend.
When I do these lists, they're composed completely from scratch. I don't care where I ranked everyone in March. I'm not one of those rankers who moves a handful of guys and calls it a day.
You're going to have some disagreements, and that's good. That's why we have a game and why it's fun. I look at someone else's list and I see things I don't understand, too. If you did a list, you'd encounter the same thing. That's how these things work.
Remember, a player doesn't gain or lose bonus value just because you like him; you drafted him; you saw him at the driving range; he wouldn't sign an autograph for your nephew; whatever. Try not to get personal about the stock, Gekko told us that. We just want the numbers. (And no, I don't hate your favorite team.)
The injury ranks are for courtesy. I will not debate them. If you're a better doctor than I am, that's fine. I'm generally very cautious with hurt players and it's served me well over the years, but you are welcome to play differently.
I didn't rank players in the minors. I also skipped the shortstops who carry OF eligibility (Hanley, for one), since no one would use them here. Ditto for Stephen Vogt, Oakland's fun catcher.
$31 Mike Trout
$31 Bryce Harper
$28 Giancarlo Stanton
$28 Michael Brantley
$28 Justin Upton
$26 Nelson Cruz
$25 Carlos Gomez
$23 Adam Jones
$23 Starling Marte
$22 Andrew McCutchen
$22 Ryan Braun
$20 Josh Reddick
$20 Jose Bautista
$18 Hunter Pence
$18 Brett Gardner
$18 A.J. Pollock
$17 Matt Holliday
$17 George Springer
$16 Billy Hamilton
$16 J.D. Martinez
$16 Lorenzo Cain
$16 Charlie Blackmon
$16 Dexter Fowler
$15 Yoenis Cespedes
$15 Joc Pederson
$15 Mookie Betts
$13 Matt Kemp
$13 Alex Gordon
$12 Jason Heyward
$12 Carlos Gonzalez
$12 Torii Hunter
$12 Kole Calhoun
$11 Jay Bruce
$10 Chris Carter
$10 Mark Trumbo
$10 Ryan Zimmerman
$10 Denard Span
$10 Jacob Marisnick
$10 Avisail Garcia
$10 Rusney Castillo
$9 Brandon Moss
$9 Marcell Ozuna
$9 Josh Harrison
$9 Gregory Polanco
$9 Curtis Granderson
$8 Norichika Aoki
$8 Jorge Soler
$8 Melky Cabrera
$7 Andre Ethier
$7 Steven Souza
$7 Ender Inciarte
$7 Angel Pagan
$6 Cameron Maybin
$6 Shin-Soo Choo
$6 Anthony Gose
$6 Rajai Davis
$6 Yasmany Tomas
$6 Christian Yelich
$5 Ben Revere
$5 Delino DeShields
$5 Billy Burns
$4 Michael Cuddyer
$4 Steve Pearce
$4 Marlon Byrd
$4 Kevin Pillar
$4 Carlos Beltran
$3 Leonys Martin
$3 Adam Eaton
$3 Michael Taylor
$3 Colby Rasmus
$3 David DeJesus
$3 Odubel Herrera
$3 Mark Canha
$2 Kevin Kiermaier
$2 Peter Bourjos
$2 Chris Young
$2 Nick Markakis
$2 David Peralta
$2 Darin Ruf
$2 Will Venable
$2 Juan Lagares
$2 Gerardo Parra
$2 Brandon Guyer
$2 Scott Van Slyke
$2 Seth Smith
$1 Khris Davis
$1 Michael Morse
$1 Brock Holt
$1 Alejandro de Aza
$1 Gregor Blanco
$1 Ichiro Suzuki
$0 Travis Snider
$0 Michael Saunders
$0 Ryan Raburn
$0 Justin Maxwell
$0 Michael Bourn
$0 David Murphy
$0 Delmon Young
$0 Jon Jay
$0 Randal Grichuk
$0 Shane Victorino
$0 Grady Sizemore
$0 Jeff Francoeur
$0 Jonny Gomes
Courtesy Injury Ranks
$15 *Corey Dickerson
$15 *Jacoby Ellsbury
$14 *Yasiel Puig
$12 *Wil Myers
$7 *Ben Zobrist
$6 *Jayson Werth
$6 *Alex Rios
$5 *Josh Hamilton
$4 *Desmond Jennings
$2 *Oswaldo Arcia
$2 *Austin Jackson
$1 *Kelly Johnson
$1 *Coco Crisp
$1 *Carl Crawford
Michael Bolsinger, SP, vs. SD (Kennedy), $6400 at FanDuel: Normally I’m all about recommending the best starting pitching option, who’s usually the most expensive. And I have no problem if you go with Corey Kluber (et al) but realize Bolsinger pitches for a team that’s tied for the third most favored Saturday, yet there are 23 pitchers pricier. It’s safe to say Bolsinger’s 1.04 ERA is probably (and by probably I mean certainly) going to rise, but he’s inducing a bunch of ground balls with an elite offense backing him up and is so cheap you can load up on hitters.
Russell Martin, C. vs. Sea (Paxton), $3500: He’s been an elite hitter since the beginning of last season, and that’s not even counting for him playing the thinnest position. Martin is batting .414/.500/.655 against LHP this season while posting a 1.131 OPS at home, so he sure looks like a must start in DFS at this price.
Adam LaRoche, 1B, vs. Min (May), $2800: He has four homers over 87 ABs against RHP this year and only Coors Field has increased run scoring more than U.S. Cellular Field over the past three seasons. Trevor May has yielded a .344 BAA when facing lefties, and LaRoche is cheap.
Jose Altuve, 2B, at Det (Lobstein), $4100: Altuve isn’t cheap but he plays a thin position and has hit .396/.491/.521 against southpaws this season.
Dustin Pedroia, 2B, vs. LAA (Wilson), $3000: If you prefer to spend your money other than Altuve on second base, look toward Pedroia, who has 10 hits over 24 career at bats versus C.J. Wilson. He also has a career .855 OPS at Fenway Park.
Alexei Ramirez, SS, vs. Min (May), $2300: He was the No. 4 ranked fantasy shortstop last year and is priced closely to as low as it gets regardless of position here. Ramirez owns a .742 OPS at home during his career.
Josh Donaldson, 3B, vs. Sea (Paxton), $3900: This seems like a good spot to spend money, as Donaldson is batting .455/.472/.788 against lefties this season and has a 1.078 OPS at home.
Andre Ethier, OF, vs. SD (Kennedy), $2600: He’s cheap, has five homers over 95 ABs against RHP this season and owns a .361/.425/.694 career line against Ian Kennedy. Ethier is only a very good bargain opposed to an amazing one because he bats lower in a Dodgers’ lineup that’s so far been historically good in 2015.
Carlos Gonzalez, OF, vs. SF (Heston) $3200: It continues to be difficult not to recommend CarGo at this price. Brandon Barnes and Joe Panik are other options to take advantage of Saturday if possible, but during a scheduled double header, realize weather looks to again be an issue in Colorado.
Freddie Freeman, 1B, vs. Mil (Fiers), $3400: He’s batting .310 against right-handed pitchers this season, hits in the middle of the lineup and is at home Saturday yet there are 12 first basemen more expensive than Freeman.
The height of the preseason '15 fantasy baseball draft season was just two months ago. But, in our instant gratification roto world, it might as well have been two years ago. The what-have-you-done-for-me-lately environment can cause perception of player values to change quickly. With that in mind, we asked the Yahoo crew to hit the reset button on the '15 season with a 12-round blog mock draft do-over. You can take a look at Rounds 1-6 here . Below is the pick-by-pick analysis for the second half of the draft (and please note the roster restrictions in the draft grid at the bottom of the page) ...
Pick 73: Carlos Santana, Cle, C/1/3 – Seems like he's dodged a bullet, injury-wise. We know he's good for 25-or-so homers, with better counting stats than most C-eligible players. (Andy Behrens)
Pick 74: Kole Calhoun, LAA, OF – Can't argue with the lineup spot (clean-up), and he can assist in all categories. (Behrens)
Pick 75: Stephen Strasburg, Was, SP – Maybe he's hurt and/or maybe I'm delusional. But I refused to let someone I'd take in the top-20 picks before the year drop lower than this now. (Dalton Del Don)
Pick 76: Carlos Gonzalez, Col, OF – Again, at this point, I'm sticking to history and my draft board before the season. (Del Don)
Pick 77: A.J. Pollock, Ari, OF – Love him - Has gone .298 with 13 home runs, 93 runs and 29 steals in past 581 ABs (Brandon Funston)
Pick 78: Lorenzo Cain, KC, OF – Pollock-ish for fantasy purposes - Has gone .303 with 8 home runs, 78 runs and 33 steals in past 577 ABs (Funston)
Pick 79: Jhonny Peralta, StL, SS – Only Tulo has a hgher offensive WAR from 2013 to present among shortstops. Silly underrated at a quicksand position. Be good, Jhonny. (Scott Pianowski)
Pick 80: Jake Arrieta, ChC, SP – It's a slider, it's a cutter . . . fine, call it a slutter. No one's hitting it. (Pianowski)
Pick 81: Sonny Gray, Oak, SP – His 3.58 xFIP would scare the bejesus out of some, but the friendly home park and 3.17 K/BB suggest otherwise. (Brad Evans)
Pick 82: Trevor Rosenthal, StL, RP – Deep-rooted closer on a first-place team who also happens to sport a 10.71 K/9. Coupled with Miller, this team would dominate saves. (Evans)
Pick 83: Kenley Jansen, LAD, RP – Need dominant closers in Ks minus IP. And Jensen is just rounding back into top form. He's elite, no doubt, on a top team. (Michael Salfino)
Pick 84: Craig Kimbrel, SD, RP – Still throwing as hard as ever. These samples with relievers are so small that it's often best to ignore them. And I don't have to pay for them, either. (Salfino)
Pick 85: Greg Holland, KC, RP – Little worried about the decline in Ks but again, tiny, tiny sample. Feel least certain about him of these four, to be honest. (Salfino)
Pick 86: Juerys Familia, NYM, RP – The formula for saves: low-scoring teams with good starting pitching. There, in a nutshell, is your 2015 New York Mets. (Salfino)
Pick 87: Ian Desmond, Was, SS – He stumbled out of the gate, but hitting .279 in May and .319 in the two-spot, there's hope for a quick turnaround. Working counts better, however, is a must. (Evans)
Pick 88: Alex Rodriguez, NYY, 3B – Tainted syringes aside, A-Rod has experienced quite the resurgence. His BA is a bit unsightly, but you have to like the .300-plus ISO. Another 15-20 HRs are in the forecast. (Evans)
Pick 89: Yan Gomes, Cle, C – Hell, I'll take him just for the angelic defense. The plus average and 18-20 homers, that's rather lovely too. (Pianowski)
Pick 90: David Price, Det, SP – Velocity is actually up this year, so I won't sweat the other stuff. That snow start was fluky. Too much goodwill here. (Pianowski)
Pick 91: Jacob deGrom, NYM, SP – Showing last season was no fluke - now has 2.82 ERA and 187 K in 188 IP with the Mets (Funston)
Pick 92: Stephen Vogt, Oak, C/1/O – Regression may have already begun (1 for past 14) but K/BB ratio is divine, and he's posted 22 HRs and a .282 BA in past 514 ABs with OAK (Funston)
Pick 93: Dustin Pedroia, Bos, 2B – He'll never return to his level in which he was an elite fantasy player, but Pedroia can still be plenty valuable. (Del Don)
Pick 94: Pablo Sandoval, Bos, 3B – His R/L splits have been extreme, but Sandoval should be plenty productive hitting in the middle of Boston's lineup. (Del Don)
Pick 95: Glen Perkins, Min, RP – Brilliant ratios thus far, and he's piling up saves and Ks. (Behrens)
Pick 96: Koji Uehara, Bos, RP – Koji has delivered a sub-1.00 WHIP with more strikeouts than innings-pitched. Outstanding stats at a mid-draft price. (Behrens)
Pick 97: Starlin Castro, ChC, SS – Castro is in a mini-slump, sure, but he's still on pace for 90-plus RBIs with double-digit power/speed totals. (Behrens)
Pick 98: Denard Span, Was, OF – He's basically getting two hits every night, leading off for a dangerous lineup. Terrific option for speed, run-scoring and average. (Behrens)
Pick 99: Devon Travis, Tor, 2B – He's cooled off after a hot start but still looks like a potentially productive middle infielder for years to come. (Del Don)
Pick 100: Drew Storen, Was, RP – He has a 21:3 K:BB ratio with a 0.75 WHIP and is closing for one of the better teams in baseball. (Del Don)
Pick 101: Jose Reyes, Tor, SS – You can slap a Mr. Yuck sticker on the remains of the SS crop - so, yeah, happy to nab Reyes now as he'll return from a rib injury on Memorial Day. (Funston)
Pick 102: Huston Street, LAA, RP – Just looking for reliable saves at this point, and Street definitely provides that - he's closed out 110 of his past 118 chances (Funston)
Pick 103: Cole Hamels, Phi, SP – Come on, Ruby Tuesday, trade him to a contender. (Pianowski)
Pick 104: Joakim Soria, Det, RP – Unchallenged closer on a winning club, with strong ratios thrown in? I like it. (Pianowski)
Pick 105: Derek Norris, SD, C – Love catchers that don't drag down BA. Walks are a rarity, but he's a solid contact hitter who should contribute handsomely in runs/RBI moving forward. (Evans)
Pick 106: Chris Archer, TB, SP – The once highly touted prospect is transforming into a top-of-the-line ace. Peripherals looks strong and his 3.88 K/BB is out of this world. (Evans)
Pick 107: Anthony Rendon, Was, 2B – Supposedly will be back soon and the latest is a strained lat so hopefully the knee will be 100% for some bags. He was a fantasy darling pre-injury, which hopefully is nearly over. (Salfino)
Pick 108: Danny Salazar, Cle, SP – Regret dropping him in Friends & Family but rosters were short and I unwisely chose to keep Rodon. I make amends here with the MLB (K-BB)/IP leader. (Salfino)
Pick 109: James Shields, SD, SP – All my pitchers in this run have K and BB dominance. Shields is striking out guys at an insane rate but doesn't have the ERA to show for it becasue San Diego has turned into a launching pad. (Salfino)
Pick 110: Carlos Carrasco, Cle, SP – Still think he may have the best stuff on his staff, which is saying a lot. He's at nearly a K minus BB per inning, which is super elite. (Salfino)
Pick 111: Yasmani Grandal, LAD, C/1 – He's slashed a .289/.407/.464 line in nearly 100 at-bats. A criminally underrated catcher. (Evans)
Pick 112: Santiago Casilla, SF, RP – This team desperately needed a reliable closer. Casilla fits the bill. He's 23-of-29 in save chances and has lucked his way into seven wins since the beginning of 2014. (Evans)
Pick 113: Alcides Escobar, KC, SS – Look, shortstop is nuclear waste. I'm just trying to idenfity the guy who will hurt me the least. (Pianowski)
Pick 114: Salvador Perez, KC, C – One of the few name catchers actually producing, and we know Ned Yost will run him into the ground. (Pianowski)
Pick 115: Ben Zobrist, Oak, 2/S/O – Gives each of my teams a rehabbing SS-eligible expected to return around Memorial Day - and that I'm overjoyed that Zobrist "fell" to me here speaks to the garbage heap that is the SS position. (Funston)
Pick 116: Francisco Rodriguez, Mil, RP – Doesn't get the respect he deserves - has saved 62-of-67 in his tenure with Milwaukee, with a WHIP under 1.00 and a Batting Average Against below the Mendoza Line (Funston)
Pick 117: Jonathan Papelbon, Phi, RP – Pretty much pitching as effective as ever and should still close for whichever team he's eventually traded to. (Del Don)
Pick 118: Zach Britton, Bal, RP – He has 22 strikeouts over 16.0 innings with just one blown save. (Del Don)
Pick 119: Brian McCann, NYY, C – Despite slow start, he's on pace for nearly 90 RBIs. The power stats will be there in the end. (Behrens)
Pick 120: Jorge Soler, ChC, OF – The average and OBP have been just fine, but power has been lacking to this point. It's not a season-long worry. Assuming health, he has 20-plus homers ahead. (Behrens)
Pick 121: David Ortiz, Bos, 1B – Papi's bat is clearly starting to come around. This is another case where we know the power stats will be there in the end. (Behrens)
Pick 122: Hector Rondon, ChC, RP – If we weren't limited to just two SPs in this exercise, Wacha or Zimmermann woulda been the pick. It's painful to see those names still on the board. (Behrens)
Pick 123: Jimmy Rollins, LAD, SS – He's been terrible but hit 17 homers and stole 28 bases as recently as last season and hits atop a lineup that's been historically good so far. (Del Don)
Pick 124: Matt Wieters, Bal, C – Should be back in action very soon. The former top prospect will be motivated in a contract year, if that means anything. (Del Don)
Pick 125: Jon Lester, ChC, SP – No, actually, the sky isn't falling - Lester is 4-0 with a 2.18 ERA and 33 K in his past 5 outings (33 IP) (Funston)
Pick 126: Jason Heyward, StL, OF – April was a disaster but, in this mock exercise, that's water under the bridge - May has been a much more encouraging (.821 OPS). (Funston)
Pick 127: Brad Boxberger, TB, RP – Elite ratios, maybe he can hold Jake McGee at bay. (Pianowski)
Pick 128: Alex Gordon, KC, OF – A multi-talented but somewhat boring pick; I blame slow start on injury, but like him going forward. (Pianowski)
Pick 129: Jason Grilli, Atl, RP – Vitals are strong. One bad outing against the Nats inflated his ERA. Leash remains very long. A fine RP2. (Evans)
Pick 130: Yasiel Puig, LAD, OF – His bothersome hamstring should keep him out of action until early June, but in such a shallow league, where useful OFs are in abundance, why not take a chance on a former early-round pick? (Evans)
Pick 131: Kyle Seager, Sea, 3B – His well-hit percentage is good but it hasn't translated into the power we expected. I still believe in the player. He was basically tied for me with Todd Frazier going into the season and thus, I believe, can match him going forward. (Salfino)
Pick 132: Evan Gattis, Hou, C – He's so overrated but catcher homers and catchers who don't catch are such good things. (Salfino)
Pick 133: Jimmy Paredes, Bal, 3B – I can't explain it but it's happening. There's no shame in belieivng the stats from a quarter of the season when you're in Round 12. He's Inside-Edge's 15th rated hitter and that's not all outcome-bias. His hard-hit rate is an insane 23.1% (average is 15.4%). He's slugging .611. (Salfino)
Pick 134: Dallas Keuchel, Hou, SP – Highest floor by far of any available pitcher. His Ks are a problem in innings-capped leagues but he will crush it in ERA becasue you can't elevate the ball against him. He piles up innings, too, with little effort. (Salfino)
Pick 135: Michael Pineda, NYY, SP – Remarkable comeback story. Several of his peripherals are not of this world -- 0.52 BB/9, 18.33 K/BB. Couple that with a sharp rise in GB% and continued success is a near lock. (Evans)
Pick 136: Shelby Miller, Atl, SP – Rediscovered groove after uneven 2014. Raise in swinging strike and ground-ball percentages encouraging. Near no-no not an anomaly. (Evans)
Pick 137: Mark Melancon, Pit, RP – Melancon and the Infinite Sadness. (Pianowski)
Pick 138: Matt Shoemaker, LAA, P – I don't like any of the save chasers so screw it, I'll take another starter (with RP eligibility). (Pianowski)
Pick 139: Fernando Rodney, Sea, RP – With Rodney, you have to learn to just count the saves up at the end of the year and not watch the process in which they were accumulated. (Funston)
Pick 140: Matt Kemp, SD, OF – Went with the name-brand appeal for my final OF pick here, but if we were playing this out, I'd have a short leash on Kemp with OF-eligibles Avisail Garcia, Ryan ZImmerman, Steven Souza, among others, on my Watch List (Funston)
Pick 141: Alexei Ramirez, CWS, SS – I needed a SS, and Ramirez was a top-60 overall fantasy player last season. (Del Don)
Pick 142: Jonathan Lucroy, Mil, C/1 – He should be back soon and was the No. 2 fantasy catcher last year. (Del Don)
Pick 143: Erick Aybar, LAA, SS – Lately, he's good for two hits and a run basically every day, leading off for the Angels. He's been a DFS steal. (Behrens)
Pick 144: Wade Davis, KC, RP – Sure, I could have taken a sketchy closer here. Instead, I'll go ahead and take the game's best relief pitcher, who happens to not close. (Behrens)
TALE OF THE TAPE (Final Team-By-Team Rosters)
Don't you just hate when you're pretty sure you're about to become a thousandaire, but then the Tigers' bullpen blows David Price's win? Me too. But we'll get it back today. Check the weather here, you guys, and scan lineups over here. Let's do the do...
Mitch Moreland, OF, at NYY (Pineda), $2300 at FanDuel: Moreland homered on Thursday, and he has eight hits in his last 20 at-bats with two doubles and two bombs. He's slashing .312/.382/.506 for the year. Moreland is just a single short of the cycle in his career against Pineda, for what it's worth, having gone 3-for-6 with nothin' but extra-base hits. At this price, I'm happily on board.
Jose Abreu, 1B, vs. Min (Hughes), $3500: Just a terrific price on a terrific hitter. Abreu is working on a 16-game hitting streak, and he's 6-for-13 against Hughes with three doubles. It's tough to imagine this one going poorly for Jose.
Carlos Carrasco, P, vs. Cin (Leake), $8700: While Carrasco hasn't been flawless this season, he's still struck out 51 batters in 43.2 innings, which ain't bad. He's also facing a roster that ranks in the bottom-third of the majors in run-scoring, OBP, and pretty much everything that matters. I like him here, in a home start.
Robinson Cano, 2B, at Tor (Estrada), $2900: OK, so I realize Cano has started slow and the power hasn't yet surfaced, but he's headed to a hitter-friendly environment, facing a so-so righty. He's also 5-for-13 over his last three games, and he's dirt-cheap. I'll take it. If you're starting a luxury pitcher like Scherzer or Greinke on Friday, you'll need to shop for hitters in the bargain bin.
Brad Miller, SS, at Tor (Estrada), $2800: Yup, I'd be willing to double-down on M's. Miller has four multi-hit games over his last eight starts with three homers, and he's slashing .297/.363/.571 against RHPs this year.
Nick Hundley, C, vs. SF (Vogelsong), $3000: Here's a relatively inexpensive way to get a share of the Coors action, and Vogelsong is a delightful bonus. Hundley has a homer, single, walk and two RBIs in six career plate appearances against the righty.
Yadier Molina, C, at KC (Young), $2300 : An excellent hitter at a near-minimum price. Molina is batting .338 in the month of March, and he's 3-for-10 in his career against Young. He also has eight multi-hit games in his last 15. After a day off on Thursday, he's good to go.
Erick Aybar, SS, at Bos (Porcello), $2400: Aybar is leading off for the Angels and raking in recent weeks. He's slashing .338/.356/.394 in May, and he's a great bet to cross the plate on Friday.
Jorge Soler, OF, at Ari (Collmenter), $2800: Soler hasn't had the noisiest season to date, but the bombs are coming. He'll do his hitting in a friendly park on Friday, facing a pitcher who's been mostly terrible lately. For less than 3K, you won't find many better OF options.
Chris Archer, P, vs. Oak (Kazmir), $9100: Archer enters this thing with 62 Ks in 54.2 innings and a 1.01 WHIP, plus he's facing a 14-29 team. No need to overthink this thing. If you're looking for ace-like alternatives to Scherzer, he's a terrific option.
Sometimes the dots line up perfectly and you can sense a change is imminent. That appears to be the case with the Red Sox and their lousy right-field situation. Don’t be tripped up by the organizational quotes from recent days; teams have zero incentive to tell us the truth. The high-priced Boston offense is struggling, and the Red Sox may have reached the tipping point.
Rusney Castillo isn’t in Boston as we go to press, but it probably won't be long before the $72 million man gets a chance to show what he can do. And this is a fantasy story worth investing in.
The Red Sox offense has a bunch of problems at the moment; we don’t have the time to list all of them. But two of the biggest issues are a lack of offense from right field, and a lack of production against left-handed starters.
Boston’s right fielders have a collective slash line of .152/.253/.239, putrid numbers. The .492 OPS not only is worst in the majors for the RF position, it’s a whopping 126 points from the next closest team, Pittsburgh.
The Red Sox have also been a joke against southpaw opponents. They’re hitting just .196 against lefties, with journyeman Wandy Rodriguez stopping them Thursday.
The club has tried a bunch of options, none of them consistently working. Aging Shane Victorino has made 15 starts; he’s dinged up at the moment. Daniel Nava’s slogged through 10 frustrating starts. Brock Holt, Allen Craig and Jackie Bradley Jr. have picked up right-field run, here and there.
Some of those guys make sense as utility options, but you need a better regular right fielder, especially if you fancy yourself a legitimate contender. It's a production position.
Injuries have held Castillo back thus far this spring. He had an oblique problem in spring training, which made it easier for the Red Sox to send him to Triple-A. Let the guy get healthy, comfortable, that sort of thing. Castillo went on to injure his shoulder in April and spent some time on the Pawtucket disabled list. He also had a minor ankle injury in the second week of May.
Between aches and pains, Castillo has acquitted himself nicely: .293/.341/.440, two homers, six steals over 18 games. He’s not tearing up the International League, but he’s done enough to throw his name on the radar.
And keep two other things in mind with Castillo: he’s already 27, and the Red Sox threw that $72 million contract at him last summer. This isn’t someone who’s supposed to need extensive seasoning in the minors; when you drop that kind of money on a mid-20s candidate, you’re expecting him to contribute quickly.
Castillo has been dropped more than added in Yahoo leagues over the past day, which makes me think the roto public is overreacting to some Boston quotes and/or getting fantasy advice from the wrong sources. Obviously Castillo won’t fix this team’s slumping offense on his own (and it’s silly some Boston writers feel the need to hot-take a column, saying that), but every possible improvement helps. And big-market teams are prone to taking action.
Castillo is also a right-handed batter, and although his average is depressed against lefties this year (small sample and all), he's slugging .545 against them. The Red Sox need an impact right-handed bat in the worst way. Hanley Ramirez doesn’t have an RBI in May – he certainly doesn’t look healthy right now – and Pablo Sandoval has turned into a liability against left-handed pitching. Southpaws kept Panda under the Mendoza Line last year, and he’s 2-for-42 against them this year.
I have no special contacts here, but come on, common sense is your best friend in fantasy baseball. The Red Sox can’t be stubborn forever. I’d be shocked if Castillo isn’t in The Hub before the end of May, and it seems plausible that we could see him sooner – perhaps this weekend. Boston draws two left-handed opponents in the Angels series on the weekend, and they’ll rematch Rodriguez at the end of the month.
I am not someone who barks out “stash everybody” by way of fantasy advice – that’s the easiest, most convenient slant to offer. But I do think Castillo should be immediately scooped up wherever available. Think back to the player Victorino was in 2013, a versatile slasher – that’s what Castillo might be ready to provide for us right away. There’s plausible upside here. Be proactive, while you still can. Take advantage of your trigger-happy opponent.
• Momentum is definitely a thing with closing situations, especially when a new candidate gets the ball. With that in mind, it’s important to note how well Shawn Tolleson came out of the Boston series, closing out two straight Texas victories.
Tolleson's Wednesday handshake was on the rockier side, but he was fairly smooth Thursday (a ringing David Ortiz double was followed by a pop-up and two strikeouts). If your league is slow to react to the save chase, please note Tolleson (and his zesty strikeout rate) can still be added in 82 percent of Yahoo leagues.
• The Arizona bullpen could get complicated again, as all of a sudden everyone is pitching well.
Enrique Burgos scored a couple of saves earlier in the week, in part because the workload of others fell into place. But for Thursday’s victory at Miami, the Snakes used Addison Reed in the eighth (scoreless inning, 2 Ks) and Brad Ziegler for the ninth (scoreless inning, 2 Ks). Both relievers had rocking-chair innings, throwing just 20 pitches between them. Ziegler gets extra credit for navigating the middle of the order, starting with a strikeout of Giancarlo Stanton.
I'm not ready to add Reed on any of my teams, but Ziegler's ground-ball clip and Burgos's strikeout rate both have some currency for the ninth. Place your bets.
• We’ve become accustomed to Cameron Maybin letting us down for fantasy purposes, so I don’t blame anyone who’s ignored his snappy May to this point (.315/.403/.444, one homer, three steals). Most of his production has come at the bottom of the Atlanta order, but he was promoted to the two-slot for Thursday and posted a useful 4-3-1-2 line (with another bag).
Perhaps Maybin can mark his territory in this new assignment. If you need deep-league help in the outfield, Maybin awaits the call in 98 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Follow Scott Pianowski on Twitter.
As the summer heats up, Yahoo's resident Noisemaker will offer his hot takes on specific players, trends and strategies much discussed in Fantasyland. Naturally, whatever he forecasts, the opposite is bound to occur. Feel free to offer your two cents in the comments section below.
The Buzz: Most within the "expert" community continue to suggest waiting on a quarterback is the only way to approach the position. As a result, Andrew Luck, despite averaging 27.5 points per game last season in standard formats, an output that bested No. 2 Aaron Rodgers by a full two points per game, sports a consensus No. 21 overall rank according to Fantasy Pros. Hey, it's hard to teach old dogs new tricks. The groupthink perspective on QBs, however, is not only antiquated, it's downright incognizant. What a bunch of neckbeard haters.
Why Luck deserves to be in the No. 1 overall conversation:
Safety. Stated time and time again by yours truly already this season, Luck owns arguably THE highest floor of any fantasy commodity. He's yet to miss a game in three years, has averaged at least 21 fantasy points per game in traditional formats (4 pts/pass TD, 1 pt/20 pass yds) each season, mastered Pep Hamilton's system, is loaded with more weapons than Ironman and scores across the board. Oh, and the former No. 1 pick doesn't turn 26 until September 12. The best is yet to come. Not to be overlooked, he plays at a position best described as low-risk. Over the past six years the bust rate of QB1s (Passers drafted as starters in 12-team leagues that finished outside the position's top-15), is a wee 23.6 percent. More "dud" prone positions logged considerably higher marks – RB1s 43.1 percent, WR1s 33.3 percent. Yes, the tier-to-tier dropoff among QBs is less harsh compared to RBs and WRs, but why chase rivers when you can hold all the chips?
Offense. Quiz 10 casual NFL fans what team led the league in passing last year and most would answer Green Bay, New Orleans, Detroit or maybe Atlanta. However, the Colts set the pace in vertical attempts with 661. Luck chucked it 41.3 times per game completing a league-leading 78 passes for 20 or more yards and 15 passes for 40-plus. His 9.2 average depth of target ranked No. 6 among quarterbacks with at least 400 dropbacks. With the addition of Frank Gore, the Colts hope to establish more balance, but considering the club's defensive shortcomings and acquisitions at WR (Andre Johnson, Philip Dorsett and Duron Carter), odds are strong Luck will surpass 600 attempts for the third time in four years. If anything, Gore's presence should assist the signal-caller in reducing pocket pressure while aiding play-action execution. Recall last fall, Luck was under duress 36.2 percent of the time. Meanwhile he completed just 59.0 percent of his play-action attempts. His workload may see a slight decline, but an increase in efficiency is likely. Hamilton, whose system is ridiculously complex, will find creative new ways to exploit defenses vertically. Music to the ear.
Enhanced Arsenal. T.Y. Hilton, Johnson, Donte Moncrief, Dorsett, Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen, Gore, Boom Herron – the Colts are stockpiled with speedy, physical and reliable weapons. Hell, Ryan Lindley could be fantasy functional surrounded by that kind of talent. Ok, that's a stretch. Given his new play things, Hamilton promises to "create paranoia" for the opposition by incorporating innovative wrinkles and permutations. As the OC recently noted, for the first time in Luck's career he'll have unlimited progressions, an improvement which should uncover and exploit mismatches. From a passing perspective, there's likely no better environment in the virtual game than Indy's.
Multidimensional scoring. In rushing terms Luck may be one-third Russell Wilson, but his useful contributions in the area are commendable. Over his first three years in the league, he averaged 298.3 rushing yards per season and totaled 12 touchdowns. That ground output boosted his overall fantasy worth by 14 percent. Similar to Rodgers, the Colt's versatility only deepens the attraction.
King of Consistency. Luck is like grandma's spaghetti, he's good nearly every serving. In each fantasy regular-season contest (Weeks 1-13) last year, he registered at least 21 fantasy points, eclipsing 32 big ones seven times. And he accomplished that with fantasy cesspool Hakeem Nicks and petrified wood Reggie Wayne. Rodgers, meanwhile, failed to reach the 20 fantasy point mark five times. Luck's two worst games came in the fantasy playoffs (Weeks 15 and 16), but chances are he almost singlehandedly carried owners into the second season. For the reasons stated above, more steady contributions are in the forecast.
Fearless Forecast: If you're debating between Luck, Jamaal Charles, Eddie Lacy, Rob Gronkowski, among others, at or near the top of your draft, don't fear the beard. Yes, streaming zealots will preach patience at QB, but instead of dealing with the waivers headache each week, it's savvy to go with the sure thing. And you can always find production at other positions late (e.g. Tevin Coleman this year) or off waivers (e.g. C.J. Anderson last year). At some point soon, possibly as early as this year, Luck will join Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in the 50-TD club. He's a unique talent blessed with a fantastic setup who's just now entering the prime of his career. There's room for his 0.56 points per dropback in 2014 (No. 4 among QBs) to grow. Even if his numbers remained unchanged or he experiences a slight decline this fall, he would still net a Round 1 value. If you're after security, there simply isn't a better option.
On Sunday, Texas manager Jeff Banister decreed that no player in his team's bullpen had a defined role going forward. Which of course was another way of saying that no player who'd previously had a defined role was any good at pitching. Neftali Feliz had blown a save chance on Saturday, allowing three runs in a horrid inning of work that featured a double, homer, walk and wild pitch.
On Wednesday, when another save opportunity presented itself, Shawn Tolleson got the nod for the Rangers. He wasn't flawless, but he managed to successfully protect a one-run lead while facing the top of the Red Sox batting order — not exactly a low-stress save situation. Mookie Betts doubled off Tolleson, Dustin Pedroia ripped a loud out (nice play by Delino DeShields), and David Ortiz drew an intentional pass, but no runs were scored.
It would appear, at least for now, that the ninth belongs to Tolleson, if it belongs to anyone. Add as needed. He's only owned in 8 percent of Yahoo leagues. Feliz was arguably droppable while he was closing, so he's certainly droppable now.
Tolleson has struck out 24 batters in 18.1 innings this year, issuing only four walks and allowing seven earned runs. His fantasy ratios are tolerable if not great (3.44, 1.20), and he's coaxing a swinging-strike rate of 13.0. If you're chasing saves, he's clearly in play.
• Tim Lincecum's throwback season continued on Wednesday, as he threw seven shutout innings against the Dodgers, yielding just three hits and striking out four. Highlights here, if you're scouting at home. (I own him in two leagues, but I left him on the bench in both, afraid to deploy him against a competent lineup. My bad. *Points to self*) Lincecum has actually held opponents scoreless in four of his eight starts this season — and if this were 2009, you wouldn't be at all surprised. But he's putting up all these zeros with the lowest K-percentage of his career (18.7, 6.8 K/9) and velocity in the Stults-Marquis-Hudson range (87.3). The deeper-diving stats don't suggest that he's been quite so dominant (4.19 xFIP).
Still, as much as I'd like to issue a sell-order, I'm interested in holding Lincecum through next week's two friendly starts: at Milwaukee, vs. Atlanta. It's hard to believe he won't pick up at least one win there.
• In other pitching news, Masahiro Tanaka (forearm) will take the mound for a Triple-A rehab start on Thursday. So that's good news for those who invested. Let's just keep in mind that Tanaka is living with a partially torn elbow ligaments, so he's not the safest name in the player pool.
• In case you missed it, here's the clip of Ryan Howard's 454-foot blast at Coors Field on Wednesday. That thing was destroyed. Howard went 3-for-5 against Colorado, adding a double. He's now on pace for 30-plus homers on the season, so he's obviously approved for use in mixers.
• Coco Crisp is headed to see a specialist for a neck issue of as-yet-unknown severity. Hopefully it's not a serious thing, but, with this player, DL visits are expected. Crisp's absence should mean we won't need to play the daily guessing game with Billy Burns.
Clayton Kershaw, SP, at SF (Bumgarner), $11200 at FanDuel: He’s the most expensive player Thursday and faces a tough opposing pitcher in Madison Bumgarner. But Kershaw is still as good as it gets (2.52 GB/FB ratio, 24.5 K-BB%, 13.8 SwStr%), and this game’s O/U is six, with the vig -120 on the under.
Brad Miller, SS, at Bal (Tillman), $2900: He has five homers over 90 ABs against RHP, including three steals and a .289/.356/.567 line. Chris Tillman has yielded a .333 BAA to LHB, and Oriole Park at Camden Yards has increased home runs an American League-high 33 percent for left-handed batters over the past three seasons, so Miller seems like a no-brainer considering his price at such a shallow position.
Maikel Franco, 3B, at Col (De La Rosa), $2700: He’s a solid prospect hitting in the middle of Philadelphia’s lineup facing a southpaw who’s allowed a .360 BAA at home. Franco sure looks like a bargain at this price, especially given the LHP and Coors Field.
Ryan Raburn, OF, at CWS (Danks), $2200: He has a 1.019 OPS versus lefties this year, bats mostly in the middle of Cleveland’s lineup when facing them and owns a 1.192 OPS over 47 career at-bats against John Danks. No player is cheaper than Raburn on FD during Thursday’s slate.
Adam Jones, OF, vs. Sea (Happ), $3400: He’s batting .444/.476/.889 against lefties with a 1.059 OPS in a home park that’s consistently been favorable for hitters. There are somehow 19 more expensive outfielders priced at FD on Thursday despite this.
Robinson Cano, 2B, at Bal (Tillman), $3000: After averaging 28.4 home runs over a five-year span from 2009-2013, Cano hit just 14 last year and has only one over 159 at-bats this season. But he owns a .429/.467/.679 career line against Chris Tillman, is the 12th most expensive second baseman in a shallow position despite such a great track record and as mentioned above, is hitting in a terrific environment for LHB in Baltimore.
Carlos Gonzalez, OF, vs. Phi (Williams), $3300: He has a long history of success, is facing a righty and is at home in Coors Field, where Gonzalez’s price doesn’t reflect this. Jerome Williams has allowed a .333 BAA versus LHB this season.
Carlos Ruiz, C, at Col (De La Rosa), $3000: He’s batting .438 against left-handers this season and owns a career 1.370 OPS versus Jorge De La Rosa. Both are small samples, but he’s hitting in Coors Field on Thursday.
Hanley Ramirez, OF, vs. Tex (Rodriguez), $3600: He has a .343/.439/.743 line against southpaws this season and owns a 1.292 career OPS when facing Wandy Rodriguez. Fenway Park is a great place to hit, and Ramirez isn’t priced as a top-10 outfielder.
Xander Bogaerts, SS, vs. Tex (Rodriguez), $2200: This is a former highly regarded prospect who’s batting in a strong lineup (albeit low) against a left-handed pitcher in a terrific hitter’s park. So Bogaerts is a potential bargain as the lowest priced batter available, let alone one at the SS position.
Baltimore Orioles – Zach Britton (D. O'Day)
Boston Red Sox – Koji Uehara (J. Tazawa, A. Ogando)
Chicago White Sox – David Robertson (Z. Duke, J. Petricka)
Cleveland Indians – Cody Allen (B. Shaw)
Detroit Tigers – Joakim Soria (J. Chamberlain)
Houston Astros – Luke Gregerson (C. Qualls, P. Neshek)
Kansas City Royals – Greg Holland (W. Davis, K. Herrera)
Los Angeles Angels – Huston Street (J. Smith)
Minnesota Twins – Glen Perkins (A. Thompson)
New York Yankees – Andrew Miller (D. Betances)
Oakland Athletics – Tyler Clippard (E. Scribner); Sean Doolittle injured (shoulder)
Seattle Mariners – Fernando Rodney (D. Farquhar)
Tampa Bay Rays – Brad Boxberger (J. McGee)
Texas Rangers – Shawn Tolleson (K. Kela, N. Feliz)
Toronto Blue Jays – Brett Cecil (R. Osuna)
Arizona Diamondbacks – Enrique Burgos (B. Ziegler)
Atlanta Braves – Jason Grilli (J. Johnson)
Chicago Cubs – Hector Rondon (P. Strop)
Cincinnati Reds – Aroldis Chapman (J. Diaz)
Colorado Rockies – John Axford (R. Betancourt)
Los Angeles Dodgers – Kenley Jansen (Y. Garcia)
Miami Marlins – A.J Ramos (M. Dunn, S. Cishek)
Milwaukee Brewers – Francisco Rodriguez (J. Broxton)
New York Mets – Jeurys Familia (C. Torres); Bobby Parnell injured (elbow)
Philadelphia Phillies – Jonathan Papelbon (K. Giles)
Pittsburgh Pirates – Mark Melancon (T. Watson, J. Hughes)
St. Louis Cardinals – Trevor Rosenthal (M. Belisle)
San Diego Padres – Craig Kimbrel (J. Benoit)
San Francisco Giants – Santiago Casilla (S. Romo)
Washington Nationals – Drew Storen (M. Thornton, A. Barrett)
The height of the preseason '15 fantasy baseball draft season was just two months ago. But, in our instant gratification roto world, it might as well have been two years ago. Our what-have-you-done-for-me-lately environment can cause perception of player values to change quickly. With that in mind, we asked the Yahoo crew to hit the reset button on the '15 season with a 12-round blog mock draft do-over. Take a look at the first six rounds - the second half of the draft will come out on Friday (and please note the roster restrictions in the draft grid at the bottom of the page) ...
Pick 1: Mike Trout, LAA, OF – Trout was the consensus top pick back in March, and he's delivered in all five categories thus far. (Andy Behrens)
Pick 2: Miguel Cabrera, Det, 1/3 – Bryce Harper would have been the splash pick here, obviously. But I'm gonna go ahead and take the world's best hitter, thankyouverymuch. (Behrens)
Pick 3: Bryce Harper, Was, OF – He's bound to regress some, but it's pretty impressive to lead the NL both in homers and walks. The huge season many have been expecting is finally upon us. (Dalton Del Don)
Pick 4: Paul Goldschmidt, Ari, 1B – If he continues to run like this, a truly special fantasy season may be in store. Goldschmidt just keeps getting better. (Del Don)
Pick 5: Giancarlo Stanton, Mia, OF – Pure power play - of the 10 longest home runs in '15, Stanton has hit five of them. (Brandon Funston)
Pick 6: Josh Donaldson, Tor, 3B – A top 25 fantasy bat the past two seasons in Oakland - now in Toronto's ripe hitting environment, he's top 10. (Funston)
Pick 7: Anthony Rizzo, ChC, 1B – When in doubt, load up the infield. And surprise, he's a five-category guy now. (Scott Pianowski)
Pick 8: Jose Altuve, Hou, 2B – Altuve 1, Regression Police 0. Batting average is so misunderstood. So what if he doesn't walk? You get more bang for your buck. (Pianowski)
Pick 9: Jose Abreu, CWS, 1B – The much publicized decline of Abreu was greatly exaggerated. He's slashed a quality .295/.368/.496 line. Expect his power output to increase with the temps on the South Side. (Brad Evans)
Pick 10: Kris Bryant, ChC, 3B – Crazy early? Negative. Bryant has delivered. He's drawn walks (18.6 BB%), driven in runs (24) and has started to find his home run stroke. Sky's the limit. (Evans)
Pick 11: Edwin Encarnacion, Tor, 1B – Want power and I love the player despite his relatively slow start. His strikeout rate is much higher than expected and thus cause for concern. (Michael Salfino)
Pick 12: Andrew McCutchen, Pit, OF – Maybe I should have taken Michael Brantley, as McCutchen's now the poor man's Brantley. But his knee is reportedly no longer an issue, meaning this collapse makes zero sense. (Salfino)
Pick 13: Hanley Ramirez, Bos, SS/O – Loved him before the season and there are health issues as always but he's so dynamic as a shortstop qualifier if he can somehow escape further injury. (Salfino)
Pick 14: Nelson Cruz, Sea, OF – He works so hard at his craft and his swing that I believe he will remain the league's leading home run hitter prospectively. (Salfino)
Pick 15: Adrian Gonzalez, LAD, 1B – He's murdering the baseball. His BA will slowly decline, but with a .300-plus ISO, another 25-30 HR, 110-120 RBI finish seems inevitable. (Evans)
Pick 16: Jose Bautista, Tor, 1/O – Shoulder issues aside, Bautista is starting to rebound after a slow start. The homers will come in bunches. Couple that with 90/90 in runs/RBI and he's worth the risk in RD2. (Evans)
Pick 17: Michael Brantley, Cle, OF – Cut and paste the Altuve note, drop it in here. The K/BB rate is silly, and Brantley is good in every other area, too. Lefties, no problem. (Pianowski)
Pick 18: Adam Jones, Bal, OF – I want him for the floor, the lineup, and the bubbles he blows in-play. He's not running anymore, but no big deal. (Pianowski)
Pick 19: Justin Upton, SD, OF – Having his best offensive season yet in the toughest home park he's ever played in, and he's even been way better at home than on the road. (Funston)
Pick 20: Joey Votto, Cin, 1B – With quad strain of '14 now history, the Canadian Club is looking every bit of his proficient old self again. (Funston)
Pick 21: Clayton Kershaw, LAD, SP – The lack of wins have been a fluke, and all his peripherals suggest Kershaw remains as dominant as ever. He should still be treated as a first round pick. (Del Don)
Pick 22: Jacoby Ellsbury, NYY, OF – There felt like a bit of a drop off here, but steals are hard to come by. If this exercise didn't limit us to two SPs, I'd have gone Scherzer instead. (NOTE: THIS PICK HAPPENED BEFORE ELLSBURY WAS PLACED ON THE DL). (Del Don)
Pick 23: Max Scherzer, Was, SP – Oh, we're giving this team the game's best hitter AND (arguably) the best pitcher? OK, done. (Behrens)
Pick 24: Felix Hernandez, Sea, SP – I thought about snagging Matt Harvey here, but I trust Dalton to take him before he slips to Salfino. (Behrens)
Pick 25: Todd Frazier, Cin, 1/3 – So far, he's given us everything but batting average. Nice power/speed combo at the corner. (Behrens)
Pick 26: Starling Marte, Pit, OF – Power has been a real plus this season. Marte is assisting in all five cats so far. (Behrens)
Pick 27: Matt Harvey, NYM, SP – He's dominant, and even with an innings limit, there's no way he should last this long. (Del Don)
Pick 28: Ryan Braun, Mil, OF – I was worried about his lack of power early on, but it appears to be back. I would've gone Freeman but already had a 1B. (Del Don)
Pick 29: Matt Carpenter, StL, 3B – He's been a batting average/run scoring machine in the past, but now he's added power - second only to A-Gon in extra-base hits. (Funston)
Pick 30: Freddie Freeman, Atl, 1B – Run production has been better than I expected, which is to say the Braves offense has been better than I expected, thus far (Funston)
Pick 31: Nolan Arenado, Col, 3B – Colorado still has a bunch of home games to catch up on. Yes, please. This might be the last time Arenado goes this late for a while. (Pianowski)
Pick 32: Carlos Gomez, Mil, OF – Why am I getting a two-round discount? Milwaukee is under water, but it's not Gomez's fault. Category juice, yummy. (Pianowski)
Pick 33: Dee Gordon, Mia, 2B – His .400-plus BA is unsustainable, but he's a strong three-cat contributor who should swipe another 35-40 bags. (Evans)
Pick 34: Jason Kipnis, Cle, 2B – Last year's disaster is long in the past. Kipnis, the second-most valuable 2B in the virtual game, is again a smorgasbord of fantasy goodness. Should flirt with 20-20 while chipping in 90 runs, 65 RBI. (Evans)
Pick 35: Troy Tulowitzki, Col, SS – His year is bizarre and I expect a correction in light of his larger sample of excellence, though perhaps in less hospitable surroundngs (but in a better frame of mind). (Salfino)
Pick 36: Joc Pederson, LAD, OF – Yeah he has strikeout fleas big time but also big-time power in a great lineup and in a park that now plays for power. Lots could go wrong. More could continue to go right. (Salfino)
Pick 37: Eric Hosmer, KC, 1B – He's arrived and become the hitter everyone though he'd be when he was drafted third overall. His hitting profile is nearly flawless -- a 97 on the Inside-Edge 100-point scale across 23 categories. (Salfino)
Pick 38: Josh Reddick, Oak, OF – Uniformly excellent offensive performance. Highlight: While all MLB hitters strike out about 21% of plate appearances, Reddick strikes out only that often even after the pitcher gets him to two strikes (MLB K rate after two strikes is 39%). (Salfino)
Pick 39: George Springer, Hou, OF – His BA is dreadful, but the now healthy future star is a strong candidate for a 20-55-55-15 line rest of season. (Evans)
Pick 40: Marcus Semien, Oak, 2/3/S – This will be a shock to some, but I believe Semien is the real deal. He's driving the ball, sports a reduced K rate and is a fixture at or near the top of Oakland's lineup. (Evans)
Pick 41: Adrian Beltre, Tex, 3B – April got people worried, but he's mashing in May. Next stop: Hall of Fame. (Pianowski)
Pick 42: Robinson Cano, Sea, 2B – I'm happy to base my price on what he did last year in Seattle, though that may or may not be worth Round 4 money. (Pianowski)
Pick 43: Buster Posey, SF, C/1 – Had a quick thought about Vogt here, but Posey has track record on his side, and he's been solid to date - plus, return of Pence gives SF offense a boost (Funston)
Pick 44: Kolten Wong, StL, 2B – Wanted one of my two favorite young, up-and-comer 2Bs (Wong or Betts) - admittedly, Betts' current 3-for-25 slump pushed me to Wong (Funston)
Pick 45: Johnny Cueto, Cin, SP – It'a hard to argue against Cueto at this point. He's clearly one of the very best pitchers in baseball. (Del Don)
Pick 46: Prince Fielder, Tex, 1B – He used to be a top fantasy pick, and probably still should be. Fielder's current line of .344/.401/.497 isn't much different than his career mark of .286/.388/.522. (Del Don)
Pick 47: Corey Kluber, Cle, SP – Absolutely dominant in his last two starts, striking out 30 batters over 17.0 innings. (Behrens)
Pick 48: Madison Bumgarner, SF, SP – I'm supposed to worry about all those innings he pitched last season, but he's been dominant lately. (Behrens)
Pick 49: Mookie Betts, Bos, 2/O – Betts has obvious 20/20 potential, and I'm not worried about the batting average. His BABIP is weirdly low at the moment. (Behrens)
Pick 50: Albert Pujols, LAA, 1B – After a slow start, he's basically been his usual self in May. For the month, he's hitting .274 and slugging .500. (Behrens)
Pick 51: Aroldis Chapman, Cin, RP – I'm all for waiting on closers, but Chapman is the clear best option. His 1.21 WHIP is disappointing, but his run prevention remains strong despite it thanks to the high K rate. (Del Don)
Pick 52: Hunter Pence, SF, OF – He's only lasted this long because Pence has missed most of the season. But he's fully healthy now, and a good value here. (Del Don)
Pick 53: Chris Sale, CWS, SP – Past two starts he's looked like the nasty, 200-K, low ratio, Cy Young-level talent that we've come to know and love. (Funston)
Pick 54: Gerrit Cole, Pit, SP – He's getting nearly 10 K/9 and his FIP (2.42) nearly matches his ERA (2.40). And, at age 24, with 300-plus MLB innings pitched, all arrows are pointing up. (Funston)
Pick 55: Brett Gardner, NYY, OF – Walks up, whiffs down, running more aggressively, still pops one out every now and again. Forever underrated. (Pianowski)
Pick 56: Zack Greinke, LAD, SP – I wanted Brian Dozier here, but no utility or MI spot to use. Instead, I'll go with a high-floor pitcher in a safe environment. (Pianowski)
Pick 57: Wil Myers, SD, OF – Former top prospect blossoming right before our eyes. Hopeful his sore wrist is only a slight derailment. Have to like his across-the-board production. (Evans)
Pick 58: Billy Hamilton, Cin, OF – BA zombie thus far due to ongoing first-strike issues, but steal swiping bags at a torrid pace. If he can hit .250, another 50 steals, 60-65 runs a foregone conclusion. (Evans)
Pick 59: Matt Holliday, StL, OF – I've learned to stop worrying and just love Holliday. His on-base percentage after two strikes is .338, which is unreal (average is .250). He's aging like fine wine. (Salfino)
Pick 60: J.D. Martinez, Det, OF – From the start of 2014 through May 18, Martinez has compiled about a full season (161 games). He's hit .301 with 31 homers. He's ranked ninth in slugging (.536) between Miggy (.540) and Encarnacion (.526). (Salfino)
Pick 61: MAnny Machado, Bal, 3B – Like Hosmer, the bet is that Machado is a transformed player. But Machado, still 22, is nearly three years younger than Hosmer and thus may be just tapping his vast potential. (Salfino)
Pick 62: Russell Martin, Tor, C – I said in March Martin would score 80 runs but I think that's rather obvious now and with the enormous power (10th in slugging) in that friendly park, you have to pay up. (Salfino)
Pick 63: Andrew Miller, NYY, RP – As always, RP is a position defined by landmines. Miller provides safety. He's the Aroldis of the AL, a dominant, high-K closer with electric stuff. (Evans)
Pick 64: Yoenis Cespedes, Det, OF – Everyone in the fantasy community frowned on the Tiger in the preseason (Pianowski, I'm looking at you). However, he's posted a borderline OF2 line through two months. I'll gladly invest in another 15-20 HRs and 65-70 RBI. (Evans)
Pick 65: Kendrys Morales, KC, 1B – The Royals offense is a bankable thing, go figure. (Pianowski)
Pick 66: Dexter Fowler, ChC, OF – Looks like this is growing up. Plus lineup, and he's finally learned how to steal bases. (Pianowski)
Pick 67: Ian Kinsler, Det, 2B – I like a lot of the fresh, young talent at 2B, but sometimes there's nothing like the security that comes from a veteran (who also happens to be crushing it) with a proven track record. (Funston)
Pick 68: David Robertson, CWS, RP – He's basically been every bit as dominating as Andrew Miller, thus far, but without the looming specter of Dellin Betances behind him. (Funston)
Pick 69: Evan Longoria, TB, 3B – It's a boring pick, but Longoria has a long track record, and third base is fairly thin. (Del Don)
Pick 70: Charlie Blackmon, Col, OF – He's not off to a huge start, but Blackmon is the leadoff hitter for the Rockies, and Coors Field remains a huge advantage. (Del Don)
Pick 71: Brian Dozier, Min, 2B – He's not usually one of my pet players, but I'm not gonna refuse 20/20 power/speed potential with on-base skills. (Behrens)
Pick 72: Howie Kendrick, LAD, 2B – The batting average is legit, and he's on pace for 90 runs and 17 homers, with a modest helping of steals. (Behrens)
TALE OF THE TAPE (TEAMS THUS FAR)
There's only one early game on Wednesday, so we'll ignore it here. Good luck to anyone Kuecheling today. Before finalizing rosters, please remember check the weather and scan the lineups prior to game time. Let's begin the usual bargain hunt...
Tyson Ross, P, vs. CHC (Wada), $8900 at FanDuel: Ross enters this game with a 10.6 K/9, and the Cubs lead the majors in Ks (377). If Ross can just limit the walks (no sure thing), then he has a shot to post a significant point total here. The Pads are a healthy favorite here (-135).
David Ortiz, 1B, vs. Tex (Klein), $2200: In case you hadn't noticed, Papi has strung together three straight multi-hit efforts and he's homered in back-to-back games. He's facing an unthreatening right-hander on Wednesday, and the price is right.
Mike Moustakas, 3B, vs. Cin (Marquis), $2600: While we're on the subject of unthreatening righties, you'll notice that Jason Marquis is taking the mound at Kansas City. He's been hammered in his last two starts, raising his WHIP to 1.63 in the process. Moose has seen him just twice before, but he's hit safely each time,with a homer included.
Matt Kemp, OF, vs. CHC (Wada), $2800: No, Kemp has not exactly been on fire lately, but he's so well priced in this one, facing a soft-tossing left-hander. He traditionally crushes lefties (.331 career average, .313 this season), and he's homered against Wada previously.
Kolten Wong, 2B, at NYM (Colon), $3100: Wong delivered a strong April and he's been even better in May, slashing .304/.360/.522 for the month. Colon has allowed 15 hits, nine earned runs and three homers over his last 11.0 innings, so it turns out he's not untouchable.
Wilson Ramos, C, vs. NYY (Warren), $2900: Not such a bad price for a guy on a 19-game hitting streak. Ramos is obviously feasting, hitting .367 in May with an OPS of .906. He went 1-for-4 with a homer on Tuesday, and he's facing a not-so-intimidating starter on Wednesday.
Erick Aybar, SS, at Tor (Hutchison), $2400 : Aybar is 15-for-31 over his last eight games, he's leading off for the Angels, and he's dirt-cheap. Let's not overthink it. Hutchison has been solid in his last two outings, but he was hit hard in the previous two. I'll continue rolling with Aybar, while he's in the bargain bin.
Jake Odorizzi, P, at Atl (Perez), $8800: Odorizzi hasn't issued a walk in any of his last four starts (26.0 IP), and he's held opponents to one run (or none) in five of his eight turns this season. Atlanta is starting Williams Perez on Wednesday, a right-hander who's been roughed up in relief.
Denard Span, OF, vs. NYY (Warren), $3600: Span is slashing .327/.370/.510 for the year, and he has six two-hit games in his last seven. He's also 30-for-77 against right-handers this season, with seven walks and 12 extra-base hits. I don't think Warren is the guy who stops Span's hitting streak (or Ramos').
Dustin Pedroia, 2B, vs. Tex (Klein), $2700: Dustin is coming off a two-double game and facing a sketchy starter, plus the price is friendly. He's reaching base at a .364 clip, which is almost perfectly in line with his career rate. The big bats behind Pedroia are waking up (see above), which should boost his fantasy appeal.
Brad Ziegler has been the best reliever in the Arizona bullpen this year, and it’s not particularly close. The submariner has a 1.04 ERA, a 0.87 WHIP, and a tiny .169 batting-average against. If you need a ground-ball, Ziggy plays guitar.
Does that make him a saves candidate? Not necessarily.
Ziegler pitched two scoreless innings, the 10th and 11th, in Monday’s extra-inning victory at Miami, which earned him the night off Tuesday. And with that, we have a new entry into the Arizona save chase. Enrique Burgos grabbed a Monday save in the 13th inning, then came back with a more conventional ninth-inning save Tuesday.
Neither Burgos conversion was easy on the ticker. He’s allowed three baserunners over the last two nights, and for the year he’s given up eight hits and eight walks over 11.2 innings. Like so many late-inning relievers, he’s not approved for all viewing audiences.
Ah, but the 24-year-old righty has one dynamic skill - a fastball in the 96 mph range. He’s piled up 20 strikeouts in his 10 games this year, including four the last two games. He’s getting a swing and a miss 13.4 percent of the time.
Lovely. Now manager Chip Hale has more options to make our lives difficult. He can go to Ziegler if a ground ball is needed, or Burgos if a strikeout is needed. And who knows, maybe Addison Reed’s temple of doom will come back to the ninth inning at some point. Reed earned his demotion from the closer role, throwing 13 high-stress innings (16 H, 8 R, 7 BB, 11 K). He did get the extra-inning victory Monday, for what it’s worth.
I’ve decided to go Reed free in my leagues, wherever that takes me. I do have a few Ziegler and Burgos shares. It’s no fun speculating in a quicksand bullpen, but sometimes there’s no getting around it. I’d suggest you look to Ziggy if it’s more of a quality-innings chase, and save Burgos for those teams that are simply handshake-desperate or chasing an elite K/IP.
Ziegler is owned in 19 percent of Yahoo leagues, while Burgos has chased up to seven percent. And 51 percent of the Yahooligans are still holding out hope with Reed.
• Velocity hasn’t been the problem with Craig Kimbrel this year. He’s actually throwing harder than he did last year (just a spec, anyway), and the strikeout rate is fine. But there’s been some problem keeping the ball in the park.
Tuesday’s save was more of the same: two strikeouts, one homer allowed, happy ending. The Padres will take it, and there’s no talk of moving Kimbrel out of the ninth. But it sure is funny to see a guy with a 13.2 K/9, a skimpy walk rate, and a 5.74 ERA. Given that the velocity hasn’t dropped off, I don’t see any verdict other than “hold Kimbrel.”
Petco Park could be part of the issue. The ball has been flying into the San Diego bleachers all season, for any number of reasons. Is it the weather? The surrounding structures? The new hitters? Struggling pitchers? Start with Dennis T. Lin’s article here, and share your best detective work in the comments.
• If you wanted a moment where you could sell Yordano Ventura, the window appeared Tuesday night. But if you want to hold and dream of a better day, that’s your prerogative.
Make no mistake, Ace Ventura was back on the hill against Cincinnati (7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K). That’s about as clean as it gets for seven innings. Ventura outdueled one of the Top 10 pitchers in baseball (be good, Johnny Cueto), and collected 17 points if you dared to dial him up in DFS.
But where is the story headed? Ventura still has ugly ratios for the season (4.56 ERA, 1.27 WHIP). His ground-ball rate has spiked nicely, into the mid 50s, but that’s about the only fun thing under the hood. His strikeout rate has tumbled under 7/9, his velocity is down 1.2 mph, and he’s giving up home runs on 17.6 percent of his fly balls.
Ventura’s generally a fun watch, a powder keg who lets it all out on every pitch. It’s a blast to see the radar gun pop. But I get nervous when I see an undersized pitcher (6-foot-0, 180 pounds) who’s maxing out on every delivery. Sure, pitching in the majors brings on assumed risk for anyone, but I think there’s even more that applies to Ventura.
What’s your play here, rotoheads? Are you buying, selling, or holding with Ventura? State your case in the comments.
• The Jon Niese Regression Tour, coming soon to a town near you.
The Mets needed some length from their starter Tuesday, which led to Niese going five messy innings against the Cardinals (11 H, 8 R, 1 BB, 1 K). It turned into Niese’s fourth loss in five starts, though his ERA is still reasonable at 3.72.
He’ll be lucky to keep that number much longer. Niece has just 27 strikeouts for his 48.1 innings, and he’s allowed four homers. The ERA estimators don’t really believe in him: SiERA spits out a 4.26, while xFIP suggests a 4.16. If you streamed Cardinals hitters for Tuesday, you laughed all the way to the bank. Maybe the slumping Pirates will get off the skids against Niese this weekend.
Let's look at the Tuesday slate.
Players to Buy
David Ortiz, 1B, vs. TEX (Gallardo), $2900 on Fan Duel: Think he missed the friendly confines of Fenway Park? Ortiz has a .333/.410/.490 slash in front of the Lansdowne Street vendors, but it drops to .171/.259/.342 on the road. Get that man some Dirty Water, not to mention a few hit-me fastballs from Yo Gabba Gabba.
And if you’re going to consider Pablo Sandoval, it’s when the Red Sox are facing a right-handed opponent. The third-sacker is crushing at Fenway (.849 OPS) and against northpaws (1.024) this year, but it’s a Sad Panda story against lefties (2-for-41, and under .200 last year). Tuesday is a Sandoval Night.
Adrian Beltre, 3B, at BOS (Miley), $3200: It takes a while to get to his name on the queue, as the price is still depressed. Have fun while you can get that number. Beltre is on a .319/.325/.528 binge in May, and he has a .945 OPS against lefties. Smile, you’re at Wade Miley’s.
James Shields, SP, vs. CHC (Hammel), $8800: The ratios aren’t where you’d expect with Shields, in part because of a crazy spike in home runs (25 percent FB/HR). But when you see a strikeout rate just under 12 and a home start at Petco Park, it’s usually a safe place to drop your money. If you don’t want to spend on a Tier 1 pitcher Tuesday, Shields is a reasonable Plan B.
Brandon Crawford, SS, vs. LAD (Frias), $3100: I’m going to keep following this story wherever it leads me. Crawford was a point-scoring machine in the Cincinnati series (26.5 points the last three games), the price is still reasonable. He offers some pop, a little speed, can take a walk. The platoon edge might not matter much because Crawford hits lefties just fine. Mostly, I’m just glad the price hasn’t gone haywire yet.
Carlos Gonzalez, OF, vs. PHI (Harang), $3200: As ugly as it's been for Cargo this year, his swing looked terrific in the Los Angeles series. Maybe some of that will carry over to the glorious Colorado homestand. Aaron Harang is one of the more underrated pitchers in the majors, but remember he has a fly-ball bias. Gonzalez also has terrific numbers against Harang (6-for-15, homer, five walks, one strikeout), if that matters to you.
Ben Revere, OF, at COL (Bettis), $3000: Coors Field isn’t just a great power park, it’s a great batting average park - the infield is quick, the outfield expansive. So when you get a contact-rate master like Revere in these elements, it’s almost unfair. And we’re going to pick on Chad Bettis whenever we can.
Brad Miller, SS, at BAL (Gonzalez), $3000: Miller clocked four homers for us last week, and now he takes dead aim at Eutaw Street, up against a non-threatening righty. Look for him to be near the top of the order again.
Coco Crisp, OF, at HOU (Hernandez), $2200: Just what the Swinging A’s need, a hitter’s park and a hittable opponent. The usual Oakland lefty studs deserve strong consideration, but also put Crisp into your plans, as he owns a .417/.517/.583 slash against Roberto Hernandez.
Players to Fade
Yordano Ventura, SP, vs CIN (Cueto), $7900: You probably weren’t going to dial him up against Johnny Cueto anyway, though maybe the cheap price gave you pause for a second. Move along. Ventura’s jagged ratios are enough reason for concern, but things get messier when you consider his strikeout rate tumbling down to 6.7/9 and a velocity dip of 1.2 mph. I’m nervous here, short-term and long-term.
Jon Niese, SP, vs. STL (Wacha), $7900: The modest price might be enough to sway you, even against an ace like Michael Wacha. That said, the collective St. Louis roster has a .333/.394/.535 slash against Niese, and even the lefties dig in nicely against him (Heyward and Carpenter have strong history here).
Playoff baseball is unlikely to visit Colorado this year. There’s no need to print a bunch of Rocktober shirts. Colorado dropped another ballgame on Monday, a 4-3 decision to Philadelphia, and is now 13-22 on the season. That’s the worst record in the National League, and 10 games behind the front-running Dodgers.
There’s plenty of blame to go around for Colorado’s lousy start. The offense ranks 28th in runs, the pitching staff sits 30th in ERA, the fielders sit 24th in defensive WAR (for whatever that means to you). If you see these guys at the ballpark, spread the boos equally.
Alas, there is one reason for optimism here. Because of a quirky early-season schedule and some wonky weather, the Rockies have only played 14 home games through their open 35 matches. That’s the lowest ratio in the NL, by far. By comparison, every other NL West club has played 20 or more home games.
Maybe it’s a good time to kick the tires on a possible Colorado buy-low. The team might not improve much, but surely the offense is better than this. Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon are off to reasonable starts. Carlos Gonzalez owns a terrible set of numbers thus far, but he did homer twice in the just-completed Los Angeles series. Wilin Rosario figures to get a fair amount of playing time on the fresh homestand while Justin Morneau (concussion) isn’t available. Nick Hundley is a recommended catcher rental when the club is at home.
Start your engines, Colorado. Gravity always wins.
• If you have streaming on your mind, perhaps we can interest you in David Phelps. The Marlins right-hander has been terrific over his last five starts, posting a 1.72 ERA and 1.18 WHIP over 31.1 innings. The ERA and WHIP don’t link up, of course, and he’s suspiciously been homer-free all year, but when we see 24 strikeouts against just four walks, we’re more inclined to trust the story.
The Diamondbacks offense has been productive at home, but it’s just 24th in road scoring. Pack your bags, get to Miami for Wednesday. Phelps is owned in just nine percent of Yahoo leagues.
• If you look at the clouds long enough, you’ll swear you see some distinctive pattern or significance. Maybe that’s the problem I get with Brandon Crawford. I spend some time on his stats and splits and I want to see something here.
If you hopped on board the Crawford train a while ago, you’re enjoying the profits now. He’s currently sitting on a .285-20-6-25-2 line, the second-best shortstop-eligible through the first six weeks and change.
Crawford normally shows a power spike on the road, away from the expansive AT&T Park, but thus far in 2015 he’s hitting everywhere (.894 OPS at home, .891 OPS on the road, three homers in each bucket). He’s also drawing plenty of walks, making him a solid option in OBP leagues. And as he’s done for much of his career, he’s actually batting better against lefties than he is against righties.
Crawford is hitting the ball less in the air this year but that’s not a big deal: his hard-hit rate has spiked (pushing his line drives as well), and his soft contact numbers are also down. Perhaps extra aggressiveness is working for him, as Crawford’s actually offering at more overall pitches, and even more pitches out of the strike zone. It will be interesting to see how pitchers counteract that going forward.
Crawford’s excellent defense doesn’t have a direct fantasy tie in, but at least it keeps him in the lineup. He’s all over the order, slotting anywhere from fifth to ninth, depending on the park and opponent. Sounds like someone who should be owned in more than 52 percent of Yahoo leagues. Sunny days, sweeping the clouds away.
• Are we having fun with this Curtis Granderson story? He’s on a .281/.354/.544 binge in May, with four homers and a steal. He’s nudged his walk and strikeout rates slightly, doing a little bit of everything.
Consider his end-of-year pace: .252-91-21-54-12. If he can hold that level of production, it would be his best average and steal total in four years, and his best run total since 2012. He's currently a Top 40 outfielder in the Yahoo game.
It might be tricky to trust the stolen bases, since Granderson is into his age-34 season. But let’s give him credit for controlling his at-bats again. He’s only swinging at 18.1 percent of pitches outside the zone, a notable improvement. His contact rate is also at an all-time high. Whatever you paid for Granderson in March, you probably earned a profit. And to think, you can still get in on this story in 64 percent of Yahoo leagues.
As the summer heats up, Yahoo's resident Noisemaker will offer his hot takes on specific players, trends and strategies much discussed in Fantasyland. Naturally, whatever he forecasts, the opposite is bound to occur. Feel free to offer your two cents in the comments section below.
The Buzz: In a recent interview, Washington head coach Jay Gruden revealed rookie Matt Jones could cut into Alfred Morris' workload creating a dreaded RBBC of unknown distribution. According to Gruden, in order to run the ball effectively "you gotta have a couple guys that can tote it." Telling. After touching the rock 85 percent of the time from 2012-2014, Morris' reign as lead horse appears to be in jeopardy.
Why prospective buyers should worry: Morris was the quintessential Shanahan back. He's a thickly built, one-cut downhill runner capable of piling up carries and yards. However, it's a different era in the nation's capital. Gruden and offensive coordinator Sean McVay are of the RBBC mindset. As OC for the Cincinnati Bengals, Gruden almost exclusively featured a one-back system with Cedric Benson in 2011 and BenJarvus Green-Ellis in 2012, but after adding Giovani Bernard via the Draft two years ago, he turned to a hybrid backfield. In 2013, the Bengals ranked top-10 in points and yards. To jump-start a Redskins team that finished near the bottom in both categories last year and in an attempt to salvage RGIII's career, Gruden will want to maximize ground matchups and keep his RBs fresh.
Also concerning for Morris is his porous performance as a receiver. Jones, who was underutilized during his college days at Florida, has soft hands and a route-running knack. At a monstrous 6-foot-2, 226-pounds, he's also an impactful downhill runner. Most importantly, he's an outstanding pass blocker who typically thwarts oncoming blitzers. Because Morris would find it difficult catching a softly tossed beach ball and due to his next-to-last ranking in pass-blocking efficiency last year per Pro Football Focus, it seems inevitable Jones will dominate action on third/pass downs. Given the rookie's size, he may also wrest away some early-down work. It's no stretch to think he tallies 10-12 touches per game right away. Assuming the 'Skins average at or near the 25.1 rush attempts they did a season ago, that would leave Morris, already a liability in PPR leagues, with only 13-15 touches per game. And a number of those carries could come against stacked boxes. RGIII must exhibit competency throwing the ball to spark the ground game, which, based on his recent putridity, is a stretch. The Patriots may show contrition before that happens.
Why amplified concerns shouldn't scare anyone: Despite Gruden's gushy comments, Jones is still an unpolished rookie who never exceeded 180 touches in a season during his three years at Florida. Though he's trending in the right direction, he has miles to go before nailing down a significant role in 2015. And let's not forget what Morris accomplished since kicking down the door his rookie season in 2012. He gained 60.7 percent of his yards after contact, finished top-15 in points per snap among RBs every year and ranked 5, 14 and 13 from 2012-2014 in total fantasy points at RB. Behind a rebuilt line and in an offense that should lean heavily on its backs, provided the defense can play at a respectable level, the established veteran might be safer than most think – emphasis on 'might.'
Fearless Forecast: Morris' days as a trustworthy RB2 could be numbered. In our recent 12-team .5 PPR mock, he went No. 35 overall (RB16), which is about right. However, in a 14-team full-point PPR draft conducted last week by the Rotowire folks, he plummeted to the last pick of Round 4 (No. 55 overall). Because of the increased risk, selecting Melvin Gordon (39.5 Yahoo ADP, RB15), Frank Gore (66.4, RB19) or even Latavius Murray (77.8, RB20) over him is recommended, even in standard formats. A final output around 230-250 touches, 1,000 total yards and 6-8 TDs seems appropriate. 'The Butler' has served millions, but given the situation he isn't worth a top-30 pick (29.3 ADP, RB13). Let him toil in someone else's Bat Cave. As for Jones, he's a late-round lottery ticket worth stashing in 12-team and deeper leagues, particularly those that score handsomely for receptions.
Only seven games on the Monday slate, and one of 'em is a noon start. At least it's Harvey Day. Please remember to check the weather reports and scan today's MLB lineups prior to game time. Now let's look for bargains...
Ryan Howard, 1B, at Col (Lyles), $3400 at FanDuel: Howard's flaws are well-documented, but he's slashing .314/.375/.588 with three homers so far this month. He's also 7-for-14 over his last four games, and, for what it's worth, he's 3-for-8 with a double in his career against Lyles. I'm happy to take him at Coors at this price.
Maikel Franco, 3B, at Col (Lyles), $2200: Franco is a 22-year-old power-hitting prospect (with minimal on-base skills), recently recalled by Philly. At this price, in a friendly hitting environment, I'm willing to take a shot. He went 2-for-4 on Sunday with a triple, homer and two RBIs, and Lyles certainly isn't a pitcher you need to avoid.
Jake Marisnick, OF, vs. Oak (Pomeranz), $2600: After a scorching hot start Marisnick has finally cooled off a bit, though he's still hitting .291 with nine steals. Two of Jake's three homers this season have been hit off left-handed pitching, including one at Oakland against Pomeranz. If you're rolling out one of Monday's pricier starters — someone like Harvey, Kluber or Sale — then you're going to need to go cheap somewhere.
Chris Owings, SS, at Mia (Haren), $3300: Owings is on a silly tear right now, riding a six-game hitting streak that includes five multi-hit efforts. He's enjoyed facing Dan Haren over the past three years, going 9-for-14 with a pair of doubles. No reason to think Owings won't keep hitting.
Billy Burns, OF, at Hou (McCullers), $2500: Whenever I write the Dime, there's a decent chance you'll get a blurb about Billy Burns. That's just how it goes. Burns is still dirt-cheap, despite the .321 average and three steals in 13 starts. He went 3-for-4 from the lead-off spot on Sunday against the White Sox, scoring a run and swiping a bag.
Wilin Rosario, C, vs. Phi (Hamels), $3500: As many of you already know, Rosario has a history of crushing lefties. Over the course of his career, he's slashed .329/.363/.645 against LHPs with 31 home runs in 377 at-bats. Not too shabby. Hamels, of course, is not some league-average left-hander, but Rosario has a solid history against him, going 4-for-12 with two bombs.
Khris Davis, OF, at Det (Lobstein), $2800 : Milwaukee faces a LHP who was hammered in his last appearance (2.1 IP, 7 H, 6 ER), so this matchup would seem to favor Davis. RHBs have hit .325/.386/.450 against Lobstein so far this year. On a light day, at this price, I'm in.
Dan Haren, P, vs. Ari (de la Rosa), $7800: To be perfectly honest, I'm not all that interested in the starting pitchers beyond today's top three (Harvey, Sale, Kluber). But if you're looking for a Hail Mary at a decent price, Haren fits. He's pitching at home — which he seems to enjoy — and he's facing an opponent that's lost seven of nine. Traditionally, Haren does his best work in the early months, so this is the time to use him (if there's ever a time).
Wilmer Flores, SS, vs. STL (Lackey), $2600: Flores has hit safely in seven of his last eight games, clearing the fence three times since May 10. Lackey has been solid, sure, but he's not on the must-avoid list. Owings is my Plan A at short, and Wilmer is my cheaper Plan B.
Carlos Ruiz, C, at Col (Lyles), $3000: Here's one more way to get a share of the Coors Field action on Monday, if you can't quite afford Rosario. Ruiz is working on a modest five-game hitting streak, and he's slashing .297/.350/.378 in May. Facing a sketchy starter in a friendly park, I'm interested.
Troy Tulowitzki has always either been highly productive or hurt, so naturally, he’s been healthy this season and not hitting (although he's been dealing with a yet another leg injury of late, to be fair). But Tulow owns a 29:2 K:BB ratio, which is terrible for any hitter and is downright reprehensible for someone who plays half his games in Coors Field. Among fantasy shortstops who've played at least 25 games this season, he ranks No. 26 on a per-game basis. There's no where for his value to go but up, but Tulowitzki has been a major disappointment so far for different reasons than usual. His current 1.7 BB% is a career low, while his 24.2 K% and 11.5 SwStr% marks are career highs (the latter by a wide margin, with his career mark being 6.7%), and his defense has also graded as worse than ever. Let's hope he's just dealing with an injury that he'll soon recover from, because these signs are pretty discouraging for the soon to be 31-year-old who may very well be traded away from Coors Field in the near future.
The Dodgers have a team wRC+ of 127, which is historically good (and put into perspective here). They also massively upgraded their defense compared to last year’s team, which both scares me badly as a Giants fan and frustrates me as a Clayton Kershaw owner in multiple leagues considering he somehow has just two wins despite these facts (not to mention a bullpen that has a top-five ERA in MLB that’s just now getting back Kenley Jansen, and that offense is doing so well with Yasiel Puig missing 26 games already). Jimmy Rollins is hitting .200/.278./.356 while underperforming in a big way, and this team has the deepest bench in baseball. Moreover, Mike Bolsinger and Carlos Frias own a combined 2.00 ERA with a 30:10 K:BB ratio over 36.0 innings, and yet they are frequently priced among the bottom starting pitchers on FanDuel, if you’re into DFS. Anything can happen in baseball in the postseason, but the Dodgers sure look like the favorites to win it all, even with Hyun-Jin Ryu unlikely to contribute this year.
This seems like as good a time as any to bring up Macdonald’s famous “moth joke.”
Joe Mauer sports a .344 OBP and has hit third in the lineup all year yet is on pace to score just 56 runs. It would help if he hit himself in every once in a while, as he has zero homers on the year. After smacking 28 home runs over 523 at-bats in 2009, Mauer has totaled 37 over 2,396 ABs since, and this was with him moving off the taxing catcher position the last couple of years. And while Target Field suppresses power for left-handed batters, it’s helped LHH batting average and has increased run scoring overall by six percent over the past three seasons, which ranks top-five in the American League, so it’s hard to come up with excuses for Mauer’s lack of production. His current BB% (8.9) is a career low while his K% (17.8) is his second worst mark ever, with last year’s the only higher. Mauer is barely approaching 50% ownership in Yahoo leagues, so I understand this isn’t especially revelatory, but it really is crazy just how irrelevant he’s become at age 32 for one of the best prospects of his generation, with injuries seemingly not to blame.
Headlines of the Week: Man Pleads Guilty After ‘Killing His Stepfather With An Atomic Wedgie Because He Called His Mother Worthless’...Gynecologist Leaves Cell Phone In Patient’s Abdomen...Chinese Theme Park Sets Up ‘Death Simulator’ Where Volunteers Can Experience Being Cremated...Man Sneezes Out Part Of Toy Dart After 44 Years...Cocaine-Eating Butterflies Proposed To Replace Herbicides in Columbia...Election Candidate Who Got No Votes Demands Recount Because He Picked Himself...School Officials Threaten To Cancel Prom If Students Hold NFL-Style Draft To Select Dates...Kim Jong-un Executed Defense Chief For Falling Asleep In Meeting.
Quick Hits: Miguel Cabrera has hit nine homers with 26 RBI and a 1.427 OPS during day games compared to one home run, three RBI and a .575 OPS at night. This of course means nothing moving forward, but it is rather crazy...It’s a good thing the Indians’ top-four starting pitchers have a collective 10.8 K/9 rate, since their defense is so bad, having allowed a .340 BABIP that’s 10 points higher than the next worst in baseball...I own Starling Marte in my home league, so I’m pulling for him, but he has eight homers over 135 ABs after setting a career high of 13 last year over 495 at-bats despite a 2.43 GB/FB ratio. In other words, he’s hitting more bombs than ever despite hitting as many groundballs versus fly balls as around 15 other hitters in baseball. Put differently, his .429/.455/1.048 line against southpaws is probably unsustainable...Here’s Giancarlo Stanton hitting a ball out of Dodgers Stadium...James Shields leads the NL with a 13.8 SwStr% yet has allowed five homers over 18.1 innings at PETCO Park.
Police Blotter: Man Found Guilty Of Pulling Out Lovers’ Teeth During Sex...Man Driving Lawn Mower Had A .445 Blood Alcohol Content...Macaroni Salad Trail Leads Police To Suspected Burglars...Stabbing Suspect Spits His Own Poop At Arresting Officers...Robber Caught After Leaving Phone At Crime Scene Then Ringing Cops To Get It Back...Getting Drunk and Chasing Bears Is ‘Strongly Not Advised,’ Police Warn...Man Accused Of Strangling His Second Wife And Throwing Her Off Cruise Ship Tried To Hire Inmates To Kill His Third.
Quick Hits Part Deux: Julio Teheran somehow has a .339 BABIP and a 22.0 HR/FB% (remember home runs don’t count against BABIP) despite producing the 10th-most soft-contact (23.5%) among all starters. That really makes no sense, and if you combine that with his 10.4 SwStr%, Teheran sure looks like one of the best buy-low targets out there...I always preach patience, but in a couple of mixed leagues in which I went boring veteran hitters late thanks to my typical SP heavy strategy early, I cut bait on Marlon Byrd and Torii Hunter a couple of weeks ago. Shame on me, as Byrd has raised his OPS from .453 to .750 over his last 14 games, when he’s hit six homers and taken 12 walks. Meanwhile, Hunter entered May with a .559 OPS and has gone .367-15-5-14 over 15 games since. At least I stayed patient and held onto Carlos Beltran!...Here’s an odd walk-off hit to end a 10-10 game in the 12th inning...Danny Salazar’s 30.1 K-BB% not only leads MLB it’s well ahead of the next best, which is Max Scherzer’s 25.9% mark...Todd Frazier is on pace to finish with a .250 batting average yet with 111 runs scored, 51 homers, 98 RBI and 26 stolen bases.
Longread of the Week: How Billy Walters Became Sports’ Most Successful And Controversial Bettor.
Quick Hits Part Tres: Joc Pederson and Steven Souza entered the year as similarly ranked prospects (at least for this year alone, as Pederson obviously had higher long-term upside given their age differences), and both are doing some serious work when it comes to the “three true outcomes.” They have combined for 294 plate appearances and homered/walked/struck out in a ridiculous 55.1 percent of them...Here’s an announcer going berzerk after a batter who was hit by a pitch throws the ball back to the pitcher...Who knows how it will turn out, but Maikel Franco is worth owning right now regardless....Drew Stubbs will be worth an add if/when Corey Dickerson is placed on the DL...The Rangers look like the latest team to make a change at closer...Eric Hosmer may finally be living up to expectations, as the former top prospect has an OPS (.959) that’s more than 150 points higher than his previous high of .801. Hosmer’s hitting more line drives than ever, and while his 23.3% HR/FB ratio is going to regress, I’m buying into the 25-year-old with such a high pedigree. Enjoy Hosmer’s forthcoming career-year if you own him.
Players to Buy
Jason Kipnis, 2B, at TEX (Martinez), $4500: Lou raised the price of Kipnis, he’s been losing at the track. But with Kipnis on a ballistic 19-for-31 tear the last seven games (10 runs, one homer, five RBIs, three steals), you have to strongly consider paying up. The Nick Martinez hit-rate luck tour has to come to a stop eventually; last year lefties posted an .832 OPS against him.
Shin-Soo Choo, OF, vs. CLE (Carrasco), $3200: Something’s clicked for him during the current homestand (13-for-28, three homers), and he’ll enjoy the platoon split on Sunday. Maybe the Rangers didn't get rooked on this contract after all.
Salvador Perez, C, vs. NYY (Capuano), $2300: Of course Perez is working for the weekend - Ned Yost rarely gives him a day off. Perez slides up to the No. 6 spot in the order and he’s a career .307/.345/.500 slasher against lefties. No one's afraid of Chris Capuano.
Shelby Miller, SP, at MIA (Alvarez), $9200: It wasn’t easy to trust Miller’s early success, given it was driven by a lot of batted-ball luck, but the strikeouts have returned in the last three starts (3 ER, 6 BB, 25 K). The Marlins only managed a run off Miller in two earlier starts, though he wasn’t in his best form in early April. The Miller we’ve seen of late, that reminds us of his peak form from St. Louis.
Brandon Belt, 1B, vs. CIN (DeSclafani), $2800: He’s found himself over the last couple of nights, collecting six hits including a couple of homers. Assuming the Giants and Reds can dodge the raindrops here, Belt is a must-play while he’s south of 3K. The favorable hitting background is also a plus. If you want another lefty Giant to consider, surging shortstop Brandon Crawford is a steal at $2400.
Kole Calhoun, OF, at BAL (Wright), $3100: Maybe Baltimore righty Mike Wright will go on to have a lovely MLB career, but we’ll want to pick on him as he makes his Orioles debut in a tricky spot (home game, hitter park). Calhoun actually been a better stick against lefties this year, for whatever that sample means, but he showed an 83-point OPS spike in the platoon advantage last year.
Didi Gregorius, SS, at KC (Volquez), $2200: Normally I’d want no part of a ninth-place batter, but Gregorius is the minimum salary and he’s already gotten comfortable against Edinson Volquez (4-for-7, two homers).
Lineup Stack, Mariners vs. Red Sox (Wright): I like to reminisce with people I don’t know. Isn’t Disney World a people trap operated by a mouse? Can vegetarians eat animal crackers? Does a knuckleball work against a lefty-heavy Mariners lineup?
Steven Wright has limited home runs during his brief career, but lefties enjoy a .269 average and .350 OBP against him. We don’t have the Mariners lineup available to us as we go to press, but I’d suspect surging Brad Miller ($2500) will stick in the lineup. Seth Smith is a reasonable cheap outfielder anytime he plays, and Robinson Cano’s tag sure looks appealing at $3200. I always want to talk myself into Kyle Seager.
Players to Fade
Jake Arrieta, A.J. Burnett: Arrieta was on my Wallet list before the season and is on a bunch of my standard roto teams. I hope the guy throws a shutout and strikes out a dozen. But there’s some rain in the forecast, and even more forbidding - the game total is set in the 10.5-11 range, probably because strong winds are coming from the south. I know, being a weatherman is the worst part of this daily roto racket, but with a full slate on the docket, I don’t see any reason to mess with this game.
Jake Marisnick, OF, vs. TOR (Buehrle), $2600: I still like him for seasonal, but the DFS juice runs out a bit now that he's been shifted in the lineup. Marisnick will bat ninth Sunday.
Zack Greinke, SP, vs. Col (De La Rosa), $10100 at FanDuel: He’s the fourth most costly SP despite the Dodgers being by far the most favored team (-240) during Saturday’s slate. Despite decreased velocity, Greinke has been as good as ever, is at home and benefits from Los Angeles having the best offense in baseball by a mile (they lead MLB with 130 wRC+. Next highest is 115).
Joey Votto, 1B, vs. SF :(Vogelsong), $3900: He has a 1.017 OPS with seven homers and five steals over 84 at-bats versus right-handed pitchers this season, and he plays in a home park that’s increased home runs by 52 percent for LHB over the past three seasons, which is easily the most in MLB. $3900 seems like a bargain (there are six first basemen priced at least $400 higher).
A.J. Pierzynski, C, vs. Mia (Latos), $2400: He’s hitting .338 against righties, and Mat Latos is allowing a whopping .370 BAA versus LHB. This seems like a nice match for a day with very few attractive options at catcher.
Robinson Cano, 2B, vs. Bos (Porcello), $3300: He’s been a fantasy bust, but that’s why he’s no longer priced as an elite option, and second base remains rather thin. Cano is still batting .301 against RHP this season and owns a 1.145 career OPS versus Rick Porcello.
Luis Valbuena, 3B, vs. Tor (Estrada), $3000: He has seven homers over 91 at-bats when facing RHP this season, averaging more FPPG than more prominent third basemen such as Adrian Beltre, Pablo Sandoval and Kyle Seager. Valbuena also owns a career 1.189 OPS against HR-prone Marco Estrada.
Alcides Escobar, SS, vs. NYY (Sabathia), $2800: Seems like a low price for a shortstop batting leadoff and hitting .310 on the year. Moreover, CC Sabathia has allowed a .333 BAA and seven homers over 37.0 innings against RHB this year.
Chris Young, OF, at KC (Duffy), $2600: He has just three hits since May 2, which helps explain the dirt cheap price, but Young still possesses a .433/.541/.933 line versus southpaws this season, so he’s not a bad target Saturday.
Colby Rasmus, OF, vs. Tor (Estrada), $2700: He has six home runs over 79 at-bats against right-handed pitchers this season, and he’s facing one Saturday who yielded 29 bombs over 150.2 innings last year.
Seth Smith, OF, vs. Bos (Porcello), $2200: He bats atop the lineup versus right-handed pitchers and is 6-for-10 in his career against Rick Porcello. Smith’s $2200 price tag is as cheap as it gets at FanDuel.
Freddie Freeman, 1B, vs. Mia (Latos), $3700: He’s the 10th most expensive first baseman despite sporting an elite .323/.389/.546 line and has gone 10-for-18 against Mat Latos during his career. As mentioned above, Latos has been getting killed by LHB this season.
Just in case you don't habitually check Pacific Coast League box scores, here's a quick look at the production of Fresno's 1-5 hitters in the team's 17-6 win on Wednesday:
J. Sclafani, 2B – 1-for-3, 4 R, 3 BB
C. Correa, SS – 1-for-4, 3 R, double, 2 BB
L.J. Hoes, LF – 1-for-2, 5 R, 3 RBIs, 3 BB
D. Santana, RF – 2-for-3, 2 R, double, 3 RBIs, 3 BB
J. Singleton, 1B – 4-for-6, 2 R, 2 HR, 10 RBIs
Yup, that's right: Jon Singleton delivered a 10-RBI performance, crushing his league-leading tenth and eleventh homers. As of this writing, Singleton is getting himself on-base at a .379 clip and slugging .612.
Here's a clip of his moonshot grand slam from Wednesday's action (misplayed by a dude who brought his glove to the game):
If you're a Fresno fan, you'd better get yourself to the park soon, before this run-scoring juggernaut is broken apart by call-ups to Houston, the parent club.
The Astros actually signed Singleton to a five-year contract last year, with $10 million guaranteed, so there aren't really any business-of-baseball reasons to keep him stashed in the minors. He's a reasonable deep-league fantasy pickup for anyone who needs assistance in the power categories. Houston has somehow surged into first place in the A.L. West despite getting next-to-nothin' from DH Evan Gattis (.181/.207/.379) and first baseman Chris Carter (.150/.267/.292). Singleton couldn't possibly be a downgrade from either hitter.
Carlos Correa is, of course, the minor leaguer in the Astros' system who has drawn the most attention from the fantasy community. He entered the year ranked near the top of everyone's prospect big board — No. 4 at Baseball America, No. 3 at Prospectus, No. 3 per Keith Law — and his early season performance justified the hype. Before his promotion to Fresno, the 20-year-old Correa slashed .385/.459/.726 over 29 games at Double-A Corpus Christi with 15 doubles, seven homers and 15 steals in as many attempts. Just ridiculous. He's an every-tool talent at a premium position, and the Astros happen to have a glaring need at shortstop with Jed Lowrie sidelined by a thumb issue.
Super-two status comes into play with Correa, however, so his arrival could very well be delayed until June. But Houston currently has a 4.5-game lead in the division, which means the team needs to balance future and present considerations. In any case, we're likely to see Correa in the bigs before long, making him a perfectly respectable fantasy stash. He's currently available in 80 percent of Yahoo leagues, a smart add for speculators.
The freshly-retooled Padres have plenty of guys who can knock the ball around the park and over the fence. You expect big things from Justin Upton and Matt Kemp. You liked Wil Myers as a late-round sleeper. You see the value of sneaky catcher Derek Norris.
The infield, that’s been a little dicier, with all sorts of moving parts. Today, we talk about Cory Spangenberg, middle infielder on the move. Start with his two homers from Thursday’s win, and then we’ll consider the bigger picture.
The 24-year-old lefty swinger has always been respected property; he was a first-round draft choice in 2011, and showed up on some rated prospect lists a year later. Spangenberg flashed respectable hitting ability in the minors (.296/.356/.405), along with 104 steals in 374 games. He didn’t embarrass himself in brief San Diego action last year, hitting .290 in 20 games (two homers, four steals).
Spangenberg (tha's SPANG-jen-burg if you wondered) has made 10 straight starts for the Friars this spring, some at second and some at third. Most of those appearances have slotted him first or second in the order, though he was buried on one occasion against a lefty. He’s on a .332/.432/.556 binge during that stretch, with four successful steal attempts. The Thursday homers were his first two of the season.
The Padres don’t lack for options at second and third, what with Jedd Gyorko, Will Middlebrooks and Yangveris Solarte. Gyorko and Middlebrooks opened the year as the starters, but they’ve done little to mark their territory - both carry an OPS in the low 600s. Solarte has been excellent at getting on base, though his slugging is under .400. There’s a reasonable chance Spangenberg could take a job, even if it’s a super-utility job, and run with it.
Spangenberg hit a modest 12 home runs during his minor-league days, so the Thursday pop is surprising and not something we should chase. That said, he’s capable of getting on base and stealing some bags, and at least he’s not a complete zero in the power category. Have room for a flexible infield lottery ticket? Spangenberg is still free to add in 97 percent of Yahoo leagues.
• Hitting the ball hard is the name of the game at the plate, and with that, I like to check on the hard-hit stats at Fangraphs every so often. It helps to sort through who’s been lucky and who’s been legitimate, and it can also locate an underrated property here and there.
A few weeks back, we identified Brian Dozier as someone who was hitting the ball consistently hard but didn’t have the results that he probably deserved. To no great surprise, Dozier’s production has perked up recently.
If you persure the hard-hit leaders Friday morning, you’ll note a few names that have low BABIPs despite their hard-hit success. So if you want a few buy-low players to consider, here are names I’d look to: Alex Rodriguez, Brandon Moss (he’s already spiked notably this week), Jay Bruce and Logan Morrison.
There’s a second side to this, the soft-hit guys who have lofty hit rates. Maybe we can’t trust those guys on surface value. It gets tricky when the players in question can run well, but I’d be careful with Angel Pagan, Wilson Ramos, Starlin Castro, Mike Moustakas and Marcus Semien.
• Motown was a hit-making machine in Thursday’s getaway romp over the Twins, but Yoenis Cespedes wasn’t in on the fun. He did score a run and drive one in, but otherwise it was an 0-for-4 performance. He’s now carrying an ordinary .267/.287/.459 slash line.
Cespedes has come to play every night of 2015, but his counting stats leave you wanting. He’s on pace for 65 runs, 19 homers, 88 RBIs, zero steals - and probably a home-run derby championship in the middle of the summer. He’s batted fifth for a few games recently, though he was back in the No. 6 slot (his standard position) Thursday. If you rank all the outfield-eligible players on their 5x5 stats to this point, Cespedes doesn't make the Top 50.
You expect him to hack first and ask questions later, but note Cespedes’s walks are down and his strikeouts are up. He’s also chasing more out-of-zone pitches than he ever has before. Is he pressing to impress a new club? Is he out of whack mechanically? Or maybe we should just admit Cespedes is a speciality player who isn’t really the superstar he’s made out to be.
Your witness. You know where I stand.
Clayton Kershaw, SP, vs. Col (Butler), $11000 at FanDuel: As usual, I’m recommending my favorite SP option of the day, regardless of price, before digging for some hitting bargains. Kershaw’s current ERA (4.26) and WHIP (1.26) are both his highest since his rookie campaign way back in 2008. But his average FB velocity (93.6 mph) is his highest since 2009, and both his GB/FB ratio (2.44) and SwStr% (14.2) are career highs, the latter ranking No. 2 in MLB this season. Start Kershaw with confidence.
Kyle Blanks, OF, vs. Cle (Chen), $2700: He’s cheap, in a hitter’s park and owns a 1.333 OPS against left-handed pitchers this season. Bruce Chen has been getting destroyed versus RHB, so this matchup looks worth taking advantage of.
Albert Pujols, 1B, at Bal (Chen), $2900: It’s possible Pujols is done, but this is a hitter with a career 1.021 OPS versus southpaws over nearly 2,000 at bats. There are 18 first basemen priced higher Friday.
Dustin Pedroia, 2B, at Sea (Happ), $3000: He has a .373 OBP on the year and a .913 OPS against LHP. There are a dozen second basemen with more expensive price tags Friday.
Ryan Raburn, OF, at Tex (Rodriguez), $2300: He’s nearly the cheapest hitter available on FD despite having a .429/.457/.714 line when facing lefties this season and playing in a favorable hitter’s park Friday. Raburn won’t hit high in the lineup, but he remains one of the better bargains out there.
Elvis Andrus, SS, vs. Cle (Chen), $2600: His OPS has dropped in each of the past three seasons, as the young shortstop’s career hasn’t gone as hoped. Still, Andrus remains the No. 2 hitter in Texas’ lineup, and he’s batting .314 against LHP this year. He’s cheap too.
David Freese, 3B, at Bal (Chen), $2700: Call this the stacking against pitchers with the surname Chen day. Freese isn’t costly because he’s batting .219 on the year, but he also owns a 1.066 OPS versus southpaws and typically hits cleanup. Baltimore is a good hitter’s park as well.
Russell Martin, C, at Hou (Keuchel), $3600: He’s not cheap, but Martin is batting .444/.565/.778 against LHP this season, and he has four homers over the past 10 games. He was also rested Thursday, so he should be in the lineup Friday. Catcher is obviously thin, and only Stephen Vogt (who faces a LHP Friday) has averaged more FPPG than Martin this year.
Andre Ethier, OF, vs. Col (Butler), $3100: If you prorated his numbers over 550 at bats, you’d get .321-118-33-85. Ethier owns a .314/.442/.614 line against RHP with more walks than strikeouts. He’s probably not going to continue to hit like this, but his FD price already is factoring in major regression.
Chris Davis, 1B, vs. LAA (Weaver), $3600: He owns a measly .441 OPS in his career against Jered Weaver, who just tossed a shutout during his last outing. But I’d still use Davis on Friday, as he has seven homers over 89 ABs against RHP this season, and Weaver has averaged 83.6 mph with his fastball. He’s also served up six long balls over 23.2 innings versus LHB (as well as six homers over 24.0 innings on the road). Moreover, Orioles Park has increased home runs for left-handed batters by 33 percent over the past three seasons, which is the most in the American League.
As the summer heats up, Yahoo's resident Noisemaker will offer his hot takes on specific players, trends and strategies much discussed in Fantasyland. Naturally, whatever he forecasts, the opposite is bound to occur. Feel free to offer your two cents in the comments section below.
The Pickle: Off a history-making campaign in which he compiled 91 receptions (on 129 targets), 1,305 yards and 12 TDs in only a dozen games (17.2 fantasy points per game, WR1), the single greatest output by a rookie wide receiver ever, Odell Beckham Jr. has surprisingly become a divisive subject. If positioned in the back half of round one, should you invest in the Giants wideout? Is he worth the approximate $30-$35 price tag in auction formats?
Reasons why you should sell the farm for Beckham:
Skill Set. There may be no receiver with better route-running and ball-adjustment abilities than Beckham. His precise cuts, terrific long-range speed and remarkably quick feet exploit defenders with ease and allows him to instantly gain separation. His 2.74 yards per route run last year set the pace among WRs by a fairly wide margin. Demaryius Thomas was second at 2.69, A.J. Green third with 2.59. Also equipped with Spidey-like hands, he ranked No. 5 in drop rate, botching just two passes on 93 catchable attempts.
Offensive Scheme. Ben McAdoo's offense, patterned after the Packers', is a vertically-minded system that peppers opponents with numerous passes. Overall, the Giants chucked it 607 times in 2014, the ninth-most attempts in the league. More specifically, from Week 9 on Eli Manning averaged 41.8 attempts per game, more than any QB during that stretch. The handsome workload provided Eli and Beckham several opportunities to establish a chemistry akin to Hall and Oates, one that is sure to carry a tune this fall. A shaky, injury-ridden D often forced the Giants skyward, but even if improvements are made in that area, the sophomore should still entice 10-plus targets per game.
Fantasy Strength of Schedule. Admittedly, defensive impacts are difficult to predict this early in the game. Without viewable observations and fresh data, quantification can only be made based on recent results. Still, New York, thanks in large part to four combined matchups against Philly and Washington, has the fifth-friendliest schedule for fantasy WRs in 2015. Additional tilts against Atlanta and New Orleans offer encouragement. If trends aren't bucked, Beckham will face a number of vulnerable secondaries.
Reasons why some are unwilling to sell a single chicken for Beckham:
Limited Track-Record. The wideout's 12-game sample has many skittish. Ardent supporters of proven, sustainable commodities will pass on him, and presumably Kelvin Benjamin, Mike Evans and Brandin Cooks, for that reason. Ignorant. Yes, there are several examples of second-year targets that crash and burned. Eddie Royal, Mike Williams and Keenan Allen immediately come to mind. Conversely, guys like Randy Moss, Anquan Boldin and Julio Jones continued to flourish. Given Beckham's extraordinary talents, he's aligned more with the second group.
Victor Cruz. Roughly seven months removed from a gruesome patellar tendon injury, the veteran is reportedly at 75-80 percent. He recently began running routes, cutting and planting at three-quarters speed. The news is promising, but the road to a full recovery remains long. A Mayo Clinic study on post-patellar athletes concluded it took an average of 18 months before full range of motion was achieved. Cadillac Williams is probably the best example of a player who bounced back strongly from the injury. Recall he ruptured knees in consecutive years and rushed for a stunning 1,035 yards and seven TDs in his 2009 return. Cruz could be ready by Week 1, but even if active the slot man will likely play second fiddle. Recall he was only on pace for a 61-898-3 line pre-injury last year. And that was off a sharp decline in 2013. The Salsa King will wrest away some targets, but not enough to warrant concern. If anything, Cruz's presence would be beneficial as he would help lure attention away from Beckham.
Uncontrollable Superstitions. Many will circumvent ODB solely because he's the newest Madden cover athlete. It's laughable. Leave chasing mythical beasts to cryptozoologists and the bumbling 'biologists' from "Mountain Monsters." The long line of failures tied to Madden are coincidence, nothing more. Did Richard Sherman spontaneously combust last year? No, he was an All-Pro and ranked No. 1 in pass coverage according to Pro Football Focus allowing a 41.1 QB rating on passes thrown his direction. Previous spokespersons Marshall Faulk, Ray Lewis and Drew Brees also logged quality seasons the year their likenesses graced the game. Still believe? Feel free to mount a leprechaun.
Fearless Forecast: Smart money says Beckham is unlikely to experience a significant decline in Year 2. He's a unique talent tied to a favorable offense who should be selected with the utmost confidence inside the overall top-10 and even higher in keeper formats. Though his overall sample size is minute compared to Jamaal Charles, Marshawn Lynch, Adrian Peterson and Andrew Luck, his floor is similar. He's mailman reliable. Keep in mind, the bust rate of WR1s (Those drafted inside the position's top-12 who failed to finish inside the top-15) over the past six years is 33.3 percent. RB1s during that stretch checked in at 43.1 percent. Yes, fantasy is a game of Frogger, everyone in every round is trying to avoid getting flattened by a semi-truck, but throwing cash at a young, ultra-dynamic WR1 who averaged a league-leading 0.26 fantasy points per snap (350 snap minimum) in his rookie season is a sage move. Unless Ultron reanimates and torches him with a concussion blaster, a final effort in range of 105 receptions, 1,500 yards and 11-14 touchdowns is inevitable. The thought of pairing him with a second-class RB (e.g. Arian Foster, Jeremy Hill or C.J. Anderson) or, for the zeroRB faithful, Aaron Rodgers, is awfully appealing. Score that combo and the elation would be equivalent to this. I would gladly take him anywhere between picks No. 6-10 or shell out $33-$37 for his services. Really Antonio Brown, Beckham and Dez Bryant are 1A/1B/1C. He's that special. He's that good. Go ahead and believe in silly curses.
Players to Buy
Yankees Stack, at TB (Ramirez): For the last three years, Erasmo Ramirez has been Spanish for “hit me" (5.50 ERA, 1.50 WHIP) The best New York lefties aren’t giveaway prices, but I won’t quibble for anyone who wants to pay up for surging Jacoby Ellsbury, underrated Brett Gardner or comebacking Mark Teixeira (Ellsbury and Teixeira have homers off Ramirez, in just one meeting, if that matters to you). Catcher Brian McCann remains reasonably priced at $3100, and there's a case for Carlos Beltran at $2800.
Chase Whitley, SP, at TB (Ramirez), $7000: If you expect the Yanks to knock Erasmo Ramirez around, Whitley becomes a sneaky bet for those critical winner points on Fan Duel. Whitley’s been surprisingly handy in his three appearances (3.06 ERA, 1.19 WHIP), striking out 16 against just three walks. The only downside to playing Whitley: it limits your New York offensive stack to three hitters.
John Mayberry, OF, at CHC (Wood), $2200: He’s on the New York roster essentially as the shallow platoon man, someone who gets the tap on the shoulder when a lefty hits the mound. Mayberry has a career .524 slugging percentage against the southpaws, and Travis Wood’s OPS allowed jumps by 132 points in the platoon deficit.
Shin-Soo Choo, OF, vs. KC (Guthrie), $3100: There’s still some reason for optimism here, it’s just a matter of where you look. Choo carries a .941 OPS at home, he’s on a .345/.383/.709 binge in May (with four homers), and he’s up against a non-threatening Jeremy Guthrie. Get him going in your midday Turbo.
Kendrys Morales, 1B, at TEX (Detwiler), $2700: Although Morales shows his best form as a left-handed hitter, any righty turns into a super-human when Ross Detwiler is on the mound this year (.350/.421/.660, seven homers). Morales slots fourth in a Kansas City lineup that could be a lot of fun on Thursday.
Alcides Escobar, SS, at TEX (Detwiler), $2700: He's the KC triggerman and up against one of the most mediocre left-handers in the league. Shortstop is a snake pit in 2015, so I'm fine with a value play – drop your big chips elsewhere.
Brad Miller, SS, vs. BOS (Kelly), $2300: Just when you thought you were out on Miller, he drags you back in. He’s reached base six times in his last two starts (including three doubles and a homer) and the Mariners have used him in the No. 2 slot of late. The slumping Joe Kelly is on a crooked-numbers tour, allowing 21 runs over his last four turns. Come to think of it, $3400 for Robinson Cano looks like a friendly value, too.
Tyson Ross, SP, vs. WAS (Fister), $8300: As much as I love Johnny Cueto, I’m not a “chase the ace” DFS player in most cases, so I’ll look to save $2200 by dropping down to Ross. There’s been more scoring in San Diego this year than you’d normally expect, but I’m still going to bet on Petco Park’s dimensions until it’s proven to me that it doesn’t work any longer.
Andre Ethier, OF, vs. COL (Bettis), $3100: What’s Jerome Bettis doing in the NFL Hall of Fame? His peak was nothing compared to Terrell Davis, man. What’s Chad Bettis doing in a big league rotation? He’s served up 10 home runs in 69.1 MLB innings. Any Los Angeles hitter who strikes your fancy is probably worth strong consideration, but I have a soft spot for the underrated Ethier, who has been a monster at home this year, especially against righties.
Brett Anderson, SP, vs. COL (Bettis), $6300: How many times can you dial up a -200 favorite for this cheap a price? Of course you’re giving some stuff back (Anderson is likely to be done at six innings or fewer and he’s only struck out 16 batters over 30.2 innings), but he’s certainly drawing the Rockies at the right time (11 consecutive losses).
Player to Fade
Todd Frazier, 3B, vs. SF (Linecum), $3800: He's been Hot Toddy this week with a home-run streak, but Tim Lincecum's living in the bottom of the zone these days, keeping the ball on the ground (and in the park). And if you look past Frazier's home run total this year, you're dealing with a .238 average. Without the platoon advantage, it's a less-than-ideal spot.
Addison Reed was something less than lights-out as Arizona's closer last season, blowing six save chances and finishing with a 4.25 ERA. He dealt with shoulder issues this spring, then struggled in the month of April, tossing only one clean inning in seven appearances.
On Wednesday, when asked to protect a one-run lead against the Washington Nationals, Reed was pummeled. Here's how it went down:
-444-foot no-doubt home run
Seriously, Reed placed a 1-0 pitch on a tee for Michael Taylor, and the Nats outfielder absolutely destroyed the ball, launching it far over the center-field wall. Taylor had entered the game in the seventh as a replacement for the ejected Bryce Harper, and he made the most of the unexpected playing time.
"It felt like a terrible pitch," Reed later said. "He did what he was supposed to do with it."
Reed was pretty clearly squeezed on the walk to Jayson Werth preceding Taylor's bomb, but he was also misfiring throughout the inning. Reed isn't a guy who throws uncommonly hard, and his swinging-strike rate is below league average at the moment (7.8), so there's little margin for error with his stuff.
After the loss, Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale swatted away a bullpen question with this:
"It just happened. Let's give it a day or so, huh? Every time somebody doesn't perform, they're either going to get taken out of the rotation or they're going to get sent down. C'mon, man. It's a 162-game season. Guys struggle, man."
So that's not quite a full endorsement of Reed. Arizona's 'pen isn't some deep, dominant group, but Brad Ziegler has been his usual highly effective self (0.91 WHIP) in the set-up role. Ziegler would be the obvious favorite to fill the ninth, should Hale decide to make a move. Add as needed. Reed is definitely at risk.
• No reasonable fantasy owner was ever panicked about Corey Kluber's slow start, as the peripheral stats were just fine and the Ks were piling up. But obviously the fantasy community contains a few unreasonable managers, too. Let's hope you took advantage of those guys before Kluber eviscerated the Cards on Wednesday.
Just in case you haven't already seen clips of Kluber's brilliant 18-K, one-hit performance, here's the highlight reel. So much filthiness. Kluber's fantasy ratios are still inflated by that unfortunate .353 batting average on balls-in-play, but he remains an upper-tier ace, without question.
• A.J. Ramos nailed down the first save of the post-Cishek era for Miami, striking out two in a clean ninth against the Dodgers. Ain't no committee for the Fish, not really. Ramos is the no-doubt guy to own. He's allowed just two runs in 18.0 frames this season, striking out 23 batters and walking six.
• The good times continued for Jimmy Paredes on Wednesday, as he went 2-for-4 with a double and a walk, extending his hitting streak to 12 games. He's actually had two or more hits in four of his last five, raising his season average to .364. If you've been using him over the past two weeks, tip of the cap. Let's just please keep in mind that he's a 26-year-old with a career .289/.323/.429 slash in the minors, and he hit .289/.317/.436 at two Triple-A stops last year. He's not a walker, nor a serious power hitter. But he's been a blast — no argument there.
• Raisel Iglesias took a solid turn for the Reds on Wednesday, striking out five batters over 8.0 innings, allowing two hits and three walks. He's suddenly in the rotation discussion for Cincy. Iglesias had not been dominant at Triple-A this year, however (21.0 IP, 9 ER, 7 BB, 11 K), so we're not dealing with a must-add fantasy event.
Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper was selected, on average, outisde the top 30 in preseason drafts. A month-and-a-half into the season, Harper's production rates among the very best in fantasy. Is it time to cement the roto value of this immensely talented youth inside Round 1 - O/U pick 7.5 overall if you were drafting a team today?
Brandon – Well, let's see ... I'm taking Trout, Goldschmidt, Stanton, Nellie Cruz and Miggy ahead of him, for sure. After that, I put Harper in a group with Jose Abreu, Josh Donaldson, Anthony Rizzo, Jose Altuve, Adam Jones, Justin Upton and Han-Ram (maybe I'd consider Carlos Gomez, Tulo, McCutchen and A-Gon in that mix, as well). It's a close call, but I'd probably take an Abreu and/or Han-Ram ahead of him, possibly even Donaldson. Harper's definitely in my updated top 10, but I think he goes just OVER for me here.
Scott – UNDER. I'm buying in. He's commanding the zone better than ever, being selectively aggressive and punishing the pitches he likes. It was high comedy to see him ranked below Andrew McCutchen on so many sites last week.
Andy – Um ... yes, it is way too early. I'll take the OVER here, by at least 10 picks. I don't think anyone has every questioned Harper's true talent level, or his ability to hit for power. His preseason price was impacted by his injury history, and it's not as if the risk has disappeared.
KC first baseman Eric Hosmer has seen his fantasy value yo-yo over the past few seasons, finishing with a top 50 ranking in '13, a No. 281 landing in '14 and currently holding down a top 30 spot in '15. Can Hosmer continue on this road back to roto prosperity - O/U final '15 fantasy rank 59.5?
Dalton – OVER. I'm somewhat buying his 2015 performance so far, but it's pretty tough to maintain this HR pace with a 1.74 GB/FB ratio that's essentialy in line with his career mark. Kauffman Stadium also supresses power for LHB.
Andy – It's a close call, but I'm taking the OVER. We're still waiting for Hosmer's first 20-homer season, and he isn't likely to steal more than 8-10 bags. He'll need to continue batting in the neighborhood of .320 in order to maintain his current value, and that's not something we can reasonably expect.
Scott – Slightly OVER, but I am encouraged. The ground-ball rate is dipping and Hosmer is doing a better job hitting to all fields thus far.
The 2B-eligible crowd has been upgraded significantly by relative newcomers Mookie Betts, Kolten Wong, Marcus Semien and Devon Travis, all currently sitting among the top 70 in fantasy. Rank each of these youngsters in terms of predicted fantasy finish along with a parenthetical prediction of total Home Runs and Steals for each.
Brandon – Mookie (16-23), Wong (14-24), Semien (15-17), Travis (15-12)
Scott – Mookie (20-18), Wong (16-19). Semien (16-14), Travis (17-8).
Andy – Mookie (22-22), Wong (13-22), Travis (14-16), Semien (13-18).
A former Padre (Yasmani Grandal) and a current Padre (Derek Norris) currently rank among the top six backstops in the fantasy game. Give a projected final line in batting average, home runs and RBI for each catcher.
Scott – Love me some post-hype Grandal (.269-15-64). Norris gets .271-12-59.
Andy – Grandal .278-14-60; Norris .271-9-58
Dalton – Grandal .260-15-65; Norris .278-11-60
Pirates outfielder Starling Marte ranks among the top 20 fantasy players in '15 thanks to an unexpected surge in power (8 HR through 31 games - career best is 13). With his new-found HR stroke, will Marte reach the 20/20 club for the first time in '15? Also, can he improve upon his previous career best of combined HR+SB (53 in '13 - 12 HR + 41 SB) - O/U 53.5 combined HR+SB?
Brandon – UNDER on both. Marte has managed to hit eight home runs despite hitting just 17 total fly balls - 47.1% HR/FB rate leads MLB by a wide margin. I'm guessing he'll finish with around 17-18 home runs to go with 24-26 steals. Even on the high end of my projections, he'll still fall well short of his HR+SB career high.
Andy – Nope, I'm taking the UNDER on 20 homers (probably by four or five), and the way-UNDER on 53.5. He's not stealing at a rate that makes me think he'll approach 40 for the season.
Dalton – I'll take the UNDER on both, as Marte is currently sporting a 2.76 GB/FB ratio, and his 47.1 HR/FB% is more than three times the rate of his career mark (15.5%). It's tough to bank on him increasing his SB attempts as well.
Through May 11, only Bryce Harper, Paul Goldschmidt and Adrian Gonzalez had more combined RBI+Runs than KC's Kendrys Morales. With a current pace of 249 combined RBI+Runs, can Morales eclipse his previous career-high combined run production total - O/U 194.5 RBI+Runs?
Brandon – UNDER. I'm saying he has a chance. Eric Hosmer and Lo Cain have done a great job of getting on base in front of him, and Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez provide nice pop behind him (both hitting above .280). Morales leads the league in at bats with runners on base so, as I said, the set-up has been very nice. I think Morales has a decent shot to get to 100 RBI, but I think he'll fall a bit short on the Runs side here. Let's call it 98 RBI and 80 Runs
Andy – Nope, gotta go UNDER. I own Morales almost everywhere, but I don't think he's any threat to cross the plate 80-plus times. This is not an exceptionally mobile human.
Dalton – UNDER. Morales currently has a .343 BABIP, which is well ahead of his career mark of .299. His hard-hit average is 5.0% lower than his career mark, so this sure seems like luck has been invovled.
There are six players - Jake Marisnick, Zack Cozart, Jimmy Paredes, Torii Hunter, Adam Lind, Andrelton Simmons - currently available in at least 25% of Yahoo leagues that are ranked inside the Yahoo top 100 in fantasy value. Rank these players in order of predicted finish in '15 fantasy value, and bold any players that you think will still be ranked inside the top 100 at season's end.
Brandon – Hunter, Lind, Marisnick, Paredes, Simmons, Cozart
Scott – Marisnick, Lind, Simmons, Paredes (this year's Pearce), Hunter, Cozart. Ender Inciarte could push on this list if he starts running more aggressively.
Dalton – Lind, Hunter, Marisnick, Paredes, Simmons, Cozart.
There are six SP-eligible players - Dan Haren, Colby Lewis, Aaron Harang, Ubaldo Jimenez, Mike Leake, Carlos Villanueva - currently available in at least 25% of Yahoo leagues that are ranked inside the Yahoo top 100 in fantasy value. Rank these pitchers in order of predicted finish in '15 fantasy value, and bold any players that you think will still be ranked inside the top 100 at season's end.
Brandon – Lewis, Leake, Haren, Jimenez, Harang, Villanueva
Dalton – Haren, Lewis, Harang, Jimenez, Leake, Villanueva
Scott – Leake, Harang, Jimenez, Haren, Lewis, Villanueva. If we included Chris Heston, I'd rank him second on this list. Give him a pass for the Colorado start and the numbers look really good.
Giants former Cy Young Tim Lincecum is flirting with top 100 fantasy value through six starts, thanks to a 2.00 ERA. Can Lincecum, who hasn't had an ERA mark lower than 4.37 in the past three seasons, best his career ERA mark in '15 - O/U 3.55 final ERA?
Brandon – OVER. His xFIP of 3.85 is right in line with where he has been in each of the previous three seasons, his K/9 rate is the lowest of his career (7.00) and his fastball velocity is also at a career-low level. I think he'll end up coming in under a 4.00 ERA, but not by a lot.
Dalton – OVER. I hope I'm wrong, and a 10.6 SwStr% is encouraging. But an 87.5 mph average FB velocity is discouraging, to say the least. It's just really weird his FB has gone from one of the worst pitches in baseball to a positive one while losing velocity.
Scott – I'm going to shade UNDER because of the park and the raise in ground-ball rate. But I share the concerns that remain in play, the low velocity and the suspicious HR/FB clip.
Yimi Garcia and Ken Giles are both owned in 41% of Yahoo leagues. Which reliever would you choose for the rest of the season, and give a final total saves prediction for each reliever?
Scott – I want Garcia for the innings, and Giles if it's strictly a handshake chase. Give 11 saves to Giles (though he has the upside for considerably more) and just 4-5 for Garcia.
Andy – Well, it would be Giles if I were chasing saves, because of the greater likelihood that a trade could clear a path to the ninth. But I'm not sure I wouldn't rather own Garcia, if I simply needed ratios. I'll say 12 saves for Giles, five for Garcia.
Dalton – Giles by a lot since Kenley Jansen is due back to close for the Dodgers, and I still think Jonathan Papelbon gets traded. So five or so for Garcia and 15 for Giles.
Another day, another opportunity to lose $22 while winning back $4.50 and somehow feeling good about the achievement. Sigh. Let's do this thing. As always, remember to scan the weather reports and double-check today's MLB lineups prior to game time.
Robinson Cano, 2B, vs. SD (Shields), $3400 at FanDuel: If batter-vs.-pitcher history is your thing, then you'll want to know that Cano is 34-for-84 lifetime against Shields, with nine doubles, two triples and four homers. Cano is also heating up at the plate just a bit, batting .316 so far this month, with a pair of three-hit games in his last six.
Gio Gonzalez, P, at Ari (Hellickson), $9100: Gio is a heavy favorite on Wednesday, plus he's struck out eight or more batters in each of his last three outings (two of which resulted in wins). He's facing a guy who's allowed 12 runs (all earned) over his last 14.2 innings. This has to work, right?
Marcus Semien, SS, vs. Bos (Miley), $3200: Semien simply continues to rake, having produced a trio of three-hit games over his last four. He tripled and homered in a 3-for-5 performance on Tuesday. He's 9-for-23 with four walks against left-handed pitchers so far this year, and Wade Miley awaits.
Freddie Freeman, 1B, at Cin (Iglesias), $3900: Freeman is working on a nine-game hitting streak, and he's reached base safely three times in each of his last three games. So yeah, he's kinda hot at the moment. Wednesday's starter for Cincinnati, Raisel Iglesias, is a good-not-great right-hander, lacking wipeout stuff.
Billy Burns, OF, vs. Bos (Miley), $2200: I'm assuming Burns draws the start against Miley, hits atop the Oakland batting order, and gives us his usual two hits (with a decent shot at a steal or two). In a friendly matchup, I'm rolling with a few top-of-the-lineup A's.
Colby Rasmus, OF, vs. SF (Hudson), $2900: Rasmus is 6-for-14 in his career against Hudson with one double, two homers, a walk and four RBIs. No, that's not much of a sample, but we're also picking on a pitcher who was rocked in his last outing (6.2 IP, 15 H, 6 ER).
Denard Span, OF, at Ari (Hellickson), $3400 : So far this year, left-handed batters are 25-for-59 against Hellickson with nine extra-base hits and six walks. YIKES. Feels like a Span-and-Harper sort of day.
Jose Abreu, 1B, at Mil (Nelson), $3000: Just a filthy price on a wonderful hitter. Abreu is working on a nine-game hitting streak, plus he's facing a starter who allowed three homers in his last turn.
Mike Moustakas, 3B, at Tex (Gallardo), $2700: Gallardo has allowed 16 runs (12 earned) over his last 23.0 innings, so he's not the sort of starter who should scare anyone away. Moose went 2-for-5 with a homer on Tuesday, raising his season slash to .322/.388/.471. I'll gladly take him at this price, facing a sketchy right-hander in a hitter-friendly park. And I'm not finished with the Royals just yet...
Alex Gordon, OF, at Tex (Gallardo), $3300: Gordon is coming off a three-hit performance that included two doubles and a game-winning extra-inning bomb. We can trust him to keep raking against Gallardo, and the price is perfectly reasonable.
Stephen Strasburg always looks so tantalizing in the showroom, so appealing in the catalog. He’s the sports car of fantasy baseball; the pricy yacht; the vanity purchase; the stab at glittering, glamorous upside.
But let’s accept one dangling reality of our numbers racket: the two best Strasburg moments are the day you draft him and the day you trade him away. It's complicated.
Most of Strasburg’s seasons to this point have been good, but not transcendent. Although he’s regularly a hipster Cy Young pick from a handful of pundits, he’s never finished in the Top 8 of the voting. His career ERA is good-not-elite, 3.14. His career WHIP is strong-not-elite, 1.12. Strasburg won the strikeout title last year, the first time he pushed past 183 innings.
A pitcher’s won-loss record is filled with plenty of static, so take this with some grains of salt: Strasburg is merely 24-24 since the beginning of 2013.
Strasburg’s career ratios are a siren’s song at the moment; the 2015 ledger is filled with crooked numbers. He was knocked around for eight runs (seven earned) in Tuesday’s messy loss at Arizona. Push the ERA over six, raise the WHIP to 1.71. And now we pay the docking fee for four more days, wonder what’s wrong with the sports car.
Velocity doesn’t seem to be the issue: Strasburg’s at 94.4 mph for the fastball this year, an eyelash down from 94.8 last year and 95.4 for his career. He’s still getting about a strikeout per inning.
Command has been elusive – we’re not talking about straight control, but the ability to put a pitch exactly where you want it. He’s getting less swinging strikes (a four-percent dip) and there’s been a notable drop in out-of-zone swings. Strasburg is also getting lit up by an unrealistic hit rate, but you knew that already. Outlier ERAs come with outlier secondary metrics.
Mind you, these are often descriptive things, not necessarily predictive things. No one knows if Strasburg is one small tweak away from figuring things out, or one medical visit away from needing some shutdown time. (He battled shoulder discomfort in his previous start, but was pronounced good to go after a chiropractor visit and a successful bullpen session.)
Anyone who owns Strasburg (or fancies him in trade) needs to weigh the upside and floor needs of their team. If you’re leading the pack or at least in the midst of strong contention, I could see making a floor-driven dispatch of Strasburg, maybe trading him for a solid Lance Lynn type. Keep the chains moving, get a high-octane arm with perhaps less maintenance required.
If Strasburg is part of the reason your team is buried in the standings, I’d be less inclined to sell low. If you’re in the second half of the standings, you probably want to embrace volatility, look for lightning in a bottle. Heck, you might want to trade for Strasburg.
I don’t currently have any Strasburg shares and I probably won’t be seeking them out, but that’s just the way I’m wired. I don’t want to deal with the stress of worrying about him every five days. I’d like more consistency and durability from my ace. The baseball fan in me would love to see Strasburg back in form, and I recognize he’s probably a long way from his final verse – the guy is, after all, just 26 years old. But I’ve never been one for sports cars, anyway. Give me the dependable Toyota every time.
(I know, I know, when it comes to pitchers, dependable doesn’t really exist. So it goes. We’ll keep looking, ranking, trying to figure it out. And one final thing with Strasburg: if he ever lands on the DL, I'll be looking to add Tanner Roark anywhere I can. Sooner or later, I expect 2015 relevance from him.)
• Either, eyether, neither, nyther . . . let's call the whole thing off.
Andre Ethier? He's become a hold.
Either can now apply to membership for the Jayson Werth (or Alex Rios) All-Stars, productive players who get piled on in public because they have silly contracts. Ethier probably isn't worth what the Dodgers are paying him, but that doesn't mean he can't help our fantasy clubs. He collected a homer and five hits in the Tuesday romp over Miami, pushing his seasonal line up to .329-17-5-13. Sweet-swinging lefty. Loaded lineup.
Dodger Stadium is misunderstood as a playability park; it’s actually a very good place for home runs. Yasiel Puig just had a hamstring setback, don’t you know? Ethier's 22-percent ownership tag doesn't make sense. He's still dirt-cheap in the DFS world, too.
• Sticking in the same buying pocket, Chris Heston is still unowned in three-quarters of Yahoo leagues? Where are you guys?
Heston’s 2.91 ERA and 1.17 WHIP are enough of a sell job, along with a K/BB ratio just under four. But what really pushes things over the cliff is the video: look at the nasty stuff he threw at the Astros on Tuesday, en route to 10 strikeouts and a two-hit gem. Signature significance, gamers.
And Heston’s numbers become a lot better if we, fairly, excuse him for the six-run mess at Coors Field. You can’t trust results from that park. He's drawing Coors again at the end of the month, something I'll dodge, but otherwise I approve Heston for mixed-league ownership, everywhere.
• As you meander through your Wednesday, stop and take a moment to appreciate that it's Top Gun Day. And while Top Gun doesn't offer the roto-relative lessons that Wall Street does, it's still completely rewatchable, even if it's merely for the schlock value.
Savor every Val Kilmer scene. Appreciate the wisdom of Tom Skerritt. May all your Sliders hit the corner. Give a nod to the Tim Robbins cameo; life before he shifted to the pitcher's mound and the money-laundering business.
And dammit, don't be afraid to engage.
Fantasy is a speculative game. Predict the future, and you look like a genius. Don't, and you're painfully human. Gazing into the crystal ball, here's our view on 10 intriguing rookie over/unders for the upcoming season.
Expected Oakland targets hog, Amari Cooper, receptions in his first year wearing Silver and Black 74.5.
Dalton – OVER. Cooper's set up as the clear No. 1 option in Oakland looks nice, and he's by all accounts polished and NFL ready. So I'm going over, but Derek Carr got just 5.5 YPA last year, so let's temper expectations here.
Scott – UNDER. I loved Cooper at Alabama, but Oakland is where passing games go to die. I'd like Derek Carr to make it, too; he says and does all the right things outside the lines. I'm just not sure he has the right stuff on the field.
Andy – OVER, assuming a full, healthy season. Cooper is pretty much as NFL-ready as a receiver can get, and I fully expect him to see 135-145 targets in his first season. Twenty wideouts exceeded this total last year, including a pair of rookies, so the number isn't crazy-high.
Todd Gurley, recovering smoothly from last year's ACL injury but still a possible candidate to open the season on the PUP list, rushing yards with the Rams 799.5.
Andy – OVER. As far as Gurley's recovery goes, the next piece of bad news will be the first. This kid is a ridiculously talented runner, possibly the best draft prospect at his position since Peterson. Tre Mason rushed for 765 yards over 12 games as a rookie for the Rams, and Gurley is in a different tier entirely. I'll gladly be the drafter who pays the fourth or fifth-round price.
Brad – OVER. News out of Rams HQ suggests Gurley is progressing well, however, Jeff Fisher maintains the team will institute a conservative approach. Still, even if he misses the first six games of the regular season, I fully expect he'll be unleashed Week 7 against Cleveland. Given Gurley's almost superhuman makeup, he could easily average 80-plus rush yards over the Rams' final 10 contests. He's fair game from Round 4 on in 12-team drafts.
Scott – UNDER. I know all the early news is positive, but that's how teams spin injury-returnees. Everyone is on the fast track. Everyone is a quick healer. And you know how nonsensical the Rams tend to be with their offensive personnel at times.
Former Badger Melvin Gordon, who will attempt to overcome the stigma attached to former Wisconsin backs, total touchdowns this fall with San Diego 6.5.
Andy – OVER, probably by two or three (or more). He'll be the Bolts' featured back immediately, and the this team's offense isn't exactly inept. Gordon is set up for a 1,000-yard debut season, with 8-10 spikes.
Brad – OVER. By a nose hair. Branden Oliver and Danny Woodhead will be rotated in, likely supplanting the rookie on third/pass downs. Still, Gordon should be the early-down workhorse behind a retooled offensive line, netting some 15-17 touches per game. His explosiveness, deceptive power and plus vision are reminiscent of Jamaal Charles. Off a college career in which he averaged an all-time 7.79 yards per carry, he has strong odds of breaking a few long scores. Mark me down for seven total TDs this year.
Brandon – UNDER, by a half. I'll say he finishes with a total of six touchdowns. San Diego has finished with six rushing TDs or less as a team in two of the past four seasons. And the Chargers, according to ProFootballFocus, graded out as the second-worst run blocking team in the league. Add to that the fact that Philip Rivers loves to utilize Danny Woodhead and Antonio Gates in the red zone and I just don't think the end zone will be fertile grounds for Gordon in Year 1.
Fill in the Blank. In his inaugural campaign with the Bucs, Jameis Winston finishes with _______ passing yards, a ______ TD:INT split and _______ rank among fantasy quarterbacks in per game average.
Brad – 4,036 passing yards, 22:20 TD:INT, No. 21
Brandon – 3,700 passing yards, 22:19 TD-to-INT ratio, No. 23
Dalton – 3,900 passing yards, 23:21 TD:INT, No. 24
West Virginia product Kevin White, who should slide in opposite Alshon Jeffery as Chicago's No. 2, receiving yards this year with Da Bears 899.5.
Brandon – OVER. White's my top choice among rookie wide receivers. I think he has 1,000-yard, 8-10 TD upside in his inaugural campaign. Four rookies topped this yardage O/U mark last season, and three of them also scored at least eight times, so don't think that it's far-fetched for the freakishly athletic White to follow suit.
Dalton – OVER. It's not going to be by much, but I'll pedict around 950 receiving yards and six scores for White.
Scott – OVER. Here's one case where I believe the hype, endorse the hype, jump into the hype. Give him 970 yards and a handful of touchdowns.
Already considered the 1A back in a higly productive Atlanta offense, Tevin Coleman final fantasy rank among running backs 24.5 (In other words, will he finish inside (UNDER) or outside (OVER) the RB top-24?).
Dalton – UNDER. The safer bet here is over, but I would absolutely bet on Coleman's upside here. Based on his setup, I have him as my RB22 right now, so I have to say he'll be around a top-20 fantasy RB this season.
Scott – OVER. I don't like the offensive line, and there's still a strong passing infrastructure.
Andy – UNDER, barely. Atlanta has ranked at or near the bottom of the NFL in rushing in each of the past three seasons, so we're not talking about a high-yield ground game. I'm forecasting a bunch of 65-yard weeks, with an occasional rushing score. By the end of the year, it will make the rookie a top-25 back, if not a fantasy star.
Marcus Mariota, who wound up in Tennessee despite Chip Kelly's offer of his own appendages, combined passing/rushing yards with the Titans this season 3,825.5.
Scott – UNDER, because I don't see how he starts the full season. I suspect the baton won't be passed until October or so. The Titans are in no hurry.
Andy – I wouldn't actually bet this in Vegas (or anywhere else), because it seems like the right number for Mariota, assuming a full season. He has a huge developmental year ahead, so forecasting more than, say, 3,300-3,500 passing yards seems silly. It's easy to imagine him gaining 400-550 on the ground, however. For fantasy purposes, I view him as a bye-week coverage option, not a player you'll need to own for the full season.
Brad – UNDER. When the matchup warrants, Mariota should be occasionally useful for fantasy purposes. He's a heady quarterback who is very comfortable working outside the pocket whether with his arm or legs. Still, the cupboard is relatively bare in Nashville. Kendall Wright and Delanie Walker are reliable underneath weapons and Dorial Green-Beckham has tremendous upside, but the remaining arsenal is bland. Assuming he fends off Zach Mettenberger in camp and starts Week 1, he'll be close to the proposed number, but I foresee roughly 3,300 pass and 400 rush yards this year.
Rank 'em. List the follow wide receivers in expected order of finish in fantasy points per game: Jaelen Strong, Dorial Green-Beckham, DeVante Parker, Nelson Agholor, Breshad Perriman.
Andy – Agholor, Parker ... Strong ... ... Perriman, DGB.
Brad – Agholor ... Strong, Parker ... Perriman, DGB
Brandon – Agholor (the only that I think ends up mattering for fantasy purposes), Perriman, Strong, Parker, DGB
T.J. Yeldon, hoping to carve an Eddie Lacy, not Trent Richardson, path, total touches this fall with the Jags 259.5.
Brad – UNDER. "Workhorse." "Three-Down back." "Next stud." These are all descriptions Jacksonville coaches and some fantasy pundits have attached to the 'Bama back. Sound familiar? Many of us, including yours truly, said the same about Toby Gerhart last year. I refuse to take the bait again. The Jags are building a winner, but the defense, already sans No. 1 pick Dante Fowler, will limit ground opportunities once again. Specific to Yeldon's case, so will Denard Robinson. The rookie should lead the Jags backfield in touches, but don't bank on a monstrous workload or RB2-level season.
Brandon – UNDER. Sorry, but I think Yeldon is a ham-and-egger - a decent RB, but nothing special. I'd expect Denard Robinson to have a place in the backfield equation, and the current plan is for Toby Gerhart to move into a Mike Tolbert-esque role. Add it all up and I'll wager that Yeldon finishes under 250 total touches.
Dalton – OVER. I rank Yeldon as my No. 14 RB right now. It's not ideal playing for Jacksonville, but Yeldon is good and should be given every opportunity to be the team's workhorse. He should be drafted within the first three rounds.
Versatile youngster Ameer Abdullah, who is likely to take on a Giovani Bernard-like role with the Detroit Lions, receptions this season 44.5.
Brandon – OVER. The Lions have ranked top five in the league in RB receptions, averaging roughly 109 catches in that span. I expect the dynamic Abdullah to ascend fairly quickly to a place of prominence in the Lions backfield and, if that's the case, he should have ample opportunity to catch the number of passes required here for the over.
Dalton – UNDER. I don't want to predict 45 receptions, but I actually really like Abdulah this year and expect him to immediately become Detroit's most valuable back. He's the No. 21 fantasy RB on my draft board.
Scott – OVER. Give the Lions credit, they realized that Reggie Bush wasn't the answer (see ya, Reggie), and they also got sick of the plodding overrated mass that is Joique Bell. Abdullah will have a significant role from the opening snap. Versatile in the D.
Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise
Adrian Beltre, 3B, vs. KC (Volquez), $2900: Beltre struggled throughout April, and his slow start is clearly reflected in the current dirt-cheap price. So far in May, Adrian is slashing .313/.320/.542 and he's homered in back-to-back games. Volquez opened the season with a useful string of outings, but he's not exactly the sort of pitcher we avoid at all costs.
Collin McHugh, P, vs. SF (Heston), $8800 at FanDuel: McHugh is off to a terrific start, and it's not as if he's been unusually lucky (.282 BABIP, 3.39 xFIP). He's simply keeping the ball on the ground, limiting the free passes, and he's getting a respectable number of punch-outs (33 in 39.0 IP). McHugh is at home on Tuesday, opposed by a pitcher who was hit hard in his last outing (5.0 IP, 11 H, 5 ER, 3 BB).
Andrelton Simmons, SS, at Cin (DeSclafani), $2900: Simmons simply refuses to cool down. He went 2-for-5 with a double and a homer on Monday, and is now batting .359/.444/.667 in May with four multi-hit games. I'll gladly take him at this price, filling a position that's been a season-long minefield.
Noah Syndergaard, P, at CHC (Arrieta), $7100: Most of us play this game for fun, as well as profit. So let's enjoy this debut. Syndergaard is this week's shiny new toy, and I'm using him in a pair of daily leagues in his first MLB appearance. As most of you already know, he'd been dominant in five starts at Triple-A to open the year (3-0, 1.82 ERA, 10.3 K/9). He features a high-90s fastball and excellent curve, and on Tuesday he'll face a lineup that leads the majors in total team Ks.
Alexei Ramirez, SS, at Mil (Fiers), $2700: Fiers has been something less than lights-out this year (1.72 WHIP), despite the eye-popping strikeout total (42 in 29.2 IP). Alexei seems to be heating up, as he's put together a six-game hitting streak while going 9-for-24 with two homers. At this price, Ramirez allows you the flexibility to spend big elsewhere. (Bonus play: Jose Abreu at $3400 has plenty of appeal in this tilt, too.)
Mookie Betts, OF, vs. Oak (Pomeranz), $3400: Betts has hit safely in nine straight games (and in 12 of his last 13), leading off for Boston. He offers power, speed, run-scoring and on-base skills, plus he's posted an .803 OPS against LHPs over 90 career MLB plate appearances. If you whiffed on him in seasonal leagues, here's a nice opportunity to invest.
Wilin Rosario, C, vs. LAA (Wilson), $3000 : I'm assuming Rosario will draw the start at first base for Colorado, with the left-handed Wilson on the mound. He's crushed lefties throughout his career (.332/.366/.649), and he went 2-for-3 against Kershaw and the Dodgers on Sunday.
Neil Walker, 2B, at Phi (O'Sullivan), $3000: At this point in the six-year major league career of Sean O'Sullivan, I think we can safely say that he is not an uncommonly gifted pitcher (career 1.55 WHIP, 5.87 ERA). I like Walker at this price, and Polanco and Kang and ... well, various assorted Bucs.
Christian Yelich, OF, at LAD (Bolsinger), $2900: Such a friendly price for an excellent hitter with a favorable matchup. Yelich went 2-for-4 with a homer on Monday, and he'll face a soft-tossing right-hander today.
Stephen Vogt, C, at Bos (Masterson), $3700: Basically any time a left-handed-hitting human gets to face Masterson, you need to consider playing that person. Vogt is enjoying a tremendous season to this point (.337/.417/.653, 8 HR), and it would be a small surprise if he didn't treat Masterson like a piñata on Tuesday.
I’m not a Los Angeles sympathizer by any means. I lived there for 14 months once upon a time and wasn’t particularly happy. L.A. wasn’t my kind of town.
But I don’t think anyone can deny there’s something special about Chavez Ravine, and Vin Scully, and a glorious Dodgers walk-off victory.
Rollin’ down Imperial Highway
Big nasty redhead at my side
Santa Ana winds blowin’ hot from the north
And we was born to ride
Monday’s conclusion had it all, a game-ending homer from Scott Van Slyke, Scully’s elegant call (and 40 seconds of silence), the victory music, the jump-around at home plate. Even if you don’t have a Los Angeles stake, it's a feel-good moment.
Unless, of course, you own Steve Cishek. Yeah, I’ve buried the lede under a layer of L.A. smog. Scully is that good. Randy Newman is that good, too.
Miami fancies itself a 2015 contender, and with that it's demoting the scuffling closer. Cishek's final pitch from Monday did everything but scream out "hit me," and he's now sitting on a 10.32 ERA and 2.03 WHIP for the year. While his strikeout rate is fine, he's allowed two homers, walked eight men, blown four of seven save chances. He's done this to himself.
There’s plenty to choose from for the save chasers. A.J. Ramos, Mike Dunn and Bryan Morris have all been mentioned at possible replacements, according to manager Mike Redmond.
Ramos has the prettiest numbers of the group (1.06 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, eight walks against 21 strikeouts in 17 innings). But at 5-foot-10 and 207 pounds, he doesn’t have the look, the raw pedigree of a closer. Maybe that matters to the Fish, maybe it doesn't. Ramos does crank the fastball up to the 91-92 range.
Dunn, a lefty, leads the team in holds, though he’s allowed six runs and five walks through his 12.1 innings. He racked up 10 relief wins and 22 holds last year, along with a 3.16 ERA. His average fastball is over 94 mph.
Morris looks the most like a traditional closer, a tall righty (6-foot-3) whose average fastball is 95.3 mph. He’s scored three relief wins this year and strikes out eight men per nine innings, but he’s also walking five batters per lap. Home runs are also a problem; in 150 MLB innings, he’s served up 15 gopher balls.
You'll hear the committee word thrown around in Miami, but don't expect that to last long-term. That's basically manager speak for "let's wait for someone to take the job and run with it." It doesn't make sense to anoint someone until he gets a chance to prove himself. But most skippers ultimately want definition in the bullpen, a specific go-to guy for the ninth.
I made a Ramos call on the weekend and I’ll stand by it; that’s the guy I’d look to first. He’s still free to grab in three-quarters of Yahoo leagues.
• I want to buy into the Jeff Samardzija story, I really do. I like him on the White Sox, reminds me a little of Black Jack McDowell, bad-ass righy with an edge. Alas, it’s been a mess through five weeks (4.80 ERA, 1.36 WHIP). What’s your review of Shark Sandwich? (I thought so.)
Monday’s turn at Milwaukee got out of hand quickly, though it eventually evolved into one of those good/bad lines (6 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 6 K). At least two of the runs were unearned. At least the walks and strikeouts are in line.
How should we feel about Samardzija’s fastball velocity? He was a 95-mph man back in 2011-2012 with the Cubs, but he’s dropped down to 93.9 this year. His strikeout rate sits at 7.0, his lowest mark since making the majors. At least Samardzija isn't walking anyone (1.6/9). He’s been somewhat unlucky with sequencing - note his worst strand rate in five years. (You can't dust for strand rate. You can't fingerprint for strand rate.)
I sold one of my Shark Shares a week or so ago, but I think I'm stuck with the other one until he presents a selling line. He faces Oakland (road) and Minnesota (home) in his next two appearances. Give me something, righty. I need something I can take to market.
• How big of a prospect is Philadelphia cornerman Maikel Franco? That depends on when you ask. The clipboard hounds were rather impressed a year ago, not so much now. Nonetheless, Franco, 22, is shipping to Philly and will get a chance to play - incumbent 3B Cody Asche is headed to Triple-A, ostensibly to learn the outfield.
Franco wasn’t walking much, but otherwise it’s been a solid month at Triple-A (.341/.363/.543, four homers in 30 games). It’s nice to see the power spike, as he posted a disappointing .428 slugging percentage in five months of Triple-A play last year. I didn’t make the move in any of my pools, but Franco is still free to add in 94 percent of Yahoo.
• I had the privilege of joining Patrick Davitt on his always-enjoyable Baseball HQ program this week, if baseball podcasts are your cup of tea. The show runs about an hour and we talk about a number of players and concepts.
If you can give it a listen or a download, great. If you'd rather watch a puppet show or listen to Intravenus De Milo, that's fine, too.
The Buzz: As anticipated, the NFL levied a weighty four-game suspension on Tom Brady in wake of the deflate-gate scandal and subsequent obstructions described in the Wells Report. That's double what Ray Rice received for a far more heinous offense. "Logical." To no one's surprise, Brady is expected to appeal, which could reduce missed time to a measly two games.
The Spin: In what should amount to a slap on the wrist, a consequence that would cost Brady only 15 percent of the fantasy regular season, the Super Bowl MVP shouldn't be moved down cheat sheets significantly. If, however, his appeal is denied, that's an entirely different ball game. Owners, working under the previous assumption, should demote him slightly. Still, no person wants to start off the season 0-2 (or 0-4) and given the incredible depth at QB many will bypass Tom Terrific (39.3 Yahoo ADP, QB6) for a Ben Roethlisberger (62.2, QB9), Tony Romo (66.7, QB11), Eli Manning (95.9, QB12) or Ryan Tannehill (110.9, QB14), which is understandable. After all, thanks in large part to a rocky start, Brady finished behind each of them in standard per game average last year. Those tied to Brady also deserve minimal reductions, if any. Gronk will still Gronk and Julian Edelman will still thrive in PPR even with Jimmy Garoppolo under center.
The Bottom Line: Aside from the small devaluation, there's not much to see here for the shallow leaguer. Brady, who went nuts after Spy Gate, will be highly motivated upon his reinstatement. The Pats are blessed with a number of weapons including the likes of Gronk, Edelman, Brandon LaFell and Danny Amendola. Combine that with a suspect run game and the ninth-easiest fantasy schedule for QBs and it's possible he averages some 38 pass attempts per game in a top-10 campaign this fall. Off a 4,109-yard, 33:9 TD:INT effort, he remains a safe investment anytime after Round 6 in 12-team drafts.
On a side note, Garoppolo becomes an instant player of interest in two-QB and daily formats. His likely affordable price and matchup against a very young Pittsburgh D that surrendered the sixth-most fantasy points to QBs last year are enticing. Also keep in mind, the Pats will be without LeGarrette Blount opening night as the rusher serves a one-game suspension stemming from his smoke-out with Le'Veon Bell last year. Garoppolo's quick release, pocket poise and system experience could lead to a surprising out-of-the-gate performance. Remember him.
Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise
Let's look at the Monday slate.
Players to Buy
Jung Ho Kang, SS, at PHI (Williams), $2600: Everyone is crushing Jerome Williams this year, righties and lefties, so you’re invited to send it in on any Pirates bats that make sense to you. Isn’t it time the Bucs made Kang a full-time player? He’s on a .462/.517/.769 wave over his last eight games (two homers, one steal), and when you drop a four-year, $11 million contract on a 28-year-old infielder, you’re expecting some sort of immediate returns. Kang’s notably underowned in Yahoo leagues, too (11 percent); I added three shares myself in the past week.
Yasmani Grandal, C, vs. MIA (Koehler), $3000: Tom Koehler didn't have nightmare platoon splits until this year (LHB: seven homers). All sorts of Dodgers to dial up tonight. I would never blame anyone for paying up for Joc Pederson ($4300), but the discount lefty plays are Grandal, Andre Ethier ($2800) and Jimmy Rollins ($2700).
Evan Longoria. 3B, vs. NYY (Sabathia), $3800: His price has climbed up a bit after a recent binge (three homers in five games), but when you see CC Sabathia on the docket, you want to make arrangements. Longoria has always owned Sabathia (1.390 OPS, six homers and 13 walks over 58 at-bats), and much of that sample came when Sabathia was still a good pitcher. Just push play.
Gerrit Cole, SP, at PHI, $9000: Let’s enjoy the buy before the price gets silly (there are five pitchers pricier than Cole on the Monday card). Cole has most of the key stats moving in the right direction (whiffs up, walks down, grounders way up), and then there’s the lowest-scoring team in the majors on the other side.
Marcus Semien, SS, vs. BOS (Porcello), $2900: I don’t understand why the price has been so slow to catch up to Semien, but he’s the No. 2 shortstop in the Yahoo game to this point (.307-18-5-14-6) and he’s still under the 3K umbrella in Fan Duel. There’s nothing particularly tantalizing about a Rick Porcello draw (there are weaker pitchers you can pick on), but there’s plenty of upside at that price.
Chris Davis, 1B, vs. TOR (Estrada), $3600: Although his platoon numbers are a little messed up this year, we know Davis’s best foot comes at home and against right-handed pitching. Marco Estrada is off to a tidy start, but let’s not forget he allowed an MLB-worst 29 homers last year. Take some hacks with Crash Davis. If you want a cheaper Baltimore swinger, Alejandro De Aza ($2400) could fit the bill.
Alex Gordon, OF, at TEX (Lewis), $3200: While the early ratios on Colby Lewis are sharp, he needs to pitch to much contact (strikeouts under 7/9) and we know the Royals put the ball on the ball very well. I’m not going to cut the check on a suddenly-pricy Eric Hosmer, but I’d like to dial up Gordon in this spot, and maybe Mike Moustakas if he rejoins the club in time.
Jeff Samardzija, SP, at MIL (Peralta), $8900: You never really know what Shark Sandwich you’re going to get, but the Brewers are fourth in strikeout rate and 25th in walk rate. And their pitchers can’t hit, just like everybody else’s pitchers.
Players to Fade
Pablo Sandoval, 3B, at OAK (Kazmir), $2900: He’s a switch-hitter in name only - it’s Sad Panda when he’s forced to bat right-handed. Sandoval is 2-for-28 against southpaws this year, and he slashed .199/.244/.319 against them last season. Even in seasonal formats, you steer away from him here.
Max Scherzer, SP, at ARI (Collmenter), $10,900: I’m a secondary-ace type of guy, if I even pay that much - I don’t like springing for the biggest ticket for any pitcher, especially when it’s a road start in a hitter’s park. I know there are tons of chalk-eaters in this racket, and I’m usually on the other side of that. Just a value call.
After a slow start, Kolten Wong has raised his OPS nearly 200 points over the past eight games, currently sitting at .898, which is the fourth highest among all second basemen. He’s 24 years old and has recently been moved to the No. 2 spot in St. Louis’ order (he’s on pace to record 84 runs and 89 RBI despite hitting mostly eighth all season). Wong’s .359 BABIP is going to come down (his career mark is .283), but he should be a threat to go 25/25 with a ton of counting stats. I’d give him around a 50 percent chance he’s more valuable than Robinson Cano this season.
I like Michael Wacha as much as anyone, but he’s somehow 5-0 with a 2.09 ERA and 1.03 WHIP with a 19:8 K:BB ratio over 38.2 innings. His Hard Hit% is just 23.7, which ranks No. 20 among SPs, but a K-BB% of 6.9 to go along with a 7.0 SwStr% is usually the stuff of a pitcher on the waiver wire. There’s plenty of reason to be more than a little concerned with the underlying stats here, and that goes beyond just pointing to Wacha’s .233 BABIP and screaming regression. The Cardinals seemingly always get the most out of their players, and again, I like Wacha, but if there’s some chance people out there are buying him as a Cy Young candidate based on his early season run prevention, please at least look into trading him. There are some major red flags here.
Headlines of the Week: Chlamydia Outbreak Hits Abstinence-Only Texas High-School, Making Officials Rethink Sex Ed...Obese Man Doesn’t Understand Why He Can’t Lose Weight Despite His Healthy, 10,000-Calorie Diet...City Employee Fired After Watching Porn On The Job For 39 Hours Over Two Weeks...Man Sues Florida Hospital After His Leg Found In The Garbage...Man Nearly Loses Arms After Muscles Turn To Rock Due To Toxic Injections...My Husband Forgot Mother’s Day Flowers, So I Had Sex With Someone Else...New York Mobster Held Over Cocaine Smuggling Ring With Italian Mafia Boasted To Wife He ATE The Heart And Kidney Of A Rival And Wanted To Dissolve Two Others In Acid, Wiretaps Reveal...Zoo Keeper Helps Constipated Monkey Pass Peanut By Licking Its Butt For An Hour.
Quick Hits: I was down on Justin Upton entering the year, mainly because of PETCO Park, which has suppressed homers for RHB by 24 percent over the past three seasons. But not only does he already have eight bombs, he also has seven steals (he averaged eight during his previous two years in Atlanta). Despite now calling the best pitcher’s park home, Upton’s .919 OPS is a career high (although he does lead MLB in “just enough” home runs)...David Peralta is batting .302/.361/.603 against righties. He’s strictly platooned, but he’s hitting cleanup when in the lineup, so he’s an interesting option for those in daily transaction leagues, especially with the benefit of Chase Field...Jung Ho Kang is quietly up to an .898 OPS and should continue to get regular playing time for Pittsburgh. Make sure he’s not still unowned in your league, especially considering the lack of depth at the SS position...There’s no guarantee Noah Syndergaard stays in the Mets’ rotation, but he’s worth owning in all formats. He has a 1.82 ERA and 0.94 WHIP with a 4.3:1 K:BB ratio while pitching for Las Vegas in the PCL, which makes Coors Field look like PETCO Park...This death stare by Jered Weaver is unreal. Has anyone ever been more upset after tossing a shutout?...Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances have combined for 35.0 scoreless innings with a 0.77 WHIP, 54 strikeouts, 14 saves and four wins. That will work...Meanwhile, Craig Kimbrel has a 5.06 ERA, and he’s allowed as many homers this year as he did all of last season (to be clear though, there’s nothing to suggest worrying about Kimbrel right now).
Police Blotter: Caught On Video: USC Student Allegedly Spitting, Spraying Windex On Roommates’ Food...Man Robs Subway Then Crosses Street To Buy Sandwich At Potbelly...Woman Slashes Face Of Boyfriend’s Dead Girlfriend At Funeral Home...Woman Uses Online Pizza Hut Order To Alert Of Hostage Situation...Bar Owner On Trial For Allowing Man To Take 56 Shots...Police Officer Charged With Biting Man’s Testicles...Randy Janzen Facebook Post An Apparent Confession Of Killing Wife, Daughter, Sister...Woman Charged With Contaminating Families Milk With Shavings Of Dead Skins From Her Feet.
Quick Hits Part Deux: With Chris Archer looking like a threat to win the Cy Young, Jake Odorizzi owning a 2.09 ERA, Drew Smyly posting a 21:3 K:BB ratio with a 0.78 WHIP over 16.2 innings and both Alex Cobb and Jake McGee set to return, I was starting to get more than a little excited about this bet I made. Of course, with Cobb and Smyly now done for the season, I’m slightly less optimistic...Tim Lincecum’s FB velocity has dropped for the fourth straight season, sitting at a career low 87.5 mph, which is really worrisome for a right-hander. Despite this, he somehow has a 2.00 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, a career-high 54.0 GB% and a 10.6 SwStr%. His 3.14 FIP is his best since 2009. I’m a Giants fan and don’t expect this to last in any shape or form, but it’s been fun to watch...Carlos Santana’s OBP (.382) is nearly higher than his slugging percentage (.385). Matt Holliday currently leads MLB with a .465 OBP...DJ LeMahieu is somehow owned in fewer than 40 percent of Yahoo leagues despite batting .348, while Andrelton Simmons is similarly owned despite being the No. 5 ranked fantasy shortstop so far...Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett have combined for a 2.23 ERA over 76.2 innings, which has resulted in two wins. Meanwhile, Santiago Casilla has four wins (and eight saves) over 14.1 innings.
Songs of the Week: Django Django – “First Light” and Modest Mouse – “The Ground Walks, With Time In A Box.”
Longreads of the Week: My Lovely Wife In The Psych Ward and Inside The Shocking, Abrupt Divorce Of Bill Simmons And ESPN.
Quick Hits Part Tres: The A’s are 12-21 despite scoring the fourth-most runs in MLB. Oakland had the third best bullpen ERA (2.91) last season, but their relievers have been by far the worst in baseball so far this year. While Cincinnati’s 5.47 ERA is slightly higher than Oakland’s 5.23 mark, the A’s pen has accounted for 24.0 more innings. Speaking of bullpens, here are the teams with the best six ERAs, respectively: Royals, Cardinals, Dodgers, Astros, Yankees, Mets. Those teams have six of the seven best winning percentages in baseball...Jimmy Nelson’s 12.3 SwStr% ranks seventh best among all starters. This is almost always a very predictive stat and suggests he’s a monster in the waiting...This is the first 4-5-4 triple play in MLB history...Madison Bumgarner has faced 181 batters this season. Just 10 of them have been left-handed position players. He’s pretty good at baseball...Playing in the worst hitter’s park, Wil Myers is on pace to finish with 138 runs, 25 homers, 49 doubles, 93 RBI and 15 steals. And one year after setting a career-high with 13 home runs, Starling Marte is on pace to hit 37 bombs despite not going yard in any of his past five games...Michael Pineda had a pretty good outing Sunday...With Steve Cishek blowing another save Sunday, putting his ERA up to 8.18 on the season, A.J. Ramos needs to be owned in all fantasy leagues. His control is still a work in progress, but he’s allowed one homer over his past 131.1 innings and has a 16.1 SwStr% this season. He could easily be a top-10 closer from here on out.
Felix Hernandez, SP, vs. Oak (Chavez), $11300 on FanDuel: Of course you don’t need me to tell you King Felix is good at pitching, but did you realize he’s increased his K:BB ratio in each of the past seven seasons (technically he tied in one)? His current 23.6 K-BB% is a career best, and his 62.7 GB% is Hernandez’s highest since his rookie campaign. He’s at home Sunday, where he’s posted a 31:3 K:BB ratio over 23.0 innings with a 0.78 ERA and 0.52 WHIP this season. Moreover, the Mariners are both the biggest favorite (-175) while also in the game with the lowest O/U (7).
Wilson Ramos, C, vs. Atl (Wood), $2800: He has a 1.043 OPS versus left-handers this season, and Alex Wood has allowed a .337 BAA to RHB. There are 16 catchers who cost more than Ramos on Sunday.
Adam LaRoche, 1B, vs. Cin (Lorenzen), $2400: He owns an .841 career OPS when facing right-handed pitchers, is dirt cheap, hits in the middle of Chicago’s lineup and will be batting in a park that’s increased run scoring by 10 percent over the past three seasons, which is second only to Coors Field over that span.
Marlon Byrd, OF, at CWS (Danks), $3000: He has multiple hits in five straight games, including four homers, a steal, three walks and nine RBI overt that span. Byrd also owns a .333/.419/.667 line against southpaws and will be hitting in U.S. Cellular Field on Sunday, a park that’s boosted HR for RHB by an AL-high 25 percent over the past three years.
Carlos Beltran, OF, vs. Bal (Norris), $2300: He’s 38 years old and has seen his OPS drop in four straight seasons, including a career-low .537 this year. Maybe Beltran is done, but this is a Hall Of Fame type talent who remained plenty effective against RHP last season, still bats in the middle of the Yankees’ lineup and should benefit from an extreme hitter’s park. He’s only $100 more than the cheapest hitter available in FD.
Pablo Sandoval, 3B, at Tor (Dickey), $2900: He’s just 2-for-28 against LHP this season, but Panda is batting .380 against righties. There are 13 third basemen more expensive Sunday.
Brandon Belt, 1B, vs. Mia (Latos), $3000: He entered Saturday having doubled in six straight games, a span in which he raised his OPS from .563 to .829. While still searching for his first homer of the season, Belt is hitting .339/.431/.500 against RHP, and he owns a career 1.067 OPS against Mat Latos during his career.
Zack Cozart, SS, at CWS (Danks), $2500: He has a .954 OPS against southpaws this season, and John Danks has surrendered a .348 BAA to righties. Cozart has moved down in Cincinnati’s order, but he’s still underpriced here.
Joe Panik, 2B, vs. Mia (Latos), $2600: He has a .795 OPS versus RHP this season, which would easily be top-10 among second baseman. Meanwhile, Mat Latos has allowed a .317 BAA against LHB this season.
Chris Coghlan, OF, at Mil (Garza), $2200: He’s disappointed after a surprisingly strong 2014 season, but Coghlan has a nice track record against Matt Garza (.556/.556/1.111 over nine ABs), and he’s as cheap as it gets.
Madison Bumgarner, SP, vs. Mia (Phelps), $10100 at FanDuel: He’s obviously not cheap, but as usual in this space, I’m recommending spending money on an ace. I have no problem if you want to go Clayton Kershaw instead, but Coors Field is just barely enough (and the fact he’s $1100 more) to make me lean toward MadBum, who has a 32:6 K:BB ratio on the year and has allowed one run over his last two starts (15.1 innings). The Giants are the biggest favorites on Saturday’s board (tied with LAD), and their game is also the lowest O/U (6.5) among all contests. Although it’s worth pointing out the Marlins .777 OPS is the fourth highest against southpaws in MLB.
Chris Young, OF, vs. Bal (Chen), $2800: He’s still sporting a ridiculous .429/.529/.929 line against left-handers while batting in the middle of a strong lineup in a park that’s boosted homers more than any other in the American League over the past three years.
Kolten Wong, 2B, at Pit (Worley), $2800: After a relatively slow start, Wong is batting .448 in May, bringing his season BA to .340. After mostly hitting seventh or eighth this year, he’s recently moved up to the No. 2 spot in St. Louis’ lineup, but his FD price has yet to reflect it.
Jhonny Peralta, SS, at Pit (Worley), $2800: He has the sixth-highest OPS among all shortstops in baseball and bats cleanup for the Cardinals, yet FD still lists 10 other SS with higher prices. Peralta is also 4-for-9 during his career against Vance Worley.
David Freese, 3B, vs. Hou (Keuchel), $2900: He’s batting just .225 on the year, so the cheap price makes sense on the surface, but Freese has a 1.137 OPS against southpaws this season, hits in the middle of the Angels’ lineup and is 8-for-14 during his career versus Dallas Keuchel.
David Ortiz, 1B, at Tor (Hutchison), $3000: He’s off to a slow start to the year and is just 1-for-12 in his career against Drew Hutchison, but this is a hitter with a career .972 OPS against RHP, and Rogers Centre is a hitter’s park. Ortiz’s price tag is the same as fellow first basemen such as Joe Mauer, Chris Carter, Allan Dykstra and Logan Morrison.
Nick Markakis, OF, at Was (Fister), $2700: He’s yet to homer and is grossly overpaid by the Braves, but Markakis has a .420 OBP versus RHP this season, bats leadoff and owns a .949 OPS over 24 career ABs against Doug Fister.
Alex Avila, C, vs. KC (Guthrie), $2500: He has a .404 OBP when facing RHP this season and owns a 1.093 OPS over 32 career at-bats against Jeremy Guthrie. Assuming he’s back in the lineup Saturday after sitting out Friday with a minor forearm contusion, Avila is a nice option for those wanting to go cheap at catcher.
Scott Van Slyke, OF, at Col (De La Rosa), $3100: Check the weather in Colorado, and if you’re playing the later slate, the Dodgers’ lineup as well. Then load up on LA right-handed batters if possible.
Bryce Harper, OF, vs. Atl (Teheran), $4500: Enough with the bargain hitters. If you’re going to spend some, do it on Harper, who tied an MLB record with five homers over the past two games (when he also recorded 10 RBI). The 23-year-old also leads MLB in walks. He’ll be facing a pitcher Saturday who’s allowed a .340 BAA and a 2.06 WHIP when facing LHB this season, yet 11 hitters are more expensive than Harper during Saturday’s slate.
Rest-of-season value is the goal when we do these Shuffle Ups. What's happened to this point is merely an audition.
The dollar values are unscientific, and merely provided as a tool to compare the players at the same position (I wouldn't suggest you use them to compare players at different positions). Groups of players at the same price are considered even.
Remember the golden rule: no one gains or loses extra value because you do (or don't) roster that partricular player.
Disagree? Excellent. That's why we have a game, and that's why it's a heck of a lot of fun. I welcome your respectful disagreement, both here and on Twitter.
I didn't include Noah Syndegaard or anyone else in the minors. I did rank injured pitchers, but those are merely courtesy ranks. Everyone seems to expect more of injury-returnees than I do. They're worth whatever you want them to be. I'm not going to haggle over the injured guys.
To the mound.
$30 Clayton Kershaw
$30 Felix Hernandez
$28 Johnny Cueto
$28 Max Scherzer
$27 Matt Harvey
$27 Zack Greinke
$25 Gerrit Cole
$23 Chris Sale
$23 Corey Kluber
$23 David Price
$22 Madison Bumgarner
$22 Stephen Strasburg
Not that you needed much of a push with Cole, but let’s note that he’s raised strikeouts, nudged walks down, pushed his ground ball rate to almost 60 percent, and he’s getting more swinging strikes and out-of-zone swings. He’s an interesting dark-horse pick for NL Cy Young . . . Kluber to me is an obvious buy. The K/BB obviously looks good, velocity is only down a spec (and that could be first-quarter type of lag), and Gomes should be back in maybe 3-5 weeks (a huge upgrade) . . . Fly-ball pitchers are often misunderstood; while balls in the air don’t offer the same security that ground balls do, any pitcher with an extreme bias to either batted-ball type is probably exerting more control on his outcomes than an average pitcher, and that is a good thing. So when you see someone with a heavy fly-ball clip, embrace it - it’s probably a sign that the pitcher is doing something right. Some of the heaviest fly-ball ratios thus far: Bartolo Colon, Max Scherzer, Johnny Cueto.
$21 Jake Arrieta
$20 Cole Hamels
$19 Michael Wacha
$19 Collin McHugh
$19 Jon Lester
$18 Dallas Keuchel
$18 Lance Lynn
$18 Michael Pineda
$18 Sonny Gray
$17 Chris Archer
$17 James Shields
While everything about McHugh’s emergence over the past year-plus seems legit, keep in mind he’s doing it with a huge reliance on the slider. He’s thrown the pitch 42.6 percent of the time this year, the heaviest slider usage in the majors. This is the type of thing that often catches up to a pitcher down the road - heads up in keeper formats. Other slider-heavy pitchers through the opening five weeks: Tyson Ross, Chris Archer, Jason Hammell, Francisco Liriano, Michael Pineda, Justin Masterson . . . What Keuchel does extremely well is get ground-balls by the truckload and generate weak contact. Obviously you don't pay for outlier ratios, but I think he easily matches last year's ERA and probably lowers the WHIP too (even if you want to start from scratch now). Shorter version: he's legit. I wish I had him anywhere, I do not. Keuchel also gets hidden bonuses for checking the running game and being a gold-glove defensive player. That won't show up in metrics generally. Contrast to Lester, who can't check the running game and now plays in the league where it will regularly be exploited.
$16 Jacob deGrom
$16 Scott Kazmir
$16 Shelby Miller
$15 Garrett Richards
$15 Jeff Samardzija
$15 Julio Teheran
$14 Francisco Liriano
$14 Gio Gonzalez
$14 Jake Odorizzi
$13 Anibal Sanchez
$13 Bartolo Colon
$13 Danny Salazar
$13 Mike Leake
$13 Tyson Ross
$12 A.J. Burnett
$12 John Lackey
$12 Jordan Zimmermann
$12 Carlos Carrasco
$11 Doug Fister
$11 Ian Kennedy
$11 Andrew Cashner
$10 Yordano Ventura
$10 Mike Fiers
$9 Trevor Bauer
$9 Carlos Rodon
$8 Carlos Martinez
$8 Jesse Hahn
$8 Matt Shoemaker
Bauer is on pace to strike out 197 and walk 93, which keeps him in the tease file . . . Is this finally the big strikeout year for Cashner? He’s getting more than one per inning, well worth the mild kick up in his walks. His biggest bugaboo to this point is the home-run ball, and it’s possible Petco might not be the home-run suffocation stadium we’re used to . . . I’m surprised some people think I have Ventura too low; if anything, I thought about ranking him even lower. His strikeout rate has dipped under 7/9 while he’s still walking too many batters; when the K/BB ratio isn’t even 2/1, we have a problem. I’m also forever leery on fireballing pitchers who are a little on the shorter side, and Ventura is just 6-foot-0. Sure, the homer rate will likely come down, but even if you want to grade his opening five weeks by FIP, not traditional ERA, we’re looking at 4.71. Last year’s FIP of 3.60 seems like a reasonable place to center your expectations.
$7 Alex Wood
$7 Drew Pomeranz
$7 Jimmy Nelson
$7 Jose Quintana
$7 Rick Porcello
$7 Jason Hammel
$6 C.J. Wilson
$6 Danny Duffy
$6 Phil Hughes
$5 Aaron Sanchez
$5 Chris Heston
$5 Clay Buchholz
$5 J.A. Happ
$5 Chase Anderson
$5 Dan Haren
$5 Anthony DeSclafani
$4 Aaron Harang
$4 Chris Tillman
$4 Drew Hutchison
$4 Edinson Volquez
$4 Hector Santiago
$4 Kyle Gibson
$4 Mat Latos
$4 Tim Lincecum
Happ now has 32 strikeouts against just eight walks, and he’s allowed just six runs in his three home turns. The division is less threatening than it used to be, now that Texas is close to a neutral ballpark . . . Life in the NL Central seems to be agreeing with Hammel again, so maybe we can pretend the Oakland interlude never happened . . . For more Buchholz propaganda, I direct you to my good friend Michael Salfino.
$3 Alex Colome
$3 James Paxton
$3 Jered Weaver
$2 Alfredo Simon
$2 Carlos Frias
$2 Jarred Cosart
$2 Jesse Chavez
$2 Kyle Hendricks
$2 Marco Gonzales
$2 Matt Garza
$2 Mike Pelfrey
$2 Nathan Karns
$2 Nick Martinez
$2 Taijuan Walker
$2 Ubaldo Jimenez
$2 Vance Worley
$1 Tom Koehler
$1 Chris Young
$1 Kyle Lohse
$1 Miguel Gonzalez
$1 Nathan Eovaldi
$1 R.A. Dickey
$1 Rubby De La Rosa
$1 Tim Hudson
$1 Travis Wood
$1 Wily Peralta
$0 Bud Norris
$0 Colby Lewis
$0 Jonathon Niese
$0 Shane Greene
$0 Wei-Yin Chen
-$1 CC Sabathia
-$1 Yovani Gallardo
Courtesy Injury Ranks
$10 *Jose Fernandez
$6 *Drew Smyly
$6 *Hisashi Iwakuma
$6 *Justin Verlander
$5 *Brandon Morrow
$4 *Archie Bradley
$4 *Hyun-Jin Ryu
$3 *Masahiro Tanaka
$2 *Matt Cain
Fantasy football drafting in May? Heck ya! Are you itching to mock? Deep down you are. And we are too. With the NFL Draft in the books, we recently partook in a 12-team, .5 PPR, with a FLEX, exercise to whet your whistle. Awake from your pigskin coma, fanatics. The 2015 fantasy football season is officially underway. Let the "expert" derision begin.
Pick 109: Jay Ajayi, Mia, RB39 – Look, every RB39 in the history of fantasy football has been cuttable. There's a good chance this won't work out. But the key with these picks is to not focus on what could go wrong but instead on what can go right. A healthy-enough Ajayi easily wins the Miami starting job. (Michael Salfino)
Pick 110: Bishop Sankey, Ten, RB40 – Back to the well but this time in round 10 instead of Round 4. Just betting on the prospect pedigree here and lack of competition. Plus a running QB really helps in RB yards per carry because the ends are in no-man's land. (Salfino)
Pick 111: John Brown, Ari, WR47 – Sophomore wideout should take a forward after a solid rookie campaign. In six games with Carson Palmer he averaged 52.5 yards per game and scored three touchdowns. (Brad Evans)
Pick 112: Kendall Wright, Ten, WR48 – Touchdowns for Wright are like fantasy scribes copulating with an attractive member of the opposite sex, an extremely rare occurrence. Still, he's one year removed from a 94-catch season. The crafty dirty worker should hook up with Marcus Mariota early and often, though 5-6 TDs are likely his max. (Evans)
Pick 113: Marques Colston, NO, WR49 – Even in a disappointing season, Colston still managed to top 900 yards. New Orleans hasn't added much competition for targets, so I don't mind his setup this year, despite all the red flags. (Andy Behrens)
Pick 114: Ryan Tannehill, Mia, QB14 – Tannehill actually finished well ahead of QB14 last season, and his situation has improved substantially. An excellent option for those planning to platoon their QBs. (Behrens)
Pick 115: Roy Helu, Oak, RB41 – Handcuff for my L. Murray pick - what, you think T-Rich is the handcuff? Laughable. (Brandon Funson)
Pick 116: Duke Johnson, Cle, RB42 – Perhaps the best receiving RB in the '15 draft class, which means he should see a heavy pass-down load over Crowell, West. (Funston)
Pick 117: David Johnson, Ari, RB43 – Should immediately become Arizona's RZ back and would be a weekly fantasy starter should Andre Ellington go down. (Dalton Del Don)
Pick 118: Philip Rivers, SD, QB15 – He threw for nearly 4,300 yards and 30+ touchdowns last season yet is the No. 15 QB off the board. Please continue to wait on this position. (Del Don)
Pick 119: Larry Fitzgerald, Ari, WR50 – Heck, he was a Top 16 wideout two years ago. Maybe the upside isn't enormous, but there's profit potential here. (Scott Pianowski)
Pick 120: Charles Sims, TB, RB44 – I'm about to do the scariest thing possible, a double-down in the Tampa backfield. Queue the ominous music. (Pianow)
Pick 121: Doug Martin, TB, RB45 – Generally I think handcuffing is a losing strategy, but if we were playing this out, I'd hope for quick backfield definition so I could cut the other guy. (Pianow)
Pick 122: Cordarrelle Patterson, Min, WR51 – Post-hype discount applies. Patterson was the overdraft of the summer last year, now you get him for nothing. At least I know I'm betting on talent. (Pianow)
Pick 123: Marvin Jones, Cin, WR52 – He had 10 touchdowns as a sophomore before injuries forced him to miss all of last season. There's upside here. (Del Don)
Pick 124: Colin Kaepernick, SF, QB16 – I'm buying the talk of improved mechanics, and he'll have a legit deep threat (Torrey Smith) for the first time in his career. (Del Don)
Pick 125: Reggie Bush, SF, RB46 – SF still deems him capable of being a featured back, though he's likely to fill mostly a pass-down role unless Hyde underwhelms in the lead. (Funston)
Pick 126: Ryan Mathews, Phi, RB47 – Important handcuff pick for D. Murray owners as PHI is high-volume on the ground, and Murray is coming off a near-500 touch '14 (inc. postseason). (Funston)
Pick 127: Julius Thomas, Jax, TE12 – Obviously the numbers won't look anything like they would have in Denver, but I do think he'll give us 6-8 TDs with one or two big games. At this price, it's enough. (Behrens)
Pick 128: Davante Adams, GB, WR53 – An obvious breakout candidate tied to an all-time QB. We've seen Green Bay produce more than two fantasy-relevant WRs in prior seasons. (Behrens)
Pick 129: Teddy Bridgewater, Min, QB17 – I'm convinced there's no conceivable way Bridgewater finishes outside the QB top-15. He's added weapons (Mike Wallace, Adrian Peterson) and is coming off a rather impressive Year 1. Remember, he completed 72.1 percent of his attempts and notched three 22-plus fantasy point efforts over his final five games. Rising. (Evans)
Pick 130: Dwayne Allen, Ind, TE13 – It's rare for him to creep over 60 yards in a game, but Allen is a red-zone force who crossed the chalk eight times in 12 games last season. I'll gladly pay the minimal cost for TD consistency. (Evans)
Pick 131: DeAngelo Williams, Pit, RB48 – With zeroRB, you are buying time and this gives me three cheap weeks with a plausible starter. Williams' prospects at producing well are low but I don't need a lot of points, either, with these WRs. (Salfino)
Pick 132: Andre Williams, NYG, RB49 – Jennings is a poor prospect to survive as a starter and that injury can come at any time. Plus Williams is probably the goal-line guy anyway. (Salfino)
Pick 133: Carson Palmer, Ari, QB18 – We have to take two but Palmer is in that range where he could be a top 12 QB easily, given his receiving corps. The system and coach and are also QB friendly. (Salfino)
Pick 134: Jay Cutler, Chi, QB19 – Wow, you know Cutler's stock is at an all-time low if I am in a position to draft him He's the new Jeff George but George had way more relevance in fantasy than reality. (Salfino)
Pick 135: Joe Flacco, Bal, QB20 – Every year, Flacco is a considered a 'sleeper.' Every year, he fails to measure up. However, with Trestman calling the shots and with a viable arsenal, maybe this is the season he takes a step forward. (Evans)
Pick 136: Josh Huff, Phi, WR54 – Most will talk up Matthews, others Agholor, but Huff could be the breakout star in Philly. The Chipster is enamored with the guy and with a year under his belt, he has better-than-you-think odds of cracking the Eagles' starting lineup. (Evans)
Pick 137: Darren Sproles, Phi, RB50 – Sproles in a half-PPR league, in Round 12? Why yes, I think I will. It's not as if Philly's other backs are unbreakable. (Behrens)
Pick 138: Stevan Ridley, NYJ, RB51 – To be perfectly honest, I've never thought Ridley was a special runner. But I'd give him a shot at November-December fantasy relevance. (Behrens)
Pick 139: Nick Foles, StL, QB21 – Obviously, he loses a lot of value going from PHI to STL, but even Bradford offered some fantasy value in STL when he was healthy. (Funston)
Pick 140: Robert Griffin III, Was, QB22 – Finished final three games of '14 in solid fashion (top 12 fantasy QB), and we've seen the upside - ideal dice roll for a fantasy QB2 roll. (Funston)
Pick 141: Terrance Williams, Dal, WR55 – Still the clear No. 2 WR in a strong Dallas offense that may have to pass more this season with an unclear RB situation. (Del Don)
Pick 142: James Starks, GB, RB53 – Eddie Lacy insurance. Starks would be a top-10 fantasy RB if Lacy were to go down. (Del Don)
Pick 143: Andy Dalton, Cin, QB23 – He was a solid fantasy backup two years ago and the offense has some fun toys. I can live with that. (Pianow)
Pick 144: Marcus Mariota, Ten, QB24 – Put this down in ink - I expect Mariota to have a better career than Jameis Winston. As for this pick, it's only because we need two quarterbacks for this mock. He'll be holding a clipboard while Brees leads me to a mock title. (Pianow)
TALE OF THE TAPE (FINAL ROSTERS)
You guys, if things go well on Friday night, I stand to make tens if not dozens of dollars. So you know I'm not messin' around today. Let's make good choices, together. And as always, please be sure to check weather reports and scan today's MLB lineups prior to game time.
Brett Lawrie, 3B, at Sea (Walker), $2600 at FanDuel: This really seems like a curiously low price for a player on an 11-game hitting streak, facing a pitcher of dubious quality. Lawrie has five multi-hit games in his last six, so it's not as if his streak is simply some accident of luck.
Wilson Ramos, C, vs. Atl (Stults), $2800: Here's another guy riding an 11-game hit streak, with five multi-hit games in his last seven. Ramos has raised his season average from .229 to .319 over the past two weeks. He hammers left-handed pitching, so Stults should be a friendly matchup.
Brandon Belt, 1B, vs. Mia (Cosart), $2900: In case it wasn't already apparent, I'm rolling out lineups full of players who've been binging in recent days. Belt has three two-hit games in his last four, and he has at least one extra-base hit in five straight. He's stinging the ball right now, is what I'm saying. He's also facing an under-powering right-hander. I'm in.
Yasmani Grandal, C, at Col (Butler), $3200: Grandal basically delivered a week's worth of stats on Thursday, in a monstrous 4-for-4, two-homer performance. He's reached base safely in seven straight games, and he's given us three-hit efforts in three of four. So yeah, I'll gladly play him at Coors, facing a righty.
Adam Lind, 1B, vs. CHC (Hammel), $3300: Lind has homered in each of his last two games (both multi-hit efforts), raising his season slash-line to .333/.409/.625. Hammel is a quality opponent, to be sure, but Lind has had success against him (6-for-20, double, 2 HR, BB). At this price, Lind feels like a steal relative to pretty much every first baseman other than Brandon Belt.
Kyle Blanks, OF, at TB (Karns), $2900: We've had a few false alarms with Blanks before, true, but he's really been mashing since being recalled by the Rangers. He went 2-for-4 with a double on Thursday, and is now slashing .375/.412/.719 for Texas. That'll play.
Jhonny Peralta, SS, at Pit (Liriano), $2800: Dirt-cheap once again, and facing a pitcher he's hit well over the years. Peralta is 15-for-46 lifetime against Liriano (.326) with two homers and 10 walks. He remains a heart-of-the-order hitter for the Cards, and he's batting a respectable .296/.345/.454 on the season.
Andre Ethier, OF, at Col (Butler), $3400: Ethier at altitude, facing a right-hander with a career WHIP of 1.74? Sounds like a plan. On Thursday, Ethier reached base three times (with a triple included), scoring twice.
Jorge Soler, OF, at Mil (Nelson), $3000: Soler has gone 10-for-25 this month, and he's delivered back-to-back two-hit games. No, the runs and RBIs haven't really been there lately, but they're coming. He has a solid history against Nelson, for what it's worth (4-for-9, 3 doubles).
Gio Gonzalez, P, vs. Atl (Stults), $8900: The Nats are a heavy favorite here (-190), for obvious reasons. Gonzalez was terrific in his last turn, pitching 7.0 scoreless innings against the Mets, with nine punch-outs. We shouldn't need to tell you that Stults has his flaws. If you aren't willing to spend $10K or more for your Friday starter, Gio is a quality alternative at a reasonable price.
It’s been a while, but Andrew McCutchen finally gave fantasy owners something to feel good about. It’s funny how four simple numbers can warm your day.
McCutchen’s Thursday line: 4-2-3-1. That’s four at-bats, two runs, three hits, one knocked in. He also walked once. His slash moved up to .210/.302/.320.
And wait, there’s more.
That might be the most significant part of the result, the stolen base. He's just eight behind Polanco, gamers! The hits were ordinary, to be honest. The double was a ground ball in the right place, down the line. One of the singles was sharply hit, the other one more of a dunker. But if McCutchen’s knee is hale enough to collect bags, it changes the frame.
Alas, fantasy pilots can take this news any way they like. To one McCutchen owner, it might be the reassuring item they needed to hold onto McCutchen. To a different owner, it might be a sellable ticket, something you can carry and use as part of your pitch. Maybe some owners are more willing to trade for McCutchen today. That’s up for you to decide.
I don’t have any McCutchen shares right now and I’m not angling for them. I’d rather have most of the outfielders in that Round 2-4 pocket over McCutchen, the Upton, Dickerson, Pederson class. I’m not going to assume his knee all of a sudden feels 100 percent.
But it’s a game of opinions, and there’s a fair chance I’m underplaying McCutchen going forward. Share your spin in the comments.
• It wasn’t a reassuring news day for Corey Kluber. The Royals got him for five runs, chased him in the sixth. The ERA jumped over five, and Kluber is 0-5 on the year.
This is a case where I’d definitely be looking to buy.
Kluber’s still striking out better than a batter per inning, and he has four whiffs for every walk. Some batted-ball misfortune applies, not to mention the absence of ace catcher Yan Gomes. The Indians are strongly encouraged by Gomes’s early rehab, which suggests we’ll see him in a month, perhaps sooner. And Kluber's velocity is similar to last year's - the fastball is down three-tenths of a mph, nothing to be alarmed about.
Stay the course with Kluber, or try to trade for him if you can. He’s still a rotation cornerstone in my book.
• As you surely noticed, Yasmani Grandal had a once-a-lifetime game Thursday at Milwaukee. Two homers, two singles, two walks, three runs scored, eight RBIs. It’s the type of game that jumps you a few spots in the rotisserie standings, the type of game that pushes you to a DFS money finish. Enjoy the delicious highlights.
I’m surprised Grandal is still free to add in over 60 percent of Yahoo leagues. Coors Field is on the way for the weekend, and he had an obvious post-hype case into 2015. Even if you don’t like how the switch-hitter fares against lefties, Grandal does have a .571 slugging percentage against right-handed opponents, and it’s a right-handed world.
It’s been mostly a wasteland at catcher this year (sit down, Vogt owner, we know you nailed it). Your backstop might be hurting you. Grandal is here to help.
• Carlos Rodon’s ownership tag also looks a little sluggish to me - you can take a chance on him in 56 percent of Yahoo leagues. The time to try Rodon is now, as he’s getting a rotation shot Saturday against Cincinnati. Our pitching guru Mike Salfino has been promoting Rodon all spring (and he’s far from the only one). When you see plausible upside, you have to take a shot.
I know, Rodon’s relief work has been ordinary (just four strikeouts in 6.1 innings, a messy WHIP). I don’t care. It’s a tiny sample and a different role. He’s finally getting a chance to do what he’s supposed to do, make starts. I expect him to carve a niche immediately.
From this point until the start of the NFL's regular season, Yahoo's resident Noisemaker will examine the buzz surrounding specific players and events, recommending fantasy owners to invest or avoid. Naturally, whatever he forecasts, the opposite is bound to come true. Feel free to offer your two cents in the comments section below.
The Buzz: With a number of immovable steers already on roster, the Cowboys added much discussed lineman La'el Collins to the roster Thursday, bolstering a line that was widely regarded as the best in pro football last year. In addition to the Collins signing, Dallas team president Stephen Jones remarked his squad could be "more efficient and more explosive, doing our running back by committee rather than putting so much pressure on one back."
Why Dallas running back X flames: Right now, Darren McFadden is expected to the lead up the proposed RBBC with Joseph Randle, Lance Dunbar and possibly Cardinals castaway Ryan Williams contributing. Only the Philadelphia Eagles outranked their division rival last year in run-blocking according to Pro Football Focus. Whichever RB rises to the occasion, he will hold considerable fantasy value. The 'Boys' outstanding pass attack, spearheaded by Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, and dedication to a balanced scheme, should have prospective investors salivating. It's an extremely favorable situation, as evidenced by DeMarco Murray's sensational 2014. Another 450 rush attempts seems inevitable .
Why Dallas running back X lames: Obviously, the phrase "running back by committee" conjures deep-seeded fantasy fears. If the rotation mirrors, say, New England, owners will voice their displeasure, possibly violently. It's all a matter of where the ball stops on the roulette wheel. Yes, defenses transform overnight, but Cowboys RBs do have the 11th-easiest fantasy schedule entering the year according to the Fantasy Football Toolbox. Conceivably, a three-legged basset hound could squirm its way to RB2 numbers in 12-team leagues.
Fearless Forecast: Because Jerry Jones has an unhealthy obsession with all things Arkansas, Walk DMC should get first crack heading up the committee. It's fathomable he records roughly 13-16 touches per game before presumably snapping a tendon on carry No. 51. He's missed 25.9 percent of his games since entering the league in 2008. A dust-up with an inflatable snowman could knock him out of action for weeks. My money is on Randle. Everyone's favorite underwear thief is younger, tougher and coming off a season in which he averaged a ridiculous 6.73 yards per carry. Equally impressive, 61.2 percent of his yards came after contact. There's a reason why Dallas was comfortable passing on the likes of Tevin Coleman, David Cobb and Jay Ajayi in the Draft. He's a strong candidate to eventually take over early-down work with Dunbar supplanting him on pass downs. Selected with the 105th pick (RB37) in our recent 12-team mock (McFadden went 25 picks higher), he's the guy to target.
Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise.
We have at least 30 innings in the books for 83 starters and more than that for most. So it’s time for our first look at the 2015 stat that matters most (K-BB)/IP.
Players to Buy
Kolten Wong, 2B, vs. CHC (Arrieta), $2900: If Wong were slotted second at the top of the year, I bet he would have been on most of my seasonal rosters. Other than Justin Verlander, I can’t think of anyone we blogged about more often than Wong in 2014.
Anyway, Wong is finally hitting second Thursday. Getting on base against Jake Arrieta is never easy, but once you make it there, you might as well have a free ticket to second base. And look at that delicious price, still under 3K.
Yonder Alonso, 1B, at ARI (De La Rosa), $2600: First base is the candy store of the infield, so I understand if you’d rather spend a big ticket elsewhere. That established, make note that lefties are slashing .306/.358/.623 against Rubby De La Rosa. Is that something you might be interested in? Alonso only has three career at-bats in the matchup, but one of them was a homer. I’m also willing to take a spin with Yanveris Solarte (just $2200) if he gets a start, and even the right-handed bats are worth considering in a plus park.
Jose Abreu, 1B, vs. DET (Lobstein), $3600: The cost has come way down and now he’s getting to face a mediocre left-hander in a game played at a homer-friendly park. Yes, please. And maybe take some of Abreu’s teammates along for the ride (Avisail Garcia is still under 3K).
Chris Archer, SP, vs. TEX (Martinez), $8900: It’s not like he’s some sort of secret, but Archer sure looks like a high-upside pitcher taking the step up in class, and you especially like him under the catwalk against an ordinary Texas offense (I don’t care if they kicked around the weaker Astros pitching, and yes, I know there’s no career home/road split to Archer). Sometimes paying up is the right move.
Alex Rodriguez, 3B, vs. BAL (Tillman), $3200: I don’t know about you, but I’m enjoying my first year of Alex Rodriguez fandom, the backlash to the backlash. The normal inclination is to load up against left-handed bats against Chris Tillman, especially with the right-field porch welcoming, but also note that A-Rod is 5-for-10 in this matchup with three home runs. Give me a share.
Billy Hamilton, OF, at PIT (Burnett), $3500: A.J. Burnett is another pitcher who does not care if you steal against him. Hamilton just needs first; they'll give him second.
Jake Marisnick, OF, at ANA (Santiago), $3100: He's been screaming for a lineup promotion, and maybe he'll get it while George Springer is out. Nice price, nice platoon advantage.
Brandon Crawford, SS, vs. MIA (Haren), $2500: Although Dan Haren is a reverse split guy for his career, lefties are slugging .484 against him this year. I’m tempted to give Crawford a shot; he’s slotted fifth the last two games and comes at a cheap ticket. Crawford's career shows a road bias (no surprise), but he has a .978 OPS by the bay this year, with three homers.
The Reluctant Fades
Oakland Offense: You know who likes hitting against Ricky Nolasco? Everybody. He’s served up a 1.059 OPS this year, with righties and lefties both hitting over .400. But there’s enough rain the forecast that I need to steer away from the A’s for cash games, and even in tournaments I’m leery. Stupid weather. Keep building those retractable roofs, please.
Corey Kluber, SP, at KC, $9500: Long-term, I’m a buyer here. The eventual return of Yan Gomes will go a long way towards fixing everything. But until I see a good-faith start, I can’t use Kluber in DFS, especially against a Royals lineup that’s filled with dangerous left-handed hitters.
When the minor league home run leader gets called up to the majors, it's an actionable fantasy event — perhaps not in all formats, but in many.
Houston Astros prospect Preston Tucker will join the big league club on Thursday for the start of a four-game series against the Angels, serving as a placeholder for concussed outfielder George Springer. Tucker's visit to the bigs may end up being little more than a cameo appearance, obviously, but it could be fun (and profitable) for however long it lasts.
If you're not familiar with Tucker's work, here's a glimpse of his all-fields power...
The 24-year-old has hit 10 homers in 100 at-bats so far this season for Triple-A Fresno, driving in 32 runs and slashing .320/.378/.650. He's a left-handed hitter who's had no trouble whatsoever with southpaws to this point in his career; his OPS against lefties is 1.038 this season, and it was .858 at Triple-A in 2014. Tucker hit 24 home runs in the high minors last year and 25 the season before, so the power is legit. He's available now in the Yahoo player pool, a perfectly reasonable short-term pickup for those who've just lost Springer to the DL.
• Death, taxes, and Victor Martinez simply mauling Chris Sale. It's weird to see a great pitcher so thoroughly owned by any batter, but wow does V-Mart ever crush Sale. Martinez is off to a lousy start for Detroit (.217/.320/.265), but he went 2-for-4 with a third-inning bomb in a loss to the Sox on Wednesday. For his career, he's now 16-for-34 with three doubles and four homers off Sale, an otherwise dominant starter with a career WHIP of 1.09. So that's somethin' to file away for DFS purposes, when the Tigers next face Chicago.
• Andrelton Simmons' ridiculously productive run continued on Wednesday, as he went 3-for-4 with a homer and three runs scored against the Phils. He's hit safely in every game so far this month, going 10-for-21 with five extra-base hits and 10 runs. These are lean times for shortstop production, with several high-end fantasy assets injured, and Simmons is available in 73 percent of Yahoo leagues.
• So the second start of Carlos Perez's major league career was perhaps not as memorable as the first. He went 0-for-3 with a pair of Ks against the Mariners, batting eighth for the Angels. Chris Iannetta has been a mess at the plate this year, so Perez clearly has a realistic chance to stick as a starter. He was slashing .361/.418/.556 in the PCL (where everyone hits for average) before his promotion. It's worth noting that in Perez's minor league career, he's hit a less impressive .280/.361/.399. Not much power here.
• One day after an abbreviated start, Stephen Strasburg was playing catch. So that seems promising. Apparently his shoulder/back issue, whatever it is, won't necessarily be a long-range concern. If you've been on either side of a Strasburg trade in recent days, please share the details in comments. He's been a vexing player for pretty much everyone who owns him.
• Aaron Hill had himself a decent day, going 6-for-9 with a homer, four RBIs and a stolen base in a Coors Field double-header. The performance raised his season average from a ghastly .196 to a totally respectable .262. Hill actually began a mini-surge at the end of April, and he's clearly locked in right now. If you need MI help, give him a look. He's available in over 90 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Fantasy football drafting in May? Heck ya! Are you itching to mock? Deep down you are. And we are too. With the NFL Draft in the books, we recently partook in a 12-team, .5 PPR, with a FLEX, exercise to whet your whistle. Awake from your pigskin coma, fanatics. The 2015 fantasy football season is officially underway. Let the "expert" derision begin.
Pick 73: Martellus Bennett, Chi, TE6 – He's become the new Greg Olsen, the proven vet who gets an Ibanez All-Star discount. Middle of draft, sounds good to me. (Scott Pianowski)
Pick 74: Brandon LaFell, NE, WR34 – Came on like gangbusters, tied to an elite QB and system. Oh wait, stupid deflategate ... (Pianowski)
Pick 75: Jeremy Maclin, KC, WR35 – Goes from a terrific situation to one of the league's worst, which is why someone who just posted 85/1,318/10 is available here. (Dalton Del Don)
Pick 76: Tony Romo, Dal, QB7 – Coming off the best season of his career, Romo may be forced to throw more with Dallas' RB situation in flux. (Del Don)
Pick 77: Steve Smith Sr., Bal, WR36 – In Trestman I trust - With Torrey gone, Steve Sr. is a the clear go-to guy for a BAl offense that should throw it plenty in '15. (Brandon Funston)
Pick 78: Ben Roethlisberger, Pit, QB8 – Love Big Ben's aerial weapons (Brown, Bryant, Bell) - Thanks to that arsenal, his passing numbers were on par with Brees in '14. (Funston)
Pick 79: Joique Bell, Det, RB29 – I've seen plenty of Abdullah, and he's fine. But he won't run Bell off the field. In a potentially high-yield offense, both backs can help us. (Andy Behrens)
Pick 80: Darren McFadden, Dal, RB30 – This is a terrible pick. Only in a mock. (Behrens)
Pick 81: Giovani Bernard, Cin, RB31 – He's clearly evolved into a complementary option to Jeremy Hill, but Gio ranked inside the top-24 in the proposed format from Week 12 on. FLEXY SEXY! (Brad Evans)
Pick 82: Allen Robinson, Jax, WR37 – The Penn St. product was the Jags' most consistent receiver before exiting stage left with broken foot midway through the 2014 season. Before the IR, he ranked No. 31 among wide receivers in per game average from Weeks 2-10. Expect more of the same. (Evans)
Pick 83: Jarvis Landry, Mia, WR38 – He'll be the Dolphins No. 1 wideout and is a very underrated player who will easily be worthy of starting each week. I'm draining the pool of sleepers, too. (Michael Salfino)
Pick 84: Charles Johnson, Min, WR39 – Coud finish the year as a top 10 wideout and be a second-round pick next year, he's that big and fast. I like the quarterback and offense in Minnesota, too. (Salfino)
Pick 85: Rashad Jennings, NYG, RB32 – I don't need my running backs to get a lot of points, but I do need as high a floor as is possible. For as long as he can stay healthy, Jennings is the Giants starter.(Salfino)
Pick 86: Chris Ivory, NYJ, RB33 – Again, Ivory will get most carries and goal-line carries with Ridley likely on IR the first six weeks and Ivory is perhaps a top five runner if you back out the other factors at the position like catching, blocking and even durability. (Salfino)
Pick 87: David Cobb, Ten, RB34 – Let's be frank, Bishop Sankey is a steaming pile. Cobb isn't fleet of foot, but he's a stoutly built tackle shredder who has strong odds of supplanting the sophomore rusher by Week 1. He could be what Alfred Morris was in 2012, an overlooked rookie who steals the show. (Evans)
Pick 88: Jordan Cameron, Mia, TE7 – Hampered by injury last year, Cameron barely made a peep in Fantasyland. Still, have to love the locale with numerous weapons around him. A bound back year in range of 70-850-6 is attainable. (Evans)
Pick 89: Josh Hill, NO, TE8 – By the time we're drafting for keeps in August, I'm guessing the Saints TE won't fall this far. (Behrens)
Pick 90: Cam Newton, Car, QB9 – Cam is back to full health, and he has a pair of huge wideouts at his disposal, along with Greg Olsen. Expect a season similar to 2012. (Behrens)
Pick 91: Kenny Stills, Mia, WR40 – I love this guy - has deep skills, made big strides as a route runner, good size and he caught everything thrown his way last season. (Funston)
Pick 92: Antonio Gates, SD, TE9 – He's like Tony Gonzalez - for as long as he wants to play, he's going to put up fantasy worthy numbers. (Funston)
Pick 93: Owen Daniels, Den, TE10 – There's no Julius Thomas (or Wes Welker), so Daniels finds himself in a terrific spot in Denver. (Del Don)
Pick 94: Matt Ryan, Atl, QB10 – Few quarterbacks have been as consistent as Ryan over the past four years. The NFC South should continue to feature shootouts. (Del Don)
Pick 95: Delanie Walker, Ten, TE11 – Ninth in catches at the positon, fourth in yards - and he did it with sketchy QB play. One of league's most underrated players. (Pianowski)
Pick 96: Shane Vereen, NYG, RB35 – I don't think anyone questions the talent, and finally he's freed from the Wheel of Belichick. (Pianowski)
Pick 97: Anquan Boldin, SF, WR41 – I know he's older than dirt, but when's the last time you lost money on Boldin? (Pianowski)
Pick 98: Cody Latimer, Den, WR42 – Hey, it's May - I openly admit I have no idea where he should go yet. That's why we mock. Surely he'll be better prepared in Year 2. (Pianowski)
Pick 99: Pierre Garcon, Was, WR43 – He's one season removed from a 113-catch, 1,346-yard campaign. Washington's QB situation can't be any worse than it was last year. (Del Don)
Pick 100: Percy Harvin, Buf, WR44 – Maybe he'll be utilized better in Buffalo. He's still just 26 years old. (Del Don)
Pick 101: Victor Cruz, NYG, WR45 – Rehab nearing completion (patellar tendon) - worth risk here given track record and fact that NYG finished 5th in WR fantasy points in '14. (Funston)
Pick 102: Nelson Agholor, Phi, WR46 – We've seen a recent example of a rookie WR making a fantasy impact in Philly (Matthews), and Agholor should get a crack at filling Maclin's lucrative spot. (Funston)
Pick 103: Tre Mason, StL, RB36 – This seems like a prudent choice for a team that drafts Gurley, does it not? Mason was plenty impressive as a rookie, against tough divisional Ds. (Behrens)
Pick 104: Matthew Stafford, Det, QB11 – Strictly a best-player-available selection. This roster still needs a WR3, but no individual name jumped off the board. (Behrens)
Pick 105: Joseph Randle, Dal, RB37 – Sure he's a kleptomaniac, but Darren McFadden would fracture a bone sneezing. And Randle did average 6.73 yards per carry on 51 attempts last year. There's a good chance he logs 3-5 starts this fall. (Evans)
Pick 106: Devonta Freeman, Atl, RB38 – He'll have a shot to earn meaningful carries, but is currently considered the 1B back. With Tevin Coleman already on roster, this is an obvious move. (Evans)
Pick 107: Eli Manning, NYG, QB12 – No worries with Manning as my QB this year given the weapons and the division, which is weak defensively. The AFC East may be a problem, though. On this team, Manning really leverages ODB. (Salfino)
Pick 108: Sam Bradford, Phi, QB13 – In Chip we trust. His offensive prowess has been overrated based on yards per play results last year but he believes Bradford is his man and the offense is designed for production at the position. (Salfino)
TALE OF THE TAPE (TEAMS THUS FAR)
Pirates elite five-tool outfielder Andrew McCutchen was the consensus No. 2 pick in preseason drafts, but he's struggled mightily to open '15, ranking outside the top 300 fantasy players in the Y! game through the first month of the season. Where would you select him if you were drafting today for rest-of-season value - O/U pick No. 24.5 overall?
Brandon – OVER. I really want to say under but, if I'm being honest in imagining myself drafting today for rest of season value, the concerns about 'Cutch's knee would probably steer me clear of him until at least Round 3. I look at the fact that he's attempted just one steal (in which he was thrown out), where he's averaged seven SB attempts over the past five Aprils, and that looks like a red flag. And he ranks among the bottom 20 regulars in Slugging% (.293). Fact is, he's flashing none of that power/speed combo that made him a top 2 pick, and it's hard not thinking that the knee is more than a minor issue.
Scott – OVER. I'm floor-driven with early baseball picks (in football, it should be the opposite), and something seems wrong with McCutchen. A nine-percent line-drive rate? One stolen-base attempt? This goes past a slow start. He's admitted to some knee soreness, but I suspect he might be underplaying it.
Andy – OVER, slightly. It's not as if I'd take him off the board, but I do think the knee issue he dealt with this spring is perhaps a bigger deal than we'd guessed at the time. His line-drive rate is half of what it was last season. Something's up, beyond bad luck.
Texas corner Adrian Beltre is another well-established fantasy stud that has left a sour taste in the mouths of his owners to this point. His current OPS (hovering right around .600) is the lowest of his career. The last time he had an OPS below .800 was his final season in Seattle. Can he continue to keep his post-Mariners OPS streak alive - O/U .7999 OPS?
Dalton – OVER. His K% is actually a career low, and he sports a .225 BABIP (career mark is .299), so I'm chalking this up to some really poor luck over the first month of the year.
Andy – OVER. Beltre is too good, the park is too friendly. Back in his L.A. days, he was a notoriously ordinary first-half performer. I'm not panicked. If you're selling, I'm buying.
Scott – It's a tougher call than Question 1, but I shade UNDER. A lot of similarities to the McCutchen scan: less walks, less strikeouts, puny line-drive rate. Beltre has his lowest hard-hit rate since 2003. He's making most of this bad luck.
Seattle second sacker Robinson Cano matched his April home run tally from a year ago by hitting a single roundtripper in the first month of the '15 campaign. A year ago, he finished with just 14 home runs. Will he do better than that this season - O/U rest-of-season HRs 13.5?
Brandon – UNDER. I'll say he hits a dozen more home runs the rest of the way, falling just shy of this mark. Cano has hit two home runs or less now in five of the seven full months that he has played as a member of the Mariners. He doesn't hit a lot of fly balls (roughly 25% rate), and he's fifth in MLB at the moment in balls hit up the middle, not the approach that is going to lead to a lot of home runs, especially at Safeco Field.
Scott – OVER. Cano hasn't been commanding the strike zone as we'd like, but he's hitting the ball hard, and that's going to get the ball over the wall eventually. One of the best buy-lows on the board. I think he can still hit 20-plus homers, in face.
Andy – OVER. Again, we're talking about a player with a long history of excellence, coming off a slow month. I'm not troubled. Cano always gives us 155-plus games, so we know the plate appearances will be there. I wouldn't project him for 20 homers this season, but I certainly think 15-or-so is reasonable.
A former highly-regarded prospect in the Toronto organization, Jake Marisnick has found a home in Houston, where he's on pace to hit well above .300 while pushing 60 steals. How much regression are you projecting for the Astro pup - O/U final '15 line of .2845 batting average and 34.5 stolen bases?
Scott – I lean OVER on Marisnick, because he's always been a pedigree guy. it's a shame the righty-heavy Astros need to keep him buried in the lineup, though; Altuve is locked in as the leadoff man, and the 3-4-5 slots belong to right-handed bats, so Marisnick can't grab the No. 2 slot.
Andy – Tough, because I really, really like this guy. He's been a DFS regular for me all year, a Daily Dime fixture. But he hasn't swiped 35 bases since he was in the Midwest League (37 in 2011), and he's never been a high average hitter. I think he'll be plenty useful, but I gotta say UNDER here. Sorry, Jake.
Dalton – UNDER the .285 BA but OVER the 34.5 stolen bases. It sure helps he already has nine bags in the bank.
Outfielder Chris Young is off to a hot start for New York, and he's now hitting .296 with nine home runs in his 46 career games with the Yankees. How much of a career ressurection do you foresee for the long-time roto talent tease - O/U final '15 line of .257 batting average (his single-season career high) and 21.5 home runs?
Brandon – UNDER/OVER. Power has never been an issue for Young, so I think regular playing time should keep his HR tally in good shape. But he's a .235 career hitter and I think we're already witnessing the beginning of the slow drain on his batting average (.222 over past two weeks). That said, I'm guessing he'll at least make it close on the BA side, and I'm happy to have him for $1 on my AL-only team.
Andy – UNDER and OVER. We've all experienced the Chris Young roller coaster at some point, right? It's going to be tough for him to not reach 22 HRs from where he's at, but that .257 average still seems like a dream.
Dalton – OVER and OVER. He's been crushing southpaws and not playing everyday against right-handers, which should help keep his average afloat. It's too bad Young has totally stopped running, but he's back on the radar for sure.
Rate the rookies in terms of expected ROS roto value - Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Joc Pederson, Addison Russell, Devon Travis, Stephen Souza?
Brandon – 1) Bryant 2) Pederson 3) Travis 4) Soler 5) Souza 6) Russell - Interesting to note that Pederson and Soler both rank among the top 15 in Hard-Hit%, but Soler also ranks among the five worst (along with Souza) in K% ... That Bryant has yet to hit a HR is crazy, but you gotta like the .283 BA and solid K/BB ratio, and you have to figure (especially with a FB% pushing 50%) that the sky is going to open up soon for him and start raining long balls.
Andy – Bryant, Pederson, Soler ... ... Travis ... Souza ... Russell. I think the three guys at the top are very, very close, and you'll love owning any of 'em.
Dalton – 1) Bryant 2) Pederson 3) Soler 4) Travis 5) Souza 6) Russell
Stephen Vogt is Oakland's latest out-of-left field star, as he sits behind only Nelson Cruz among the MLB leaders in RBI (25). How much staying power does the catcher-eligible Vogt have - O/U 74.5 end-of-season RBI line?
Brandon – OVER. I'll say that he goes slightly over, but I will note that 17 of his 25 RBI have come in games in which he hit a home run, and he currently has a crazy-high HR/FB rate that will certainly regress significantly as the season wears on. Still, there's no denying that Vogt is skilled with the bat, and he should continue to see heavy action in the middle of the A's lineup.
Scott – OVER. He's secured a full-time job now, and the A's should be one of the Top 5 scoring teams in the majors. Just make sure you give the credit to Brad Pitt and Scott Hatteberg.
Dalton – OVER. He only needs a modest 50 more, and he's locked in the middle of Oakland's lineup whenever a right-hander is on the mound.
Rank the following widely-available high-ERA, high-volume K starting pitchers in terms of expected ROS roto value - Clay Buchholz, Michael Fiers, Joe Kelly, Rubby De La Rosa, Travis Wood, James Paxton, Taijuan Walker
Brandon – 1) Fiers 2) Paxton 3) Buchholz 4) Kelly 5) Walker 6) De La Rosa 7) Wood
Dalton – 1) Fiers 2) Buchholz 3) Walker 4) Paxton 5) Wood 6) Kelly 7) De La Rosa
Scott – 1) Fiers (12 strikeouts, you're back in the COT), 2) Buchholz, 3) Paxton, 4) Kelly, 5) Walker, 6) De La Soul, 7) Wood
Madison Bumgarner compiled a whopping 270 IP (counting the postseason) in '14. Will that robust body of work eventually catch up to him this season - project his final '15 line in IP, K and ERA.
Brandon – Full disclosure, Pianowski wanted a Mad-Bum question on this week's Over/Unders because the '14 workload really concerns him. But I'm not really sharing in that concern. He's only 25 years old, he's handled 200-plus innings each of the past four seasons with nary a trip to the DL and he's typically only gotten stronger as the season moves along - post AS-break ERA 57 points lower than his first-half mark. I'll put him down for a fairly typical line: 205 IP, 3.06 ERA, 191 K
Dalton – It's definitely possible, but Bumgarner is built like a workhorse and reached 95.1 mph during his last start, which was his fastest pitch since 2010, for what it's worth - 200.0 innings, 195 Ks, 2.90 ERA
Scott – I've been concerned about Bumgarner after the 270-inning marathon, and then he mows down the Padres on Monday like it's a simulated game. Perhaps I worry too much, but he's still looking at a depressed K rate and a lucky home-run rate to open 2015. There's a name-brand sell ticket to explore; I'm sure someone will treat him like a Top 5-6 starter. Call it 207 innings, 3.22 ERA, 187 Ks - strong numbers, but someone might pay for higher expectations.
Two of the top southpaw relievers in the fantasy game last season - Jake McGee and Sean Doolittle - are nearing their '15 debuts after nursing injuries this spring. Both are currently available in at least a third of Yahoo leagues. If you had to pick one for ROS fantasy value, who would you choose?
Scott – Stick with DR. DOOLITTLE, in part because his bullpen teammates have done less in his absence.
Andy – I've gotta go DOOLITTLE, mostly because I'm not sure why the Rays wouldn't want Boxberger to keep closing. That guy is a monster.
Dalton – MCGEE. This is close, but I'm a little less worried about his injury (elbow vs. shoulder) and fully expect him to retake the closer's role once he's back in short order.
Tuesday was a bloodbath, you guys — at least for me. Between Strasburg's injury and weather in Colorado and Cashner's ordinariness ... well, it was a rough night. Let's see if we can't be better today. As always, we urge you to view the weather reports and double-check lineups before finalizing your selections.
Gerrit Cole, P, vs. Cin (Leake), $9200 at FanDuel: Cole has allowed just three earned runs and no homers over his last 25.2 innings. He basically always strikes out 6-8 batters, his WHIP is 0.98 and he's at home on Wednesday, facing a meh team. I'm on board.
David DeJesus, OF, at Bos (Masterson), $2300: If you're a left-handed hitting human, then you've probably had some success facing Justin Masterson at some point in your life. LHBs are slashing .270/.353/.419 against him this year, and they hit an utterly ridiculous .320/.408/.502 against him last season. DeJesus, as it happens, is a left-handed hitting human. He's also gone 2-for-4 in each of his last two games..
Victor Martinez, C, at CWS (Sale), $3100: If you don't want to mess around with Sale, I get it. Completely understandable. Probably a sound business decision. But I also feel compelled to mention that V-Mart has owned him. Martinez has gone 15-for-32 against Sale with three doubles, three homers, six RBIs and two bases on balls. Of course he's also slashing just .203/.316/.215 at the moment, which makes him a tricky play.
Andrelton Simmons, SS, vs. Phi (Williams), $2600 : For those who like to ride hot players, Simmons is an obvious target. He's 7-for-17 so far this month with seven runs scored, two doubles, a triple and four walks. He carries a friendly price tag on Wednesday, and he gets to take his hacks against Jerome Williams.
Kelly Johnson, OF, vs. Phi (Williams), $2700: And here's another hot-hitting member of the Braves, no doubt happy to see Jerome on the hill. Johnson is 9-for-23 with four walks in his career against Williams. He's been on a mini-tear lately, launching three homers over his past five games.
Eric Hosmer, 1B, vs. Cle (Carrasco), $3600: Yup, our theme today is clearly "Ride the streak." Hosmer has reached base safely in seven of his last eight games, with four multi-hit performances and three homers during this stretch. Carrasco is a quality opponent, no doubt, but he's been nothin' special in his last two appearances (9 ER), and Hosmer has a decent history against him (3-for-9, 2 XBHs).
Carlos Santana, 1B, at KC (Duffy), $3300: I'm starting Danny Duffy in a pair of seasonal leagues on Wednesday, and I'm kinda/sorta uptight about it. Santana seems like a nice hedge; he's 7-for-19 lifetime vs. Duffy with a triple and a homer. He's also been substantially better against lefties than righties over the course of his career (.281/.391/.458 vs. LHPs).
Aaron Hill, 2B, at Col (Matzek), $2900: Will they ever play another game in Coors Field? Or will the rain never, ever end? Dunno. But if they actually play a game, I like Hill's chances to make some noise. Hill has hit safely in four straight games and he hasn't struck out since April 25.
Brandon Belt, 1B, vs. SD (Kennedy), $2900: Belt has enjoyed facing Ian Kennedy (8-for-25, 2 HR), plus he has an extra-base hit in three straight games. Kennedy is off to a poor start this year (7.11 ERA, 1.50 WHIP) and the Giants are streaking, winners of five in a row. (I suppose I just made an argument for rolling with Chris Heston on Wednesday, didn't I?)
Various Yankees, at Tor (Buehrle): Jays starter Mark Buehrle has given up 24 hits, 13 runs (all earned) and three homers over his last 10.0 innings. He's been crushed by both lefties and righties. Thus, I'm stacking Yankees on Wednesday. Gimme Ellsbury, gimme Headley, gimme Tex ... whoever. I'm not picky.
When Stephen Strasburg hurts, we all hurt. And it also means we look for another option in the Washington rotation.
Strasburg labored through his three-inning start against Miami on Tuesday, looking uncomfortable all the way. The Nats eventually lifted him early, diagnosing an alignment problem in his shoulder. He’s set to see a chiropractor Wednesday.
The Nationals are known for their pitching depth, so they probably have the freedom to take their time with Strasburg. Tanner Roark looks like an excellent speculation pickup in the meantime; despite his 15-10, 2.85 season last year, Washington didn’t have a spot for him to open 2015.
Roark’s had a curious season in relief to this point: the 3.21 ERA looks good, but it’s come despite a 1.36 WHIP and a vanishing strikeout rate (just three in 14 innings). Perhaps it speaks to the difference in roles. His fastball velocity is actually up a tick, though that could also be a residual from shorter appearances. He’s getting ground balls with regularity and keeping the ball in the park, two of his best skills.
Roark is free to add in two-thirds of Yahoo leagues. The next two Strasburg slots are Arizona (road) and San Diego (road). You'll have to pay some K/9 tax, but I like the speculative Roark move in head-to-head formats (and leagues with uncapped leagues or innings).
• Logan Morrison was an interesting batter in the early part of his Miami days, but it’s been a while since we took him seriously for mixed leagues. Perhaps that’s about to change. He’s on a nifty 13-for-26 binge over his last seven starts, with three home runs. He’s only struck out twice in that span, so you know he’s seeing the ball well.
The Mariners face a lefty on Wednesday and then have a day off, but after that it’s clear sailing for the lefty-swinging Morrison. Starting with Friday’s game against Oakland, the M’s are set to face 10 right-handed opponents in a row. Morrison’s currently owned in just four percent of Yahoo leagues. Maybe you have room for some LoMo in a deeper pool.
• We don’t know exactly when Coco Crisp will be back with the A’s, though it sounds like this week. And anyone at the top of the Oakland lineup sounds like a good fantasy play to me.
Crisp has recovered speedily from elbow surgery, and might be activated as soon as Wednesday. He’s hit for a mediocre batting average over the last four seasons, but he’s still an excellent source of speed and runs scored. And while everyone recognizes the 22 homers from 2013 were a stone fluke, he’s never going to be a zero in that category. The depth of Oakland’s lineup also comes into play here – on a per-game basis, Crisp will drive in more runs than the average leadoff man.
Crisp is still ready to add in two-thirds of Yahoo leagues. Buy now, avoid the rush.
As soon as Crisp is activated, it probably means we’ll bid temporary adieu to Billy Burns. That’s a shame. Burns was off to a dynamic start with Triple-A Nashville, and he’s 7-for-19 with three runs and a steal through four Oakland games. The moment you hear of another Crisp injury (or perhaps a setback on this week’s timetable), make the add.
• The bloom has come off the Drew Pomeranz rose over the last few turns – he hasn’t made it past six innings in four straight appearances. Nonetheless, he’s sitting on a strong K/BB ratio (four whiffs for every walk) and his FIP is considerably lower than his front-door 4.61 ERA. It might be a good time to buy on Pomeranz, in advance of his Thursday turn against the ordinary Twins. Pomeranz qualifies at both pitcher spots and is still free in 77 percent of Yahoo leagues.
• What does Kelly Johnson have to do to earn a spot on your team? He qualifies at three Yahoo positions (first, third, outfield) and he’s become a staple in the Atlanta lineup. His three-run homer was a highlight in Tuesday’s 9-0 victory over the hapless Phillies, and he’s homered three times in his last five games.
Johnson's entire slash line has some jagged spots, but he is slugging .534 against right-handed pitching. Spot-starting isn’t just for DFS, it also works in many roto formats. He's currently owned in a modest 11 percent of Yahoo leagues.
• Chris Heston is another player owned in about a third of the Yahoo world, and that number looks light to me. His full-season numbers are sellable on their own, but they really catch the eye if we, reasonably, take out the Coors Field start. With that thin-air assuagement removed from the ledger, this is what’s left: 27 IP, 21 H, 3 ER, 6 BB, 21 K. All four of those turns were useful.
If you have daily transactions available to you, perhaps you’ll want to start Heston on Wednesday against San Diego. After that it’s a couple of trickier spots on the road: at Houston, at Cincinnati. Big picture, I expect this to be a full-season story.
Fantasy football drafting in May? Heck ya! Are you itching to mock? Deep down you are. And we are too. With the NFL Draft in the books, we recently partook in a 12-team, .5 PPR, with a FLEX, exercise to whet your whistle. Awake from your pigskin coma, fanatics. The 2015 fantasy football season is officially underway. Let the "expert" derision begin.
Pick 37: Travis Kelce, KC, TE3 – Maybe the offseason film study will convince Andy Reid what we all knew last year, that Kelce is his best receiver. Love Baby Gronk, crossing my fingers on the coach. (Michael Salfino)
Pick 38: Jordan Matthews, Phi, WR17 – Matthews will be the top receiving threat now in an offense that has produced elite fantasy options two-straight years. Matthews is also a far more viable red zone weapon than either Jackson or Maclin previously. (Salfino)
Pick 39: Julian Edelman, NE, WR18 – Tough, gritty and highly trustworthy -- that's Edelman in a nutshell. Will gladly take a WR with 197 receptions the last two years as a WR2 in a .5 PPR format, despite limited TDs. (Brad Evans)
Pick 40: Brandin Cooks, NO, WR19 – With Kenny Stills off to Miami, Jimmy Graham in Seattle and Marques Colston rapidly aging, Cooks should be a 140-plus target WR this season. Recall pre-injury he was a high-end WR3 last year. (Evans)
Pick 41: Justin Forsett, Bal, RB17 – Forsett's spot atop the Baltimore backfield hierarchy is secure, and he's going to catch a zillion passes in his first year under Trestman. (Andy Behrens)
Pick 42: Keenan Allen, SD, WR20 – No Eddie Royal should help Allen's outlook a bit. He'll see more time in the slot this season, threatening to catch 80-90 balls. (Behrens)
Pick 43: Frank Gore, SF, RB18 – Indy sees "The Tank" as a three-down RB and a return to 40-50 catch levels behind Luck is possible - also, getting away from NFC West defenses a major plus. (Brandon Funston)
Pick 44: Russell Wilson, Sea, QB3 – He was the #3 QB in Y default scoring last season, and now he adds Jimmy Graham plus an electric rookie WR talent in Tyler Lockett. (Funston)
Pick 45: Mark Ingram, NO, RB19 – He totaled 1,109 yards with nine touchdowns over 13 games last year, and New Orleans is planning on being more run-heavy this season. (Dalton Del Don)
Pick 46: Andre Johnson, Ind, WR21 – What he'll lose in volume he'll make up for in efficiency, as Johnson will be playing with the best quarterback of his career. (Del Don)
Pick 47: DeSean Jackson, Was, WR22 – Jackson led all regular wideouts in yards per target, despite the banana convention the Redskins rolled out at quarterback. Jay Gruden knows what he's doing. Keep running by people, DJ. (Scott Pianowski)
Pick 48: Lamar Miller, Mia, RB20 – He stepped forward in every significant efficiency and volume stat last year, and the overall offense has improved, which also helps Miller's stock. (Pianow)
Pick 49: Drew Brees, NO, QB4 – I'm not an early-quarterback guy, but now that we're at the fifth round, I'm willing to consider a player who could legitimately be No. 1 at his position. Brees’s year-end fantasy rank during the New Orleans era: 6-2-1-2-5-2-1-5-3. You don't lose money here. (Pianow)
Pick 50: Peyton Manning, Den, QB5 – He's become an iffy commodity after the year-ending slump, but that also means we get wiggle room for profit. The Denver puzzle pieces remain elite, and no one wants to be great more than Manning. We can't say that about every NFL quarterback. (Pianow)
Pick 51: Vincent Jackson, TB, WR23 – Still saw 142 targets last year despite Mike Evans' emergence. Jameis Winston should be an immediate upgrade at QB. (Del Don)
Pick 52: Martavis Bryant, Pit, WR24 – Scored eight touchdowns over 10 games as a rookie while playing just barely 300 snaps. Should become a starter in year two. (Del Don)
Pick 53: Golden Tate, Det, WR25 – Tate says he's excited to be reunited with QB Wilson, though he can't figure how he lasted to the #55 pick (in .5 PPR setup) after 99 grabs in '14. (Funston)
Pick 54: Latavius Murray, Oak, RB21 – Trent Richardson stands in his path to featured carries in OAK, which is to say his path is a wide open six-lane highway. (Funston)
Pick 55: Jonathan Stewart, Car, RB22 – The Panthers haven't yet landed a credible job-share partner for J-Stew, so he continues to look like a 15-to-18 carry RB. (Behrens)
Pick 56: Tom Brady, NE, QB6 – You see any reason he can't give us another 4,000-plus yards and 30 TDs? Me either. (Behrens)
Pick 57: Andre Ellington, Ari, RB23 – David Johnson is slated for some early-down and goal-line work, but Ellington should receive 15-18 touches per game. He finished inside the top-15 in per game last year. And he accomplished that on a bum wheel. (Evans)
Pick 58: Tevin Coleman, Atl, RB24 – The Journal-Constitution states Coleman is considered the Falcons' 1A rusher, Devonta Freeman 1B. He averaged 7.49 yards per carry on a bad Indiana team. Could be your Offensive ROY. (Evans)
Pick 59: Michael Floyd, Ari, WR26 – Need Carson Palmer to be healthy, obviously. This is a last year's bum at not quite a low-enough bum price. It is a bet on talent though and at least much cheaper than in 2014. (Salfino)
Pick 60: Eric Decker, NYJ, WR27 – Criminally underrated in reality and fantasy. Geno Smith and Michael Vick missed him about five times wide open for TDs, most long ones. Smith devloping is unlikely but Ryan Fitzpatrick is at least average and was much better than that last year in yads per attempt and passer rating. (Salfino)
Pick 61: LeGarrett Blount, NE, RB25 – I think this is a steal here as Blount's TD floor and easy sledding with teams having to play extra defensive backs to deal with Gronkowski should land Blount at least in the top 15 RBs by year's end. Don't worry about the risk as that is omnipresent at the position no matter the price. (Salfino)
Pick 62: Greg Olsen, Car, TE4 – He's a primary weapon on every down and has a chance for 1,000 receiving yards and I prefer a top receiving threat at every WR/TE/Flex position. (Salfino)
Pick 63: Brandon Marshall, NYJ, WR28 – Yes, it's Geno 'Misfire' Smith, but Marshall has plenty left in the tank. It's reasonable to think he goes for 75-1050-7 in his new digs. (Evans)
Pick 64: Amari Cooper, Oak, WR29 – Sans James Jones and without much else on roster, Cooper stands to see at least 150-160 targets Year 1. If Carr makes strides in his sophomore campaign, 70-plus receptions are a near lock. (Evans)
Pick 65: Kevin White, Chi, WR30 – A potential star, gifted with an uncommon size/speed combo. I think we've all learned to trust rookie receivers, at least to some extent. (Behrens)
Pick 66: C.J. Spiller, NO, RB26 – I love the idea of Spiller on a fast track, in a creative offense. Expect the Saints to lean on their backs in '15. (Behrens)
Pick 67: Roddy White, Atl, WR31 – Yes, he's getting long on the tooth, but he was still top 20 at WR in FAN PPG in '14, and I'm banking on him having at least one more solid season left in him. (Funston)
Pick 68: Ameer Abdullah, Det, RB27 – Joique is a nice power RB, but I expect Detroit will have a hard time keeping Abdullah's ample talents on the sidelines. (Funston)
Pick 69: Torrey Smith, SF, WR32 – Is immediate top deep threat in San Francisco and could emerge as team's No. 1 option with Anquan Boldin turning 35 years old. (Del Don)
Pick 70: Zach Ertz, Phi, TE5 – Should see a huge increase in targets in year three with Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy out of town. Has double-digit touchdown upside. (Del Don)
Pick 71: Isaiah Crowell, Cle, RB28 – The offensive line is strong and Cleveland needs to be a ground-and-pound team. With a running back at this price point, you want some upside, and Crowell certainly offers that. (Pianow)
Pick 72: Mike Wallace, Mia, WR33 – He's a classic diva receiver, but if you like Teddy Bridgewater (and most of us do), you can talk yourself into Wallace. (Pianow)
TALE OF THE TAPE (TEAMS THUS FAR)
You've got a limited daily budget; we've got bargains for your consideration. As always, we urge you to view the weather reports and double-check lineups before finalizing your selections. We've got rain in the Midwest, gamers. Beware.
Andre Ethier, OF, at Mil (Garza), $2800 at FanDuel: Ethier, in case you hadn't noticed, is in a bit of a groove at the moment. He's 10-for-30 with two doubles and three homers over his last eight games, and injuries have created a path to playing time. No way you're worried about Matt Garza, right? Heck no. Garza enters Tuesday's start with brutal pitching ratios: 1.57 WHIP, 4.60 ERA, 1.46 K/BB. Ethier's career slash against RHPs is .304/.383/.507.
Howie Kendrick, 2B, at Mil (Garza), $3100: It's a tiny sample, sure, but Kendrick has absolutely mauled Garza to this point in his career (7-for-12, double, homer). Garza has yielded five home runs over his last 18.2 innings, and the Ks have been few and far between (5.8 K/9).
Nick Hundley, C, vs. Ari (Collmenter), $3400: First of all, Hundley gets a Coors bump — it's nice to have a share or two of the Colorado action. Secondly, Hundley is on a nine-game hitting streak, going 13-for-32 with four extra-base hits. And lastly, he's facing a pitcher against whom he typically feasts (6-for-14, double, homer, 2 BBs). I'm in.
Scott Feldman, P, vs. Tex (Rodriguez), $6900 : Here's a reasonable bargain play, if you're looking to buy a few of Tuesday's pricier hitters (such as Goldschmidt for $6100 at Coors, for example). Obviously Feldman can get lit up by any opponent at any time, but it's tough not to like him here, facing Wandy Rodriguez and the nine-win Rangers. I'm giving him a good shot at 7.0 innings and a win. Houston is a heavy favorite on Tuesday, for obvious reasons.
Andrew Cashner, P, at SF (Vogelsong), $8700: For those who'd like to buy a near-ace at a reasonable price, Cashner is the play. (I'm starting Strasburg more than any other starter on Tuesday, but he's not exactly a bargain.) Cashner hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in any of his last four starts, and he's coming off a 10-K outing versus Houston. He's been unlucky in terms of wins and losses (1-4), but run support shouldn't be an issue on Tuesday, not with Ryan Vogelsong on the hill for San Francisco (2.02 WHIP, 8 HR allowed).
Yonder Alonso, 1B, at SF (Vogelsong), $2600: Everyone is hitting Vogelsong this year, but LHBs have really crushed him: 13-for-33, 7 HR(!), .394/.474/1.091. Assuming Alonso is good to go after Monday's DNP (back), he's a strong matchup play with a dirt-cheap price-tag.
Wilson Ramos, C, vs. Mia (Latos), $2800: Latos opened his season with a disastrous start (0.2 IP, 7 ER), and he's been merely tolerable in recent appearances. His velocity is down a few ticks from his best years. Ramos has a homer, single and a pair of walks against Latos in nine career plate appearances. He also enters the day with a nine-game hitting streak, batting .298 on the season.
Billy Burns, OF, at Min (May), $2300: Burns has been leading off for Oakland in recent days, going 5-for-14 since being recalled on Saturday. You might recall that Burns was a spring monster for the A's, and he's carried that level of performance in the regular season, slashing .315/.378/.404 at Triple-A. The kid is blazing fast — he stole 74 bags in the minors in 2013 — so he can pile up points in various ways.
Lucas Duda, OF, vs. Bal (Norris), $2700: Bud Norris was horrendous in two of his four starts this season, and he was meh in the others. With Bud on the bump, I'll happily roster a left-handed slugger with on-base skills.
Jhonny Peralta, SS, vs. CHC (Hendricks), $2500: This just feels like a weird price for a shortstop who bats in the clean-up spot for a damn good team. Peralta is slashing .305/.358/.432, so it's not as if he's struggling. He's also 3-for-8 against Hendricks, for what it's worth. I'm all-in with Peralta on Tuesday.
Pick 1: Jamaal Charles, KC, RB1 – Thirty-three touchdowns the last two years, can score from anywhere on the field. He's been over 5.0 YPC his entire career, which is absurd. (Scott Pianowski)
Pick 2: Adrian Peterson, Min, RB2 – After a year in purgatory, he'll be back to domination, running angry. I'd be shocked if he had a bad year. I know many receivers look good in the first round, but when you click on an early back, your EV spikes. I prefer RB-one (anchors away) to RB-zero. (Pianow)
Pick 3: Eddie Lacy, GB, RB3 – Workhorse for one of the league's best offenses. Improved as a receiver last year and has potential to lead league in touchdowns. (Dalton Del Don)
Pick 4: Le'Veon Bell, Pit, RB4 – Was the best fantasy back last season but this is obviously a risk with him suspended the first three games of the year. (Del Don)
Pick 5: Marshawn Lynch, Sea, RB5 – Honestly, would have considered him if I was picking #1 overall - top 5 fantasy RB four straight seasons, in great system with no signs of a slow down. (Brandon Funston)
Pick 6: DeMarco Murray, Dal, RB6 – Philly has been one of the better running games in the NFL under Chip Kelly, and Murray's one-cut style a much better fit than Shady. (Funston)
Pick 7: LeSean McCoy, Buf, RB7 – He's moving to a run-first/run-second/run-third offense, relying on Rex Ryan principles. Wouldn't shock me if he led the league in rushing. (Andy Behrens)
Pick 8: Matt Forte, Chi, RB8 – No, I don't think Forte will match last season's silly reception total, but he's still the unrivaled lead back for a productive offense. (Behrens)
Pick 9: Andrew Luck, Ind, QB1 – Nearly 44 percent of RB1s have busted over the past six years. Screw the carinval ride. Luck has oodles of weapons and quite possibly the highest floor of ANY fantasy commodity. (Brad Evans)
Pick 10: Antonio Brown, Pit, WR1 – The Steelers wideout is a true king of consistency. He's averaged 119 receptions, 1,598 yard and 10 TDs the past two seasons. Put simply, he drop-kicks the competition. (Evans)
Pick 11: Dez Bryant, Dal, WR2 – I'm a zeroRB man. I'm not going to assume the risk inherent at the position when the WR points are more projectable. Only difficulty was choosing between Dez and Demaryius, where you can't go wrong. (Michael Salfino)
Pick 12: Demaryius Thomas, Den, WR3 – I think there is slightly more risk of a major regression for Peyton Manning than for Tony Romo. But both are unlikely. Bryant and Thomas are equally gifted.(Salfino)
Pick 13: Julio Jones, Atl, WR4 – Jones is still in his physical prime and should continue to dominate his divsion with a solid quarterback partner in Matt Ryan. Health more of a risk for him than most wideouts, I stipulate. But ceiling is higher, too. (Salfino)
Pick 14: Odell Beckham Jr., NYG, WR5 – Beckham is not in the short WR bucket. He's just not tall. He also has tremendous vertical leap, elite ball skills and huge hands, which allow him to play taller. He'll regress but still be great. (Salfino)
Pick 15: Arian Foster, Hou, RB9 – He's not the picture of perfect health, but when on the field its hard to overlook the production. On a per game basis, only DeMarco Murray was better last year. (Evans)
Pick 16: C.J. Anderson, Den, RB10 – Look, I know what you're thinking, Anderson could go the way of Montee Ball. Possible, sure, but I'm not buying. C.J. was the second-best RB from Week 10 on in a .5 PPR setting last year. Keep the faith. (Evans)
Pick 17: Calvin Johnson, Det, WR6 – Sure, I'll take a 29-year-old inner-circle Hall of Fame receiver, tied to an offense that intends to throw early and often. (Behrens)
Pick 18: Jordy Nelson, GB, WR7 – An easy call. Tremendous receiver who benefits from mind-meld with the game's best quarterback. (Behrens)
Pick 19: Rob Gronkowski, NE, TE1 – I'm the only Yahoo currently ranking him outside the top 10 overall, yet somehow he's around at pick #19? Even with the risk, great value here. (Funston)
Pick 20: Jeremy Hill, Cin, RB11 – Now established as the featured RB for what may be the most run-heavy NFL team in '15 - averaged over 100 yards in final 9 games of '14. (Funston)
Pick 21: Alshon Jeffery, Chi, WR8 – Has averaged 87.0 catches, 1,277 receiving yards and 8.5 TDs over the last two years. Will be an even bigger monster now that Brandon Marshall is gone. (Del Don)
Pick 22: Carlos Hyde, SF, RB12 – He's going to be given every opportunity to act as San Francisco's workhorse with Frank Gore out of town. (Del Don)
Pick 23: A.J. Green, Cin, WR9 – He's proven himself to be Dalton-proof, and I'm not flipping out after one injury-riddled year. (Pianow)
Pick 24: Randall Cobb, GB, WR10 – A dynamic playmaker tied to the league's best quarterback (by far). You need some shares of this offense. Bang on the Drum All Day. Run with the Pack. (Pianow)
Pick 25: Mike Evans, TB, WR11 – He was the Rookie of the Year frontrunner for about 15 seconds, and then Beckham took over the world. Go back and rewatch the Evans tapes - jaw drops to floor. (Pianow)
Pick 26: Jimmy Graham, Sea, TE2 – Probably getting a change of scenery at the right time. Finally, Russell Wilson has his uncoverable weapon. (Pianow)
Pick 27: Melvin Gordon, SD, RB13 – Should immediately be lead back in a strong San Diego offense. The Chargers didn't trade up and spend the No. 15 pick on a RB not to use him right away. (Del Don)
Pick 28: TJ Yeldon, Jax, RB14 – There's little competition, so the rookie should approach 250 touches in year one acting as a three-down back. (Del Don)
Pick 29: Kelvin Benjamin, Car, WR12 – Despite being a very raw rookie, was 6th among WRs in targets, and finished with 73/1,008/9 line - all arrows pointing up from there for '15. (Funston)
Pick 30: T.Y. Hilton, Ind, WR13 – Indy WR stable looks a little crowded, but with much of it really young (Dorsett, Moncrief, Carter) or really old (Johnson), Hilton still clearly Luck's go-to guy. (Funston)
Pick 31: Todd Gurley, StL, RB15 – Wide range of outcomes given the injury situation, but he's a rare talent. He'll be a top-5 RB in December. (Behrens)
Pick 32: Emmanuel Sanders, Den, WR14 – In Denver's offense, assuming good health, he's basically a lock for 90 and 1100. He showed us every skill last year. (Behrens)
Pick 33: DeAndre Hopkins, Hou, WR15 – Ryan Mallett is a great unknown, but Hopkins is a top-tiered talent with WR1 appeal. In Mallett's two starts last fall, the wideout enticed 17 targets. Sans Andre Johnson, he should see a slight uptick in production. (Evans)
Pick 34: Aaron Rodgers, GB, QB2 – Mr. Olivia Munn is another high-floor pick who should deliver elite numbers. He finished top-5 in per game every year since taking over for Brett Favre in 2008. Safe. (Evans)
Pick 35: Alfred Morris, Was, RB16 – Morris (4.5 career yards per carry) is a very good player who will be a workhorse given the lack of any plausible competition for touches or goal-line carries. He's no longer a zero threat as a receiver, either. (Salfino)
Pick 36: Sammy Watkins, Buf, WR16 – Not loving this pick but the only wide receiver left who combines elite talent and a certainty to be a target hog. (Salfino)
TALE OF THE TAPE (TEAMS THUS FAR)
Dallas Keuchel might look like something out of ZZ Top, but he’s really a soft-rocker at heart – a lefty who’s average fastball doesn’t make it to 90. You’re not going to get gaudy strikeout numbers with Keuchel, either.
But don’t mistake him for an ordinary pitcher. Long-suffering Astros fans have their ace, and they don’t even seem to mind that he’s named Dallas.
Keuchel had to settle for a no-decision in Monday’s turn at Texas, though his final line would make any fantasy owner happy: 8 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 8 K (six in a row at one point). It was a season high in whiffs, but that’s not part of the Keuchel package. For the season he’s at 6.0 K/9, a below-average number in today’s game.
While Keuchel doesn’t make the radar gun pop or rack up a bunch of Ks, he does just about everything else you’d want a pitcher to do. His control is excellent: he walked 2.1 batters per nine innings last year, and it’s 2.6 this year. He collects ground balls by the truckload (mid-60s the last two years), and he’s a master at inducing weak contact. No one is going to hurt you off a dribbler to second base.
Keuchel is good at the little things, too. He’s coming off a Gold Glove Award (in addition to a runaway win with the Fielding Bible panel), and he’s good at stopping the running game. He’s never going to beat himself, and if you put the ball near him, you’re out.
Everyone knows that Keuchel’s current ratios are outliers: no one keeps a 0.80 ERA or 0.76 all season. And the .172 BABIP is also a stone fluke, no matter that he’s inducing all that soft contact. But I wish I had recognized before the season that it was safe to trust Keuchel’s ratios from 2014 (2.93 ERA, 1.18 WHIP). He shouldn’t have much trouble matching that season, and I think the WHIP will actually come down a fair amount. This is a perfect SP3 in most mixed leagues, and perhaps a SP2 in some deeper formats. Set it, forget it.
• If you like the Three True Outcomes, Joc Pederson should be one of your favorites. He’s been racking up those three stats all year, especially since moving to the leadoff spot five games ago. Here’s the tally since the move: four homers, 10 strikeouts, three walks. The Dodgers are 4-1 during that stretch, scoring 25 runs.
You never know with Don Mattingly, but I suspect Pederson has shown enough to keep hold of a good lineup spot the remainder of the season, even when the roster is close to full-throttle. And while a strikeout rate of 32.3 percent is a little worrisome, I’m not going to lose sight of what Pederson does well. This is a guy who punishes mistakes and can also hit good pitches, someone who eventually should be a plus base-stealer (though he’s 1-for-4 thus far), and someone who regularly hits the ball awfully hard.
It’s short-sighted to note the .351 BABIP and scream “regression!” – Pederson is 11th in the league in hard-hit rate and has plus speed. Maybe he won’t stay at that lofty batted-ball number, but you should expect a plus grade in that area. This is going to be a fun ride, a six-month story. Maybe Mattingly will be on board at some point, too.
• The A’s are the masters of finding batters out of thin air (the Vogt of Confidence waves hello), and maybe they hit on another one with Mark Canha. The Florida farmhand never made it to any prospect promotion lists during his time in that organization, and he bounced from the Rockies (in the Rule V draft) to the A’s in December. The 26-year-old wasn’t on any fantasy radar into March.
A few Oakland injuries have pushed Canha into playing time and so far, so good: .284-15-4-14-2. He’s shown power to all fields, surprisingly-useful speed. He’s been all over the place in the lineup, hitting second, fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth. He’s seen time at first base, left field and DH.
The bottom line is this: Oakland has the No. 2 offense in the majors, and I’d like a share where it’s gettable. Obviously guys like Stephen Vogt and Josh Reddick are long gone in any competitive league. Marcus Semien, too. But you can still add Canha in about 80 percent of Yahoo pools. Let’s see where the story goes.
• Jake Odorizzi is another candidate for Circle of Trust privileges. We couldn't trust his road starts last year, but he’s cut his teeth nicely in the AL East this spring. The latest example came Monday at Boston (7 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 6 K), a strong statement against one of the league’s most formidable offenses.
Odorizzi was so-so in his previous turn, four runs in 6.1 innings at New York, but that’s far from a blowup. And he only allowed two hits and one run when he visited Toronto three weeks ago. Throw some strong home starts into the mix and we’re looking at this: 2.21 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 32 strikeouts against just eight walks over 40.2 innings. The K-rate is down, but he's also getting more swinging strikes this year.
Odorizzi hasn’t allowed a homer yet in 2015, something that will eventually correct of course – but he deserves some of the credit for the bagel. His career HR/FB rate is a modest 7.4 percent, and his ground-ball and soft-contact rates have both improved this year. Again, this isn’t Little League – ground balls don’t turn into home runs. Odorizzi sure looks like a Top 40 starter at the moment, no matter what the venue is.
• While we have Tampa pitchers on the mind, do you have the stones to try Alex Colome for Wednesday’s Fenway start? Colome passed the eye test in Friday’s turn against Baltimore, five scoreless innings along with no walks and six strikeouts.
Colome’s heater averages around 93 mph, and over the last two years in the minors he’s harnessed long-standing control problems. Sounds like someone who should be owned in more than nine percent of Yahoo leagues.
This business of grading every NFL team's rookie class only hours after the draft — sorting out the winners and losers immediately, prior to any actual on-field winning and losing — is, of course, ridiculous. I'll concede that point right here at the top.
When Seattle was building the foundation of a two-time NFC championship roster, for example, many draft analysts were handing out Cs and Ds. Predictive analysis of any sort is tough in the NFL. Where the draft is concerned, it's absurd.
And still ... well, here we are.
Our mission today is to identify NFL veterans who've made the biggest moves in terms of projected 2015 fantasy value, based on their team's draft decisions. (If you're looking for a list of rookies who landed in prime spots, click right here.) There's no hard science behind today's exercise, obviously, only guesswork. Mini-camps and OTAs are weeks away. Our preseason fantasy ranks will be shuffled and reshuffled countless times before you assemble any fake rosters for 2015.
But if you're interested in knee-jerk fantasy spin, here are ten players who gained or lost value over the weekend, while their teams were acquiring talent...
RB Darren McFadden, Dallas
To be clear: McFadden at this stage is a brittle, zombified, uninventive runner who really should not see meaningful snaps for a contending team. He averaged 3.4 yards per carry for Oakland last year, and 3.3 in each of his two prior seasons. He is a fantasy plague, basically. And yet McFadden somehow remains atop the backfield depth chart in Dallas, after the team focused on defense in the draft — five of the Cowboys' top-six picks were defensive players. Zero of Dallas' selections were running backs.
As much as we'd all love to erase McFadden's name from our pre-draft cheat sheets, he happened to land in an ideal spot for running back production. The Cowboys' O-line is a monstrous group, tremendous run-blockers; the team averaged 29.2 points per game last season and ranked second in rushing yards. Thus, anyone running the ball for Dallas belongs in the fantasy conversation, even this crumbling husk of a back.
Wow, did I ever want David Cobb or Tevin Coleman to land in Big D. Shame.
QB Ryan Tannehill, Miami
After making gains in virtually all significant statistical categories last season, Tannehill is well-positioned for another jump in 2015. Miami dealt away Mike Wallace back in March, sure, but the team also added Jordan Cameron, Kenny Stills and Greg Jennings to a receiving corps that already featured Jarvis Landry. On the first night of this year's draft, the Dolphins snagged Louisville's DeVante Parker, a smooth receiver with excellent hands and wingspan. It's awfully tough to imagine Tannehill taking a backward step, given the talent in his supporting cast.
TE Josh Hill, New Orleans
If you expected the Saints to target a tight end in the draft, following the trade of Jimmy Graham ... well, nope. Didn't happen. Hill figures to see a massive jump in targets coming off a five-touchdown campaign in 2014, and his head coach loves his blend of size, speed and athleticism. (Just check the numbers from Hill's pro day back in 2013.) As we get deeper into draft season, the Hill hype is probably gonna reach or exceed Kelce levels.
QB Sam Bradford, Philadelphia
Bradford was one of many players attached to the ludicrous four-person, three-pick offer reportedly made by Philly, as the team attempted to land Marcus Mariota. But apparently a seven-player package didn't satisfy Tennessee. As of this writing, Bradford is the presumptive opening week starter for the Eagles, and he'll be at the controls of a land-speed-record offense. Jeremy Maclin is gone, but USC rookie receiver Nelson Agholor was a terrific addition. There's more than enough talent at the skill spots in Philadelphia; health is the primary worry with Bradford (and it's a big one), not supporting cast.
QB Joe Flacco, Baltimore
In the days before the draft, Flacco publicly discussed a notable weakness in Baltimore's receiving corps:
"Without Torrey [Smith] now, the one thing we probably don't have as much of is that speed, is that one guy who can stretch the field."
On Thursday, the Ravens selected UCF burner Breshard Perriman, adding a vertical threat with 4.26 speed. Perriman is something of a developmental prospect, but he certainly has the right measurables. Baltimore added another quality receiving threat in Round 2, snagging tight end Maxx Williams, a kid with freakishly large hands and a terrific highlight reel. I don't know that a pair of rookies are enough to vault Flacco into the top-15 at his position, but his outlook is certainly much brighter, post-draft. He was an impressive 21-for-56 on deep throws last year (20-plus yards downfield), tossing 11 TD passes and only two picks. There's no question he has the arm to maximize Perriman's talents.
RB Tre Mason, St. Louis
Well, duh. Nobody lost value like Mason. After the Rams selected Georgia beast Todd Gurley with the tenth overall pick in the draft, Zac Stacy knew what was up...
Days later, Stacy is an ex-Ram and Mason is merely a rotational runner. Tre's best path to fantasy value in 2015 involves Gurley sitting in September and October, as he continues his recovery from ACL repair. Mason was plenty impressive as a rookie, generally performing well against the elite defenses in his division. But when healthy, Gurley belongs to a different tier altogether — and if you're not on board, please enjoy the Clemson clips.
RB Denard Robinson, Jacksonville
T.J. Yeldon wasn't the next RB on my draft board when Jacksonville selected him in the second round, but it's clear enough that the Jaguars view him as a three-down player. He gets the featured role, while Robinson slips to handcuff status.
WR Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis
So much for this can't-miss fantasy breakout. First, the Colts agreed to terms with Andre Johnson, a Hall of Fame receiver with a little something left to prove. Next, Indy used its Round 1 pick on Phillip Dorsett, a blazing-fast wideout from Miami (4.33 speed). This team has a terrifyingly deep and talented group of receivers, but the offense increasingly has a spin-the-wheel vibe. The only reliable high-end investment here is Andrew Luck.
Cleveland Browns, everywhere
The Browns entered this year's draft needing help just about everywhere, so we shouldn't bash them for not addressing every spot. But various rumored moves failed to happen, which leaves the team's offensive depth chart an uninteresting mess. We're looking at a Manziel-McCown battle ahead at QB, a three-headed mess at RB, and Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline as the top two receivers. That's just ... um ... well, it's pretty terrible. Unless you think McCown-to-Bowe in 2015 can be just like Anderson-to-Edwards in 2007, stay away.
WR Marquess Wilson, Chicago
If the Bears would have gone another direction with the seventh overall pick, then Wilson might have entered camp as a buzzy fantasy sleeper, a player in line for 100-plus targets. But Chicago selected Kevin White in the first round, a combine star (4.35 speed) coming off a huge collegiate season at West Virginia. Wilson and Eddie Royal will now fight for scraps, behind White, Jeffery, Forte and Bennett.
Players to Buy
Dallas Keuchel, SP, vs. TEX (Detwiler), $8500: He’s just the No. 5 starting pitcher on the pricing board, but he’s the biggest Vegas favorite on the night (slipping past a road-starting Clayton Kershaw). That will work. Keuchel obviously is light on the strikeouts, but his efficiency allows him to work deep into games. And let’s give the guy credit for what he does exceptionally well – inducing ground-ball contact and weak contact. He’s on zero of my seasonal teams, which depresses the hell out of me. But I’ll have Keuchel dialed up for Monday DFS.
Most of the Astros, vs. TEX (Detwiler): Some of the Houston bats have major platoon spikes against lefties. Some of them, surprisingly, do not (Carter and Springer come to mind). But any right-handed stick against Ross Detwiler this year instantly turns into Ted Williams, slashing .394/.459/.773. Yahtzee.
Head down to Minute Maid Park, sit in the Crawford Boxes, grab a beer, get ready for the onslaught. Evan Gattis and Jake Marisnick both look like fun for $3400, and Chris Carter at $2400 feels like a forced play. Jose Altuve is a reasonable pay-up against almost anyone. Any night can turn into The Springer Show.
Kevin Kiermaier, OF, at BOS (Buchholz), $2300: He’s plugged into the leadoff spot, has a nifty career line against righties (.857 OPS), is dirt cheap. The Fenway Park backdrop also helps.
Carlos Martinez, SP, vs. CHC (Wood), $8400: I love paying for a second-tier ace over the through-the-nose guys, even with the softer pricing that’s around right now. Busch Stadium is a pitcher-friendly backdrop, and as much as I respect the Chicago lineup on paper, it is first in strikeout rate and a mere 22nd in runs.
Matt Holliday, OF, vs. CHC (Wood), $3500: The price is a daisy and Holliday owns the matchup against Travis Wood, as you’d suspect (1.194 OPS, four homers in 40 at-bats). Johnny Peralta ($2500) and Mark Reynolds ($2200) are other right-handed sticks to consider, all slotted right after Holliday in the lineup.
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, at TOR (Dickey), $4200: If we lose the Coors game, the Rogers Centre becomes the new epicenter for Monday offense. Ellsbury is hitting .475 with six steals over his last 10 games, and R.A. Dickey hasn’t been sharp all year.
Steven Vogt, at MIN (Hughes), $3000: While the price has corrected on fellow Swinging-A Josh Reddick (now 3.9 K), the Vogt of Confidence is a mere three-grand. Catcher has been a bunch of land mines thus far, but Vogt rarely disappoints us.
L.A. Lefties, at MIL (Lohse): They were cranking the ball over the fence left and right at Chavez Ravine, and have to figure some of that will continue on the road against an ordinary Kyle Lohse. If you’re priced out of Joc Pederson ($3900), that’s fine – give a look to Andre Ethier ($2800) or Jimmy Rollins ($2700). Adrian Gonzalez is a perfectly reasonable pay-up play at $4300.
The Reluctant Fades
Diamondbacks and Rockies: Look, I am not a weatherman. I don’t know how to do a rain dance. I don’t worship any sun gods. All I know is the weather forecast is nasty for Coors Field on Monday night, and the prices on those guys just went up anyway. As usual, wait as long as you can before committing to anything. My early-lock lineups will not have any Arizona and Colorado players unless something substantially changes.
Madison Bumgarner, SP, vs. SD, $9800: Until I see vintage Bumgarner back in the game, I’m not going to cut a big DFS check on him. Strikeouts and ground balls are down, and he is coming off that 270-inning marathon. And the Padres, for once, have a lineup (and a righty-heavy lineup) that can hurt you.
What’s going on with Corey Kluber? Last year’s Cy Young winner has yet to win a game this season and is sporting a 4.24 ERA. He’s been especially bad of late, as he’s allowed 14 earned runs and 31 hits over his last three starts, spanning over just 17.1 innings. Some of this may be attributed to Yan Gomes getting injured, as Kluber owns a 2.58 ERA over 45 games with Gomes catching compared to a 4.66 ERA over the other 36 games when throwing to someone else. Kluber also has a poor defense defense working behind him to go along with a shaky bullpen. But his SwStr% (12.9) and GB/FB ratio (1.87) are both career highs, and his 18.2 K-BB% remains top-20 in MLB, so there’s plenty of reason to suggest his start to the 2015 season is flukier than him being the best pitcher in the AL last year. Go try to trade for Kluber if his owner thinks otherwise.
This councilman went to the bathroom with a hot mic, although he didn’t quite live up to Frank Drebin’s standards.
Josh Reddick has been one of the best hitter’s in baseball this season, sporting a .391/.455/.652 line with a 5:8 K:BB ratio over 69 ABs. He has two homers and eight RBI over the past three games, giving him 20 ribbies on the year over 19 games. He’s even more valuable if you can platoon, as Reddick sports a 1.165 OPS against righties, and he was moved to the third spot in the lineup Sunday. He’s an injury risk, but it’s crazy Reddick is only owned in 50% of Yahoo leagues (he’s two seasons removed from hitting 32 home runs), as that number should be 100 (the slugger owns a career 78.1% SB success rate as well). A couple of weeks back I bid on both Reddick and Travis Snider in a high stakes NFBC league, going a little higher on the latter. I’m clearly going to be regretting that decision over the rest of 2015.
Headlines of the Week: Woman Sets Fire On Car Over Refused Cigarette...Monkey Drop Kicks A Guy Who Gave It The Finger...Professor At Texas A&M Galveston Fails Entire Class...Tortoise, 90, Fitted With Wheels Following Rat Attack...Chernobyl Fox Makes Five-Decker Sandwich...Tuna Company In Hot Water After Worker Is Cooked Alive In 6 Tons Of Fish...Grandfather Says He’s Afraid To Use His Dial-Up After Receiving $24,000 AT&T Bill...Collagen-Infused Japanese Beer Promises To Make Drinkers More Attractive...Man Who Had Sex With Postbox Found Dead Outside Chinese Restaurant.
Quick Hits: Jake Marisnick is batting .382 with 13 runs scored, three homers, 12 RBI and nine steals (while getting caught just once) over 68 at-bats. The run/RBI production is especially impressive given he’s hit mostly ninth, and while he’s sure to regress (he currently owns a .423 BABIP), Marisnick shouldn’t be available in 30% of Yahoo leagues like he is with his power/speed ability. He also made this catch over the weekend...A.J. Burnett has a 1.45 ERA over 31.0 innings and has yet to win a single game. Meanwhile, Santiago Casilla has three wins (and seven saves) over 11.2 innings despite a 1.46 WHIP (higher than Burnett’s ERA!). Casilla became the first pitcher in baseball history Saturday to throw two pitches, give up two hits and record a save, thanks to this bonkos scenario that somehow happened twice on the same day...Matt Carpenter is on pace to finish with 95 doubles. The MLB record is 67...Jorge Rondon isn’t on your fantasy team, and that’s a good thing, since he had one of the worst outings you’ll ever see Friday, when he allowed eight runs (seven earned) without recording an out.
Police Blotter: Man Arrested For Urinating In Hotel Ice Machine...Woman Wearing “Won’t Be Caught” T-Shirt Being Sought In $1500 Theft From Beauty Store...Woman Texted “Driving Drunk Woo” Just Before Fatal Crash...91-Year-Old Woman Gets $122 Ticket For Rocking Chair Noise...Man ‘Likes’ His Own Facebook Wanted Post Gets Arrested ...An 18-Year-Old Baltimore Rioter Faces A Higher Bail Than The Cop Accused Of Murdering Freddie Gray...Why I Killed Jeffery Dahmer.
Quick Hits Part Deux: James Shields has a mediocre 3.72 ERA despite moving to the National League and pitcher-friendly PETCO Park, where he’s somehow allowed five homers over 18.1 innings. But if you look deeper, he’s clearly a buy-low candidate if possible, as Shields currently sports an MLB-high 15.9 SwStr% (next best is Clayton Kershaw at 13.9%). Moreover, he posted a 3.21 ERA in the AL last year with a 14.5 K-BB%. He currently sports a 24.8 K-BB%. It sure looks like Shields is going to be a monster over the next five months...Chris Young has six homers over 63 ABs and for those who play DFS, he’s really cheap and is hitting .458/.567/1.042 against southpaws this season...There probably has been a ball hit shorter that resulted in the batter scoring, but I’ve personally never seen one more so than Logan Schafer’s on Saturday...Dan Haren somehow has a 2.70 ERA and 0.87 WHIP despite serving up five homers (and eight earned runs) over 16.0 innings verses left-handed batters. A 96.6 LOB% (second in MLB to Carlos Martinez, who has a 100 LOB%) and an MLB-low .152 hit rate have surely helped...The Royals have an MLB-low 1.04 bulllpen ERA, which has produced nine saves. The Padres have the second-worst bullpen ERA (5.05), which has resulted in eight saves.
Longread of the Week: “Have You Ever Thought About Killing Someone?”
Quick Hits Part Tres: Nathan Eovaldi has averaged the highest mph with his fastball (96.1) this season, but that’s resulted in a modest 6.99 K/9 rate, a .380 BABIP and just a 7.2 SwStr%. Despite the high velocity, Eovaldi’s heater has been one of the 15 least valuable fastballs in baseball so far, just barely ranking ahead of Jered Weaver’s, which has averaged a mere 83.1 mph...Dee Gordon has a .494 BABIP, which is more than Chase Utley’s .091 mark...Mike Moustakas is somehow batting .337 despite 30.3 percent of his balls in play being pop ups...Shin-Soo Choo was one of the bigger busts last season during his first year in Texas, but his disappointing campaign could easily be written off by injuries both to his elbow and ankle. So a bounce back could’ve reasonably been expected by the 32-year-old but instead, he’s hitting .141/.273/.297. Choo currently owns the lowest BB% (9.7) and highest K% (25.0) of his career to go along with a 55 wRC+ (his career mark is 129)...This attempted throw by the catcher was clearly on purpose, right?...Pick up Aaron Sanchez now, and you very well may have Toronto’s leader in saves from here on out...There’s also no reason why John Axford shouldn’t be owned in all leagues, with Adam Ottavino’s health looking bleak.
In the fantasy football vernacular no word is misunderstood, misidentified or misused more than "sleeper."
Similar to the grossly miswritten "ironic" in the English language (Example: If a fan wearing a Josh Gordon jersey bumped into the Cleveland receiver at a 4/20 gathering, that isn't ironic.), the term is thrown around too loosely, often attached to players drafted as starters in 10-team leagues.
Generally speaking, self-described aficionados claim a "sleeper" references generic players unbeknownst to the general gaming community. Throw PLAYER X out during your draft and someone is bound to blurt out, “WHO THE HECK IS THAT GUY?!”
The above definition is fair. However, in an age where information is readily available at the touch of a screen, any fantasy player with the tiniest ounce of gumption can uncover pertinent player information spewed by scouts, coaches and insiders. In the classic sense, the controversial word no longer applies.
But, for the sake of this exercise, allow me to suggest a quantifiable meaning. A "sleeper" is a commodity available in the deep recesses of a draft, whether in fantasy (e.g. after pick No. 100 overall) or reality (e.g. Round 4 and beyond), that owns the potential to greatly exceed expectation.
Day 1 of the NFL draft is full of pomp and circumstance. Sharp-dressed college stars are lauded. Dreams are realized. Joyful tears from family members flow. However, as the event drags on, now over three ridiculous days, attention wanes. Lesser known picks receive little fanfare. Their odds of even making an NFL roster are long.
Still, values can be found, albeit rarely. Of the 1,050 drafted/undrafted rookies employed by NFL teams since 2000, 55 or 5.2 percent posted starter-worthy numbers Year 1 for fantasy owners. In other words, they finished at or inside QB1-QB12, RB-1RB24, WR1-WR36 and TE1-TE12, in points per game. Again, that’s ALL rookies. More specifically, only NINE from that group were selected in Round 4 or beyond of the draft. Pittsburgh hidden gem Martavis Bryant was the most recent to emerge from the shadows.
Yes, most owners would rather be forced to endure all 49 seasons of "The Real Housewives" than spare even one draft pick on an unproven, unknown rookie, but the next Alfred Morris (sixth-round pick in 2012) or Marques Colston (seventh-rounder in 2006) could be one small gamble away.
Digging deep, here are my top-five first-year "sleepers" capable of shocking Fantasyland this fall:
1. Jay Ajayi, Mia, RB
Projected Round/Auction Value: Round 7, $7-$10
Once thought to be a possible second-round pick, Ajayi's stock went all Wile E. Coyote and plummeted off a cliff. A damning medical classified his knee, which he shredded in 2011, as "bone-on-bone," a red flag that gave GMs cold feet. As a result he slipped to the Dolphins in Round 5. Many insiders believe he may only be a "one contract" RB, but Ajayi could be a burst of statistical sunshine on South Beach. It's becoming increasingly clear Miami isn't convinced Lamar Miller, who compiled 5.1 yards per carry last year, is their long-term option. Joe Philbin and Bill Lazor have made it no secret they desire a rotational backfield. Ajayi will give them that luxury. The Boise St. standout has the tools to be a three-down workhorse. He's powerful, shifty and ultra-versatile. Incredibly, he's the only player in FBS history to log 1,800 rushing and 500 receiving yards in a single season. With Miller in a contract year, it's conceivable Ajayi will be a full-timer in 2016. As for this fall, expect him to start as a 10-15 touch per game contributor. However, one Miller miscue or misstep, and the rookie morphs into Jeremy Hill. In what should be a robust offense, he could threaten Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon and Tevin Coleman for first-year RB superiority if the cards fall right.
2. David Cobb, Ten, RB
Projected Round/Auction Value: Round 9, $4-$7
The Titans' investment in another young RB is further proof the orginization is dissatisfied with Bishop Sankey. That feeling is completely justified. Last year, Sankey reeked of rotten liverwurst. Over one-quarter of his carries went for one, zero or negative yards. Equally putrid, he ranked near the bottom of the league in pass-blocking efficiency and breakaway percentage among RBs. When you can't fend off Shonn Greene, that pretty much sums up your struggles. Sankey will be given every opportunity to reclaim the starting job this summer, but Cobb is a viable threat. He's a bit heavy-footed (4.81 40-yard dash), but the kid is a decisive, well-built runner who gained 54 percent of his yards after contact with Minnesota. In Ken Whisenhunt's power scheme, he's a perfect fit. Out of the gate, he should be deployed in goal-line packages with reasonable odds of becoming a full-timer by midseason. Stock up.
3. Javorious "Buck" Allen, Bal, RB
Projected Round/Auction Value: Round 9, $4-$7
Later in your fantasy draft, it would be unwise to pass on this Buck. With only minor threats ahead of him on the depth chart outside Justin Forsett, the fourth-round pick could break camp in a meaningful role. His cutting ability, lateral agility, receiving skills and downhill burst are first-rate. In a zone-based Marc Trestman system, he has the potential to develop into a poor man's Matt Forte. Recall while at USC, Allen led all draft-eligible RBs in yards per route run (1.71). In 30 games with the Trojans, he snagged 63 passes averaging a stout 11.3 yards per catch. After a resurgent campaign, Forsett is destined to enter the year as the unrivaled starter, but given his diminutive frame it's plausible the Ravens work in Allen some 8-12 times per game. Tab him a high priority on cheat sheets, PPR owners.
4. Cameron Artis-Payne, Car, RB
Projected Round/Auction Value: Round 11, $3-$6
Artis-Payne doesn't jump off the screen, but since Jonathan Stewart would likely suffer a catastrophic injury walking a Pomeranian, the rookie is a rusher of interest. The vet has missed 22 games in seven NFL seasons. The Auburn product is a prototype pounder. He's a girthy downhill runner who typically dips his shoulder and plows for extra yardage. The youngster is by no means a burner (4.53 40-yard dash), but he owns enough speed to shoot around the edge. On the downside, he isn't much of a receiving threat and, at this point, is a liability in pass protection. Still, the Carolina staff under Riverboat Ron has never been married to the idea of featuring a single back. Given Artis-Payne's attacking style he should split early down work with Stewart and potentially wrest away goal-line touches. Even if that plays out, Cam Newton will undoubtedly inhibit his overall TD total. Best case scenario: Artis-Payne is this year's Andre Williams.
5. Vince Mayle, Cle, WR
Projected Round/Auction Value: Round 13, $1-$3
Usually, Cleveland is the fastest route to fantasy death. Throw dollars at Browns and you're sure to become the laughing stock of your league. However, Mayle may change the stereotype. Last year at Washington St, he was highly productive. He established school records in receptions (106) and yards (1,483). Most will say he was a product of Mike Leach's pass-happy environment, an understandable perspective. Still, the former junior college hoopster has the size (6-foot-2, 224 pounds) and separation skills to make an instant impact. Yes, in Cleveland. Hey, it's not like Webster Slaughter is still snagging passes for the Browns. Dwayne Bowe will enter the year as Josh McCown/Johnny Manziel's primary weapon, but with a strong camp, Mayle could push Brian Hartline and Taylor Gabriel for playing time at WR2.
Other Rip Van Winkles: Jeremy Langord, Chi, RB, Mike Davis, SF, RB, Rashad Greene, Jax, WR, Jamison Crowder, Was, RB, Devante Davis, Phi, WR
Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise
Players to Buy
Adam LaRoche, 1B, at MIN (Pelfrey), $2600: Generally I throw seasonal player trends into the trash, but LaRoche has an extended profile that tells us he won’t hit much in April. His career OPS is a mere 713 for the opening month, then it jumps to .801 in May (and, to be fair, .860 after the break). If you want a buy-low, LaRoche certainly fits the bill. And when you see Mike Pelfrey on the opposing mound, you want to load up on left handers.
(There is one pesky thing about the White Sox offense - you can’t stack Jose Abreu and LaRoche together in Fan Duel since they’re both first base qualifiers. Ah well, so it goes. It’s only a matter of time before he gets comfortable in his new city and role.)
Jose Altuve, 2B, vs. SEA (Happ), $4700: The Astros keep winning and Altuve keeps rolling along; he’s posted an absurd .488-10-2-11-4 line over his last nine starts. Altuve is a stud against any kind of pitching, but you get his best against left-handers (.357/.397/.494). Even at this price, he’s hard to look away from.
Brian Dozier, 2B, vs CHW (Danks), $3200: His career OPS jumps by almost 200 points when he’s facing a lefty, and this isn’t just any southpaw, it’s “hit me” John Danks. Dozier took a collar in Saturday’s game, but he’s been plenty productive of late, collecting 10 runs and seven RBIs over his last 10 starts, with a homer and two steals. If you want another platoon option to consider in the Twin Cities, Trevor Plouffe only costs $2400.
Stephen Vogt, C, at TEX (Gallardo), $3100: He should be fresh for Sunday after a partial day off Saturday, and he normally slots third in the high-octane Athletics lineup (second in runs). And as we’ll discuss in the next note, he’s up against a pitcher you want to attack.
Josh Reddick, OF, at TEX (Gallardo), $3600: He’s averaging around five FD points per game over his last ten starts, and Yovani Gallardo hasn’t had an answer for left-handed bats this year (.280/.345/.520). Tap that keg in Arlington.
Joc Pederson, OF, vs. ARI (Anderson), $3800: The price keeps creeping up but we’ll follow the Pederson wave wherever it leads us. He’s homered in three straight games since moving to the leadoff spot. If you want to ride with some other lefties in the L.A. lineup, catch this: the Dodgers don’t face a left-handed starter until May 8 (and by then, they’ll be in Coors Field). Pull up a chair and listen to Vin Scully call all those home runs.
Michael Wacha, SP, vs. PIT (Worley), $8300: While chase-the-ace is a strategy a lot of daily gamers go for, I like paying for a secondary ace and using the extra cash on my offense (see Lance Lynn from Friday, as opposed to the Harvey-Scherzer outlay). Obviously any strategy can work if you pick the right players. The Pirates offense has become a good draw during the opening month of the season; Pittsburgh is last in walk rate, fourth in strikeout rate, 20th in homers and 23rd in runs.
Kyle Seager, 3B, at HOU (Hernandez), $2900: Although Houston’s park isn’t really an offensive bonanza (it’s a mild help to scoring), it does boost power nicely (lefties get an eight percent float). Seager’s price has dipped into the bargain bin, and he’s drawing one of Houston’s weakest starters. Sounds good to me.
Players to Fade
Anibal Sanchez, SP, at KC (Guthrie), $8400: He’s been sharp in his last two turns and draws an ordinary opposing starter, but I don’t like taking on the surging Royals lineup, filled with all those lefty swingers (KC has a .310/.361/.454 slash against righties, with the second-highest wOBA in the league).
Danny Santana, SS, vs. CHW (Danks), $2700: On a full slate, I refuse to take any players who are mired in poor lineup slots. Santana is batting ninth again Sunday. When he comes to the top of the order again, we’ll reevaluate.
For more baseball thoughts during the day, seasonal and DFS, follow Scott Pianowski on Twitter.
Entering the 2014 NFL season, workhorse running backs, similar to compact discs, flip phones, folding maps and, presumably sometime very soon, Burger King’s not-so-delectable Chicken Fries, were on the verge of extinction.
Clydesdales like Arian Foster, Marshawn Lynch and LeSean McCoy were rare breeds, 300-carry rushers who demanded a draft day premium from fantasy investors. Extreme volatility, after all, was the name of the game at RB, especially in an era of rotational backfields. To those who stubbornly clung to supposedly antiquated RB-RB methods last August, shelling out exorbitant sums for proven rushers was a necessary evil, no matter the risks attached (43.8 bust percentage of all projected RB1s/RB2s picked in fantasy drafts since 2009).
DeMarco Murray only substantiated that belief.
Hushing talk of timeshares, Dallas’ grinder tugged and pulled the Cowboys to a division title one exhaustive carry at a time. His 449 regular-season touches were akin to finding a clean-shaven face in a sea of hipsters. The last RBs to exceed 410 touches in a season were Steven Jackson and Larry Johnson EIGHT YEARS PRIOR.
Murray’s magnificent campaign highlighted a quasi resurgence for the running back. Of the 12 teams that made the NFL playoffs, seven had RBs finish inside the position’s top-12 in fantasy per game average. Overall, that group averaged 19.72 touches per game, an old school figure that would conjure smiles from throwbacks like Eric Dickerson and Emmitt Smith. Still, the 26.7 rush attempts per team per game was the lowest in NFL history. Thoughts of passing, for the most part, continued to live at the forefront of offensive coordinator minds.
However, with more teams expected to employ a smash-mouth style this fall (e.g. Buffalo and New Orleans), the running back could again become en vogue.
Just look at this year’s NFL Draft.
For the first time since 2010, two RBs, Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon, were selected inside the top-20, an indication some teams are willing to return to their ground-and-pound roots. The G&G picks marked the first time in three years a rusher was plucked in the first round. Recall Gio Bernard was the earliest RB selected at No. 37 overall in 2012. Last year, Bishop Sankey started the rushing trend at pick No. 54.
Similar to what Adrian Peterson in 2007 or Doug Martin in 2012 accomplished, Gurley and Gordon could storm out of the gates and immediately deliver top-flight fantasy production. Each is uniquely talented. Each landed in advantageous spots. Unfortunately, though, the historical trend suggests the odds of a top-24 finish aren’t the strongest. Of the 300 RBs drafted from 2000-2014, only 29 (9.7 percent) averaged 10 or more fantasy points in standard settings. Narrowing the timeline, a mere eight rookies out of 109 candidates (7.3 percent), crossed that threshold over the past five seasons. Again, EIGHT, or 1.6 per year. To put it in perspective, of the tugboats that played at least 10 games last year 21 crossed the 10 fantasy points per game line. In other words, rushers who generated starter-worthy numbers in their inaugural campaigns were few and far between. Interestingly, the same number of wide receivers from 2010-2014 contributed WR2 or better numbers in 12-team leagues.
Though rookies generally bring fresh excitement, it’s important to exercise patience when drafting them in non-dynasty formats. As evidenced above, the Alfred Morrises or Odell Beckhams of the world are a rarity. Opportunity means everything. Alongside Gurley and Gordon, Tevin Coleman, Amari Cooper and Nelson Agholor have the best shot to shine because of their friendly surroundings. Due to their fresh legs and nourishing environments, they’re easily worth a mid-draft investment.
Over the past several years the league has predominantly looked skyward, but based on the post-season success of largely conservative franchises (e.g. Seattle) it appears decision makers are leaning toward traditional tactics to add balance and enhance Super Bowl chances.
That’s fantastic news for those of us who still own Shaun Alexander jerseys.
Including several noteworthy RBs, here's my top-10 list of biggest impact rookies for the upcoming fantasy season:
1. Todd Gurley, StL, RB
Projected Round/Auction Value: Round 4, $20-$25
During an otherwise sleep-inducing Day 1 of the NFL Draft, Gurley's acquisition by the Rams at No. 10 provided a little sizzle, much to Tre Mason and Zac Stacy's chagrin. The Georgia product is quite possibly the nastiest RB to enter the league since Peterson. He's a violent downhill runner with plus wiggle and hands. Prior to shredding his knee last season, he racked 61.9 percent of his yards after contact. That's a number similar to what Lynch achieved with the 'Hawks last year. Obviously, his ACL recovery will be monitored closely. Jeff Fisher has already stated St. Louis will bring Gurley along slowly, opening up the possibility he could begin the regular season on the PUP list. Even if that happens, he should be unleashed come October. And his 10-game production could be spectacular, difference-making for owners seeking gridiron gold. Squelch your reservations. Gurley is destined to be a fantasy superstar.
Fearless Forecast (10 games): 177 carries, 838 rushing yards, 22 receptions, 168 receiving yards, 7 total touchdowns
2. Melvin Gordon, SD, RB
Projected Round/Auction Value: Round 5, $18-$23
Unlike Michael Bennett, Ron Dayne, Brian Calhoun and Montee Ball before him, Gordon is a flashy, gliding rusher who is sure to overcome Wisconsin's RB-bust reputation. Recall he owns the highest yards per carry average (7.79) of any RB in college football history. However, he isn't without flaws. Ball security, blitz pick-up and pass-catching are areas he needs to show improvement in. Still, his game-breaking wheels and open-field elusiveness will likely gift him ample opportunities. Danny Woodhead and Branden Oliver, though superior pass-down options, aren't exactly world beaters. From the get go, Gordon will be deployed often on first and second downs running behind a retooled Chargers offensive line. Gurley may have the more productive career, but given the Ram's possible physical complications, Gordon is the safer 2015 pick. Look for him to finish comfortably in the RB2 range in 12-team leagues.
Fearless Forecast: 248 carries, 1,094 rushing yards, 16 receptions, 78 receiving yards, 7 total touchdowns
3. Amari Cooper, Oak, WR
Projected Round/Auction Value: Round 7, $12-$17
If Al Davis was still kicking, he likely would've fallen head over heels for speed demon Breshad Perriman, not Cooper. But the youngster from Alabama, for all intents and purposes, is the most complete wideout in an insanely deep wide receiver class. Despite only adequate size, he's a gritty, tough and highly productive receiver. He excels on post routes downfield and executes undauntedly over the middle on crosses and slants. His rapid acceleration to top speed (4.42 40-yard dash) is superb. Most importantly, his quick sticks, planting ability and physicality at the line of scrimmage allow him to gain separation from defenders, a coveted skill at the next level. Lapses in concentration have been problematic at times, but he should be the flavor every week for Derek Carr. Without much competition for attention, he should amass some 150-plus targets this fall. He isn't OBJ the sequel, but Cooper is a likely mid-range WR2 in 12-team leagues out of the gate. Hop aboard.
Fearless Forecast: 72 receptions, 1,034 receiving yards, 6 touchdowns
4. Tevin Coleman, Atl, RB
Projected Round/Auction Value: Round 6, $17-$22
Imagine jumping out of a plane and parachuting into an opulent land of extravagance, endless adult beverages and attractive people. Figuratively, that's exactly what happened to Coleman. Mark my words, he will flourish in Atlanta. Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Roddy White provide him with a vibrant atmosphere where wide holes should be aplenty. The Falcons' offensive line, which ranked No. 28 in run-blocking according to Pro Football Focus last year, must make strides, but Coleman should crack the starting lineup Week 1. There's no disputing his Indy-car speed and long sprints to the end zone. He registered 7.54 yards per carry and averaged 169.7 rushing yards per game last season with Indiana. The kid might be the most explosive back in this year's class. His experience on passing downs working as a receiver/blocker should also benefit him greatly at the next level. Overall, the IU product has three-down potential. Devonta Freeman will spell him at times, but it's no stretch to think Coleman bests Gordon/Gurley this year. And, no, that line wasn't written under the influence.
Fearless Forecast: 224 carries, 923 rushing yards, 27 receptions, 183 receiving yards, 7 total touchdowns
5. Ameer Abdullah, Det, RB
Projected Round/Auction Value: Round 8, $8-$13
PPR enthusiasts, achtung. Abdullah will have considerable FLEX appeal in the format this year. Attempting to tackle the RB is trying to wrangle a greased pig. His ankle-breaking cuts, balance, patience, vision and burst make him highly elusive. No surprise, he excelled in agility tests at the Combine leading all RBs in the three-cone, 20-yard/60-yard shuttles, broad jump and vertical jump. His quick downhill burst, pad level and strong finishes are underrated. Also an accomplished receiver, he hauled in 73 passes in four seasons with the 'Huskers. Abdullah isn't an every-down back, but working in tandem with pile-driver Joique Bell, he's an ideal fit for Detroit. Essentially he's the new Reggie Bush, a secondary rusher with tacky hands who will be highly employable at times this season. There's 50 catch potential here, particularly in an offense that typically involves RBs in the pass game (93 catches last year). Expect him to log roughly 10-14 touches per game immediately.
Fearless Forecast: 128 carries, 581 rushing yards, 51 receptions, 420 receiving yards, 4 total touchdowns
6. T.J. Yeldon, Jax, RB
Projected Round/Auction Value: Round 6, $17-$22
Alabama is a roulette wheel for running backs. There's the good, Eddie Lacy. Then there's the downright rotten, Trent Richardson. A player shouldn't be judged based on his former employer, but in a proving ground, Yeldon could fall somewhere between his predecessors. The 6-foot-1, 226-pound rusher is an accomplished zone runner who can leave tacklers mystified. He's creative in the open field, elusive and deadly pushing off the initial cut. However, he isn't sans warts. His upright style leaves him vulnerable to lower body nicks and scrapes. Often during his college days, he limped off the field with minor injuries. Against bigger, faster and more brutalizing competition he could wind up in a full body cast sooner rather than later. Also concerning, he struggled with fumbles, isn't the stoutest pass protector, lacks strength and is only an adequate receiver. Opportunity does knock in Jacksonville. The Jags were shocked by Denard Robinson's production last year, but believe he's more change-of-pace. And then there's Toby Gerhart, who, well, isn't good. The door is ajar for Yeldon. Impress in camp and he'll tote the early-down load right away, but don't reach too far for his services.
Fearless Forecast: 209 carries, 881 rushing yards, 13 receptions, 64 receiving yards, 5 total touchdowns
7. Jameis Winston, TB, QB
Projected Round/Auction Value: Round 10, $4-$7
The future Joe's Crab Shack proprietor was the butt of many jokes during the NFL draft process. However, the divisive QB may be the one laughing last in short order. Much has been made of Winston's off-the-field transgressions, concerns which have understandably prompted many questions. Still, the former Heisman winner has fantastic huddle command and typically executes in pressure-packed situations. Couple that with excellent pocket presence and a strong arm, and it's easy to see why the Bucs coveted his services. From a fantasy perspective, he won't light the world on fire in Year 1. His intermediate passes, of which he completed only 56.5 percent last year, must improve. Still, surrounded by skyscrapers Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins and in a Dirk Koetter system schemed similarly to what he ran at Florida St., Winston possesses more value than you might think. Keep in mind Tampa's generous D should force him into many high-volume workloads. Bank on a borderline top-20 campaign.
Fearless Forecast: 3,976 passing yards, 24 passing touchdowns, 21 interceptions, 122 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown
8. Nelson Agholor, Phi, WR
Projected Round/Auction Value: Round 8, $8-$12
The plucky wideout from USC probably can't stop pinching himself. His destination, Philadelphia, is a stats factory, a place sure to maximize his fabulous talents. Route precision is the name of the game for Agholor. His sharp cuts, expanded tree and plus speed (4.42 40-yard dash) are standout characteristics. He also tracks the ball terrifically, gets good leverage off the line and owns highly reliable hands. Overall, his versatility and polish resemble an established veteran's. Now with Jeremy Maclin catching zero touchdowns in Kansas City, Agholor should step in and start Day 1. The Eagles' staff seems resigned with keeping Jordan Matthews in the slot. Riley Cooper and Josh Huff, meanwhile, are expected to duke it out for one of the outside positions. That leaves the rookie in prime position to secure the other vacancy in training camp. Do that and he'll garner much appeal in the fantasy community. Remember last year the Eagles attempted the fifth-most pass attempts in the league, a large chunk of those attempts to Maclin (144 targets). Cooper should set the pace among first-year WRs, but Agholor may not lag far behind.
Fearless Forecast: 64 receptions, 855 receiving yards, 5 touchdowns
9. Kevin White, Chi, WR
Projected Round/Auction Value: Round 7, $12-$17
Entering the Draft the Bears had more needs than your high-maintenance significant other. Rookie GM Ryan Pace, however, plugged several glaring gaps, White being one of them. Expected to fill the shoes of Brandon Marshall, the West Virginia standout is a wonderfully talented receiver. He has the size (6-foot-3, 215 pounds), speed (4.35 40-yard) and mean streak needed to be a highly productive receiver at the next level. "Mountain" strong – he set the pace among WRs with 23 bench presses at the Combine – he can break press coverage with relative ease and is hard to drag down after the catch. Not to be overlooked, his quick-twitch cuts and plants allow him to gain separation from defenders. By no means is White a polished target. He must absorb his NFL employer's playbook quickly and make rapid advancements in the route-running department if he wants to make an instant impact. However, because of his exceptional performance at the Combine and on-field contributions with the Mountaineers last fall, he has the necessary tools to develop into a fantasy stud, especially working opposite Alshon Jeffery. Sigh ... if only Jay Cutler wasn't his quarterback. White may play unevenly over the regular season's first half, but I suspect he'll be at least WR3 worthy from Week 8 on. Exercise patience.
Fearless Forecast: 58 receptions, 731 receiving yards, 5 touchdowns
10. Marcus Mariota, Ten, QB
Projected Round/Auction Value: Round 10, $2-$5
Though Chip Kelly attempted to sell his soul, the draft day trade everyone anticipated between Philly and Tennessee never materialized. Mariota, at least for now, will be a Titan. A near desolate wasteland fantasy-wise, Nashville isn't the ideal location for the former Duck. Kendall Wright and Delanie Walker are serviceable weapons, but Justin Hunter, Harry Douglas, Hakeem Nicks and fellow rookie Dorial Green-Beckham, despite his enormous physical makeup, elicit excitement equivalent to impalement-by-cactus. Mariota is multidimensional. His blazing straight-line speed (4.52 40-yard), ability to break contain, sharp on-the-move throws and quick release makes him difficult for defenders to lasso. He can squeeze the pill into tight windows and, at times, has shown adequate touch on loft tosses. Most alluring, he possesses size (6-foot-4, 222-pounds) and athleticism to execute efficiently, particularly as a runner, inside the red zone. Still, he'll have to fend off Zach Mettenberger in camp to score the starting gig, which is no guarantee. He could contribute meaningful numbers at some point, but he's only initially rosterable in two-QB leagues.
Fearless Forecast (11 starts): 2,596 passing yards, 11 passing touchdowns, 5 interceptions, 523 rushing yards, 3 rushing touchdowns
Just missed the list: DeVante Parker, Mia, WR, David Johnson, Ari, RB, Breshad Perriman, Bal, WR, Jaelen Strong, Hou, WR
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