India thrash England in second ODI - England lose by a crushing 133 runs in the second one-day international at Cardiff after Suresh Raina's superb century. Sloane Stephens upset in US Open 2nd round (Yahoo Sports) - Sloane Stephens lost before the third round for the first time in four trips to the U.S. Open, upset by 96th-ranked Johanna Larsson. Once a sure bet to stick around for a while at Grand Slam tournaments, Stephens suddenly can't win there. Degenkolb wins Vuelta stage again - John Degenkolb grabs successive stage wins but Australia's Michael Matthews retains the Vuelta a Espana overall lead. Hills duo named in morphine inquiry - Two racehorses trained by Barry Hills are named among the eight which tested positive for morphine. Alonso retires from Spain duty - Real Madrid's Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso retires from international football. Peng upsets 4th-seeded Radwanska at US Open (Yahoo Sports) - NEW YORK (AP) -- Peng Shuai upset fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, the first top-10 player knocked out of this year's U.S. Open. 'Hard work starts now for Canada' - In her latest column, Casey Stoney discusses her new role in the England squad and how to make it to Canada 2015. Raina century sets up win for India - England lose by a crushing 133 runs in the second one-day international at Cardiff after Suresh Raina's superb century. Browns WR Gordon suspended for 2014 season (Yahoo Sports) - Browns star wide receiver Josh Gordon has been suspended the entire NFL season for another violation of the league's substance abuse policy. Gordon met with league officials in New York on Aug. 4 and he and the Browns had been patiently awaiting a resolution. ''I'd like to apologize to my teammates, coaches, the Cleveland Browns organization and our fans,'' Gordon said in a statement. ''I am very disappointed that the NFL and its hearing office didn't exercise better discretion and judgment in my case. Experts want to see NFL act on domestic violence (Yahoo Sports) - Ravens running back Ray Rice is sitting out two games for domestic violence. A positive marijuana test triggered a yearlong ban for Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon, costing him the 2014 season. Critics of the NFL's arbitrary policy toward domestic violence point to the contrast between the punishments and say it's time for the league to crack down on players who hurt women. Three members of Congress wrote NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell asking him to reconsider Rice's suspension, the governor of Maine says he'll boycott the league, and numerous groups that advocate for women and families condemned the penalty as too lenient.

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Rapid React: Cleveland not a complete fantasy wasteland sans Gordon [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 27, 2014, 5:48 pm]
For months the fantasy community has waited on pins and needles awaiting the NFL’s decision on the No. 1 ranked fantasy wide receiver from a season ago (in per game), Josh Gordon. Speculating he could receive a reduced or no suspension at all, riverboat gamblers throughout August rolled the dice and picked the troubled wideout in the later rounds hoping the football gods would reward their huevos. Sadly, those who invested in his services were struck down by lightning Wednesday. The NFL officially upheld Gordon’s year-long suspension, a crippling blow to the virtual game and the unlucky Cleveland Browns. The news certainly stung, but the games must go on. Here’s a quick spin on how Gordon’s absence impacts the fantasy value of those wearing orange position-by-position: Quarterbacks: Just when things couldn’t get any worse for Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel, it did. Losing Gordon, a dynamic, field-stretching talent who’s capable of turning a simple post into a long touchdown, is nothing short of devastating. Hoyer, still firmly planted on the hot seat, will need to lean on Jordan Cameron and safety valve Andrew Hawkins if he has any hope of staying in the driver’s seat. If the Browns start the season 0-3, however, he’s likely to get the hook. Assuming that happens, Manziel, because of his rushing abilities, is capable of a top-15 line. Yes, he couldn’t hit Paul Bunyan from 10 yards out in preseason play, but his scrambling instincts and prior success with the zone-read, shouldn’t be overlooked. Remember, Terrelle Pryor, as horrendous of a passer as he was a season ago with the Raiders, was a top-16 fantasy asset as a starter. Why? Rush stats. Manziel, and not Hoyer, is the better long-term fit for Kyle Shanahan’s run-first system and is worth a bench stash in 14-team and deeper leagues.  Running Backs: Ben Tate and Terrance West better load up on the protein shakes, ice baths and massage sessions. The duo will be worked like pack mules this fal

Juggernaut Index, No. 7: The Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 26, 2014, 6:57 pm]
In the eight years that we've produced produced the Juggernaut Index here at Yahoo, I don't think we've ever once led a team preview by talking about a defense. We're here to have a fantasy conversation, after all. Defenses are generally an afterthought in our game. It's a roster spot that many savvy fantasy owners tend to stream. However, the Seahawks D is an outlier in many ways. It feels wrong to begin any consideration of this franchise without first acknowledging that Seattle's 2013 defense may have been the best in NFL history — and if it isn't at the top of your ranks, it needs to at least make the short list. [Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today!] Obviously we can never definitively settle the greatest-of-all-time debate, and I'll make no attempt to do so here. If we could somehow put the '85 Bears and the '02 Bucs and the '00 Ravens and the present-day Seahawks in a giant cage-match, we could ... well, we would really have some carnage. And probably the highest-rated program in NFL Network history. Let's simply agree that Seattle's defense is a badass group. When you consider the era, this team's defensive accomplishments are astonishing. The Seahawks allowed only 14.4 points and 273.6 total yards per game last season, ranking first in each category by significant margins. Seattle also ranked first against the pass (172.0 YPG), first in interceptions (28), eighth in sacks (44.0) and eighth against the run (101.6). This D allowed only four rushing touchdowns all season, which is absolutely ludicrous. And of course the Seahawks eviscerated Peyton Manning's record-breaking offense in Super Bowl XLVIII. Personally, I'm not the type to take the first defense off the board in any fantasy draft, so I never actually land Seattle. But I'm not going to judge anyone too harshly for selecting this unit before the end-game picks. Again, it's a badass D, an obscene collection of talent. Richard Sherman is a corner so dominant he can erase any

Opening Time: Can Tim Lincecum reinvent himself? [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 26, 2014, 5:29 pm]
Tim Lincecum might be the most consistently-panned player in this space over the last couple of years. We didn't give him an excuse for the gopheritis trend that started in 2012. We didn't trust the K/9 rate, given that the strikeout percentage was moving in the wrong direction. We didn't play the "but he's Tim Lincecum" card, an all-time silly argument.  Numbers over names, man.  But Timmy Lincecum in the Giants bullpen? Yeah, I'm intrigued again. Lincecum's star started to fade in the 2012 season, but you probably remember he was a reliever for most of San Francisco's championship run. Check what he did out of the bullpen that October: 13 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 17 K.  The appearances came against the Reds, Cardinals and Tigers. (Full disclosure, he was knocked around in one start at St. Louis.)  It's very common to see recycled starters turn into dominant relievers. Heck, the Hall of Fame has some. When Dennis Eckersley needed a jump start, he went to the bullpen. Goose Gossage was just a failed starter before the train got rolling. HOF lock Mariano Rivera fits this model, too. (John Wetteland, Eric Gagne, we could run out names all day long. Zach Britton and Wade Davis are two examples from this year.) Lincecum doesn't have to worry about pacing himself in this new role, or multiple trips through a batting order. He can cut loose, leave it all on the mound. I'm expecting him to thrive in this role, and I've added him in a few leagues where quality innings are important.  I recognize this isn't the sort of play that will work in all leagues. In some formats, a non-closing reliever has little or no value. There's no way to make this column one-size-fits-all. I'm just giving you a look at my playbook, and telling you I expect Lincecum to be worthwhile for the rest of the season, at least in some formats.  Your move, gamer.  • There isn't a lot to say about the early shutdowns of Shin-Soo Choo and Yu Darvish. You drop them, you curse your luck, you move on. I

Mostly NFL Notes: An NFC Season Preview [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 26, 2014, 6:13 am]
NFC East 1. Philadelphia Eagles 9-7 2. Dallas Cowboys 8-8 3. New York Giants 8-8 4. Washington Redskins 8-8 Comments/Fantasy predictions: There’s no doubt Nick Foles’ INT% will regress (he threw the most passes of any player ever with 0, 1 or 2 interceptions in a season last year), and he also got lucky when it came to drops, as his receivers suffered just 13, as 29 other quarterbacks dealt with more. Despite that as well as losing DeSean Jackson, the Eagles’ system is sure to produce a bunch of points once again. They might even play faster during Chip Kelly’s second year in the NFL. Foles’ average TD pass last season was 17.4 Air Yards, which was the highest in football. He’ll safely finish as a top-10 fantasy QB…Adding Darren Sproles, who PFF graded as the NFL’s best receiving back last season, should only help…Jeremy Maclin is a top-15 fantasy WR on a per-game basis but misses a half dozen contests, as he’s kind of an injury risk…Zach Ertz scores double-digit touchdowns en route to a top-five fantasy season, while LeSean McCoy wins the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year award. The Cowboys have an interesting roster, possessing one of the league’s best offensive lines to go along with one of the league’s worst defenses. It’s a recipe for fantasy success, especially in the passing game…Thanks to a 2-4 start, calls for Jason Garrett’s firing get louder, but an ensuing four-game winning streak saves his job one last time, but ultimately, Dallas fails to make the postseason…The Cowboys recovered the highest percentage of fumbles (67.6) of any team last year, and did you realize Tony Romo has a better career winning percentage than Troy Aikman?…DeMarco Murray is a top-five fantasy RB on a per-game basis but misses a handful of contests (in which a committee ensues, frustrating all of his owners), while Terrance Williams finishes as a top-25 WR…Dez Bryant, who did things like this last year, ends the season as fantasy’s No. 1

Monday Mini-Mock: Shocker specials [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 25, 2014, 4:35 pm]
So here's how this works. Each Monday, the Yahoo fantasy crew jumps on a conference call to discuss the week that was/will be. As part of this process, we've decided to include a short mock draft - roughly, one-eighth the size of a normal draft, I shall call it mini mock. This week's mini mock draft (four rounds) consists solely of the pool of players currently owned in less than 10 percent of Yahoo leagues — each expert was required to draft a QB, RB, WR, and a TE. [Get in the game with Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Football] Round 1 Pick 1 — Lance Dunbar, Dal, RB (Brandon Funston) Funston says – Backup RB Joique Bell thrived in OC Scott Linehan's backfield platoon system in Detroit, and now Linehan has similar designs for the versatile Dunbar in Big D. Round 1 Pick 2 — Knile Davis, KC, RB  (Scott Pianowski) Pianowman says – Wes Welker is a major question mark after suffering yet another concussion, and Latimer has impressed this month. The rookie may have a bigger role than expected in 2014, which could yield nice results in the league's top offense. Round 1 Pick 4 — Travis Kelce, KC, TE  (Andy Behrens) Behrens says –  In the event that Arian Foster were to physically crumble, Grimes would likely shoulder the lion's share of touches in an offense that plays to his versatile skills. Recall last year in Week 17 at TEN, he rolled up 126 combined yards and a TD. Round 2 Pick 2 — John Brown, Ari, WR (Behrens) Behrens says – Very quietly, he was a Top 20 fantasy quarterback last year in total scoring, despite a New York supporting cast that did little to help him. No one expects the 2014 Jets to be a juggernaut, but Smith at least got some help this year (whatever's left of Chris Johnson; underrated Eric Decker; intriguing Jace Amaro). Smith also figures to run some, nectar from the fantasy gods. Round 2 Pick 5 — Jake Locker, TEN, QB (Funston) Funston says – I recognize the Raiders have looked like a train wreck in the summer (heck, for years), bu

Mini-Mock: Shocker specials [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 25, 2014, 4:35 pm]
So here's how this works. Each week, the Yahoo fantasy crew jumps on a conference call to discuss the week that was/will be. As part of this process, we've decided to include a short mock draft - roughly, one-eighth the size of a normal draft, I shall call it mini mock. This week's mini mock draft (four rounds) consists solely of the pool of players currently owned in less than 10 percent of Yahoo leagues — each expert was required to draft a QB, RB, WR, and a TE. [Get in the game with Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Football] Round 1 Pick 1 — Lance Dunbar, Dal, RB (Brandon Funston) Funston says – Backup RB Joique Bell thrived in OC Scott Linehan's backfield platoon system in Detroit, and now Linehan has similar designs for the versatile Dunbar in Big D. Round 1 Pick 2 — Knile Davis, KC, RB  (Scott Pianowski) Pianowman says – Wes Welker is a major question mark after suffering yet another concussion, and Latimer has impressed this month. The rookie may have a bigger role than expected in 2014, which could yield nice results in the league's top offense. Round 1 Pick 4 — Travis Kelce, KC, TE  (Andy Behrens) Behrens says –  In the event that Arian Foster were to physically crumble, Grimes would likely shoulder the lion's share of touches in an offense that plays to his versatile skills. Recall last year in Week 17 at TEN, he rolled up 126 combined yards and a TD. Round 2 Pick 2 — John Brown, Ari, WR (Behrens) Behrens says – Very quietly, he was a Top 20 fantasy quarterback last year in total scoring, despite a New York supporting cast that did little to help him. No one expects the 2014 Jets to be a juggernaut, but Smith at least got some help this year (whatever's left of Chris Johnson; underrated Eric Decker; intriguing Jace Amaro). Smith also figures to run some, nectar from the fantasy gods. Round 2 Pick 5 — Jake Locker, TEN, QB (Funston) Funston says – I recognize the Raiders have looked like a train wreck in the summer (heck, for years), but

Juggernaut Index, No. 8: The New Orleans Saints [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 25, 2014, 4:33 pm]
Let's begin with a partial list of Drew Brees' accomplishments as an NFL quarterback: • two-time Offensive Player of the Year • Super Bowl MVP • eight-time Pro Bowler • ranks fifth all-time in career passing yards (51,081) • fourth all-time in passing TDs (363) • second all-time in completion percentage (65.9) • sixth all-time in net yards per pass attempt (6.95) • seventh all-time in game-winning drives (34) • produced the second, fourth, fifth and seventh highest all-time single-season passing totals Not bad, right? [Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today!] Brees is 35 years old, entering his fourteenth pro season. He's three years younger than Peyton Manning and a year-and-a-half younger than Tom Brady, so he's not a bad bet to finish ahead of both in raw passing totals. He's basically settled in at a level of production that no other QB has ever maintained. Of the eight individual 5,000-yard passing seasons in NFL history, this guy is responsible for four. We almost never include Brees in the best-ever-quarterback discussion, for reasons that aren't completely clear. His resume is absolutely ridiculous — inner-circle Hall of Fame-quality, no question. Fantasy-wise, Brees is pretty much as good as it gets, at any position. He's finished as either the first or second highest-scoring fantasy QB in five of the past six seasons, and he hasn't ranked outside the top-10 since 2003. He also hasn't missed a game due to injury in forever, so durability isn't a concern. As a general rule, I prefer the mid-draft quarterback approach in standard fantasy formats, but I'll only let Brees fall so far — rarely beyond Round 3. Over the past three seasons, he's averaged 5272 passing yards and 43 TDs. Those numbers — regardless of era — are obscene. When all the stats are in the books, the Drew Brees/Sean Payton collaboration will very likely be regarded as one of the two or three greatest QB/coach partnerships in history. So, in su

Sunday Night Fantasy Chat [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 25, 2014, 1:56 am]
It's been a fairly tame summer for football injuries, but now we have to worry about Wes Welker and Cam Newton - and pause sadly for Sam Bradford. Bring on your football queries, your baseball ponderings, your hockey hunches, your random meanderings.  Let's figure this out, together.  Live Blog Sunday Night Fantasy Chat

Preseason Week 3 Flames/Lames: Muscle up, Martin back in RB1 discussion [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 24, 2014, 6:27 pm]
There's a large contingent of football fans that staunchly believe preseason games are completely inconsequential. To these naysayers, they're nothing more than an evaluation phase for head coaches looking to comprise the best 53-man roster possible. However, most fanatics would vehemently disagree. Exhibition action gives owners the opportunity to gain invaluable insight into potential sleepers and busts. Alfred Morris' breakout preseason two years ago is a prime example. In an attempt to decipher the meaningful from the meaningless, here are the top Flames and lowly Lames from Preseason Week 3.  PRESEASON WEEK 3 FLAMES Doug Martin, TB, RB  – You've won me over, Muscle Hamster. Earlier this month, the Tampa rusher, expected to be logjammed in an unknown RBBC in Jeff Tedford's offense, ranked outside my RB top-15. Now entrenched as the three-down bellcow with Charles Sims out for the next 10-12 weeks, he's regained trust as an RB1. In Tampa's final first-team tuneup, he looked every bit the 15-20 touch back. His 3.2 yards per carry didn't move the meter, but he totaled 65 yards on 12 grips, working all three downs. Tampa's offensive line isn't the most rigid, however, Martin's projected volume favors a major rebound year. Having Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson to stretch the field greatly benefits him. If you've yet to draft, he's worth strong consideration in the mid-second. A 1,400-total yard, 10-12 TD line seems completely reasonable.  [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today! ] Matt Ryan, Atl, QB – The bitter taste of 2013 has been washed away. Ryan, who posted commendable numbers a season ago (QB9) despite Julio Jones' absence and an ankle-handicapped Roddy White, might be on the verge of a career year. The loss of O-lineman Sam Baker hurts, but Julio has looked unstoppable in the early season and White again has a pep in his step. Equally important, Atlanta's defense should again give up oodles of points, thrusting Ry

Fantasy Fallout: Kevin Love officially traded to Cleveland [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 24, 2014, 3:02 pm]
The Kevin Love to Cleveland deal is finally official. The particulars involve Minnesota giving up Alexey Shved and Luc Mbah a Moute and Miami’s 2015 first-round pick to Philadelphia, who’s sending back Thaddeus Young and a trade exception worth $4 million. Meanwhile, the Cavs ship the last two No. 1 overall picks in Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins to the Timberwolves for Love. The deal had been agreed upon weeks ago but couldn’t become official until 30 days after the signing of Wiggins’ rookie deal, finally ending months of Love trade speculation. Love will likely see his scoring decline some now sharing the court with two of the only eight players in the NBA who had a higher Usage Rate than him last season (Love finished tied for ninth, while Kyrie Irving was eighth and LeBron James fifth), but it’s hard not to get excited just thinking about his outlet passes to James starting fast breaks. Love, whose 65 double-doubles led the NBA last year when he finished third in PER, will continue to clean the glass and should be able to maintain first round fantasy value in his new digs, even if his scoring takes a small hit. James’ value should remain mostly the same as well. He’s played a ton of minutes throughout his career, including four straight deep postseason runs in which he’s reached the Finals, so it’s possible the Cavs rest him more during the regular season, especially with them now being the heavy favorites to win the East. According to Basketball Monster, James finished as the No. 5 ranked fantasy player last season, his lowest mark since 2007/08 (when he finished No. 6), so he’ll safely be drafted second in almost every league this year. Irving will likely take fewer shots, although his selectivity should improve. Still just 22 years old, there’s very much the chance he jumps to a next level, independent of having James and Love as teammates. If “Uncle Drew” can stay healthy, there’s a real chance Cleveland produces three top-1

FFL Radio: The 'Boys are back at 9 AM ET, 6 AM PT [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 24, 2014, 2:49 am]
For the past several months, we've backpacked Europe, exercised our inner Zen and formulated new strategies to win ...  'Fantasy Football Live,' on an entirely too long hiatus, is back and, hopefully, better than ever. From this Sunday until 2015, Brad Evans and Brandon Funston will answer your reveal their fantasy football flames, lames and need to know names in an attempt to propel your squad to championship glory.  On this week's kickoff episode, our fearless forecasters will discuss the merits of Alfred Morris, Johnny Manziel angry birds and Montee Ball. Additionally, we'll unveil our biggest takeaways from Preseason Week 3.  Yet to draft? Here's how you can join the circus:  Phone: 800.777.2907 Twitter: @YSRFFL Let's do this! 'Fantasy Football Live' is about to tee it up for the 2014 season.  LISTEN LIVE TO FANTASY FOOTBALL LIVE STARTING AT 9 AM ET SUNDAY HERE 

Toxic Ten: Fantasy football players you should be avoiding in drafts [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 22, 2014, 10:48 pm]
I'm about a third of the way through my fantasy football drafting and auctioning season. Lots more to come, players to select, options to buy. The future is unwritten.  Generally I'm more about the price than the player, so I rarely say "never" on any fantasy commodity. There's usually a ticket where almost anyone makes sense.  That established, here are 10 players I'm just about positive I won't be drafting this year. Call it the Toxic Ten if you want. You'll find talent on the list and maybe some of your pet players as well — it doesn't do anyone any good if I bash backup tight ends. Share your avoid list and agree or disagree with mine in the comments.  You might own these players. You might win because of these players, or in spite of these players. You won't agree with all of these names, and that's good. That's why we have a game.  • Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos: I'm not going to make this a simple "regression!" card, because that's the start of the conversation, not the end of it. Manning can lose a healthy chunk of his 2013 dream season and still be a fantasy overlord. But the depth of the quarterback position, league-wide, pushes me away from Manning's sizable sticker price. I want to load up on the six-point scorers: the wideouts, running backs and (perhaps) tight ends.  [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today! ] • Trent Richardson, RB, Colts: He was an ordinary back during his Cleveland days (3.5 yards a carry) and he dropped down to 2.9 yards per tote last fall with the Colts. Yes, the crummy Indianapolis offensive line has something to do with it, but why did Donald Brown average 5.3 yards a carry behind the same group? I don't buy the playbook excuse for Richardson, either — the NFL running game isn't that complicated. • Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots: I refuse to spend a premium pick on a maybe, a slow-developing stock, someone I can't be confident in for 16 games. I want a quick start from my team; I want to

#AskFFL: Your Fantasy football questions answered [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 22, 2014, 8:17 pm]
National Draft Day is on Saturday. Need help to dominate your Fantasy Football league? Fantasy expert Brad Evans took over the @YahooFantasy account to answer your pressing questions. Check out the full recap right here!Don't forget to sign up to play Yahoo Fantasy Football, and tune into the National Draft Day live stream Saturday at 3 p.m. ET/noon PT!

Closing Time: Matt Shoemaker fits in [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 22, 2014, 2:05 pm]
For the majority of the season, Matt Shoemaker has been an occasional streamer, a matchup play. Perhaps he's finally ready to shed that tag. Road starts have been a tricky assignment for Shoemaker this year, but he's coming around of late. He was a one-hit wonder at Fenway Park on Thursday night (7.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K), on the heels of a useful victory at Texas. Have a peek at the scouting video. The Shoe now carries a 3.56 ERA and 1.12 WHIP, with almost a strikeout per inning. He's also around the plate, just 19 free passes. Okay, beating the Rangers and Red Sox doesn't mean a lot this year, no matter where you do it. But Shoemaker also has the advantage of playing on one of the best teams (and highest-scoring teams) in the majors, and in a pitcher-friendly park at that. His fly-ball bias plays well in Anaheim (2.72 ERA), and he's won 10 of his 15 starts overall. This late in the season, we should be trusting these snappy ratios. The Eastern Michigan University product qualifies as a surprise; he wasn't on anyone's prospect radar before the year. He'll turn 28 next month, and he had just five MLB innings on his ledger into 2014. Shoemaker's extended run at Triple-A reveals a 5.38 ERA, but part of that is life in the Pacific Coast League. Scoring position in the PCL is the batter's box. Shoemaker is owned in a modest 38 percent of Yahoo leagues, so there's still time to get in on the story. He'll be home for his next two assignments, hosting the Marlins and Athletics. • Brandon McCarhthy might be a Liverpool soccer fan who pitches for the Yankees, but let's not worry about such things. He's doing work for our fake baseball rosters. McCarthy threw a tidy four-hit shutout at the Astros on Thursday (no walks, eight strikeouts), his fifth New York victory. He's posted a silly 1.90 ERA and 1.13 WHIP since the July trade, getting mileage out of a nifty cutter. AL tested, Salfino approved.  It's refreshing to see McCarthy pitch into some good fortune - his 5.01 E

Juggernaut Index, No. 9: The Indianapolis Colts [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 22, 2014, 12:55 am]
Andrew Luck has passed for more yardage over his first two NFL seasons (8196) than any quarterback in league history. He just needs to throw for another 46,633 and he'll own the all-time Colts career passing mark. So that's practically in the bag. Luck is, without question, one of the game's most talented young QBs, and he clearly made gains in his second pro season. His yardage total may have dipped, but his completion percentage jumped from 54.1 to 60.2. Luck also slashed his interceptions from 18 to nine, he absorbed fewer sacks, and he led his team to its second straight 11-win season. We should note that he did all this despite playing behind an O-line that made him the most-hit quarterback in the league (again), and despite season-ending injuries to key members of his receiving corps (Reggie Wayne and Dwayne Allen). [Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today!] In a nutshell, Luck is pretty great. He won't turn 25 until September, so he's still just a kid — eligible for coverage under his parents' insurance, in fact. It's not unreasonable to project a top-5 position finish for Luck in 2014. He figures to be an upper-tier fantasy QB for perhaps the next decade. The weapons at his disposal are excellent this season, plus there's an underrated rushing component to his game (nine career rush TDs). Thus, he shouldn't need to exceed 600 pass attempts, like he did as a rookie (627), in order to again finish among the top scorers at QB. Draft and enjoy. Reggie Wayne suffered a torn ACL and meniscus last October, which brought an end to his streak of 189 consecutive games played. At the time of the injury, Wayne was easily on pace for another 1000-yard season, which would have been his ninth in 10 years. Reggie has never really been a red-zone monster, but he's a highly competitive receiver with sure hands, and he's clearly a gifted route runner. He's an all-timer, basically. His rapport with Luck is well known, as the pair combined for 106 comple

National Draft Day, talking fantasy football smack in Sin City [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 21, 2014, 9:41 pm]
What are the key ingredients needed for any successful fantasy football draft party? Beer? Check. Buds? Of course. Smack? Holy (Kenny) Britt YA!    Now ask yourself, what’s needed to make the annual experience all the more memorable? VEGAS! Yahoo’s National Draft Day, Sin City style, is finally upon us. It’s time for redemption. It’s time for trash talk. It’s time to whoop everyone’s tail until they’re left wiping wing-stained cheeks with their 'Money' Manziel t-shirts.  The unbearable pain or unmatched elation from last season is long in the past. Raise a glass. Dog your leaguemates. And feed your inner Lombardi. Your fantasy season is about to get underway. To help get you prepared for the peak of the fantasy football draft season, hosts Larry Beil and Melanie Collins will pick the brains of Yahoo fearless forecasters Brandon Funston, Brad Evans, Andy Behrens and Super Bowl champion quarterback Shaun King. Starting Saturday at Noon PT, 3 PM ET watch our fanalysts play prognosticators, revealing their biggest sleepers, busts and shocker specials for the upcoming season. Double down, gamer. This is YOUR year.

National Draft Day: Why you need to get in on the fantasy football fun [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 21, 2014, 9:41 pm]
What are the key ingredients needed for any successful fantasy football draft party? Beer? Check. Buds? Of course. Smack? Holy (Kenny) Britt YA!    Now ask yourself, what’s needed to make the annual experience all the more memorable? VEGAS! [Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today!] Yahoo’s National Draft Day, Sin City style, is finally upon us. It’s time for redemption. It’s time for trash talk. It’s time to whoop everyone’s tail until they’re left wiping wing-stained cheeks with their 'Money' Manziel t-shirts.  The unbearable pain or unmatched elation from last season is long in the past. Raise a glass. Dog your leaguemates. And feed your inner Lombardi. Your fantasy season is about to get underway. To help get you prepared for the peak of the fantasy football draft season, hosts Larry Beil and Melanie Collins will pick the brains of Yahoo fearless forecasters Brandon Funston, Brad Evans, Andy Behrens and Super Bowl champion quarterback Shaun King. Starting Saturday at Noon PT, 3 PM ET watch our fanalysts play prognosticators, revealing their biggest sleepers, busts and shocker specials for the upcoming season. Double down, gamer. This is YOUR year.

Five mistakes even good fantasy football owners make [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 21, 2014, 7:10 pm]
I'm not going to list off the common and inane "mistakes to avoid" that are regularly trumpeted in this kind of piece; let's try to be better than that. Everyone knows not to draft off last year's stats. Everyone knows not to rely on a magazine cheat sheet that was created several months ago. Everyone knows not to show up at the draft reeking of Old Milwaukee. Everyone knows to monitor the waiver wire like a hawk.  No new tale to tell there.  Here are five mistakes I see even smart fantasy owners make, the second-level of leakage. Consider them, make of them what you will. Add your own ideas in the comments.  [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today! ] -- Looking too far ahead: Obviously fantasy championships aren't finalized until December, but it takes five months to build a champion. We'll place plenty of emphasis on the Fantasy Playoff Schedule when it's time, but I consider it a fool's errand to put any major work into the presumed December Strength of Schedule right now.  The league changes too quickly. No sport reshuffles as thoroughly as the NFL. What looks like a bad matchup today could be a cookie matchup down the road (and vice versa). Systems gel and fall apart, players improve and get hurt, there's an ebb and flow to the season. It's silly to think we can forecast four months ahead with any great degree of clarity.  The future is generally overrated in fantasy leagues, the present underrated. My immediate focus in any season is what's in front of me. Draft smart today, get off to a good start next month. Stay realistic with long-term injury expectations. We'll worry about the playoffs when it's time. Play For Today.   -- Constructing restrictive draft rankings and plans: Let's be clear on one thing - I'm in favor of a draft plan. I'm glad you're doing practice drafts, sketching out scenarios, trying to think ahead. These are all good ideas.  But these things need to be constructed with a pencil, not a pen. You don't want t

Pressing Questions: Fantasy B&B, Bell or Blount? [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 21, 2014, 5:17 pm]
It's the perfect storm. Not only is it the peak of the fantasy football draft season, but it's also the most important week of the exhibition slate. This is the point on the calendar for clarity and relative unknowns to emerge from the woodwork, stealing the hearts of owners everywhere. Who should you monitor closely? Here's a rundown of the most pressing questions from each Preseason Week 3 game ...  Pittsburgh-Philadelphia: The NFL's Cheech and Chong backfield of Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount is currently under intense scrutiny from both sides of the football fence - fantasy and reality. With Bell not traveling with the team for this week's contest with Philly, will Blount continue to carve out a significant role in the Steelers' backfield at Bell's expense? According to most advanced metrics (YPC, YAC, brekaway ability, etc), Blount was the far superior runner to Bell last season. And Blount was quoted as saying recently, "Ain't nobody going to sign me to sit me." So, with Bell out this weekend, Blount has a great opportunity to solidify a platoon role with Bell, a role that is expected to include those all-important goal-line totes. Should Blount flourish against Philly in Bell's absence, that would all but sink Bell's perceived (by some) RB1 stock. Bell is clearly the better receiving back, and he should own passing-down duties still, but a split of the rest of the work would seriously impede Bell's ability to deliver top 15 fantasy RB returns. Jacksonville-Detroit: Whaddya got this week, Blake Bortles? Can Jacksonville's rookie quarterback force the issue with another impressive appearance? Bortles definitely looked the part of a starting-quality NFL passer in the preseason matchup at Chicago, completing 11-of-17 throws for 160 yards and protecting the football. The kid throws with plenty of zip, plus he didn't seem skittish in a cluttered pocket. Basically, he looked an awful lot like a top-of-draft QB. Fantasy owners might just learn to enjoy the Bortl

Pressing Questions: Fantasy B&B, Bell or Blount? [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 21, 2014, 5:17 pm]
It's the perfect storm. Not only is it the peak of the fantasy football draft season, but it's also the most important week of the exhibition slate. This is the point on the calendar for clarity and relative unknowns to emerge from the woodwork, stealing the hearts of owners everywhere. Who should you monitor closely? Here's a rundown of the most pressing questions from each Preseason Week 3 game ...  Pittsburgh-Philadelphia: The NFL's Cheech and Chong backfield of Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount is currently under intense scrutiny from both sides of the football fence - fantasy and reality. With Bell not traveling with the team for this week's contest with Philly, will Blount continue to carve out a significant role in the Steelers' backfield at Bell's expense? According to most advanced metrics (YPC, YAC, brekaway ability, etc), Blount was the far superior runner to Bell last season. And Blount was quoted as saying recently, "Ain't nobody going to sign me to sit me." So, with Bell out this weekend, Blount has a great opportunity to solidify a platoon role with Bell, a role that is expected to include those all-important goal-line totes. Should Blount flourish against Philly in Bell's absence, that would all but sink Bell's perceived (by some) RB1 stock. Bell is clearly the better receiving back, and he should own passing-down duties still, but a split of the rest of the work would seriously impede Bell's ability to deliver top 15 fantasy RB returns. Jacksonville-Detroit: Whaddya got this week, Blake Bortles? Can Jacksonville's rookie quarterback force the issue with another impressive appearance? Bortles definitely looked the part of a starting-quality NFL passer in the preseason matchup at Chicago, completing 11-of-17 throws for 160 yards and protecting the football. The kid throws with plenty of zip, plus he didn't seem skittish in a cluttered pocket. Basically, he looked an awful lot like a top-of-draft QB. Fantasy owners might just learn to enjoy the Bortl





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