If you're a serious fantasy owner — someone who plays in a competitive and highly incentivized league — then your draft is no doubt happening very soon. Like, it's hours away. Definitely this weekend. Possibly tonight, maybe tomorrow or Monday. Soon.
Cutthroat leagues generally draft as close to opening week as possible, so as to minimize the risk of preseason injuries or other roster-wrecking events. No need to deal with any fantasy disasters beyond those that typically occur in-season. Thus, we draft now, after the exhibition slate is finished. For those of you preparing to assemble teams, we offer these 15 tips, tweets, news blurbs and other NFL ephemera:
1. Zero quarterbacks should be taken in the first round of your draft. None. Nil. Zip. Z-E-R-O. Unless you play in a league that allows you to start two QBs (not the norm), then no. It's important that we make this point right here at the top.
I've heard all the arguments for Andrew Luck in the first, and there's simply no way I'd do it. Not on a dare. Even if you've convinced yourself that Luck is about to deliver his first 5,000-yard season, I'm not sure how you can ignore the fact that four other active quarterbacks have already done it. Drew Brees has actually done it four times in his career, plus he led the NFL in passing yardage last year with 4,952. Brees, for whatever reason, is going 40 picks after Luck in 2015 drafts. QB is the deepest position in standard fantasy leagues by far. Unless you're dead-on sure that Luck is gonna deliver a 6K, 50-TD season, you gotta let someone else snag him at the top.
2. And while we're talking QBs, I'd just like to mention that tweaking your scoring settings to award six points per passing TD (not a great tweak) does not mean you need to draft the position ridiculously early. It's a rising tide situation, impacting all passers. Last year's top-scoring fantasy quarterback, Luck, threw exactly six more TD passes than last year's No. 12 fantasy quarterback, Tony Romo. Don't let the 6-point-per-TD thing direct you down a bad path. It's not a change that necessarily creates massive separation between the top-of-ranks QBs and the mid-draft options like Romo, Matt Ryan, Eli Manning and others.
3. If you were to decide to avoid all University of Wisconsin running backs, you probably wouldn't regret it. Melvin Gordon is stuck in a job-share with Danny Woodhead, James White apparently didn't earn the passing-down gig in New England (Dion Lewis is the best bet), and Montee Ball has played his way onto the trade market. Don't mess with him.
4. Perhaps now you're thinking, "But what if Montee lands in Dallas? He'd be great, right?"
Short answer: No, probably not. If it didn't happen in Denver, it isn't likely to happen, period. We all know about the excellent O-line in Dallas, but the Broncos' backfield sees more 5 and 6-man defensive fronts than any other. If you can't run for Denver, chances are you just can't run effectively in the NFL. No shame in that; most of us can't.
5. There's still no clarity to the Cowboys' running back situation. Wish we had better news, but no. This insider thinks the team is leaning toward Joseph Randle, this analyst is a Darren McFadden sympathizer. It reeks of committee — an effective committee behind a bull-dozing line, but a committee just the same. If Christine Michael were to somehow land in Dallas — he's reportedly on the trade market — the committee would only get messier. I'll actually be surprised if Romo doesn't see a significant uptick in pass attempts this season, with last year's featured back now in Philly.
6. Just in case you haven't heard, Tyler Lockett is really, really good. There is no such thing as a high-volume receiver in Seattle's offense — the last guy to see 100 targets was Mike Williams back in 2010 — but Lockett has been silly. He was untouchable at Kansas State over the past two years — he put up a 106-1515-11 line last season — and no one could get a hand on him in the preseason, either. Not a terrible final-round flier. If your league awards points for return yardage (not common), bump him up the board.
7. Do not fret about bye weeks. Seriously, stop it. Never again. Just draft as much talent as you can, without regard to schedules. The NFL defies planning. It's a league ruled by injuries, suspensions, scheme changes, unexpected breakouts and unforeseeable collapses. You cannot plan months in advance in this game. The purpose of your draft or auction is to acquire as much value — as much talent — as possible. Don't worry about Week 9 before Week 1 arrives.
8. There's no obvious reason to panic about LeSean McCoy's hamstring issues. He remains in play for the opener against the Colts...
Rex on McCoy: “I’m hoping that he’ll be available to us.” Says he remains cautiously optimistic.— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) September 4, 2015
...and I'll remind you that he's pretty good at running with footballs (4.6 career YPC, rushing title, etc.) Last month, his head coach declared, "We'll have probably the biggest playbook in the history of man in our running game." Shady is not the sort of player you need to avoid. He's too good, too accomplished, and the team context works.
9. The Patriots, you might recall, do not care about your fantasy team. No NFL team cares about your fantasy life, but the Pats really don't care. I'm pretty sure they hate you, personally. As an organization, they are not the most transparent. Thus, we can only speculate about which of New England's depth chart backs will lead the team in carries in the opener, while LeGarrette Blount serves his one-game suspension. Most of us are betting on Jonas Gray, a guy who's still available in 60 percent of Yahoo leagues. If you're looking for a Week 1 boost, look to Jonas. He has a 200-yard, 4-TD rushing game on his resume, which, as you might imagine, puts him in exclusive company. (You'd win a few bar bets asking for the two active members of that club: Doug Martin and Gray.)
10. Generally speaking, a player's preseason stats are roughly as meaningful as his Madden stats (possibly less so), but I do feel obligated to mention that Philly quarterback Sam Bradford went 13-for-15 for 156 yards, tossing three TDs. There's really no way to put a negative spin on those numbers. He's at the controls of an offense that made Mark Sanchez fantasy relevant, briefly. Of course Bradford hasn't proven to be the most durable of humans, which explains why he's priced in the Bridgewater/Kaepernick range. He's a terrific platoon QB for fantasy purposes, and the Eagles' early schedule is a gift: Atlanta, Dallas, NY Jets, Washington, New Orleans, NY Giants.
11. Kickers should be taken with your last pick, you guys. Even if you're at the turn in the final rounds, we expect your to maintain kicker discipline. You are not to draft Adam Vinatieri in the 11th round of a 14 round draft. (Fine, maybe if it's a dynasty league in which salary connected to draft round, but that's it. No other exceptions.)
12. In fact, Yahoo leagues won't actually force you to take a kicker at all if you're live-drafting. This is kind of a huge detail, something you'll want to know. Unless your commissioner specifically requires you to fill all roster spots during your draft, you can leave K and DEF empty, which allows you to take fliers on extra skill players. You'll obviously need to fill those spots via free agency before Week 1 gets underway, but you'll have more ammunition for a 2-for-1 or 3-for-2 trade.
13. Jared Cook is never the answer. Just throwin' that out there, so you can't claim no one warned you. If you need an early-season placeholder for Antonio Gates (suspended) or Julius Thomas (broken), then please consider Tyler Eifert or Ladarius Green or Charles Clay or Dwayne Allen or some Saints tight end or anyone who is not Jared Cook. Because that never works out.
14. Even if you're unsure what to do with the No. 1 overall pick this season — Adrian Peterson? Jamaal Charles? Le'Veon Bell? — the top of the draft, for me, is still the place you want to be. If I could choose my draft spot, gimme a top-three pick. The quality of the players you'll snag in Rounds 2 and 3 is ridiculous — almost unfair. On Friday night, I watched helplessly as a dude in a 10-team league grabbed Peterson at the top, then Randall Cobb and Jeremy Hill at the R2/R3 turn. This particular drafter will eventually find a way to not win our league, per his usual. But it's still an insane starting position.
15. Your draft, no matter how stellar it is — no matter which letter-grade we give you — is just the beginning. There's still work to do, friends. Stay active. Make trades. Add and drop and add and drop. It's just incredibly common for the players who become the most valuable fantasy assets in the game to be mid-season waiver pickups — this was true of Randall Cunningham in '98, and it was the case with Odell Beckham and C.J. Anderson in 2015. You can't reasonably expect your draft-day roster to be identical to your title-winning roster. Fantasy is a game, and it's meant to be actively played.
Take a post-draft victory lap if you like, but then it's back to work.
Carlos Gonzalez, OF, vs. SF (Peavy), $23: He has 23 homers over his 41 games, which is pretty much unheard of. Gonzalez is at home Saturday and has been the No. 1 fantasy hitter since the start of July, so I can’t see not using him no matter the price (and he’s not even the most expensive hitter on the slate). It’s tough to ask him to keep up this pace (CarGo has five homers and 12 RBI over his last three games), but it would be a Gambler’s Fallacy to fade him right now.
Gio Gonzalez, SP, vs. Atl (Miller), $42: His K rate has fallen dramatically this season compared to the last three years, but Gonzalez owns a 3.32 ERA at home and is facing an Atlanta team that’s scored by far the fewest runs in baseball. As a result, the Nationals are the second biggest favorites (-205) on the board Saturday.
Lance McCullers, SP, vs. Min (Santana), $36: The rookie has a 1.65 ERA and 1.00 WHIP with 48 strikeouts over 49.0 innings at home this season. His 10.1 SwStr% suggests this is a legit starter in the making, and the price is relatively cheap here considering the Astros are heavy favorites (-185).
John Jaso, C, at NYY (Eovaldi), $11: He mostly plays DH, which makes him one of the safer catchers to start, especially on a day when many games are early. Jaso owns a .373 OBP on the year and will be hitting in a park Saturday that’s boosted home runs by 29% for LHB over the last three seasons, which is an American League high.
Darin Ruf, 1B, at Bos (Miley), $7: He’s hitting .377/.438/.623 against southpaws this season and is the cheapest first baseman on the board Saturday.
Kelby Tomlinson, 2B, at Col (Bettis), $7: I don’t buy into Tomlinson’s .316 BA or .381 OBP as even close to sustainable, but as the cheapest second baseman playing in Coors Field, he looks like a bargain.
Alex Rodriguez, 3B, vs. TB (Moore), $13: He has a 1.016 OPS against lefties and has had success against Matt Moore during his brief career against him. For someone with 27 homers, 72 runs scored and 75 RBI, this price tag seems cheap at a not deep position.
Troy Tulowitzki, SS, vs. Bal (Wright), $17: He’s continued to struggle since joining Toronto, but he’s still relatively priced here considering how thin shortstop is, and Tulowitzki is hitting in MLB’s best lineup while facing a pitcher who owns a career 4.99 ERA.
Charlie Blackmon, OF, vs. SF (Peavy), $18: He has the platoon advantage, is hitting in Coors Field and isn’t a top-10 priced outfielder.
Mike Trout, OF, vs. Tex (Holland), $21: He hasn’t been his usual self since the end of July, but Trout has picked it up of late and has had a lot of success when facing Derek Holland throughout his career, if you’re into BvP. Going cheap at other positions allows us to load up in the outfield here (CarGo, Blackmon and Trout), which gives pretty good upside.
On Friday's Freak Show, Liz Loza, Scott Pianowski and Dalton Del Don talk the Cleveland backfield, the Green Bay WR corps and late running back fliers. We also discuss Marcus Mariota vs. Jameis Winston and answer your Twitter questions.
It's deGrom day everyone, and I'm expecting him to earn his $58. Here's a look at how I'm sketching in my roster around him...
Carlos Martinez, P, vs. Pit (Happ), $40: Martinez is rested, he's at home, and he's opposed by J.A. Happ. It's an ideal set-up, and the price is right. I'm expecting six frames, six Ks and a win, per his usual. The Cards are a serious favorite (-150), if you care about such things.
James Loney, 1B, at NYY (Severino), $11: OK, I'll concede that Severino is tough. But Loney is available at such a friendly price, he's facing a righty and he's been a monster in this ballpark. Check his career numbers at Yankee Stadium: 45-for-112, 4 HR, .402/.438/.563. If you're looking for a bargain bat with profit potential,
Jonathan Schoop, 2B, at Tor (Hutchison), $12: As most of you know, Hutchison has been plenty hittable so far this season, despite the eye-popping W/L record (13-2). Schoop has done nearly all his damage against right-handers (.329/.354/.593), and he's homered previously against Hutchison.
Mookie Betts, vs. Phi (Morgan), $12: RHBs haven't had much trouble with Morgan (.277/.321/.519, 12 HRs), and Mookie has at least one hit in 17 of his last 18 games. Honestly, I'm not sure I can explain this price, but I'll take it. Our friends at Inside Edge would take it, too...
Betts is slugging .571 and hitting .400 (14-for-35) against lefties who generate a lot of flyballs like Morgan in the last two seasons.
Jason Bourgeois, OF, vs. Mil (Garza), $10: Bourgeois has three multi-hit games in his last five, he's leading off for the Reds, and he's facing a pitcher who's allowed 27 hits and 19 earned runs over his last three starts. At $10, he's an easy start. He's 3-for-3 against Garza, for what it's worth.
Assorted Reds, all positions, vs. Mil (Garza), various prices: Jay Bruce ($17) is 11-for-30 in his career against Garza with three homers and four doubles. Joey Votto ($22) is 8-for-27 with one bomb, Todd Frazier ($18) is 6-for-19 with three home runs, Brandon Phillips ($16) is 8-for-27 with five walks and ... well, you get the idea. Garza is not invincible, it turns out.
Yadier Molina, C, vs. Pit (Happ), $14: Molina is coming off a rare off-day, and he's basically owned Happ in the past (6-for-15, double, HR, 2 BB). He's also reached base twice in each of his last four games.
Charlie Blackmon, vs. SF (Heston), $19: Heston walked more batters (13) than he K'd (12) in August, posting a 5.79 ERA for the month. Blackmon has hit him hard in the past (5-for-9, 2 HR) and he's surging in recent days, going 12-for-28 with four extra-base hits and two steals over his last six games. You know you want a piece of the Coors Field action; Blackmon is my best bet to post a big number.
This is what I wanted to do: build a Daily Fantasy Lineup with all of my hitters from the Coors Field special between the Giants (hiya, Rusin) and the Rockies (we’ll get you, Vogelsong). The game total is set for 11 runs, well ahead of everything on the Thursday card.
I couldn’t get Buster Posey or Nolan Arenado into the mix, but I did get eight hitters I like, plus two pitchers I can live with.
Who’s with me? Here are the starters; we'll defend them below.
The beauty of the San Francisco side of the stack is that it doesn’t even cost that much. Pagan and Tomlinson are the 1-2 hitters and go for a collective $21. We have to accept Juan Perez at $7 just to make the salaries fit, and Posey and Marlon Byrd were an eyelash out of the price range. But we also get Matt Duffy hitting third ($17), and three key pieces of the Colorado offense (Hundley, Paulsen, Cargo). There’s a lot of platoon advantage in our Great Eight – only Hundley doesn’t enjoy it Thursday night.
Taylor Jungmann ($45) is a reasonable play at home, even against the playoff-bound Pirates. Jungmann carries a 1.50 ERA in front of Bernie Brewer, he’s been murder on right-handed batters (Pittsburgh’s lineup is RHB heavy), and he won’t be facing Andrew McCutchen here.
Mat Latos ($38) isn't my favorite option, but he's working in a big park (at San Diego) and drawing a weak opponent (Colin Rea). If you want all that Colorado offense, you have to take some chances elsewhere. The Dodgers also check in as -142 favorites.
Well, that didn't take long.
Soon after a judge overturned Tom Brady's four-game deflate-gate suspension, the Internet went to work creating memes signifying the ruling. Enjoy the hilarity.
I declare this day meme Christmas— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) September 3, 2015
HEY RAWDJAH pic.twitter.com/r3hsQDrRi1— Mike Tunison (@xmasape) September 3, 2015
Jimmy Garoppolo be like: pic.twitter.com/tuOYPyQN2a— Richard Shermans Ego (@NotShermanLOB) September 3, 2015
Goodell be like pic.twitter.com/Yhs9eihxhk— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) September 3, 2015
After his court victory, Tom Brady be like: pic.twitter.com/caXjhYWJlj— Bipartisan Sports (@BipartisanSport) September 3, 2015
Tom Brady out here like https://t.co/WHxTJrm2BJ— Golden Tate (@ShowtimeTate) September 3, 2015
And, while it's not a meme, today would be incomplete without a word from Donald Trump:
Congratulations to Tom Brady on yet another great victory- Tom is my friend and a total winner!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2015
The DeflateGate saga has mercifully written its final chapter. No more talk of PSIs. No more endless, ridiculous spins. And no more unflattering Tom Brady courtroom sketches. First reported by Adam Schefter, the QB's four-game suspension was nullified Thursday.
It's over (We sincerely hope).
Praise the football gods.
And for those entering the stretch run of fantasy draft season, the ruling couldn't have come at a better time.
Over the past month, Brady was found on the discount rack. Going around pick No. 85 according Fantasy Football Calculator, he was a borderline QB1 with an obvious glaring flaw. If his four-game absence was upheld, he would've missed 30 percent of the fantasy regular season. Because replacement value at QB is easy to find in this air-heavy age, those who exercised patience at the position paired the two-time MVP with noteworthy fill-ins Sam Bradford, Carson Palmer and the Pats backup, Jimmy Garoppolo. In light of the overturn, however, taking out an insurance policy is no longer needed. Expect his stock to rise some 15-20 picks.
Will he be worth it?
Most believe Brady will unleash hell on the league, similar to what he did in wake of SpyGate. For a 38-year-old QB likely entering the penultimate phase of his career, that viewpoint, however, is a dangerous assumption. He doesn't have Randy Moss this time around, though the wide receiver could certainly be coaxed out of retirement. Also, recall last year, Mr. Bundchen stumbled out of the gate. Over New England's first four games, he averaged 197.8 passing yards per game and notched an uneventful 4:2 TD:INT split, an output which ranked him NO. 37 during that span. The face-plant immediately prompted "Is this the end?" questions.
But Brady quickly righted the ship.
From Weeks 5-12 he was the No. 3 among fantasy QBs, totaling just over 30 fantasy points per game in standard settings. Though he rebounded quickly, he wrapped up the regular season on a sour note, ranking outside the top-15 over the final five weeks.
Point blank, there are no guarantees Brady, possibly sans Brandon LaFell and Julian Edelman to start 2015, will nuke defenses this year, even with a healthy Rob Gronkowski (Side note: He's worth every penny in Round 1 with Brady under center). To be fair, three of his first four matchups (vs. Pit, vs. Jax, at Dal, at Ind) are very favorable. However, if he starts of strong, I would recommend selling high. I still feel Tony Romo, Ryan Tannehill, and Teddy Bridgewater are better, cheaper options over the long haul. A 4,100-yard, 30-TD campaign, which feels like a fair projection, would place him in the QB10-QB12 range.
Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise.
Last year’s rookie class was brimming with talent. Accordingly, fantasy footballers were treated to a smorgasbord of both capability and bankability. Could it be that we were a tad spoiled?
While the regular season is still a week away, this year’s crop of rookies seems to have underwhelmed. Below I breakdown this past spring's top ten drafted offensive skill position players and their fantasy relevance moving forward.
Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccanners
Lauded for his football IQ and confident swagger, Winston easily caught the eye of a franchise desperate for aptitude under center. Handed a buffet of talent even more drool-worthy than a platter of crab legs, the Florida State product was expected to lead the Bucs to respectability. Fans of the virtual game hoped that the seemingly fearless passer would elevate the offense, giving both receivers and the team’s hyper-athletic tight end a boost in value.
While Winston showed well in the spring, he’s been up and down throughout the preseason. Over three exhibition outings, the rookie has averaged a 48.9 completion percentage. To be fair, his offensive line isn’t doing him any favors, but he’ll need to work on his accuracy in order to become a more consistent passer. His value in redraft leagues is nil, though given an enviable strength of schedule, he could be a match-up dependent daily play.
The assumption that Winston could step in and immediately solve all of Tampa Bay’s problems is laughably far fetched. It’s going to take time for the young signal caller to find a rhythm, which could lead to a slight regression in Mike Evans’ numbers, and limit Austin Seferian-Jenkins’ breakout appeal.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans
A polar opposite of the aforementioned Winston, Mariota fell to the Titans who scooped him up with the second overall pick of the 2015 draft. Considered by some to be a system quarterback whose humility raised questions about his competitiveness, the former Duck has impressed critics with his resilience and accuracy throughout the preseason.
Concern over Coach Whisenhunt’s ability to utilize Mariota’s skill set appears to have quelled. Over the past three weeks, the rookie has completed 19 of 27 passes, demonstrating poise and composure well beyond his years. Unfortunately, Mariota’s fantasy potential is capped by a dirth of surrounding talent. A middle of the pack QB2 whose mobility offers owners increased upside, Mariota is currently only draftable in dynasty and superflex formats.
Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders
Thought to be the most NFL-ready receiver in this year’s draft class, Oakland jumped at the chance to provide QB Derek Carr with a legitimate weapon in the passing game. Cooper may not possess elite size or speed, but he is dependable and polished enough to transition to the pro level with relative ease.
A clear focal point of the Raiders offense, Cooper was targeted a team high fifteen times thus far throughout the preseason. He’s hauled in eight grabs for 124 yards in that time. A precise route runner and slippery after the catch, Cooper is the safest fantasy play in this year’s crop of rookies. He projects to be a ball hog, and to be particularly valuable in PPR formats. Currently the nineteenth wideout off the board according to FF Calculator, Cooper presents WR2 value and is fairly priced in the middle of the fourth round.
Kevin White, WR, Chicago Bears
Coming off of a buzzy senior year, White was one of the most intriguing prospects in this year’s draft. Selected by the Bears with the seventh overall pick, the charismatic rookie was expected fill the void left by Brandon Marshall’s departure.
However, White’s season ended before it could even begin. Sidelined with shin splints since June, the rookie underwent surgery for the ailment and has been placed on the team’s Physically Unable to Perform list. He’ll be ineligible to play until Week 6 of the regular season.
Even if the 6-foot-3 and 215 pound specimen were able to return mid-season, the chances of him producing are slim. The reps and familiarity with the playbook that the preseason provides are absolutely necessary for a talent as raw as White’s. There are too many question marks and red flags surrounding this situation to waste a roster spot on the West Virginia product. Instead, I’d recommend scooping up Eddie Royal who is a fantastic PPR value in the seventh or eighth rounds.
Todd Gurley, RB, Saint Louis Rams
Heralded by draftniks as the second coming of Adrian Peterson, Gurley had a monstrous college career. Unfortunately, he also tore his ACL in November of 2014. An undeterred Rams organization snatched up the big bodied back anyway, making him the first RB off the board.
Still ten months removed from knee surgery, Gurley has been practicing with the team on a limited basis. He’s expected to sit out the first few weeks of the season, perhaps not seeing the field until after the squad’s Week 6 bye. Gurley’s exact usage is unknown, but assuming that he continues to progress, the power back could conceivably carry the rock 15 to 18 times per outing.
Operating behind a shoddy offensive line and in a stout division, Gurley will have his work cut out for him. Additionally, second year back Tre Mason will be available to spell the coveted rookie. Recent ADP data illustrates a slight reduction in Gurley’s price, suggesting that he could be available in the middle of the fifth round. While I personally don’t like carrying a player that can’t start Week 1, Gurley’s value at that spot is tempting… as long as he’s slotted behind an already selected RB1 and RB2.
DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins
Gifted with monk-like focus and honey-slathered hands, Parker was a solid value for the Dolphins as the fourteenth overall pick. Added to a receiving corps full of new blood, Parker was a prospect to watch as he blended into the Fins’ offense. Surgery to repair a screw in his left foot, however, stunted the rookie’s transition.
Reports out of Miami suggest that the Louisville product will be ready to take the field in the season opener at Washington. While that’s certainly positive news, Parker is a player whose route running is far from crisp. In addition, his QB has a reputation for whiffing on deep balls.
Still, I like Parker’s chances to heat up as the season progresses. Currently the fiftieth WR off the board, Parker has immense upside late in drafts. Even on a crowded roster, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him emerge and fill the Mike Wallace role in this offense. I see him catching in the neighborhood of 55 balls for 750 yards and six TDs.
Melvin Gordon, RB, San Diego Chargers
The Wisconsin standout’s fantasy stock spiked after being targeted by the Chargers. A consistent producer known for his tall frame and long strides, the rookie back was expected to fill the void left by Ryan Mathews. The incumbent to a large volume of touches, Gordon possesses top 20 fantasy appeal.
The preseason, however, has not been kind to the youngster. Working behind a shaky offensive line, Gordon has appeared flummoxed and timid. Additionally, his pass catching abilities have paled in comparison to those of veteran pinball Danny Woodhead’s. He’s still likely to lead the Bolts’ backfield on early downs, but his upside as an every down back has been capped. Overpriced in the fourth round, Gordon is a player to eschew.
Nelson Agholor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
A sharp route-runner with the versatility to play both outside and in the slot, Agholor comps similarly to Jeremy Maclin. Unsurprisingly he caught the eye of Chip Kelly and is now expected to line up as the Eagles’ No. 2 receiver.
While the USC product has had to compete with the likes of Josh Huff and Riley Cooper, he’s flashed an impressive amount of quickness and burst. Over three preseason outings the rookie has amassed a 9-117-1 stat line, which is eight balls, 105 yards, and a score better than Huff.
He’s likely to produce immediately and could come in second behind Amari Cooper for rookie standout honors. His current fifth round draft price is a bit bloated, but if you can get him a round or two later he’s a solid steal. I’m forecasting 65 receptions, 800 yards, and 7 TDs for the Trojan.
Breshad Perriman, WR, Baltimore Ravens
Perriman is the embodiment of a paradox. He’s been gifted with covetable size and speed… and the hands of a clumsy teenager. The bounty of his physical tools make his lack of focus all the more infuriating.
Assumedly drafted by the Ravens to take over Torrey Smith’s role in the offense, Perriman has the chance to ascend quickly. But after spraining his knee on the first day of training camp, the rookie has missed valuable time learning a pro offense. A raw route-runner to begin with, Perriman’s appeal has tarnished, especially considering that no timetable has been announced for his return.
He’s a fine flyer in best ball formats, but I’d recommend avoiding him in redraft. Rather than hoping for some sort of inconsistent boom from the Central Florida product, owners would be better advised to nab a guy like Brandon Coleman or Ty Montgomery late in drafts.
Phillip Dorsett, WR, Indianapolis Colts
The Colts clearly have a fondness for smaller sized speedsters. Both Dorsett and Indy’s No. 1 WR T.Y. Hilton boast similar statures and 40 times. Though it’s worth noting that Dorsett is an inch taller and a hair faster.
A standout in camp, Dorsett figures to be Hilton’s backup. Reports indicate that he’s also outplayed the wildly athletic Donte Moncrief, pushing the second year player for third receiver duties. A deep sleeper being drafted in the final rounds, Dorsett has oodles of exciting upside. He’s absolutely worth a grab and stash pick.
Julio Jones finishes as the No. 1 fantasy wide receiver, going for 1,750 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Todd Gurley is a top-five fantasy back over the final eight weeks of the season.
Sam Bradford stays healthy and is a top-10 fantasy quarterback.
After scoring twice (in the first half) in Week 1 against Dallas last year, Vernon Davis didn’t see a single target in the red zone the rest of the season, finishing with just one (for reference someone named Jack Doyle saw eight). Davis has twice scored 13 touchdowns during his career, with the latest as recent as 2013. He rebounds and is a top-10 fantasy tight end in 2015.
Ben Watson has more fantasy points than Josh Hill.
Terrance Williams’ eight touchdowns on 37 receptions last year is surely unsustainable, but he got 9.6 YPT (the same as Dez Bryant and more than Antonio Brown), and the Cowboys should have to pass more with an uncertain RB situation. He’d immediately become a top-15 fantasy WR if Bryant were to get hurt. Williams is one of the best late round WR fliers. Go get him.
Dan Herron becomes a top-10 fantasy back for multiple weeks and is one of the players owners spend most of their FAAB on this season.
Hot take alert: Trent Richardson never takes another snap in the NFL.
Cameron Artis-Payne becomes fantasy relevant, with owners rushing to their waiver wire for him at some point.
LeSean McCoy goes down as the biggest fantasy bust among those commonly drafted in the top-two rounds, and while Buffalo’s defense is dominant, no skill position player ranks in the top-25 at their position, although Tyrod Taylor comes close thanks to his rushing stats.
Jeremy Hill finishes with more fantasy value than Marshawn Lynch.
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J.J. Watt is obviously the best real life defensive player, but in IDP, Lavonte David, Luke Kuechly, Navorro Bowman and Khalil Mack are the players who most help win your league. Mack should cost the least among those and looks like an absolute beast in the making.
Alfred Blue goes down as a wasted pick for owners who draft him, while DeAndre Hopkins finishes as a top-10 fantasy wide receiver.
Stevie Johnson finishes with more fantasy points than Keenan Allen. Melvin Gordon disappoints those who draft him, as Doug Martin ends up with more fantasy value.
Breshad Perriman finishes with more fantasy points than Steve Smith. (But please no one tell Smith I said this)
Despite Derek Carr holding him back, Amari Cooper still ends up being a top-15 fantasy wideout. He’s the real deal.
John Brown has the most fantasy points among all Cardinals wide receivers, although his upside is stunted by Carson Palmer getting hurt again.
Brian Quick finishes as a top-30 fantasy wide receiver despite Nick Foles’ incompetence. Quick proves to be the best late round WR flier.
Colin Kaepernick scores more fantasy points than Ryan Tannehill. (I have to get a henna tattoo on my lower back if not).
Tony Romo finishes top-three in MVP voting, and the Cowboys make the NFC Championship game at worst.
Police Blotter: Elderly Man Mistaken For Homeless Kidnapped, Forced To Eat...Man Stopped For ‘Making Eye Contact’ With Cop In Ohio...Confronted By Cops, Man Swings Dog At Them...Cops Bust Drone Delivery Of Porn DVDs, Drugs To Prison...Man Busted For Tampering With Traffic Cameras After Posting YouTube Video About It...Man Avoids Impaired Driving Checkpoint, Leads Police On Chase.
Rumors of Calvin Johnson’s demise are greatly exaggerated, as he goes off for 1,500 yards and 12 scores.
Ty Montgomery costs a major FAAB bid at some point this season, as he proves to be a far more valuable commodity than Victor Cruz.
Travis Kelce finishes as the No. 2 fantasy tight end, behind only the national treasure that is Rob Gronkowski.
Derek Carrier finishes with more fantasy value than teammate Jordan Reed, who once again succumbs to injury.
After somehow totaling 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns last year despite never seeing 20 carries in a game, Lamar Miller finally is a top-10 fantasy back.
Shane Vereen scores the most fantasy points among all Giants backs in PPR leagues.
Tevin Coleman finishes comfortably ahead of Devonta Freeman in fantasy value.
Brandin Cooks leads the NFL in receptions, while Jordan Matthews is equally a monster, as both finish as top-10 fantasy wide receivers (and if you think I’m putting too many WRs in my top-10, I’ll take one out here. Demaryius Thomas doesn’t finish as a top-10 wideout thanks to a Peyton Manning injury).
Song of the Week: Chvrches – Never Ending Circles
Vincent Jackson’s fantasy value is a lot closer to Mike Evans’ than the owners of the latter expect.
Alfred Morris, who doesn’t catch passes and has seen his YPC drop every year in the league and no longer has the benefit of a mobile QB, isn’t a top-30 fantasy RB.
Teddy Bridgewater is a top-15 fantasy QB, as the Vikings are serious threats to make the playoffs.
Longread of the Week: Why Is It So Hard For Wrongfully Convicted Women To Get Justice?
Davante Adams is a monster without Jordy Nelson and goes down as the best value pick among all wide receivers. He’s worth looking at as soon as the third round.
Andrew Luck wins the MVP, Marcus Mariota wins Offensive ROY, J.J. Watt wins DPOY (of course), and the Packers beat the Colts in the Super Bowl.
With preseason play nearing its end, I've asked the Yahoo fanalysts to identify which players did the most to sway their opinions (positively and negatively) from where they were initially valued before training camps got underway. I will kick this exercise off with a player that, while he seriously damaged his value in the fantasy court of public opinion, I can't help but keep moving up my WR draft board.
Jeremy Maclin, KC, WR - I saw very bad things ahead for Maclin when he chose a penthouse-to-outhouse move from Philly to KC in the offseason. After all, Chiefs QB Alex Smith has been death to WR fantasy value during his career, and Maclin's downfield talents don't mesh well with Smith's check down leanings. But what I've seen of Maclin this preseason is something I wasn't expecting - Maclin changing into more of a possession type receiver, moving around and working within Smith's wheelhouse range. Credit Andy Reid for knowing that he could turn Maclin into a square peg instead of trying to deal with a circle that didn't fit the system. (Brandon Funston)
Brandon Marshall, NYJ, WR: Leading the Jets’ receiving corps in targets throughout the preseason, Marshall looks rejuvenated and ready to bounce back from a down year. He’s a fantastic value in the fifth round. (Liz Loza)
Chris Ivory, NYJ, RB: He’s never surpassed 200 carries in a single season and has 25 catches in 55 career games, but without much competition he should exceed 250 total touches with ease. In a better offensive situation than most believe, the violent, downhill runner is a strong candidate to bull his way to 1,200 combined yards with 6-8 touchdowns. Once ranked outside my RB top-24, he now firmly sits at the RB2 table. (Brad Evans)
Bishop Sankey, Ten, RB: Sankey remains in line to receive a healthy share of the workload in a not-totally-zombified offense, so he's not such a bad late-round dice roll. I don't trust him, obviously, but I can tolerate him after Pick No. 100. (Andy Behrens)
Doug Martin, TB, RB: Don't laugh off the "best shape of his life" theme, as sometimes it has legs. Exhibit A, Doug Martin. He came to Tampa Bay's camp slimmed down and eager to prove a point, and maybe earn a big contract for 2016 and beyond. He's been snappy in preseason action (almost 6.0 YPC) and has moved significantly up my board. (Scott Pianowski)
C.J. Anderson, Den, RB: There’s some recent buzz about Ronnie Hillman, but Anderson has impressed throughout August and has moved into the first round of my rankings as someone who should be the clear lead back in one of the NFL’s best offenses. (Dalton Del Don).
Joseph Randle, Dal, RB: I don't think any RB has fallen further in my rankings than Randle, who I once had as high as 15th but have dropped to the bottom end of my top 30. Despite reports to the contrary, I didn't view Darren McFadden as a serious threat to Randle's lead chair, and apparently Randle didn't either. With Randle failing to impress in August, talk is now that Run-DMC could end up at top of what now clearly looks like an unavoidable platoon situation. I love the O-line here, but I'm not sure the RB to own in Dallas is even on the roster yet. No matter to me, though, as I'm now as hands off on this situation as one fantasy owner can be. (Brandon Funston)
T.J. Yeldon, Jac, RB: In his first and only preseason action, Yeldon carried the ball eight times for a mere 10 yards. He looked sluggish and far from gritty. The volume might be there, but the tape is going to be ugly. (Liz Loza)
DeSean Jackson, Was, WR: The somewhat predictable demise of RGIII is a positive in some ways. Kirk Cousins posted a 48.0 accuracy percentage on throws beyond 20 yards last year, the seventh-best mark in the league. However, Washington’s ghostly offensive line is a major drawback, particularly for deep-threat Jackson. Pocket time is critical for the wideout to thrive. I have faith in Cousins, just not the players protecting him. Expect a wildly erratic season from D-Jax. (Brad Evans)
Josh Hill, NO, TE: As much as I appreciate Hill's team context and his skills, he's pretty clearly behind Ben Watson in the positional hierarchy. That hurts. I still think Hill can snag 6-7 scores, but they'll be awfully tough to predict along the way. (Andy Behrens)
Melvin Gordon, SD, RB: I wasn't sure how I felt about Melvin Gordon two months ago, but now the jury is in: I don't want him. He's been slow and deliberate on running attempts - struggling to pick up the speed of the pro game - and has also floundered in pass protection. Keep in mind, Gordon caught just 22 passes at Wisconsin. Danny Woodhead is healthy again and a superb third-down back; I won't be surprised if Gordon doesn't even lead the San Diego runners in fantasy points this fall. (Scott Pianowski)
DeMarco Murray, Phi, RB: I remained high on him despite coming off last season’s big workload, but it’s becoming increasingly clear he’s going to be in something of a committee in Philly, so I’ve dropped him about a round from my original ranking. (Dalton Del Don)
If you're new to the Shuffle Up series, welcome aboard. Let's settle on the general rules, then get you some prices.
The first thing to know: the dollar values are unscientific in nature. I'm just looking for a way to compare the players to one another, in a manner that's easily digested. You might need to bid more on these guys to land them in an auction; maybe you can get them for less. Season to taste. Adjust to your league.
Players at the same price are considered even. And these prices aren't necessarily meant to be compared to players at other shuffle positions. Each positional shuffle is its own entity.
Assume a half-point PPR format, a compromise between standard formats and full-fledged PPR.
Remember the golden rule: no one gains or loses value simply because you roster them (or choose not to roster them). Sure, you'll have disagreements, that's why we have a game. Your respectful and thoughtful disagreement is welcome in the comments.
$43 Antonio Brown
$42 Julio Jones
$42 Dez Bryant
$40 Demaryius Thomas
$39 Odell Beckham
$37 A.J. Green
$37 Calvin Johnson
Some pundits are dinging Julio Jones as an injury-prone player, and I think that’s unfair, and misguided. Okay, he busted his foot in 2013 and missed 11 games, that wasn’t fun. Otherwise, he’s played 44 out of 48 games in the NFL, and that rate is acceptable for any non-QB you draft in 2015.
Jones only scored six times despite heavy volume last year, which feels fluky. He had 18 spikes in his first two pro seasons, when he was still figuring out the game.
New OC Kyle Shanahan loves to force-feed his top targets: Andre Johnson, Pierre Garcon, and Santana Moss all thrived in his system. And the Falcons might not have much choice, what with Roddy White getting close to a cliff age and no tight end of note. It sounds funny when a receiver comes off a 1,593-yard season, but I don’t think we’ve seen Julio’s best campaign yet. And with a spotty defense and perhaps a questionable running game in Atlanta, I expect Matt Ryan to uncork a ton of pass attempts this fall – many in No. 11’s direction.
You can take Jones at any slot in the first round and I'll just nod and say "I'm really glad you have him."
$35 Randall Cobb
$33 Mike Evans
$32 T.Y. Hilton
$30 Emmanuel Sanders
$30 Alshon Jeffery
$28 DeAndre Hopkins
$28 Brandin Cooks
$24 Jordan Matthews
$23 Keenan Allen
$22 Andre Johnson
$22 Jeremy Maclin
$22 Golden Tate
$21 Julian Edelman
$21 Brandon Marshall
$20 Davante Adams
I've been making the pro-Maclin case everywhere I can: on Twitter, on blog, on various podcasts. Maybe you're tired of hearing it, but at least you know how I feel. I also have a ton of Maclin shares on various teams, putting him near the top of the Wallet list. You can't say I didn't let you know far in advance; the drum beat started in mid-July.
I don't think Dwayne Bowe (and Donnie Avery) received enough blame for the KC receiver bagel last year, and I think Alex Smith and Andy Reid received too much blame. Maclin's obviously far more talented than those other wideouts, and he's flashed in the preseason, in part because Reid is scheming like crazy to get Maclin the ball. Two touchdowns have already gone on the board, but I'm more excited about the diversity of Maclin's touches, the creativity Reid is using with his best target. And keep in mind Maclin and Reid were together in Philadelphia, so they already have a connection and working relationship.
It's too convenient to scream "regression!" and walk out of the room. No, I'm not expecting Maclin to match his 2014 haul, either. But a heavy amount of regression seems baked into his ADP, and I think it's gone too far. You might get Maclin as your third or (egads) fourth wideout this year, but I see a player likely to be a set-and-forget option this fall, a solid WR2. Look closer, look deeper. The Chiefs know what they have here, and they're going to make sure he's used consistently. You might get around 1,000 yards and 7-9 touchdowns, and at a giveaway price.
$19 Sammy Watkins
$18 DeSean Jackson
$17 Amari Cooper
$16 Allen Robinson
$15 Jarvis Landry
$15 Vincent Jackson
$14 Eric Decker
$13 Charles Johnson
$13 Larry Fitzgerald
As much as I love Brown in Arizona this year - T.Y. Hilton 2.0? - I have to give Fitzgerald a tiny edge if I'm allowed to take any receiver here at a static cost. Floyd is the one player I don't trust, wondering how badly he truly wants to be an impact player in this league . . . No one questions Cooper's ability, but how much will the strench in Oakland hold him back? Do you believe in Derek Carr? . . . I had no problem giving Robinson a lofty price, as I expect Blake Bortles will be one of the most improved players in the league this year . . . Decker is one of those boring veterans who should have an easy time outearning what he costs. You can take him much lower than where I've slotted him . . . My Adams price is mostly faith in Rodgers; I didn't like Adams's tape from last year. But he'll need to play, the Packers don't have much choice . . . Johnson has become a little trendy in Minnesota, but I still used a sixth-round pick (74th overall) in the Friends & Family League. The key: he's my fourth receiver. More than any year I can remember, it's critical to be deep at this position.
$12 Roddy White
$12 John Brown
$12 Anquan Boldin
$11 Mike Wallace
$11 Nelson Agholor
$11 Steve Smith
$10 Torrey Smith
$9 Pierre Garcon
$9 Marques Colston
$8 Martavis Bryant
$8 Michael Floyd
$7 Steve Johnson
$7 Eddie Royal
$7 Devin Funchess
$7 Kendall Wright
$6 Terrance Williams
$6 Brandon LaFell
$6 Brian Quick
$5 Marvin Jones
$5 Markus Wheaton
$5 Devante Parker
$4 Victor Cruz
$4 Phillip Dorsett
$4 Leonard Hankerson
$4 Rueben Randle
Hankerson is one of my favorite late-round guys - we know White has injury concerns and the Falcons don't have great tight ends . . . I try not to go out of my way to meet injury concerns in my August drafts, unless I love the payoff. A bunch of your players will go on to get hurt, anwyay. I'm running far away from Cruz this summer . . . Marvin Jones had 10 touchdowns back in 2013 and Andy Dalton is one of those "so overrated, he's actually underrated" players. He might not be a franchsie quarterback, but he's not *that* bad . . . I expect the Dallas passing game volume to rise significantly, with Murray out of town. No way Dallas ranks 31st in pass attempts this year. Williams, Beasley, even Jason Witten, they're all legitimate sleeper targets for me. And Tony Romo is my favorite middle-round quarterback . . . The Panthers badly need a target and Funchess looks the part in uniform, but he's missed too much critical summer work for me to consider him a go-get player. If the price doesn't like up, I won't be purchasing . . . Wright could be an interesting PPR sleeper if the Titans have capable quarterback play, for once. Marcus Mariota impressed me all preseason. I think he'll be better than Jameis Winston, for both 2015 and long-term.
$3 Brandon Coleman
$3 Kenny Britt
$3 Allen Hurns
$3 Michael Crabtree
$3 Breshad Perriman
$3 Kenny Stills
$3 Doug Baldwin
$2 Marquess Wilson
$2 Donte Moncrief
$2 Philly Brown
$2 Harry Douglas
$2 Cecil Shorts
$2 Cole Beasley
$2 Dorial Green-Beckham
$2 Malcom Floyd
$1 Andre Roberts
$1 Marqise Lee
$1 Jarius Wright
$1 Jaelen Strong
$1 Nate Washington
$1 Albert Wilson
$1 Robert Woods
$1 Jerricho Cotchery
$1 Taylor Gabriel
$1 Reggie Wayne
$1 Jeff Janis
$1 Kamar Aiken
$1 Brian Hartline
$1 Tyler Lockett
$1 Greg Jennings
$1 Andrew Hawkins
$1 Ty Montgomery
$1 Percy Harvin
$1 Cody Latimer
$1 Dwayne Bowe
$0 Stedman Bailey
$0 Mohamed Sanu
$0 Kevin White
A shame the Colts can't move some of their wideout surplus to another team. Moncrief could be a star on the Packers or Panthers . . . I wanted to see Latimer have a big step forward in his second camp, but it sounds like he's been a diappointment again . . . I loved Lee at USC, but apparently he's a step slow for this level, not to mention constantly hurt . . . Jennings has turned in a solid career, but the deep Dolphins don't have to make him a featured target in 2015 . . . Wayne might be a borderline Hall of Famer, but I'd be stunned if he caught more than 50 passes. Alas, his signing tells us the Patriots must be worried about Brandon LaFell.
Matt Harvey, SP, vs. Phi (Nola), $56: He hasn’t allowed more than two runs in any of his last eight starts, including a 0.52 ERA over his last five outings, with a 33:2 K:BB ratio over 34.2 innings. The Mets are also by far the biggest favorite of the day (-250), so Harvey seems worthy of paying his price tag, especially with no obvious cheap options at SP on Wednesday.
R.A. Dickey, SP, vs. Cle (Bauer), $41: He has a 3.36 ERA and 1.13 WHIP at home this season and is backed by an offense that’s scored nearly 100 more runs than the next closest team. Toronto is -175 favorites Wednesday, yet Dickey remains moderately priced.
Yasmani Grandal, C, vs. SF (Leake), $13: He has one hit over his last 11 games, but Grandal has 15 homers over 257 at bats against right-handed pitchers this season.
Ben Paulsen, 1B, vs. Ari (Anderson), $15: He’s hitting .289/.340/.508 against RHP this year and will be playing in Coors Field.
Chris Owings, 2B, at Col (Gray), $11: Basically punting here, but Owings does have six hits (and a walk) over his past three games, and he’ll be hitting in Coors Field.
Alex Rodriguez, 3B, at Bos (Owens), $17: He has a 1.032 OPS against southpaws this season and will be playing in a terrific hitter’s park.
Wilmer Flores, SS, vs. Phi (Nola), $9: Another look at a bargain basement value after going big at starting pitching, Flores is no guarantee to be in Wednesday’s lineup, but this is a shortstop with a 51-14-58 line over just 118 games played.
Torii Hunter, OF, vs. CWS (Rodon), $11: He has the platoon advantage and is facing a pitcher in Carlos Rodon who’s allowed a 1.71 WHIP to RHB this season.
Yasmany Tomas, OF, at Col (Gray), $12: The over/under on this game is a whopping 11, as Coors Field remains by far the best hitter’s park in all of baseball.
Michael Conforto, OF, vs. Phi (Nola), $15: The rookie has a .299/.396/.558 line against right-handed pitchers this season.
Chris Sale, SP, at MIN (Duffey), $65: His ERA isn’t pretty against the Twins this year, but maybe there’s a lot of noise in that: he still has 32 strikeouts and just five walks against Minnesota, covering 23.2 innings. Positive regression is in order.
Scott Feldman, SP, vs. SEA (Elias), $33: After emptying the wallet for Sale, I need to go cheaper with the second pitcher (especially with a Colorado game in play). Feldman’s profile is ordinary, but he’s also a -175 favorite working at home against a losing club. That’s the appeal here, chasing some win points. The Astros also have the second-best bullpen ERA in the American League.
Many Diamondbacks: Kyle Kendrick in Colorado? You better believe we’re loading up on Diamondbacks. Give me Paul Goldschmidt ($22), David Peralta ($11) and Jake Lamb ($12). Of course it’s a second game of a double-header, so be sure to get your lineup confirmation. And no worries if late scratches come about, you can make later changes in the Yahoo game.
Jose Altuve, 2B, vs. SEA (Elias), $19: Altuve is terrific against just about everyone, but he’s a true demigod against left-handed pitching (.381/.439/.510).
Marwin Gonzalez, SS, vs. SEA (Elias), $7: Originally I was going to use Brad Miller as my shortstop punt, but consider the case for Gonzalez. He’s slotted second in the lineup, he’s a .316/.374./.459 hitter in the second half, and he has a .790 OPS against left-handed pitching.
Matt Wieters, C, vs. TB (Smyly), $11: His career has been a major disappointment to this point, but he’s nonetheless a credible offensive factor when facing southpaws (.293 average, .483 slugging percentage). Winters also has an .822 OPS at home.
Aaron Altherr, OF, vs. NYM (Niese), $11: It hasn’t shown up yet in Philly, but Altherr was a .308/.439/.577 stick in the platoon advantage at Triple-A this season. He’s locked into the No. 3 spot in the lineup Tuesday,
Steve Pearce, OF. vs. TB (Smyly), $7: He’s cheap, he’s in the platoon advantage, he’s at home, he’s battling second. He's also a former Wiggy Winner, from 2014.
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. In an attempt to decipher the meaningful from the meaningless, here are the top-five Lames from Preseason Week 3.
Joseph Randle, Dal, RB – We all have the Dallas talking points memorized. "Historically good offensive line." "Balanced offense." "Great passing attack spearheaded by Tony Romo and Dez Bryant." Regurgitated over and over again this summer, the Cowboys' RB-friendly narrative spiked Randle's value. Now, after a lackluster preseason and with reports surfacing Darren McFadden may head up the committee, the popular early-round RB's ADP is plummeting faster than stocks in China. Those who invested a Round 3 or Round 4 pick in his services may soon endlessly weep. Yes, he will play a substantial role and a hard sneeze would likely sideline McFadden for an extended time, but it's silly to trust the young back as a RB2. Though Jerry Jones continues to deflect questions about bringing in additional help, I still feel Dallas' best option isn't currently on the team. Fresh free agent Fred Jackson or Pierre Thomas could eventually sign to help spark the ground game. Ultimately, the 'Boys will sorely regret not ponying up the cash for DeMarco Murray. Someone will eventually yield starter-worthy numbers in Big D, but, as of now, it's impossible to designate Randle that guy. Ameer Abdullah (40.9 ADP), Doug Martin (39.2) and Latavius Murray (30.4), RBs going in the same range as the fallen 'Star,' are safer, wiser selections.
T.J. Yeldon, Jax, RB – Some publications would lead you to believe the Alabama product is on the verge of fantasy superstardom. Yeldon propagandists have repeatedly said the RB's alleged 'three-down' skillset, minimal competition and massive slated workload in an emerging offense would land him firmly inside the position's top-20 come year's end, a ridiculous prediction. In his preseason debut, Yeldon resembled a backup dancer for Taylor Swift, not a premier running back. He lacked vision, patience and assertiveness. For a rusher that checks in at 6-foot-1, 226-pounds, he's a twinkle-toed, fumble-prone RB best suited for change-of-pace duties. Though smaller in stature, Denard Robinson, who was RB13 Weeks 7-13 last year (90.8 typg, 4 TDs, 4.7 ypc), is a far better back. The former Michigan QB is lighter on his feet and, unbelievably stronger, compared to the rookie. Yeldon did score a controversial TD against Detroit, but his 10 yards on eight carries were telling. Unless he sacks up, negative plays will be an all too common occurrence this season, especially behind a highly suspect offensive line that ranked No. 25 in run-blocking last year per Pro Football Focus. By all means, pick him for his potential. I will gladly take Robinson 100 picks later.
Melvin Gordon, SD, RB – When asked about the Chargers' RB situation Monday, Philip Rivers mouthed a quote that made fantasy owner stomaches churn, "it's a running back by committee crew." Puke. For those that have followed San Diego closely this August, the implementation of a three-back rotation should come as no surprise. Gordon, who's averaged a 'whopping' 2.3 yards per carry this exhibition season, has looked like a blind basset hound stumbling in the dark. The Chargers' shoddy offensive line is partially to blame, but the much ballyhooed rookie hasn't found cut-back lanes in Frank Reich's zone-blocking scheme. It's as though Trent Richardson has overtaken his mind and body. Gordon is an electric, gliding running back with explosive open-field wheels and deceptive power. He averaged a ridiculous 7.79 yards per carry at Wisconsin last year, the highest mark in FBS history. But, as noted time and time again in this space, he's struggled in pass protection and possesses below average receiving skills. Danny Woodhead, who the organization loves, will revive his hybrid role from 2013. Recall that season he caught 76 balls, totaled 1,030 yards and crossed the chalk eight times. Roughly 9-11 touches per game for the dual-threat should be expected, including the occasional goal-line touch. Second-year back Branden Oliver, who has again impressed in preseason action, will also be sprinkled in, possibly netting 5-7 touches per game. Donald Brown could enter the picture too. If that work division occurs, Gordon would be in line for only 11-13 carries per game. Last season, Bolt backs notched 27.6 touches per contest. If you've yet to draft, Gordon is RB3/bench material in 12-team leagues. Nothing more.
Duke Johnson, Cle, RB – Another week, another Cleveland RB on the Lames list. Isaiah Crowell earned the unwanted designation in the last go round. This time, Duke carries the torch. The rookie from the 'U' blew a golden opportunity to establish himself as the lead dog in the Browns' crowded backfield. He rotated in with Crowell and Terrance West on first team work, but prematurely ended his evening after suffering a concussion in the first quarter. He finished with an 'earth-shattering' four yards on two touches. After missing a significant chunk of training camp and the preseason with a hamstring setback, Duke is struggling to keep his head above water. Currently in the league's post-concussion protocol, he's no guarantee to play Week 1. Given the limited work put in, he could be nothing more than a bit player for the regular season's first couple games. Still, as Adam Caplan recently noted, many insiders believe he'll eventually seize control of the backfield, leading all Browns RBs in touches. His low center of gravity, tacky hands and break-tackle ability should win in the end. The learning curve has widened, but at his 97.2 ADP (RB42), he's a quality, upside bench back worth waiting on. Recall, Cleveland ranked No. 11 in run-blocking last year according to PFF.
Colin Kaepernick, SF, QB/Torrey Smith, SF, WR – Mr. Bicep Kiss, under siege 55.6 percent of the time against Denver's relentless pass rush, was lucky to escape last weekend's preseason tilt with all bones intact. Overall, Kaepernick finished 2-of-5 for 13 yards. He also chipped in 53 rush yards. San Fran's yielding offensive line is a blessing and a curse for the QB. Pocket time, precious to any NFL passer, will be extremely limited, likely capping his vertical production around 3,300 yards with 17-20 TDs. However, because of Kaepernick's wheels and break-contain abilities, jailbreak situations are sure to boost his ground production. It's conceivable he surges past 700 rushing yards this fall. Ground scores will obviously be the kicker, but even with conservative passing numbers he could crack the QB top-12. A 3,200-19-700-1 line would presumably land him just inside the position's top-15, making him a suitable stream option in competitive formats. As for the receiving corps, unless the Niners' frontline starts to feed, preeminent home-run threat Torrey Smith will often disappear. Kaep would likely target Anquan Boldin, Reggie Bush, Carlos Hyde or Vernon Davis more often in the short field to alleviate pressure. The WR, drafted on average around pick No. 117 (WR48), should continue to be viewed as a depth-only option in 12-team leagues. Stock up on the adult beverages, Niners fans. It's going to be a long, brutal year.
The image above essentially summed up Carson Palmer's outing in Oakland. Pressured relentlessly behind a battered Arizona offensive line, he was bruised and bloodied en route to a forgettable Sunday night. He finished 8-of-22 for 108 yards with zero TDs and a pair of picks. He was also sacked three times. For the sake of the veteran's health, the Cards O-line better stiffen in a hurry. Rob Ryan, who oversees the Saints defense, is already salivating over his Week 1 matchup against Arizona ... Staying in O-town, there's no reason to downgrade Latavius Murray. His 7-1-0 line was ghastly, but 'Zona's impenetrable defensive line will make treasured RBs resemble trash this year. Mark Ingram will surely experience a similar fate opening week ... Cody Latimer, once believed to be a future star in Denver's offense, continues to head in the wrong direction. Though physically gifted, he struggled to grasp Adam Gase's offense last year. This time around in a less complicated system, he still can't get comfortable with the playbook. If he sees 20-25 snaps per game early on, it would be a tremendous victory. Feel free to overlook ...
Randall Cobb's 'minor' shoulder injury scared the bejesus out of Aaron Rodgers owners and Packer fans alike. Diagnosed as a sprained AC joint, he's headed for a likely 'questionable' tag Week 1, though the organization is optimistic he'll suit up against Chicago. For the late drafters in attendance, it would be silly to downgrade him more than a spot or two. If he slips to the early third in 12-team leagues, feast ... Joique Bell's activation from the PUP list isn't an automatic downgrade to Ameer Abdullah. The veteran was originally slated for early-down and goal-line work. If he quickly rounds into shape, he should shoulder 10-12 touches per game Week 1 at San Diego. If the veteran isn't ready, preseason breakout Zach Zenner could slide into the power role with Abdullah operating as the explosive between-the-20s complement.
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It's a stars-and-scrubs sort of day, at least for me. I've got Dallas Keuchel (vs. Sea) and Chris Archer (at Bal) starting on Monday at a whopping total cost of $108. Thus, we'll need to find a few near-minimum bats. Let's do this thing...
Justin Bour, 1B, at Atl (Foltynewicz), $13: Bour has homered in back-to-back games, his 13th and 14th of the season, and he's facing a pitcher who's been tortured by left-handed batters. Foltynewicz has allowed a .950 OPS to LHBs so far this season in the majors, and they crushed him in the minors, too. It may seem a little weird/wrong to use a muli-Marlin formation, but I'm rolling with two Miami LHBs on Monday. Bour is one, this guy is the other...
Derek Dietrich, 3B, at (Foltynewicz), $9: That price is just so friendly, considering the strength of the matchup. Dietrich is reaching base at a .360 clip this month, plus he homered and doubled on Sunday.
Chris Coghlan, OF, vs. Cin (Lorenzen), $9: Lorenzen has been mauled by LHBs as well, to a ridiculous extent. Left-handed hitters are slashing .329/.446(!)/.594 against him with 22 extra-base hits in 143 at-bats. Coghlan is a terrific low-cost option, but don't limit yourself to just one Chicago hitter on Monday.
Various other Cubs LHBs, vs. Cin (Lorenzen): Kyle Schwarber is $20, Anthony Rizzo is $19, Miguel Montero is $13 and Dexter Fowler is $18. Start any or all. Fowler is 3-for-5 against Lorenzen with a homer and a walk; Schwarber has reached base twice against him in his three plate appearances. You know what to do.
Joey Butler, OF, at Bal (Chen), $7: Butler was recalled last week, and he's gone 3-for-9 since returning. He figures to start on Monday, with a lefty on the mound for the O's. Butler is 3-for-9 with a double and a homer in his limited history against Chen. It's tough to find a better setup for a minimum-price player.
Jake Lamb, 3B at Col (Bettis), $14: Colorado is the one spot on the map where rain might be an issue, but game-time looks OK as of this writing. Lamb has three multi-hit games in his last four, he's facing a righty on Monday, and he gets a Coors Field bump. I'm definitely interested.
Andrelton Simmons, SS, vs. Mia (Narveson), $9: Simmons has hit well this month (.317/.400/.400), he went 2-for-5 on Sunday and he gets a sketchy lefty here. No, he doesn't offer much in terms of power or speed, but I'd be mildly surprised if he can't get himself on base repeatedly against Narveson. It's tough to find better options with single-digit price tags.
Yadier Molina, vs. Was (Gonzalez), $13: I'm using either Schwarber or Montero is most leagues, but it's worth noting that Molina hasn't exactly struggled against Gonzalez. He's 5-for-12 lifetime with three doubles and just one K. Molina has gone 5-for-14 over his last three games, so it's not as if he's slumping.
Delino DeShields, at SD (Ross), $15: DeShields has gone 10-for-23 over the past week, with four straight multi-hit games. He's also a speedy dude (22 steals), facing a pitcher who's allowed the second-most stolen bases in MLB this season (34). Yes, please.
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. In an attempt to decipher the meaningful from the meaningless, here are the top-five Flames from Preseason Week 3.
Doug Martin, TB, RB – The past two seasons Martin’s fantasy value rested gently in a dark recess on the ocean floor. Up to 20 carries for 118 yards (5.9 ypc) this preseason (9-40-1 vs. Cleveland Saturday WATCH TD RUN HERE), the raised running back has finally resurfaced. He’s looked fast (No. 7 preseason in breakaway percentage), short-field quick and slippery (No. 4 in elusive rating), shades of the first-year rusher who occasionally mystified defenses and carried owners en route to the sixth-greatest rookie campaign by a fantasy RB ever. Tampa’s offensive line continues to emit a putrid odor in pass protection, but the unit, which ranked No. 8 in run-blocking last year according to Pro Football Focus, has opened up ground holes fairly well. Jameis Winston could occasionally poach at the goal-line, but the QB’s presence combined with the field-stretching capabilities of ‘Dunkaneers’ Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins should greatly aid Martin’s efforts. Blessed with a pair of favorable matchups to begin the season (vs. Ten and at NO), the Muscle Hamster could morph into a mutant rodent out of the gate. Profit margins are rapidly shrinking (August 1 ADP: 69.5, Current: 44.2), but with Charles Sims firmly fixed in a change-of-pace role, Martin should net 15-20 touches per game. Yaaaaarrrr ….
Sam Bradford, Phi, QB – When Bradford’s name is mentioned in casual conversation questions about his durability immediately follow. Investors worry a rudimentary jumping jack would rupture a knee tendon. Though the injury concerns are justified, the former No. 1 overall pick proved in Philly’s dress rehearsal why the risks are completely worth it. Bradford was flawless against Green Bay, literally and figuratively, completing all 10 of his attempts for 121 yards and three touchdowns (WATCH HIGHLIGHTS HERE). Whether working in shotgun or from under center he delivered passes on time and accurately. His best throw of the night was a 27-yard sideline strike to a well-covered Jordan Matthews. Considering his warehouse of weapons, the Eagles’ strong ground game and offensive line and Chip Kelly’s uptempo, vertically-aggressive system (Fifth-most pass attempts in ’14) and it’s easy to see why many in the fantasy community have sung the ‘sleeper’s’ praises this summer. Circumvent the scalpel and Bradford should finish close to 4,200 yards and 30 touchdowns. Recall last year, Eagles QBs combined for 4,581 passing yards and 27 scores.
Jarvis Landry, Mia, WR – Of all the wide receivers drafted on average in the WR3 tier, none possess more WR1 potential than Landry. None. Overshadowed by other much-publicized rookies Odell Beckham, Kelvin Benjmain, Evans and Matthews, the LSU product was spectacular in his first year. Operating almost exclusively out of the slot, he enticed 24.2 percent of the team’s targets, caught 80 percent of those looks and totaled the fifth-most catches (84) by a first-year WR in NFL history. His lack of yards (755) and touchdowns (5) confined his worth to PPR leagues, but his inaugural effort was admirable nonetheless. Expect him to build on that. Late last week, Miami beat writer James Walker wrote a glowing piece on the receiver, suggesting Landry’s red-zone role (14 targets in ’14) will likely grow. Add that to his sterling preseason Week 3 performance (6-5-84-0) versus Atlanta and owner exuberance is completely warranted. Jordan Cameron could be a bugaboo at times near the goal-line, but a 90-1000-9 tally isn’t some wacked-out hallucination. Ryan Tannehill absolutely loves the guy. Owners who steal him at or near his current 54.6 ADP (WR25) will feel the same way too.
Jeremy Maclin, KC, WR – The Chief’s Twitter assault on the fantasy community was a classic case of “don’t bite the hand that feeds you,” an all too familiar viewpoint based in ignorance. But looking past the softheaded comment, Maclin might be one of the more underrated targets in the virtual game. Last season’s wide receiver TD drought in KC and Maclin’s change of scenery from Philadelphia’s high-flying offense explain his slashed ADP. However, fanatics, including yours truly, have greatly underestimated the veteran. Yes Alex Smith tossed only 18 TDs and posted a yawn-worthy 7.0 yards per attempt in 2014, but Maclin should benefit from being one of the only games in town. Without much competition, he and Travis Kelce should account for over 50 percent of the team’s targets. Granted KC only attempted 464 passes a season ago, but 140-160 looks are attainable. A favorite of Smith this preseason, Maclin has been targeted 34.9 percent of the time and caught 11 passes for 99 yards and two scores. Currently going in the Sammy Watkins/Nelson Agholor/DeSean Jackson tier, he’s a largely viewed WR3 with far more potential. If he fell short of an 80-1050-7 output it would be a shocker.
Martavis Bryant, Pit, WR – LeGarrette Blount (pre-Patriots), Le’Veon Bell and now Bryant – Pittsburgh might as well be dubbed the ‘Chronic Capital of the NFL.’ The sophomore receiver’s pending four-game suspension is rather unfortunate. If upheld, he would miss 30 percent of the fantasy regular season. As a result, his fantasy ADP has nosedived in recent days sliding from the mid-40s to the low-70s in recent drafts, a boon for those of thrift mind. Getting extensive PT in Pittsburgh’s fourth regular season tune-up, Bryant did what he does best, burning Buffalo’s first-string secondary on a couple explosive pass plays. All in all, he totaled an absurd 138 yards on three catches, highlighted by 46-yard TD haul from Landry Jones. His 63-yard connection with Michael Vick was equally brilliant (WATCH HIGHLIGHTS HERE). It could be argued Bryant is one of the game’s preeminent home run threats. His ridiculous speed and lanky 6-foot-5 frame give defenses nightmares. Antonio Brown is clearly the heart and soul of Pittsburgh’s vertical attack, but I’m still confident No. 10 will outperform suddenly buzzy Markus Wheaton once activated. Remember, no 2014 WR netted more fantasy points per snap (0.45) than Bryant. Take advantage of the skittish.
Allen Robinson generated much hype throughout the offseason and training camp but his accomplice, Allen Hurns, deserves similar praise. A favorite of the much-improved Blake Bortles, he snagged four passes for 42 yards and a TD against Detroit. Useful in a pinch last year, Hurns should meet or slightly exceed his 51-677-6 rookie line functioning as the Jags' No. 2 ... Same game different name, the Zach Zenner slobber fest continued. The pride of South Dakota St. bulled his way 85 yards and a TD on just eight carries. Though he worked in with the starters, much of his production came on a 41-yard defender-dragging run against Lions backups. He's a great story and should make the team, but expectations need to be tempered. Unless Detroit's very crowded backfield is decimated by injury, he'll only see sporadic action out of the backfield ... Granted it was against a transparent Atlanta defense, but Ryan Tannehill continues to look like a certifiable QB1. On target often, he was 15-for-19 for 145 yards and a touchdown. Recall last year he finished No. 9 in total fantasy points at QB. With the added weapons around him and given his experience in Bill Lazor's offense, it's entirely likely he'll at least repeat what he accomplished a season ago. For the later-round QB crowd (88.0 ADP), he remains a primary target ...
Steve Smith's original NFL contract may have been scribbled on ancient papyrus, but the geriatric can still get it done, evidenced by his 63-yard TD reception versus Washington. His ejection for fighting also showed how hot the fire still burns. With Breshad Perriman hurt, the crafty veteran may match the top-15 numbers he strung together over the first half of last year. Aside from check-downs to Justin Forsett, who else is Joe Flacco going to throw to? ... From old to young, Ty Montgomery appears to have a leg up on the WR3 gig in Green Bay. On an over-the-middle slant against Philly, the rookie grabbed a Brett Hundley dart and exploded upfield for a 52-yard gain. His muscular build (6-foot-2, 221-pounds) and yards-after-catch potential are very attractive. He's the better flier over Jeff Janis. At this point, Montgomery deserves a roster spot in 12-team and deeper leagues ... Undoubtedly, Ronnie Hillman has won the backup job behind starter C.J. Anderson in Denver. The slender RB is a liability in pass protection, but his off-tackle burst and reliability in the pass game are excellent qualities. Anderson is locked into a 20-touch per game workload, but Hillman could be sprinkled in some 6-9 times per game. Acquire him for bench depth in challenging formats ...
Wide receiver Leonard Hankerson, despite a fantastic August, continues to fly way under the radar. On 11 targets, he's caught seven passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. Given Roddy White's advanced age and recent elbow surgery, Hankerson is a player to watch. In Atlanta's opener against the Eagles, he has 'Shocker Special' potential. Jump all over him at his $10 price tag in Yahoo's Week 1 Daily Fantasy game ... Washington youngster Matt Jones might carve out a larger initial role than originally anticipated. Splitting time between first and second teams he racked 74 yards on eight touches against Baltimore. A tough-to-tackle, forward-leaning rusher with plus hands, he has the look of a future three-down stud. Alfred Morris will open the season as the primary early-down RB, but it's only a matter of time before Jones is featured some 10-12 times per game. He's a magic elixir for a team with serious pass blocking issues ... Five years from now if Amari Cooper hasn't played in at least a pair of Pro Bowls California finally broke off and fell into the Pacific. Displayed against Arizona, he's already a polished route runner with all the necessary after-catch skills to make an immediate impact. On roughly 150 targets, he totals 70-75 catches for 1,000-1,100 yards and 5-7 TDs this year.
Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been outlining various value plays for fantasy owners, examining ADP data and projecting whether or not a player could potentially out-produce his current price. Red flags such as a checkered injury history or a turnover in personnel often drive a player’s price down. Buying at this discounted rate in hopes of a renewed surge in production can help fantasy owners stack their rosters and win their leagues. Here is a bounce back candidate at each position to consider heading into the 2015 season.
Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers
ADP via FFCalculator (12-team Round): 12.08 (QB19)
This time last year, hopes were high for San Fran’s bicep kissing QB. He had closed out 2013 with QB1 fantasy numbers and was the eighth highest-rated signal caller, according to Pro Football Focus. The franchise was aglow with optimism and fans were prematurely toasting in their yuppified new stadium.
The Chardonnay soon turned bitter, however, as the 49ers imploded, losing four of the season’s final five contests. Bound to the pocket, Kapernick struggled mightily, often panicking and missing his targets. With a new coaching staff and revamped offense, though, Kaep has the chance to put 2014 behind him.
Offensive coordinator Geep Chryst doesn’t exactly inspire confidence (remember the 2000 Chargers?), but his extensive experience as a QB coach does hint at an understanding of the position. The key will be focusing on Kaepernick’s strengths – namely his mobility and big arm – and restoring the young quarterback’s faith in his talents.
Adding legitimate deep threat WR Torrey Smith to the receiving corps should help open up the field for Kaepernick. Smith doesn’t have the surest hands, but he is fast and adds an element that Michael Crabtree lost post-Achilles injury. Furthermore, the addition of RB Reggie Bush gives Kapernick another solid weapon in the passing game.
Finally, the Niners defense is a mess. Kaepernick is going to have to pass to keep the team competitive. Whether or not the work he did in the offseason with Kurt Warner sticks, his passing attempts will go up in 2015. Add in a few rushing TDs and Kaep could finish the season in the QB12 – QB14 range. His current twelfth round ADP makes him a tempting value for owners willing to wait and take a risk at the position – especially if they pair him with another passer.
Ryan Mathews, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
ADP: 7.10 (RB36)
Durability issues have dominated the narrative surrounding much of Mathews’ career. Fake footballers have reacted accordingly, letting the upright runner’s stock fall to the seventh and eighth rounds. This year, however, the former Charger may be in a situation that helps him stay on the field for a full sixteen games.
Over a career that spans five years, Mathews was only able to accomplish the aforementioned feat one time, in 2013. That year he proved to be one of the best north-south runners in the league and finished among the top twelve fantasy producers at the position. According to Pro Football Focus, he racked up the seventh most yards after contact and averaged the tenth-most fantasy points per tote.
Despite playing in just six games last season, Mathews averaged 4.5 yards per carry. New head coach Chip Kelly noted Mathews’ talent and value, signing him as the team’s RB2 this past spring. Heading up an offense that has run the fourth and eighth most rushing plays over the past two seasons, Kelly has been vocal about wanting to use Mathews and Demarco Murray in a committee.
While Murray – who is seeing feature-back money – figures to receive the largest workload, Mathews is expected to see upwards of thirty percent of the touches. That might suit a player like Mathews, keeping his legs fresher over a longer period of time. Bolstering Mathews’ appeal is Coach Kelly’s football doctrine, which is heavily influenced by algorithms, dietary restrictions, and practice schedules that are designed to keep players on the field and off the IR.
Mathews has shown an ability to produce when healthy. Even with a reduced volume, he’s a solid flex-plus option. If Murray were to go down, he could put up RB1 numbers, making him an ideal value candidate to target in the middle rounds.
Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers
ADP: 4.11 (WR20)
In 2013 Allen burst onto the fantasy scene, closing out his rookie year with a 71–1,046–8 stat line. His presence was heartily felt in the fantasy community as he averaged over 10 fantasy points per game in standard scoring leagues and 14.9 fantasy points per outing in PPR formats. Ending the year as the virtual game’s WR17, Allen’s stock soared heading into 2014.
Unfortunately, Allen’s numbers regressed considerably in his sophomore outing. He dropped from 4th to 44th in Pro Football Focus’ WR ratings and finished the year among the bottom fifty fantasy receivers. A myriad of nagging injuries, sputtering quarterback play, and a rumored lack of focus contributed to this decline.
This time around, however, things are looking up for the Bolts. Both Allen and Rivers are back to full health and they’ve added a dynamic talent to their backfield in rookie Melvin Gordon. Allen has additionally toned up, reporting to camp at his rookie weight of 206 pounds. Another positive is the possession receiver’s apparent change in attitude and renewed commitment to the game, which has been talked up by his teammates and local beat writers. Plus, the absence of Eddie Royal and Antonio Gates’ suspension means there will be a good number of looks to redistribute. All of these factors point toward a return to relevancy for Allen, who has the potential to produce well above his current WR20 ADP.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings
ADP: 11.10 (TE13)
Rudolph hasn’t played a full season of football since 2012. His 2013 and 2014 campaigns were cut short due to a laundry list of injuries that included a broken foot, a sports hernia, and a sprained knee. Back in 2012 when he was healthy, however, he posted nine TDs, which was second only to Rob Gronkowski’s eleven.
Admittedly, Rudolph isn’t an exceptional talent. But he does have size and hops, which make him particularly viable in the red zone. At a certain point with the tight end position, grabbing six points to save a week is all owners are trying to accomplish. Knowing that at 6-foot-6 and 229 pounds the former Domer excels in that capacity makes him an intriguing get in the later rounds of fantasy drafts.
Further buoying Rudolph’s upside is the presence of offensive coordinator Norv Turner, who has coached up such talents as Antonio Gates and Jordan Cameron. Yes, he was part of the equation last season, but due to the aforementioned injuries and Teddy Bridgewater’s learning curve, Rudolph wasn’t given a fair shake at fully incorporating himself into the team’s attack.
The talent surrounding him this season is also much better. Both Mike Wallace and Charles Johnson should stretch the field enough to provide Rudolph with room to operate over the middle. He’s far from a sure thing, but at a streaky position he presents tempting buy-low potential.
Follow Liz on Twitter @LizLoza_FF
The Yahoo Fantasy Sports crew is out of town in Las Vegas this weekend for National Draft Day, so Sunday’s Dime is going to be an abbreviated version, with three recommendations instead of the usual 10. As always, be sure to double-check the weather and lineups before first pitch approaches.
Mark Buehrle, SP, vs. Det (Simon), $36: Toronto is by far the most heavily favored team on the board Sunday, yet Buehrle is moderately priced here. He has a 3.11 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP at home this season and is backed by a dominant offense.
Jose Abreu, 1B, vs. Sea (Olmos), $19: He’s hitting in a terrific park and against a lefty. Edgar Olmos will be making the first start of his career Sunday.
Starling Marte, OF, vs. Col (De La Rosa), $18: He has an .848 OPS at home this season and during Marte’s career, he’s reached base seven times over nine at bats against Jorge De La Rosa.
Happy National Draft Day! Our Fantasy Football experts, and special guests Jim Kelly, Randall Cunningham and Dwight Clark, joined hundreds of Fantasy Football fanatics for a giant draft day party at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Here is some of the best advice given out at National Draft Day:
[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football is back: Sign up for a league today!]
Dwight Clark takes Eddie Lacy at 4. Easy peasy Le'Veon Bell at 5. Hope my real drafts are this easy. #NDD2015— Frank Schwab (@YahooSchwab) August 29, 2015
I like the @andybehrens pick of Gronk at 6 btw. Position scarcity. Got a guy that's outscoring the other TE by 5 pts a week. At least.— Frank Schwab (@YahooSchwab) August 29, 2015
@BrendenPotts Absolutely. Manning's tank is not empty. Denver's passing game is still Top 5 NFL.— Yahoo Fantasy Sports (@YahooFantasy) August 29, 2015
If you're doing the daily jig under the lights Saturday, we wish you luck. Here are some plays to keep in mind, focusing on the Yahoo $200 DFS budget. Be sure to double check on the weather and lineups.
Hisashi Iwakuma, SP, at CHW (Samardzija), $50: Japanese Ice, for the win. It's time to stop fearing the Chicago offense and park. The White Sox are 27th in scoring and dead last in home scoring. And the Mariners should get their share of runs against the Shark Sandwich. The only concern here is the possible weather, so make sure you double-check the forecast, please.
Corey Kluber, SP, vs. LAA (Richards), $50: He's been unlucky at year, but I don't mind dropping a Grant in exchange for the 2.78 ERA and 1.042 WHIP at home (and better than a strikeout per inning). The Angels offense isn't very scary these days, especially with Mike Trout battling through a nagging wrist injury (over the last month, he's in a .216 funk with two homers, nine RBIs, zero steals).
Caleb Joseph, C, at TEX (Perez), $14: Texas is a fun place to take some hacks, and Joseph enjoys the platoon advantage against scuffling Martin Perez. Joseph doesn't have a pretty average, but he is slugging .456 against southpaws.
Freddie Freeman, 1B, vs. NYY (Severino), $16: He's finally back in form over the last two days, collecting three hits, including a homer, and two walks. The price is still reasonable, and he'll get looks at a right-handed pitcher. Fab Five Freddie is always welcome on my teams.
Scooter Gennett, 2B, vs. CIN (Sampson), $10: It's a punt play, though we get someone at home, in the platoon edge, and facing an ERA over five. Good spot to save some bucks.
Kyle Seager, 3B, and Ketel Marte, SS, at CHW (Samardzija), $15 and $10: You've been here all season, you know all about Shark Sandwich and that 4.75 ERA. Marte has a solid .290 average and .362 OBP since joining the Mariners, and Seattle is 10th in the majors in scoring for the second half.
Aaron Altherr, OF, vs. SD (Rea), $8: For a mere eight Pocorobas, we get a chance at some power upside. Altherr has two homers in his brief time in Philly, along with a .704 slugging percentage. The ball has been flying out of CBP of late.
Scott Van Slyke, OF, vs. CHC (Lester), $13: He has 16 career homers in 262 at-bats against southpaws, good for a .508 slugging percentage. The Dodgers usually slot him in the middle of the order, probably the No. 5 position for Saturday.
Seth Smith, OF, at CHW (Samardzija), $14: The danger of a platoon guy is the possibility that a left-handed reliever will delete the player in the latter stages of the game. But I expect the Mariners to do plenty of scoring early, with Smith (.798 OPS against righties) a part of the fun. Get on the ship and stack away.
Yahoo Sports is hosting the ultimate Fantasy Football draft party on National Draft Day, Saturday from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
Our full cast of fantasy experts and special guests Jim Kelly, Randall Cunningham and Dwight Clark are on hand dishing out advice and making this a once-in-a-lifetime draft experience.
Even if you couldn't make it to the event, you can get in on the fun by asking for fantasy advice on Twitter at #NDD2015 or @YahooFantasy. With it being National Draft Day, there's no better time to sign up for fantasy football on Yahoo.
We'll be capturing all the great moments and advice in a live experience in this post from 3-6 p.m. ET, so be sure to check back later today.
The Shuffle Up series welcomes the 2015 NFL season. Here's an extended look at the running back position.
We've given you extended commentarty, but for this version, it's in a spreadsheet. Peruse, copy, make it your own, shift the names around.
Next week, I'll have the wide receivers. Enjoy your shuffle, shufflers.
Josh Donaldson, 3B, vs. Det (Boyd), $25: He sports a .340/.416/.701 line against southpaws this season, as well as a 1.040 OPS at home. Donaldson is on pace to finish with 43 homers, 124 runs scored and 129 RBI. Matt Boyd has allowed nine earned runs over 11.0 innings on the road this season. Donaldson isn’t cheap, but he sure looks like the top play Friday.
Chase Anderson, SP, vs. Oak (Gray), $25: He has a decent enough 4.28 ERA on the year and a 3.2:1 K:BB ratio at home this season. Sonny Gray is obviously great, but the A’s have just a .699 OPS on the year, so Anderson is a nice bargain as the cheapest pitcher on the board.
Erasmo Ramirez, SP, vs. KC (Volquez), $37: He has a 2.55 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP over 60.0 innings at home this season.
John Jaso, C, vs. KC (Ventura), $14: He’s cheap, typically bats leadoff and owns a .301/.378/.466 line against right handers. For what it’s worth, he’s reached base in five of nine plate appearances during his career against Edinson Volquez.
Prince Fielder, 1B, vs. Bal (Gausman), $16: He’s batting .352 against RHP this season with more walks (28) than strikeouts (26).
Kolten Wong, 2B, at SF (Leake), $13: It’s not an ideal hitter’s park, and Mike Leake has pitched effectively, but this is still a bargain for a second baseman with a .778 OPS when facing RHP and also hits atop the lineup for the best team in baseball.
Troy Tulowitzki, SS, vs. Det (Boyd), $19: He’s really disappointed since joining Toronto but shortstop remains thin, and Tulowitzki is batting .355 against left-handed pitchers this season.
Nelson Cruz, OF, at CWS (Danks), $24: He owns a whopping .376/.447/.729 line against southpaws and gets the benefit of a terrific hitter’s park Friday. John Danks has allowed a 1.59 WHIP to opposing RHB this season.
Andre Ethier, OF, vs. CHC (Hammel), $13: Not sure why he remains so cheap despite a .300/.384/.505 line versus RHP this year.
Colby Rasmus, OF, at Min (Gibson), $14: He has 13 homers over 253 at bats when facing righties this season.
I’m trying to figure out what Francisco Lindor has to do to get everyone’s attention in the fantasy world. Paint a masterpiece? Save a baby from a burning building? Take the Cavaliers to a World Championship? Spend Labor Day with The Keatons?
The 21-year-old shortstop was a Top 10 staple on everyone’s prospect list before the season, though to be fair, Lindor’s defense was the main element driving the story. But that isn’t to suggest he can’t be a factor with the bat. A .284/.350/.402 line at Triple-A, with a couple of homers and nine steals (albeit on 16 attempts) paved the way for Lindor to join the Indians in the middle of June.
A steep learning curve held Lindor back for his first three weeks (.503 OPS), but the Tribe stuck with him, thrilled with his defense and content to let him find his way on offense. Lindor kept the No. 2 spot in the order all through his opening slump, a testament to the patience of skipper Terry Francona.
Lindor’s offensive game has caught fire in the second half of the year. He’s on a .368/.408/.520 tear since the break, with five homers and five steals. He’s only struck out 26 times. If you rank all the shortstops over the last month, Lindor checks in at No. 3.
Lindor was on base four times in Wednesday’s victory over Milwaukee, collecting three steals along the way. He homered twice last week in the series at New York. A switch-hitter, he’s batting over .300 against both sides of the rubber. His numbers are an eyelash better at home, but he’s still a .292 man on the road.
Some of the fantasy baseball world has checked out, I recognize that. But this guy shouldn’t be unowned in two-thirds of Yahoo leagues. I did a recent Planet Hanley for Kid Lindor swap myself in a smaller league with modest benches; that speaks to my outlier opinions on both players, I suppose.
• If Lindor is long gone in your league, perhaps a different Ohio shortstop could come to your rescue. Eugenio Suarez has been shockingly terrific since taking over for Zack Cozart in Cincinnati, posting a .298/.335/.481 slash with nine homers in 235 at-bats. The 24-year-old doesn’t have Lindor’s pedigree, which might be why he’s still trading under 10 percent in Yahoo. He does carry the Salfino endorsement, always a fan favorite.
• Seattle’s another team using a kid shortstop and enjoying the results. Ketel Marte’s off to a .333/.402/.452 start through 23 games, and while he doesn’t offer any pop, he does have 11 walks and three steals. With eligibility at both second base and shortstop, he makes sense as a bench option in deeper leagues, someone you can plug in if things get hairy. Mate can usually be found in Seattle’s leadoff spot.
• If it’s a pitching pickup you covet, you could be one of those Medlen Kids. Kansas City right-hander Kris Medlen has returned to action this year, making his first MLB appearances in two seasons. It’s been a long and frustrating road for Medlen, dealing with a pair of Tommy John surgeries. His first 20.1 innings with the Royals have been smooth (3.10/0.98, 5 B, 20 K), and his first turn was a quality start and a six-inning victory earlier this week.
The schedule seems to line up nicely: Tampa Bay; South-Side Chicago (against the Shark Sandwich); Minnesota (Pelfrey). I’m kicking the tires in a few spots, thinking back fondly on Medlen's Atlanta heyday. The control-freak righty is still unowned in 77 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Heads-up: If you like football and giant piles of money, here's a contest that allows you to enjoy both. Give it a try. But if your only focus is baseball, we've got you covered there, too. Here's a fresh batch of daily plays...
Marlon Byrd, OF, vs. CHC (Haren), $9: Byrd has dominated Haren historically, going 14-for-33 with five doubles, one triple and three homers. At a near-minimum price, you can't pass on him here.
Carlos Rodon, P, vs. Sea (Nuno), $42: In case you hadn't noticed, Rodon has really been a beast lately, allowing just three earned runs over his last three starts (22.0 IP) while striking out 24. I'm happy to roll with him here, facing an opponent that ranks next-to-last in the A.L. in team OBP (.305). Fear Cruz, but not the rest.
Denard Span, OF, vs. SD (Cashner), $8: Take the post-DL discount, gamers. This is a gift. If you're looking to squeeze Bumgarner or Greinke into a lineup, I'd recommend starting Byrd and Span in your outfield at a total cost of $17. Denard is coming off a two-hit game and he's slashing .333/.393/.478 against RHPs this year.
Gerrit Cole, P, at Mia (Nicolino), $51: Bit of a one-sided matchup, no? Cole is $13 cheaper than Bumgarner on Thursday, and he's arguably a better bet for a win (-190). We shouldn't need to explain that he's a badass, and the Marlins are something less than dominant (51-76).
Kolten Wong, 2B vs. Ari (De La Rosa), $13: He'd been slumping, sure, but he seems to have recently corrected his issues, going 3-for-9 over his last two games with a pair of doubles. I just always like to deploy at least one left-handed bat against Rubby, and Wong is wonderfully cheap. LHBs are hitting .313/.370/.567 against De La Rosa; Wong has hit .274/.338/.435 against RHPs, with 10 of his 11 homers. What could possibly go wrong?
Evan Longoria, OF, vs. Min (Milone), $16: Just a reminder that Milone has owned LHBs this year (.495 OPS), but right-handed batters have hit him well (.828 OPS, 12 HR, 29 XBH in 258 AB). I like Longo, Cabrera and Forsythe here.
Various Royals, various positions, vs. Bal (Tillman), various prices: Tillman hasn't been stellar in three starts this month — 16.0 IP, 10 ER, 4 HR, 5 BB, 11 K — and he has a poor (if limited) history against several Royals hitters. Moose is 3-for-8 with a homer against him, Kendrys is 5-for-9 and Escobar is 4-for-11. Zobrist has three homers and only three Ks in 40 career plate appearances. We have a bunch of well-priced Royals on the board on Thursday, so feel free to play two.
Kickoff is just over two weeks away, which means it’s time to open Yahoo Sports Daily Fantasy Football! Building on the newly launched Daily Fantasy, we’re now allowing entries for the first week of football season, starting things off with a $1 Million Kickoff contest.
For just a $10 entry fee, daily fantasy players have an opportunity to win up to $100,000 for first place. In addition, we’re launching deposit bonuses with a new maximum deposit of $2,000. We'll match your first deposit 100 percent and if you're a full season fantasy player, we've got an even better offer -- we'll match your first deposit 200 percent! All deposit bonuses release over time. For details and rules please, click here.
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Daily Fantasy is easy to play within the Yahoo Fantasy app on iPhone or on any device through your browser where you can access real-time sports news and scores from Yahoo’s fantasy experts, all within the experience.
A few quick reminders that can help you dominate your contests and leagues this year:
Latest news and research: No time like the present to start researching those Week 1 matchups and finding the best players to fill-up your roster. Head over to Yahoo Fantasy Sports and Roto Arcade to get the latest news, information and rankings.
Fantasy Football Live: Entering its 10th season, our award winning show Fantasy Football Live returns September 13th and runs from 11:30am ET - 1pm ET every Sunday during the football season. Join new host Nicole Zaloumis and our stable of fantasy experts including Brad Evans, Brandon Funston, Andy Behrens and now Liz Loza to get the latest news to set your fantasy rosters.
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Private Cash Leagues: In case you missed the news, we recently launched private cash leagues for your season-long fantasy experience. Let Yahoo Sports take all the headache out of handling league dues and payouts.
Football is almost here, and we hope everyone has a great Fantasy Football season this year on Yahoo Sports!
Here are ten recommended Yahoo DFS plays for Wednesday, and yes, Virginia, they collectively fit under the Yahoo Daily cap. Be sure to double-check on lineups and weather before you make your final commitments.
Shelby Miller, SP, vs. COL (Flande), $44: The idea is to go with an affordable ace, keep money left over for hitting. Miller checks in as a strong -144 favorite, and the Rockies generally don’t hit much away from home (29th in weighted on-base average). Miller has a 2.01 ERA in his 12 home starts this year.
Jeff Locke, SP, at MIA (Narveson), $33: The attack-Miami theme didn’t work Tuesday, but we’re still talking about an offense that’s 28th in the majors in runs. Like Miller, Locke checks in as a -144 favorite. There’s a lot more volatility on this side, but I’m just hoping for a six-inning start, a lead, and hopefully a victory. And I'm excited about the eight bats I'm assembling.
Yadier Molina, C, at ARI (Corbin), $13: It hasn’t been one of his best seasons, but he’s been useful in August (.279, two homers, 15 RBIs, just four strikeouts). In this spot, he’s at home and in the platoon advantage (generally a good thing, though he’s been ordinary against lefties for 2015).
C.J. Cron, 1B, at DET (Verlander), $8: The Angels have to wonder why they didn’t utilize Cron all season. He’s on a ballistic .324/.363/.588 tear over his last 42 games, with nine homers. Justin Verlander has shown signs of life in the second half but I still don’t trust him.
Brandon Phillips, 2B, vs. LAD (Anderson), $16: He’s having a nice renaissance season, and remains handy against left-handed pitching (.308 average, .347 OBP) even if the pop isn’t the same. Phillips also has seven homers and six steals at home - not monstrous numbers, but useful ones. He’s slotted cleanup for Wednesday.
Matt Duffy, 3B, vs. CHC (Hendricks), $17: Kris Bryant is going to run away with the NL Rookie of the Year, but Duffy deserves to finish second or third. He has an .844 OPS against right-handed pitching and he’s an .826 stick at home. Get me to the bay.
Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, vs. MIN (Duffey), $16: I’ll have what he’s having - Cabrera is on a ridiculous .398/.436/.645 clip in the second half, with four homers in 24 starts.
David Peralta, OF, vs. STL (Lackey), $17: Does this feel like a heavy outlay to you? It shouldn't. Peralta is a dynamic offensive player against opposing RHPs (.311/.370/.547), and he’s slotted fourth in a deep Arizona lineup for Wednesday.
Khris Davis, OF, at CLE (Anderson), $17: The average hasn’t always been pretty, but he’s clocked nine homers this month, en route to a .608 slugging percentage.
Michael Brantley, OF, vs. MIL (Nelson), $19: Injuries held his pop and production down in the first half, though he still maintained a reasonable average. Finally healthy in the second half, the numbers are through the roof (.385/.453/.631). He might be the best pure hitter in baseball; sit back and enjoy.
If you missed my NFC preview, check it out here. Now onto my AFC piece, once again filled with fantasy predictions.
1. New England Patriots 11-5
2. Miami Dolphins 8-8
3. Buffalo Bills 7-9
4. New York Jets 7-9
Comments/Fantasy predictions: Despite Tom Brady missing games, LeGarrette Blount finishes as a top-25 fantasy back, and Rob Gronkowski proves worthy of being a top-five overall pick...Lamar Miller remains efficient yet continues to disappoint fantasy owners, as the coaching staff still doesn’t view him as a true workhorse (he wasn’t given 20 carries in a game last season)...Ryan Tannehill also lets down his owners, finishing outside the top-15 fantasy quarterbacks. Last year’s 27 TD passes will be tough to repeat unless he greatly improves his 6.9 YPA, and there was a lot of turnaround in the Dolphins’ receiving corps.
The Bills have a shaky quarterback situation and project to be one of the more run heavy teams in the NFL. They also added Percy Harvin, Charles Clay and LeSean McCoy during the offseason. Still, Buffalo gave up a boatload of picks to draft Sammy Watkins No. 4 overall, so they have incentive to see him succeed, and the wideout just recently turned 22 years old. Watkins had more broken tackles during his rookie season than Kelvin Benjamin, Mike Evans, Jeremy Maclin, DeAndre Hopkins, Alshon Jeffery and T.Y. Hilton. It’s easy to make excuses, but Watkins played through broken ribs, a groin injury and later a labral tear in his hip that required offseason surgery, so it’s safe to say he wasn’t exactly performing at 100%. Just because his rookie year didn’t live up to the hype doesn’t mean he can’t reach it in year two...Although to be fair, it remains tough for me to root for Matt Cassel.
He was playing hurt, but Brandon Marshall got just 1.50 yards per route last season, which tied for 39th among wide receivers. His arrow is pointing down as a member of the Jets...I like the idea of Chris Ivory in a featured role, but I fear he built his career 4.7 YPC in “hitter’s counts” while in New Orleans (he got just 4.1 last year) and has never seen 200 carries or caught 20 balls in a season, so I remain skeptical about all of the optimism about him becoming a viable RB2. It’s not like he dealt with much competition last year either (although admittedly there’s a new regime now).
Headlines of the Week: I Used Ashley Madison For ‘Opposition Research’...“Straight Outta Compton” Not Playing In Compton...Man Dies After Being Run Over By WWII Tank On Jelly Belly Chairman’s Property...Chaos After Wife Spots Man And Mistress At A Football Match On Live TV...World’s Oldest Message In A Bottle Washes Up In Germany After 108 Years At Sea...No Liquid Allowed In Carry On, Woman Drinks Entire Bottle Of Cognac At Airport Security.
1. Baltimore Ravens 10-6
2. Pittsburgh Steelers 10-6 (Wild Card)
3. Cincinnati Bengals 10-6 (Wild Card)
4. Cleveland Browns 4-12
Comments/Fantasy predictions: The Ravens enter with a questionable receiving group, relying on 36-year-old Steve Smith who faded badly down the stretch last season and a rookie who’s been sidelined with a sprained knee. Still, this is a team that had the sixth-best point differential in the NFL last year with a great coaching staff...Helped by new OC Marc Trestman, Justin Forsett catches 75 passes and is a top-10 fantasy back, finishing ahead of LeSean McCoy. Forsett led the NFL in carries that went for 20+ yards last season (17).
Ben Roethlisberger had an 11:0 TD:INT ratio when pressured last year (Blake Bortles had a 0:8 mark), as he completed a career-high 67.1 percent of his passes during a career-high amount of attempts (608). Roethlisberger’s 4,952 passing yards tied with Drew Brees for the most in the NFL, and he might be more unleashed in 2015 with the emergence of Martavis Bryant, although the loss of Maurkice Pouncey hurts...Only twice in NFL history has a player caught five passes and 50 yards in 16 games. Antonio Brown in 2013. And Antonio Brown in 2014 (h/t Chase Stuart). The 5-10 Brown led all receivers with 18 targets inside the 10 last season. Meanwhile, Julian Edelman had more than Brandon Marshall and Kelvin Benjamin, while James Jones and Hakeem Nicks saw more looks inside the 10 than Calvin Johnson.
Even in a down year, A.J. Green led the NFL with 2.96 yards per route run, although since 2011, Andy Dalton has 27 interceptions on passes intended to Green, the most by a QB to WR over that span. Of course, that doesn’t matter much to fantasy owners...Jeremy Hill finishes as a top-10 overall player so long as he doesn’t fumble the ball 10 times...Marvin Jones is one of my favorite late round fliers at WR...Cleveland provides by far the worst fantasy value among all NFL teams, headlined by their committee at running back. But if you’re into gambling the Browns under (6.5) is easily my favorite bet entering the 2015 season.
Police Blotter: Parrot Arrested For Swearing At 85-Year-Old Woman In India...Reward Offered For Stolen Corpse In Texas...Gainesville Man Defecates On Church...Horrified Woman Discovers Ex-boyfriend’s Secret Lair In Her Loft After Finding Mucky Fingerprints And Missing Food.
1. Indianapolis Colts 11-5
2. Houston Texans 7-9
3. Tennessee Titans 5-11
4. Jacksonville Jaguars 4-12
Comments/Fantasy predictions: Andrew Luck had an NFL-high 12 touchdowns on passes targeted at least 20 yards downfield last year. Not that I’m exactly going out on a limb, but he’s my pick to win MVP this season...Coby Fleener “led” all tight ends with a 10.53% drop rate last year, which isn’t ideal...Both T.Y. Hilton and Andre Johnson finish as top-15 fantasy wide receivers...I’m a Frank Gore fan, and he’s joining a nice situation compared to last year when he faced 8+ in the box more than any other back in the league by far, but his current ADP still seems high for an RB who’s 32 years old and close to 2,500 career carries. Dan Herron is my favorite under the radar “handcuff”...Thanks in part to an easy division and the player who would be taken first overall if a franchise draft were held today, the Colts are my AFC favorite to make the Super Bowl in 2015.
If you thought my Luck pick for MVP wasn’t a stretch, I’m going to make it up to you and go with a long shot and pick J.J. Watt as this year’s Defensive Player of the Year...Despite shaky QB play, DeAndre Hopkins is among the league-leaders in targets and finishes as a top-10 fantasy wide receiver, ahead of Mike Evans...David Cobb separates himself from Bishop Sankey and emerges as a viable RB2 down the stretch, thanks in part to Marcus Mariota’s threat to run...Allen Robinson becomes the first Jaguars receiver to record 1,000 yards since 2005, while T.J. Yeldon is a top-15 fantasy back.
Longread of the Week: How Former 49er Chris Borland Is The Most Dangerous Man In Football.
1. Denver Broncos 11-5
2. San Diego Chargers 10-6
3. Kansas City Chiefs 9-7
4. Oakland Raiders 4-12
Comments/Fantasy predictions: The recent revelation Peyton Manning hasn’t been able to feel his fingertips since 2011 is pretty amazing, but he’s obviously been able to successfully play through it...I worry slightly about Demaryius Thomas’ fantasy value solely based on Manning’s health at age 39, but it’s also hard not to project the Broncos to win double-digits again, and I remain an advocate of drafting C.J. Anderson in the first round...The Broncos not only scored the second-most ppg (30.1) last year, they also yielded an NFL low 6.0 YPA (next best were the Seahawks at 6.3)...Philip Rivers’ net yards per pass attempt (7.04) ranks as the fifth-highest in NFL history, as he’s clearly one of the more underrated players in the game. But Keenan Allen, Stevie Johnson, Ladarius Green, Antonio Gates, Malcom Floyd and Danny Woodhead are all spread out when it comes to Rivers’ TD passes in 2015. I’m sure I’ll regret my prediction here when San Diego makes the postseason.
Travis Kelce finished second behind only Rob Gronkowski last season among tight ends with 2.26 yards per route run and well ahead of Jimmy Graham, who was seventh at 1.70. With Graham now moving to Seattle, Kelce should be drafted ahead of him in a vacuum, let alone given their current ADP prices...Jeremy Maclin made more downfield catches of 20 yards or more last season than the entire Chiefs' receiving corps combined (he also had the lowest drop rate among all WRs by a wide margin at 1.16). Maclin obviously isn’t going to be as good as he was last season, but he’s being underrated in drafts right now...Here are my thoughts on why Jamaal Charles should be the No. 1 pick, but ultimately, I would strongly prefer not to have the first pick in drafts this year.
Oakland breaks its same drought as Jacksonville when Amari Cooper becomes the first Raiders wide receiver since 2005 (Randy Moss) to reach 1,000 receiving yards, as the rookie is immediately among the league-leaders in targets. Oakland is a tough franchise to rely on (I do love Latavius Murray if he can somehow stay healthy), and Derek Carr is somehow getting talked up despite getting a paltry 5.5 YPA last season (on passes targeted at least 20 yards downfield he went 15-for-71, good for an NFL-worst 23.9% in which Pro Football Focus accounts for dropped passes. The next worst was Blake Bortles at 30.0%). That said, I still say don’t sleep on Cooper.
Here are ten recommended Yahoo DFS plays for Tuesday, and yes, Virginia, they collectively fit under the Yahoo Daily cap. Be sure to double-check on lineups and weather before you make your final commitments.
Nathan Karns, SP, vs. MIN (Santana), $43: I’m going to look to save a few bucks as I complete the mound spots, aiming for a meatier hitting component. But I’m not forgetting about the almighty win points; Karns is a -145 favorite in this spot. Karns gets the check mark in consistency (11 useful starts over his last 13), while Ervin Santana has given away 26 earned runs (and seven homers) over his last seven assignments. The Minnesota offense has also been dreadful on the road (21st in scoring).
Charlie Morton, SP, at MIA (Hand), $42: I’m willing to give up some upside, considering Morton is a -165 favorite against the ghost town that is Miami’s leftover offense. And don’t write off Morton as a full pitch-to-contact specialist; he’s racked up 30 strikeouts over his last 25 innings. The Pittsburgh offense hasn’t been dynamic against lefties, but aloha Mr. Hand – take a look at that 4.46 ERA.
A.J. Pierzynski, C, vs. COL (Bettis), $12: Down with AJP, yeah, you know me. It’s a semi-punt at the position, but made more tolerable by AJP’s lineup slot (fourth). Pierzynski has a robust .809 OPS against right-handed pitching, and there’s nothing worrisome with Chad Bettis.
Carlos Santana, 1B, vs. MIL (Peralta), $16: The pop has come alive of late (three homers in eight games), and the Indians should get some runs against Wily and the Poor Boys. Santana shows more power when batting left-handed, and Peralta gives up a .290/.335/.527 split in that platoon deficit.
Anthony Rendon, 2B, vs. SD (Shields), $14: He’s finally seeing the ball well and driving it with authority, collecting two homers, a double and four walks over the last two games. James Shields is someone to attack on the road, with a 4.75 ERA and 1.38 WHIP.
Wilmer Flores, SS, at PHI (Williams), $8: Keep rolling with him until the price adjusts. Flores is rocking a .961 OPS this month, with three homers, and the park and opposing pitcher are downright chummy for Tuesday.
Josh Donaldson, 3B, at TEX (Holland), $25: The MVP front-runner in a hitter-friendly park against an ordinary lefty? Sign me up, even at this prohibitive price. Have some fun expanding Mr. Holland’s OPS.
Yoenis Cespedes, OF, at PHI (Williams), $21: Can’t beat em? Join em. Cespedes and the Mets went on an offensive tear during a three-game sweep at Coors, and then it continued during Monday’s eight-homer jamboree at Philadelphia. I can’t see Jerome Williams stopping the bleeding Tuesday night.
Jason Bourgeois, OF, vs. LAD (Wood), $11: He’s had a couple of useful games out of the leadoff spot the last two weeks, and Alex Wood can’t seem to keep right-handed hitters off base (.368 OBP). A dip into the bargain bin feels right here.
Chris Young, OF, vs. HOU (Keuchel), $7: I’m a full-on Dallas Keuchel sympathizer, as you might remember, but Young’s monster work against southpaws (.339/.398/.635) cannot be ignored, especially at this gift price.
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. In an attempt to decipher the meaningful from the meaningless, here are the top-five Lames from Preseason Week 2.
DeMarco Murray, Phi, RB – Awwww heck no! The ol' Chipster is once again up to his devious ways. Fantasy's newest Lucifer Shanahan is a slippery, wildly unpredictable fellow. Against the Ravens, DeMarco (10 snaps), Ryan Mathews (6) and Darren Sproles (8) formed a turnstile backfield with the first team. Murray and Mathews posted near identical stats, both finding the end-zone, but the implemented rotation substantiates the "it takes a village" comments Kelly and OC Pat Shurmur have mouthed all summer. As everyone should've expected, Murray won't sniff the 497 touches, playoffs included, he logged as a Cowboy last year. I've speculated since he signed with the Eagles months ago he would be a 15-17 touch per game RB, surrendering occasional goal-line work to Mathews and Sproles. This week's dress rehearsal should be telling, but it appears my gut, for once, isn't leading me astray. He'll string together a number of highly useful performances, but to call him a sure-fire RB1, which is what people are paying for, would be unwise. Draft him, and headaches are sure to follow. Throw in his 'Curse of 370' downside (71 percent of RBs that registered 370-plus carries the year before missed at least one game the next season) and he's dripping with risk at his current 13.8 ADP (RB9). I'll gladly let someone else punch walls.
Cam Newton, Car, QB – Crashing in Carolina. After losing top target Kelvin Benjamin to an ACL tear, that is precisely what's happened to the QB's fantasy value. In the Panthers' second regular season tuneup, Newton resembled a lost dog foraging for food. Out of sync with his receivers and generally sluggish, he completed 4-of-10 passes for 42 yards and a pick. His ghastly performance could be a harbinger of underachievement to come. Benjamin was a physical menace. Despite owning mediocre speed and buttery hands, his lengthy frame, brute strength and adjustment skills brutalized DBs. Devin Funchess, who didn't see action last weekend, possesses the physical tools to fill the massive void, but the very raw rookie is far from even a partially finished product. Meanwhile, other options, Jerricho Cotchery, Ted Ginn and Philly Brown elicit little excitement. Greg Olsen is still a fixture, but I doubt he'll suddenly take on 12 targets per game. Unless someone steps up, Cam could experience a dramatic reduction in pass numbers. Granted much of his value (26.9 percent in '14) is tied to his ground contributions, but if the Panthers' offense repeatedly bogs down, red zone opportunities could be few and far between. An increased reliance on Jonathan Stewart could also lessen his worth. If Funchess can quickly pick up the slack, Newton's season will be salvaged. However, if the rookie flops, Superman will stay trapped in the phone booth. At this juncture, a finish outside the QB top-12 is entirely possible. Give me Tony Romo, Eli Manning or Ryan Tannehill over him.
Isaiah Crowell, Cle, RB – Name any M. Night Shyamalan movie since 'Signs' (Sidebar: A flick about a scary 'Na-Na' lowers the bar of ridiculousness) and that's the level of 'bad' the Browns backfield situation currently is. To be fair, Terrance West has played fairly well. He's shown good downhill lean, broken tackles and gained 71.2 percent of his yards after contact. Crowell, however, has channeled Trent Richardson. He's gotten blown up on blitzes, ran softly (2.2 yards per carry) and generally looked awful, a far cry from the violent runner we witnessed this time last year. The coaching staff has tried to motivate the sophomore, calling him out in the media, but their ploys haven't worked. If buzzy rookie Duke Johnson, who's slowly working his way back from a hamstring injury, kicks open the door this week at Tampa, Crow could fall to third on the depth-chart. Couple that with Mike Pettine's commitment to an RBBC and Cleveland's dreadful passing 'attack,' and he's 100 percent avoidable at his 78.0 ADP (RB33). Cheaper backs Tre Mason (80.9), Mathews (82.4), Shane Vereen (88.0) and Tevin Coleman (84.6) are more attractive options.
Everyone in Washington not named Matt Jones – Meteorologists and local sports mouthpieces alike are predicting endless misery this fall in the nation's capital. Why? Here's a stat that presents a bleak outlook: On RGIII's eight dropbacks against Detroit he was hit six times, sacked thrice and suffered a concussion, we think. Suffice it to say, the vultures are already circling D.C. If the offensive line doesn't mesh quickly, raptors will soon pick at Griffin's bones elevating Colt McCoy or Kirk Cousins into the starter's role. Until we see the line stand up oncoming rushers and/or we see RGIII get rid of the ball quickly, it's sage to downgrade the QB and home-run hitter DeSean Jackson. Pierre Garcon, however, could become a bigger focal point. This offeseason he moved to the 'Z' position to erase last year's nightmarish memories. Operating as the grease man underneath, he should net more looks on shallow crosses and slants. Jordan Reed, if healthy, could too. It's farfetched to think Garcon replicates his monster 2013 totals (182-113-1346-5), but something in the ballpark of 80-1050-5 is attainable. Presently, he and Jones are the only interesting fantasy options on Washington's roster. Seek liquid therapy 'Skins fans. Lots of it.
Alfred Blue/Chris Polk/Jonathan Grimes, Hou, RBs – Outside running into a couple goal-line walls, Blue has run hard this preseason. His place on this list is completely unrelated to performance. According to Houston Chronicle writer Bob McClain, one of the foremost authorities on all things Texans, Arian Foster (hernia) likely won't be tagged IR/designated to return prior to the regular season. If the four-time Pro Bowl selection experiences zero hiccups in rehab, he could tote the rock as early as Week 4. Bombshell. Originally, Foster was slated to miss upwards of 3-6 months. Blue was semi-competent in the star's absence last year. He ran decisively, gaining over 60 percent of his yards after contact. However, he's nowhere near the former rush king's caliber. Once activated, Foster will regain his workhorse role within Houston's offense, provided Bill O'Brien is confident in his health. It's possible he could be eased in over a week or two, but come Week 6-7, he should shoulder his customary 20-touch workload. Behind a Texans line that should rank top-10 in run-blocking, he's likely to churn out RB1-level value once in uniform. Equipped with remarkable vision, patience and hands, he's still an elite fantasy producer. Recall last year, he ranked behind only DeMarco in standard league per game average. If he falls into the Round 5-6 range in 12-team exercises ... POUNCE! Do so, and make sure to 'cuff Blue roughly four rounds later.
There is nothing more annoying when people use long runs as an argument against a running back. Last I checked, all stats count. Those with 'boom' potential should be treasured because they're capable of explosive, dominating performances at any time. Barry Sanders had numerous 2-3 yard carries to go along with the big gains. Guess we should've written him off. This is why breakaway percentage is a telling stat. FYI, Justin Forsett set the pace in the category last year according to Pro Football Focus ... Despite what some would lead you to believe, C.J. Anderson's job isn't in jeopardy. Ronnie Hillman has looked fabulous running with the 'B' team (16 tchs, 131 tyds, 7.5 ypc), but he's not about to unseat the incumbent. Historically, Gary Kubiak has been a one-RB kind of guy as evidenced by the workload's Arian Foster and Forsett tallied. If anything, Hillman is Anderson's insurance policy, replacing a largely ineffective Montee Ball. C.J. is still a top-eight RB folks ...
Josh McCown, who was a complete dumpster fire against the Bills (7/10, 52 yds, 0 tds, 2 ints), would make Tim Couch look like an All-Pro. Johnny Manziel is still rough around the edges, but he deserves serious run with the ones, if his tender elbow allows. What do the Browns have to lose? Prediction: After a 1-3 start, JFF gets the nod Week 5 at Baltimore ... Reggie Wayne was a name-brand WR three years ago. His skillset rapidly eroded the past two years. His signing with New England is a tire-kick move or intel grab by Belichick, nothing more. Unless he swims laps in the Fountain of Youth, he only warrants rostering in 16-team or larger leagues. If anything, Wayne's arrival could be a statement about Brandon LaFell's health. He remains on the PUP list with a foot injury ... Among ginger QBs past and present, Andy Dalton ranks somewhere between Brandon Weeden and Todd Marinovich, at least based on his 'resplendent' 46-0-2 effort under the lights (SHOCKER!) Monday night. With A.J. Green, Marvin Jones, Tyler Eifert and a viable ground duo of Jeremy Hill/Gio Bernard, he should tally midrange QB2 numbers, at a minimum. No excuses.
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Here's a look at my preview of the NFC this season, loaded with fantasy predictions. The AFC version will be out Wednesday.
1. Dallas Cowboys 10-6
2. Philadelphia Eagles 9-7 (Wild Card)
3. New York Giants 8-8
4. Washington Redskins 6-10
Comments/Fantasy predictions: Tony Romo led the NFL in YPA (8.5), completion percentage (69.9) and QBR (83.6) last season. He finished with two fewer TD throws (34) than his career high despite attempting 85 fewer passes. With the team’s RB situation in flux, expect a top-five fantasy QB performance. He’s clearly a legit MVP candidate...Joseph Randle got 6.7 YPC last season (when he had 10+ yards on 22% of his carries that led the NFL) and should get the first crack at inheriting one of the best roles in the NFL – running behind Dallas’ dominant offensive line, which helped DeMarco Murray total 2,261 yards. Randle is a risk but has top-10 upside...Terrance Williams reaches 1,000 receiving yards...The Cowboys have a real chance to win the Super Bowl this season.
Take advantage of Zach Ertz’s injury and draft him late, as he got more yards per route run (1.77) than Jimmy Graham (1.70) last season...Chip Kelly’s Eagles have been the healthiest team in the NFL since he’s taken over, but they admittedly have a tall task keeping Sam Bradford on the field for the duration (although Mark Sanchez did get 7.8 YPA in this system last year if Bradford were to go down again)...Jordan Matthews goes crazy, finishing as a top-10 fantasy wide receiver.
Eli Manning finishes as a top-10 fantasy QB, and despite regressing some, Odell Beckham Jr. is still a top-10 player overall – he not only averaged 14.3 YPC, ODB’s drop rate (2.15) was the fourth-best among all WRs during his insane rookie campaign...Victor Cruz struggles in his return from injury, while Reuben Randle finally lives up to the hype...Shane Vereen is a top-25 back in PPR leagues.
Unfortunately, Robert Griffin gets hurt again, leading to Colt McCoy taking over, who then proceeds to get injured shortly thereafter. Kirk Cousins starts the most games for Washington this year...Alfred Morris is something of a bust, and Pierre Garcon’s fantasy value is much closer to DeSean Jackson’s than it was last year.
1. Green Bay Packers 12-4
2. Minnesota Vikings 8-8
3. Detroit Lions 7-9
4. Chicago Bears 5-11
Comments/Fantasy predictions: Eddie Lacy, who had the second most carries for 15-plus yards last season (second only to Murray), will lead the NFL in touchdown runs...Aaron Rodgers remains a top-three fantasy QB despite the loss of Jordy Nelson, and the Packers make the title game at minimum as well...Davante Adams finishes as a top-15 fantasy receiver...Teddy Bridgewater led all quarterbacks with a 75.2 accuracy percentage when pressured last season, although his deep ball remains a work in progress. Still, he looks like a potential star, even with just decent options to throw to...Here are my thoughts on Adrian Peterson.
Matthew Stafford, who averaged 4,885 yards and 30 TD passes (to go along with six rushing scores) over the previous three seasons before last year’s disappointing campaign, goes down as one of the bigger QB bargains thanks mostly to Calvin Johnson staying healthy. Moreover, Eric Ebron improves in year two, and there’s Golden Tate to help him out as well. Stafford isn’t a very good quarterback in real life, but did you realize he’s younger than Colin Kaepernick?...Ameer Abdullah lives up to the hype and is a top-15 fantasy back despite dealing with a committee for the first half of the year...Eddie Royal is a nice flex play, and Matt Forte catches 40 fewer balls than he did in 2014, while Alshon Jeffery finishes with more fantasy value than Demaryius Thomas and A.J. Green.
Headlines of the Week: Man Tries To Dig Up Dead Father To Argue With Him...Idaho Replaces Mile-Marker 420 With 419.9 To Thwart Stoners...Man Pretended To Be Doctor For 3 Years, Treated More than 100 Patients...Bus Knocks Down Cycling Safety Demonstrators...Former NASA Astronaut Claims The Aliens Prevented Nuclear War Between The US And Russia...Florida Gun Range Will Have Restaurant That Serves Booze.
1. New Orleans Saints 9-7
2. Atlanta Falcons 9-7 (Wild Card)
3. Carolina Panthers 7-9
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-10
Comments/Fantasy predictions: Brandin Cooks is a top-10 fantasy wide receiver and is a dark horse to finish with the most receiving yards in the NFL...Mark Ingram, who had 20 carries inside the five-yard line last season (six more than any other RB), is a top-15 fantasy back, while Marques Colston returns to approaching double-digit scores thanks to Jimmy Graham’s departure...Julio Jones is a monster, finishing as the No. 1 fantasy wide receiver and is a unanimous top-five overall pick in 2016 drafts...Tevin Coleman is the Falcons’ back with the most value, but it’s frustrating to his owners expecting more while dealing mostly with a committee...Despite my prediction here, it won’t be easy for Atlanta to make the playoffs, as they allowed the league’s highest YPA (8.2) last season. Their offense is going to have to score plenty of points, but I say new OC Kyle Shanahan is up to the task.
Greg Olsen scores a couple of more times than usual, but those expecting a career-best campaign after Kelvin Benjamin’s season-ending injury are left disappointed. Of course, he’s still a top-five tight end regardless...Jonathan Stewart is a top-12 back in the games in which he plays, but those barely reach half the season...Jameis Winston “leads” the NFL in interceptions but is still plenty valuable in 2-QB formats thanks to his weapons and plenty of shootouts in his division...Doug Martin is a viable RB3, while Vincent Jackson is a viable WR2, as his two touchdowns last year on 142 targets was a fluke.
Police Blotter: Store Owner Pulls Out Sword, Scares Off Would-Be Robbers With Machete...Alleged Shoplifter Takes Limo To, From Store...Thieves Break In Store, Uncap 1.2K Beers...Mom Arrested After Allegedly Kidnapping Her Own Daughter To Avoid Vaccination...Cops Arrest Florida Man For Sauerkraut Battery On Girlfriend.
Longread of the Week: Adrian Peterson’s Suspended Reality
1. Seattle Seahawks 10-6
2. Arizona Cardinals 8-8
3. San Francisco 49ers 7-9
4. St. Louis Rams 7-9
Comments/Fantasy predictions: Jimmy Graham, who didn’t have one 30-yard catch last season (he had eight the prior year), disappoints owners who spend an early pick on him (his current Yahoo ADP is 30.0, which is 18.6 picks ahead of Travis Kelce)...Marshawn Lynch has 14 more rushing touchdowns than any other back over the past four seasons (h/t Bill Barnwell), but with 2,033 career carries (and 1,345 over the last four including the playoffs), he lets down those who spend a top-five pick on him. Seattle of course remains an elite team though.
Carson Palmer has an 11-2 record over his last 13 starts but is 35 years old and coming off his second torn ACL, so it’s tough to get too excited about this offense...Andre Ellington got 5.5 YPC during his rookie campaign, but he was one of the biggest busts as a sophomore last season, when that number dropped to 3.3. Pro Football Focus graded him as the No. 56 runner out of 57 qualified backs, as Ellington got just 1.8 YPC after contact, which was the second lowest in the NFL. He played hurt, but there’s reason to be concerned about his durability moving forward. He’s 26 years old and to give reference, LeSean McCoy just turned 27 a month ago. I far prefer David Johnson at his price versus Ellington’s.
Among QBs who attempted at least 330 passes, Colin Kaepernick’s percentage of yards that came before the catch (59.6) was second in the NFL (Peyton Manning was first, and Tony Romo was third), and that was with basically zero downfield threats. (Alex Smith finished last at 42.3%)...Carlos Hyde should lose passing-down work to Reggie Bush, is unproven and plays in a division that’s tough defensively. The 49ers also had arguably the worst offseason in recent memory (history?). But Hyde’s 2.8 YPC after contact last season tied for the third highest among all backs who had at least 80 rushing attempts. He forced 25 missed tackles on 83 carries, just six fewer than teammate Frank Gore who had 255 carries. Hyde is currently going in the middle of the fifth round, which seems low...Torrey Smith finishes as a top-25 fantasy wide receiver.
The Rams’ defense is dominant, but Nick Foles flops, although Brian Quick is a worthy WR in deeper leagues. Todd Gurley is a difference maker in the second half of the season and is a top-15 overall fantasy pick in 2016 drafts.
While Reggie Wayne agreed to a deal with the New England Patriots, that doesn't necessarily mean that he should be anywhere near your fantasy radar.
We asked our experts if Wayne pairing with Tom Brady this season makes the veteran receiver worth a look in fantasy leagues and the answer was clearly one-sided.
Minimally productive. He's 36 and eroded rapidly in recent years. Worth add in 16+ league. About it. https://t.co/ennyBa5qem— Brad Evans (@YahooNoise) August 24, 2015
Reggie Wayne sure looked done last year and is coming off two offseason surgeries. He can safely be ignored in fantasy leagues.— Dalton Del Don (@daltondeldon) August 24, 2015
Reggie Wayne in New England is good for Week 6 headlines, not your #FantasyFootball team. No "value" here. Just step away.— Liz Loza (@LizLoza_FF) August 24, 2015
Veteran R. Wayne provides depth/insurance for oft-injured Pats WRs, but don't make more of it because it's a name brand pairing with Brady— Brandon (@1befun) August 24, 2015
While Wayne will be headed for Canton down the road, don't be fooled by the name.
Agree or disagree? State your case in the comments.
If you're looking for predictive analysis that relies on small samples, you've come to the right place. As always, we urge you to check the weather before you leave the house.
David Wright, 3B, at Phi (Morgan), $12: Oh, hey, look who's back, batting cleanup...
8/24 @Mets lineup at PHI Lagares CF Murphy 1B Cespedes CF Wright 3B Flores 2B d’Arnaud C Cuddyer RF Tejada SS deGrom P— MLB Lineups (@mlblineups) August 24, 2015
Wright hasn't actually played in forever, true. But that's the reason he's only $12. He's a lefty-mauler facing a less-than-stellar LHP, so that works. For his career, Wright has hit a ridiculous .341/.434/.574 against southpaws. I'm in at this price.
Kendrys Morales, 1B, vs. Bal (Jimenez), $14: Morales is dirt-cheap by first base standards, and he's homered twice against Ubaldo (and doubled once) in 16 career at-bats. Kendrys is also reaching base at a .390 clip this month, so it's not as if he's struggling.
Tucker Barnhart, C, vs. Det (Farmer), $7: As many of you know by now, I'm always dealing in the junk-catcher market. Here we have a minimum priced backstop who's been decent against righties (.279/.361/.395), facing a RHP who's been crushed by LHBs (28-for-74, 5 HR, 8 BB).
Neil Walker, 2B, at Mia (Koehler), $17: Walker has done most of his hitting — all 13 of his HRs, .796 OPS — against right-handers. Koehler, of course, is a completely un-threatening righty.
Greg Bird, 1B, vs. Hou (Feldman), $10: Bird is off to a decent start, clearly, having reached base safely in each of his last eight games. He's batting sixth for the Yanks against Feldman, and the price is right. If you're spending, say, $109 on pitching on Monday (deGrom and Iwakuma), then you're going to need to sketch in your roster with Bird and Barnharts.
Various Boston bats, at CWS (Samardzija): A few of the brand-name Red Sox sluggers have hit Samardzija well over the years. Ortiz is 3-for-6 (two doubles), Panda is 4-for-10 (two HRs), Hanley is 10-for-23. Find a spot for one or two of these guys. Samardzija has allowed 31 hits and 23 runs in 22.1 innings this month.
Nelson Cruz, OF, vs. Oak (Doubront), $23: No, he's not any sort of bargain. But he is a destroyer of worlds, with silly numbers for the season and even sillier stats in August (.351/.425/.818). And he makes left-handers cry (.369 AVG, 1.150 OPS).
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. In an attempt to decipher the meaningful from the meaningless, here are the top-five Flames from Preseason Week 2.
Chris Ivory, NYJ, RB – It’s entirely likely the fantasy community has greatly undervalued Ivory. Toting the load for the Jets first team in Atlanta, the brutalizing back smashed and dashed his way to 36 yards and a touchdown, a 33-yard scamper off right tackle (WATCH IT HERE), on five carries. Shockingly, he also caught three passes for 20 yards, a box score contribution that shifted tectonic plates. As always, the former Saint ran aggressively between the tackles and gained ample yards after contact (85.2 YAC% this preseason). His hard-nosed approach, improved hands and minimal competition support the rumors he’ll be a three-down workhorse in Chan Gailey’s spread offense. Bilal Powell will supplant him at times on pass/third downs, but it’s entirely conceivable he totals 250-270 touches, especially if Ryan Fitzpatrick occasionally uses him as a safety valve. Stevan Ridley, coming off knee surgery, and Zac Stacy, coming off a gnarly case of suckitis, are weak competition. And, as a whole, the Jets O is far from a punchline. Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker aren't slouches folks. At his 62.3 ADP (RB29), it’s realistic to think he’ll turn a handsome profit. In other words, he's the ideal ZeroRB target. Roughly 1,100 combined yards with 6-8 TDs are within reach this fall.
Matt Jones, Was, RB – Look out Alf. Those footsteps you hear are drawing near. The rookie from Florida impressed for the second-straight game. Last week against leftover Browns he compiled 49 yards on six touches. Mixing in with the ‘A’ team in the encore versus Detroit, he bulled his way to 44 yards on eight carries with a touchdown. In both games, he displayed quick feet, assertive push and shifty hips (SEE HIGHLIGHTS HERE). At 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, Jones is terrific blend of power and versatility. He’s a north-south bulldozer who gets downhill quickly while maintaining excellent pad level. Also effective as a pass blocker and receiver, he owns a three-down makeup. Morris, for now, is slated for first and second-down duties, but Jones’ all-around skillset poses a threat. Ascending rapidly in the eyes of Jay Gruden and fantasy zealots alike, he could wrest away some 10-12 touches per game once the regular season gets underway. Though the coaching staff clearly cares less about RGIII’s well-being, leaning on the ground game would certainly help alleviate pocket pressure and keep the embattled QB alive. At Jones' current 153.2 ADP (RB58), he’s an upside bench back worthy of a roster spot in 12-team and deeper leagues.
Jimmy Garoppolo, NE, QB – Not exactly Tom Brady courtroom-sketch ugly, Garoppolo threw one pretty pass after another in New Orleans. Composed, accurate and highly efficient with ones and twos, he completed 28 of 33 passes for 269 yards and a touchdown (WATCH HIGHLIGHTS HERE). Through two preseason games, the Eastern Illinois product has made significant strides across the board. Blessed with a quick release and considerable pocket poise, he's completed 76.2 percent of his attempts, though his deep ball is still a work in progress. With or without Brady for the regular season’s first four games, the Patriots should be in good hands. Assuming Mr. Bundchen serves his full suspension, it’s not loony to project fringe QB1 numbers early on for Garoppolo. A difficult road matchup at Buffalo the exception, New England is blessed with a favorable out-of-the-gate slate, including delectable matchups against Pittsburgh and Jacksonville. Only a complete nincompoop would post porous numbers against soft opponents with Rob Gronkowski, Brandon LaFell and Julian Edelman on roster. Facing the Steelers opening night sans LeGarrette Blount, he’s a strong candidate to log 250 yards and two scores. Suffice it to say, I will own a boatload of Jimmy G shares in Daily. Brady investors and QB streamers take notice.
Nelson Agholor, Phi, WR – Chatted up repeatedly in this space over the past several weeks, the rookie from USC is coming into his own. He was a standout for the second straight week exhibiting crisp routes, separation/ball-tracking skills and off-the-line quicks. His four catches for 45 yards didn't light up the scoreboard, but he's undoubtedly the most talented option outside Jordan Matthews on the Eagles roster. Josh Huff and Riley Cooper simply can't compete. Among projected starters, only Brandin Cooks has tallied a higher preseason WR rating according to Pro Football Focus. Chip Kelly professed his love for the kid in May. Soon, his fantasy investors will express a similar adoration. Keep in mind, the Eagles attempted the fifth-most pass attempts last year. The ground game and Matthews will be Philly's flavor most times inside the red-zone, but a long TD reception or five are plausible for the rookie. Recall Jeremy Maclin was targeted 144 times last year. J-Matt will see an uptick from his 103 looks last year, but Agholor may entice roughly 7-9 targets per game from the get go. At his current 67.2 ADP (WR29), he's WR3 gold. A 65-1000-6 line is completely achievable.
Richard Rodgers, GB, TE – Catastrophe greeted Green Bay Sunday in Pittsburgh as Jordy Nelson succumbed to a torn ACL. Losing a second marquee wide receiver in less than a week was a major bummer, but the games must go on. Davante Adams, Ty Montgomery and Jeff Janis instantly received value upgrades. Though he hasn't received as much publicity, the sophomore tight end deserves one too. Evidenced in his 3-30-1 output against the Steelers, the depth-chart topper is on the cusp of a breakthrough campaign. Late last week, Mike McCarthy praised Rodgers for his playbook advancements work ethic and on-field execution. A season ago, the Cal product was a deer in headlights. His skinnier frame and dull routes greatly hindered his production, particularly after the catch (1.9 YAC in '14). Stronger and brimming with confidence, he looks like a totally different player. It's been four years since the Packers cranked out a top-10 fantasy TE (JerMichael Finley). Down Jordy and with Aaron Rodgers' faith in him growing by the second, Rodgers is a late-round wildcard worth stashing in challenging formats.
Tyrod Taylor is now firmly on the radar in two-QB formats. He showed playmaking ability via ground and air against the Browns (7/10, 65 yds, 4-41). Playing with a bunch of glorified CFLers he was efficient in zone-read, exhibited solid zip/accuracy on his passes and played with poise. One more strong effort and Matt Cassel/E.J. Manuel will be left in the dust. His rushing contributions definitely raise his profile ... B-Marsh hauled in four catches for 62 yards against Atlanta. He showcased vintage form winning battles at the line of scrimmage while running smooth routes. With a short-armed QB under center and in an air-friendly system, it’s no stretch to predict 75-plus catches for the former Pro Bowler … Are we underrating Jeremy Maclin? Everyone writes KC WRs off after last year’s TD drought, but the coveted free agent is the most talented target the Chiefs have had in eons. His ADP has crept up slightly in recent days, but at 65.6 (WR28) he could be a WR2 at a WR3 price. His three receptions for 22 yards and a TD on a couple series against Seattle may only be the beginning ... No one questioned Dorial Green-Beckham's physical prowess when the Titans took him with the 40th overall pick in May's Draft. At 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, dude is a cell-phone tower. But his raw routes, suspect work ethic and previous off-the-field transgressions raised doubt. However, he's kept his head on straight and displayed substantial polish. If Marcus Mariota establishes some consistency, watch out. DGB is shaping up to be one nasty playmaker and red-zone threat, provided he has a 'fall guy' ...
The Twitter infatuation for Lions RB Zach Zenner is puzzling. Has he looked good? Yes. He's averaged 4.53 yards per carry in two games displaying excellent versatility and break-tackle ability. However, he racked those numbers largely against third-stringers. Behind Joique Bell, Theo Riddick, Ameer Abdullah and even George Winn in the pecking order, there's no guarantee he makes the team. Chill. Now if Jerry Jones goes after him ... Please continue to buy the hype on Charles Johnson. I'll gladly take the discount on Mike Wallace. No knock on Johnson, who caught four passes for 40 yards and a TD against the Raiders and reportedly is Teddy Bridgewater's most trusted receiver, but Wallace is the superior talent, when motivated. I'm confident the seasoned vet is the Vikings WR to own and a fantastic value at his 80.1 ADP (WR32) ... If you didn't know already, Brandin Cooks is good, really good. His slick sticks, reliable hands and explosion after the catch torched New England (4-117-1, HIGHLIGHTS). I still believe end-zone dances won't be a common occurrence in a socialist offense, but 95-100 catches for 1,200 yards are possible ...
Another sophomore receiver, Allen Robinson, is well on his way to a breakout campaign. The Jags' No. 1 hauled in three passes for 64 yards against the Giants. If Blake Bortles shows competency, the WR is a near lock for 70-1000-7 ... Indy's offensive line is as unsatisfactory as it was last year. Andrew Luck was placed under duress 33.3 percent of the time against a below-average Bears D-line. But don't be overly alarmed, Luck fans. Inept blocking tends to benefit opportunistic QB runners ... You're kidding yourself if you believe Ryan Mathews won't play a prominent role this year. Playing with Eagles' starters, he, DeMarco Murray and Darren Sproles formed a three-headed monster. It's safe to assume, he'll register 10-12 touches per game and occasionally poach at the goal-line. Bury the hatchet ... Andre Ellington haters are rejoicing after David Johnson laid the lumber on San Diego. The rookie ran tough between-the tackles and flashed dependable hands finishing with 81 total yards on 15 touches. Ellington is locked into the starting gig, but Johnson is one strong effort away from sewing up the No. 2 spot. Handcuff ...
Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise
When Jordy Nelson crumbled to the ground after a non-contact injury Sunday in Pittsburgh, the fantasy community held its collective breath. Still reeling from Kelvin Benjamin’s knee setback earlier in the week, most hoped a little dirt-rubbing would cure Nelson’s ailment.
Though he limped off the field unassisted, the worst possible scenario came to fruition. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the initial diagnosis for the popular fantasy WR1 is a torn ACL. The tear is expected to be confirmed by an MRI. His 2015 season is now lost.
The injury imp strikes again.
Obviously the news is devastating, but in a next-man up league, Nelson’s departure swings open the door of opportunity for several of Green Bay’s young, talented receivers.
Second-year weapon Davante Adams stands to benefit most.
All summer long Aaron Rodgers has talked up the sophomore target mouthing such superlatives as “very polished,” “humungous upside” and “going to be a star." To say the QB has faith in Adams would be a huge understatement.
He isn’t a burner by any stretch, but Adams is physical off the line, can climb the ladder and possesses a rangy frame (6-foot-1, 215-pounds). At times, drops have plagued him, but the organization’s confidence in the kid is sky high.
Rodgers turned a very average James Jones into a fantasy relevant commodity. Adams, far more talented, is now bound to receive the QB’s Midas touch.
Nelson accounted for 151 targets alone last year. Randall Cobb could match that total, but it’s entirely possible Adams exceeds 125 looks this season. In a vertically aggressive offense and tied to an elite passer, he has strong odds of finishing in range of 80 receptions, 1,100 yards and 6-8 TDs. And that might be underselling him. Previously going after pick 100 in average Yahoo drafts, he's worth every penny as early as Round 4 of 12-team exercises. His services should be heavily debated with the likes of Golden Tate, Amari Cooper and Andre Johnson – WRs consistently drafted in the 40-45 overall pick range.
Workout warrior Jeff Janis, a physically gifted target whose routes and system grasp remain rough around the edges, and rookie Ty Montgomery, a flashy, versatile product who excelled after the catch while at Stanford, are on the deep-league radar. With Adams shifting to WR2, WR3 duties are definitely up for grabs. Whoever secures the gig would be bench worthy in deeper formats. Again, the favorable environment and uptick in targets are major pluses. When the matchup is ripe (e.g. Week 1 against Chicago), either would warrant FLEX consideration, especially if bargain basement options in Daily Fantasy.
As for Rodgers, I’m not budging on my No. 2 QB ranking. The man is arguably the best QB currently in the game. Jordy’s absence certainly hurts, but I have the utmost confidence he will maximize the efforts of his greener alternatives. His intelligence, accuracy, strong arm and reliability are nearly unmatched. For fantasy purposes, he and Andrew Luck are in a class by themselves.
Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise.
Some DFS players will build around Clayton Kershaw for Sunday, and that’s perfectly reasonable if you feel you can find the bats. I’m going to center around a couple of secondary aces, and then look to build with first- and second-tier offense. Be sure to check the lineups and weather before you make final decisions.
It would be nice to have some Mets and Rockies at Coors Field, but we don't have their lineups available yet. Feel free to substitute that game into your offense, liberally, as you can.
Michael Wacha, SP, at SD (Rea), $51: The Padres offense has been frisky over the last few days, but it’s still a good spot for your right-handed starter (San Diego is 25th in weighted on-base average for that split). Petco Park helps a pitcher in two ways – obviously it will corral a few mistakes, but it also encourages the moundsman to pound the zone and pitch aggressively.
Jordan Zimmermann, SP, vs. MIL (Garza), $45: The Zim is the second-highest favorite on the Vegas board (-180) but he’s merely the eighth-priciest pitching option. That’s how we like to arbitrage things.
Steve Clevinger, C, vs. MIN (Pelfrey), $7: It’s a punt play, but we get some perks: a No. 5 slot in the batting order, the platoon advantage, and a hit-me pitcher on the other side in Mike Pelfrey. Camden Yards is also a boost.
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, at CIN (Iglesias), $20: So much for the slump – two Saturday jacks put that to rest. Let’s play the hot hand and look for Goldy to keep it going, backed by a homer-friendly yard and a less-than-optimum opposing pitcher.
Chris Owings, 2B, at CIN (Iglesias), $8: Here’s hoping he gets caught up in the Goldschmidt undertow. When we look for a low-priced filler, batting slot (Owings is hitting second) and game environment (hitter-friendly yard; game total of eight) get your attention.
Andres Blanco, SS, at MIA (Conley), $7: The Phillies offense hasn’t been that bad in the second half, checking in 11th on the run-scoring board. Blanco has shined in limited opportunities against southpaws, posting a .375/.444/.625 line with a couple of homers.
Yasmany Tomas, 3B, at CIN (Ignesias), $8: Saturday was Yaz’s birthday – wait, that’s Carl Yastrzemski. Maybe it got Tomas going, as he visited he Cincinnati bleachers. It’s surprising to see his power at an ordinary level, but he’s otherwise acquitted himself well during his first season (.297 average, despite a dodgy K/BB ratio). Let’s go all-in with the Arizona offense, especially with two of the purchases coming cheaply. Don’t worry, we’ll get some name brands before this all ends.
Brett Gardner, OF, vs. CLE (Bauer), $16: Does Trevor Bauer look out of gas to you? He has a 6.25 ERA over 13 starts, and I suspect he’s getting close to a shut-it-down date. You have permission to therapeutically drop him, and start any Yankee lefties you like.
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, vs. CLE (Bauer), 17: The same angle here, we’re looking to jump on Bauer. Ellsbury’s OPS gets a 74-point boost against opposing righties, and he’s hit three homers this month, working his way back into form.
Bryce Harper, OF, vs. MIL (Garza), $21: Because we went with modest pitching and a few infield discounts, we can load up on the outfield bats. Most of Harper’s stats are ridiculous in his MVP-frontrunning season, but especially note that he’s slugging .681 against righties and .678 at home. And Matt Garza is someone we look to capitalize on these days.
This time of year the lexicons of fake footballers expand to include such words as “snipe,” “bust,” and “flex.” For the most part, each of these colloquialisms is easy to understand.
Recently, however, I’ve heard fans of the virtual game throwing around the term handcuff … and it’s had me shaking my head. To be clear, a “handcuff” is a player (usually a running back) that a fantasy owner drafts in the hopes of safeguarding the value of a different player taken at a higher pick. Ideally, this handcuff is the direct backup to the starter. For example, Knile Davis is the RB2 behind Jamaal Charles. A Charles owner may choose to additionally draft Davis as insurance, aiming to secure the production of Kansas City’s backfield were Charles to be sidelined.
But with an increasing number of teams employing a running back by committee approach, handcuffs aren’t as obvious as they once were. It’s entirely possible that if a starter were to go down, a platoon of players would be called upon in the absent player’s stead. The Texans’ situation illustrates this perfectly.
While Arian Foster is recovering from groin surgery, a combination of Alfred Blue, Chris Polk, Jonathan Grimes, and maybe even Kenny Hilliard may step in to replace him. Throwing a dart at one of these guys and spending a roster spot – especially in a league with a shallow bench – doesn’t make strategic sense.
Additionally, in most cases, the backup isn’t as good as the starter. Therefore, the production you’ll receive won’t be commensurate to that of the initially selected player. Depending on the cost of the handcuff (meaning where he’s drafted) it might be better value to focus on a different position or add more upside to your roster.
Two main questions to ask yourself when considering adding a handcuff to your squad are:
1) Is this guy the clear-cut backup ?
2) Is he worth the price?
It’s my belief that there are only two must-own handcuffs in 2015:
Knile Davis, Kansas City Chiefs
Much to the relief of Chiefs fans, Davis has only needed to start two games since being drafted by the team in 2013. In those two outings, however, the Razorback proved he was worth the third-round pick, rushing for a combined 213 yards and three touchdowns. The junior to Charles by five years, Davis is a crackerjack of a substitute for the elite fantasy RB.
James Starks, Green Bay Packers
The 29-year-old back doesn’t have much value outside of potentially spelling Eddie Lacy. That said, when called upon he does deliver. Having averaged 4.3 YPC over his career, Starks still has the speed and burst to get the job done. He’s also a palatable price in the bottom of the thirteen round.
And three more potential steals for ‘cuff loving owners:
DeAngelo Williams, Pittsburgh Steelers
It’s a bit ironic that Williams is being touted as a handcuff, considering he hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2008. But he’ll only need to stay healthy for the first two outings of 2015. In line to take over the lead back duties while Le’Veon Bell serves a two-game suspension, D-Will could see 14-16 touches per game. An 11.01 ADP is a bit pricey for me, but certainly an option for the skittish Bell owner.
Khiry Robinson, New Orleans Saints
He may not be fast, but Robinson can make defenders miss. Had New Orleans not paid Mark Ingram or added C.J. Spiller, his stock would be through the roof. While he’s currently buried on the Saints depth chart, neither back ahead of him is without considerable durability concerns. Robinson proved effective when subbing in for an injured Ingram Weeks 3-5 of last season, rushing for nearly 250 yards and one TD. Largely undrafted, he’s a sneaky stash for prudent fantasy managers.
Matt Jones, Washington Redskins
A thick bodied bruiser, Jones is a powerful runner with impressive lower body strength. He’s not terribly elusive, but he can truck a fool. Currently the No. 2 to Alfred Morris, the rookie would be elevated to workhorse status if Alf were to falter.
There are a few running back duos in which the secondary back may be worth rostering regardless of whether or not you own the team’s primary RB. The one-two punch of Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard is a great example of this. Both of these backs project to be fantasy starters. That’s why Bernard will cost you a fifth or sixth round pick.
Here are three pass-catching backs that could be used as handcuffs or potential lotto tickets, at a much cheaper price (especially in PPR formats):
Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers
Woodhead’s 2014 was cut short after he broke his right leg in Week 3. Last week, however, the diminutive RB proved he was back, scoring an 8-yard touchdown in the Chargers first preseason game. A favorite amongst PPR enthusiasts, Woodhead could catch as many as sixty balls in 2015. If Melvin Gordon were to go down, Branden Oliver would see the largest uptick in touches, but Woodhead’s volume would also likely increase. His role on third downs and in the passing game is secure.
Roy Helu, Oakland Raiders
The extent to which I have been charmed by Helu’s value is well documented. He’s a versatile player who fits nicely into offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave’s system and is currently behind a back with a fair amount of injury concerns. The bulk of his fantasy points will come via receptions, which - when considering potential game scripts - should be plentiful.
Reggie Bush, San Francisco 49ers
Bush had trouble staying on the field last year, but when he did play he was effective. Most of his numbers came from the passing game, as he averaged nearly four receptions per outing. The 49ers backfield is full of questions, but we do know they’re likely to pass. A lot. That should mean good things for Bush, and could eat into Carlos Hyde’s volume. Personally, I’d pass on Hyde’s current fourth-round ADP and take a flier on Bush in the double-digits.
Follow Liz on Twitter @LizLoza_FF
More fantasy football advice from Yahoo Sports
Dan Haren, SP, vs. Atl (Perez), $39: He has a 3.6:1 K:BB ratio on the year and is underpriced here as the starter for the team that’s by far the most favored team Saturday at -230. The Braves have scored the fewest runs in baseball this season, and Williams Perez has a 46:37 K:BB ratio over 74.2 innings.
Joe Ross, SP, vs. Mil (Yungmann), $39: He’s struggled of late but still owns an impressive 54:9 K:BB ratio on the year with a 1.08 WHIP. He also has a 13.4 SwStr%, which to put into perspective would rank No. 7 among all starters if he qualified. The Nationals are also the third-most favored team on the board in a game with an over/under of just seven.
Nick Hundley, C, vs. NYM (Niese), $14: He’s a catcher who’s played just one day in a row, facing a lefty and is hitting in Coors Field.
Miguel Cabrera, 1B, vs. Tex (Gallardo), $21: After going hitless during his first game back from the DL, he’s 13-for-23 with seven walks over six games. In other words, he’s back to being one of the best hitters in baseball.
D.J. LaMahieu, 2B, vs. NYM (Niese), $16: He’s facing a southpaw in Coors Field and reasonably priced.
Nolan Arenado, 3B, vs. NYM (Niese), $19: Once again, a righty facing a lefty and in Coors Field.
Wilmer Flores, SS, at Col (Rusin), $13: He’s hardly a guarantee to start but owns an .853 OPS against left-handed pitchers this season, and Chris Rusin has a 1.51 WHIP on the year.
Yoenis Cespedes, OF, at Col (Rusin), $19: He went 5-for-6 with five runs scored, three homers, seven RBI and a steal Friday, but this has more to do with my theme to load up on players in Coors Field.
Juan Lagares, OF, at Col (Rusin), $13: He’s cheap and has a .300/.357/.444 line against southpaws this season and will be batting in by far the best hitter’s park in baseball. I’m stacking Coors Field here, in case that wasn’t clear.
Coco Crisp, OF, vs. TB (Ramirez), $7: He can’t stay healthy but when in the lineup, he has eight hits over his past 14 at bats, including stealing a base Friday. Crisp is also the cheapest outfielder available on the board for Saturday’s slate.
Today, we offer a very special chance to beat Pianowski (and me) in a free contest — no prizes here, just an opportunity to say you crushed a legend. As always, we urge you to check the weather before you leave the house.
Jose Reyes, SS, vs. NYM (Colon), $15: This seems like a layup. Reyes is hitting in Coors, he's facing a 42-year-old right-hander with a 4.58 ERA, and he's been hot lately. He's gone 7-for13 with three extra-base hits over the past two games. He's also 5-for-9 in his career against Colon. I'm not passing on Reyes at this price. In fact, I'll gladly take the top two hitters in Colorado's batting order...
Charlie Blackmon, OF, vs. NYM (Colon), $18: Blackmon is slashing .307/.372/.493 against right-handed pitchers this year, and he too has hit well lately. He's reached base safely in each of his last seven games. Not surprisingly, he's been a monster at home this year: .327/.384/.469.
Manny Machado, 3B, at Min (Milone), $18: Machado has hammered Milone specifically (5-for-11, double, HR), and of course he's hit well against left-handers generally (.294/.348/.461). Milone has struggled against RHBs all year (.292/.347/.517, 12 HR), so it's an excellent setup for Manny (and various other O's).
Brett Anderson, P, at Hou (Fiers), $25: He's not perfect, certainly, but this is not a minimum-price pitcher. Anderson generally gives us 6-plus innings and allows three runs or fewer — he's hit those modest marks 12 times in his last 16 starts. Houston isn't the easiest opponent, but at least the team leads the A.L. in total Ks.
Reds LHBs vs. Ari (De La Rosa), various prices: As we've mentioned a few times this year, left-handed hitters are mauling De La Rosa. Check the up-to-date stats: 288 AB, .309/.366/.563, 22 doubles, 17 HR, 26 BB. Give me Votto ($22), give me Bruce ($17), give me Boesch ($7) and Pena ($9).
Desmond Jennings, OF, at Oak (Bassitt), $8: Here's a nice post-injury discount for you. Jennings has hit .333/.360/.417 since returning last week, and he's coming off a 2-for-4 performance. If you're rolling out an ace or two on Friday — plenty to choose from: Bumgarner, Sale, Felix, Cueto, Price — then you'll need to find a few bats from the bargain bin.
Andre Ethier, OF, at Hou (Fiers), $14: Ethier has had zero trouble with Fiers, in limited at-bats (4-for-6, double, triple, BB, no Ks). He's batting fifth for the Dodgers on Friday, surrounded by LHBs.
It’s been a pesky week for outfielders. Hunter Pence hit the DL, Aaron Hicks did too. Yasiel Puig is dinged up. Joc Pederson, mercifully, might be hitting the bench (what took you so long to drop him?).
So you might be looking for outfield answers. And perhaps Marcell Ozuna, finally, is part of the solution.
You remember Ozuna, the big, slugging Miami outfielder who was reasonably good to us last year: .269-72-23-85-3. That’s solid production for an age-24 season. He finished the 2015 draft campaign around ADP 107 in Yahoo leagues, a building block for the middle of your offense.
Alas, Ozuna’s production fell through the floor in the first half of the year. He had a modest .249/.301/.337 slash line through 79 games when the Marlins finally cut the cord, sending the slumping outfielder down to Triple-A. Ozuna certainly isn’t the biggest reason why Miami flopped this year, but he belongs on the list of notable disappointments.
Perhaps some time in the bush leagues did some good for Ozuna – restored confidence, ironed out a few things. He tore up the PCL for a month (.317/.379/.558, five homers) and earned a recall last weekend. He figures to be a regular in the lineup the rest of the way.
Ozuna didn’t do much in his first three starts back, but the pop has returned over the last two appearances. He clocked a homer in Wednesday’s loss at Milwaukee, then followed up with a homer, single and steal in Thursday’s 9-7 victory over Philadelphia. The round-tripper is worth a look on the highlights, a towering shot to left field that bounced off the top of the foul pole. Moon over Miami, indeed.
If you’re ready for a redemption story, Ozuna awaits your call in 42 percent of Yahoo leagues. He’s also affordably priced in the daily market ($12 on Yahoo).
In deeper pools, there are all sorts of values on this Miami offense. J.T. Realmuto has been a Top 12 catcher for most of the summer. Derek Dietrich covers there positions and offers some pop and a terrific eye. Martin Prado isn’t as interesting, but he’s also usable at three spots. And I’m going to root for Ichiro Suzuki until the day he retires; he’s slashing .351/.397/.491 this month.
FIRING BULLETS – WR QUICK TIPS, TRENDS AND TAKES TO KNOW ENTERING THE SEASON
• Over the past six seasons the bust rate of WR1s (Players drafted inside the position's top-12 who finished outside the top-15) is 33.3 percent. Last year, Brandon Marshall, Keenan Allen and Pierre Garcon kicked owners where it counts.
• The biggest positive gainer at the WR position over the past month is Eddie Royal. Thanks to enormous buzz generated during OTAs/minicamp and now training camp, plus Kevin White's shin stress fracture, his value has increased from an ADP of 164.1 to 116.6. Muy caliente!
• On the downside, a bucket of ice has been thrown on Martavis Bryant. Ben Roethlisberger's glowing words about Markus Wheaton two weeks ago and Bryant's brief elbow setback crushed the hype. Since mid-July his draft day price tag has dipped from 43.5 to 53.1. Rough. However, his splash preseason debut (3-55-1) against Jacksonville may reverse the course.
• Last year's kings of inconsistency among those that finished as WR1s (Games less than starter league-average (WR1-WR36) 10.3 fantasy points): 1) Calvin Johnson (7 (in 13 gms), 53.8%), 2) Jeremy Maclin (8, 50.0%), 3t) Mike Evans (7 (in 15 gms), 46.7%), 3t) Julio Jones (7 (in 15 gms), 46.7%), 3t) T.Y. Hilton (7 (in 15 gms), 46.7%).
• Travis Kelce is arguably the most discussed tight end in Fantasyland this summer. After seeing 66.7 percent of KC's snaps last year, the well-rounded target is expected to earn a major uptick in PT, possibly topping out in the 75-80 percent snap range. Behind Gronk/Graham most agree he's the next best thing, provided his TGTs surge over 100 (87 in '14).
Below are nine pressing questions about WR/TE nearing the heart of draft season.
After exhaustive pre-draft research, you've concluded wide receiver is appropriate course of action in Round 1. Who do you take?
Andy – I don't really think you can screw up with any of the top-of-draft receivers, but I'd give a slight edge to DEZ BRYANT. Over the past three years, his lowest single-season reception total is 88, his lowest yardage total is 1,233 and he's never failed to score at least a dozen touchdowns (nor has he missed a game). It's tough to find a wideout with a higher floor.
Brad – ANTONIO BROWN. He's averaged a ridiculous 119 catches, 1,598 yards and 10 TDs the past two seasons. He's also throat-kicked one kicker. Dude is the definition of 'hoss.' In what should be an air-aggressive offense with a loose defense amplifying opportunities, he should come close to matching the two-year mean. Brown is about to clown ... again.
Brandon – DEMARYIUS THOMAS. I love DT's TD upside. He was the red zone target leader last season (39) and Denver loses Julius Thomas, who combined for 15 red zone scores over the past two seasons. I think Demaryius easily has a shot at 15-plus touchdowns to go with his usual top-shelf catch and yardage tallies.
Whether in expert or novice, PPR or standard drafts, Rob Gronkowski has consistently gone in Round 1 of 12-team exercises. On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being Andrew Luck and 10 being Darren McFadden, how safe of a Round 1 pick is Gronk?
Brad – SIX. Acting as tackling dummy for J.J. Watt has more appeal than taking an injury-prone tight end, who has missed 15 games in his career. Yes, Gronk is basically the third-best WR/TE and a TD-scoring machine when healthy, but the risk is awfully heavy, especially if Tom Brady's four-game suspension is upheld. Give me a much safer Marshawn Lynch, Luck or Dez instead.
Brandon – FIVE. The downside of drafting Gronk in Round 1 is the injury history and the potential hurt you'll inflict on your RB/WR crew by skipping one of those positions in the first round. When it comes to drafting anything but a RB or WR in Round 1, I'm just not your guy.
Liz – EIGHT. Scarcity at the TE position is certainly a reason to nab Gronk early. After all, he closed out 2014 with 30 more fantasy points than the virtual game's second best option. A year ago, however, he only cost owners a third round pick. That's obviously a much better price, which allowed managers to add two potential studs before speculating on the hulking talent. To give up that sort of safety while also expecting Gronk's numbers to remain static (or rise) forces fantasy enthusiasts to hit on lotto tickets in the later rounds of their drafts.
Numerous old codgers at wide receiver are being overlooked for Pretty Young Things like Amari Cooper, Allen Robinson and Jarvis Landry. Which of the following Metamucil chuggers has the best chance to outperform the whippersnappers: Steve Smith, Larry Fitzgerald, Marques Colston, Roddy White or Anquan Boldin?
Brandon – BOLDIN. I'll be the Ambassador of 'Quan, who has averaged 84 catches, 1,120.5 yards and 6 TDs for one of the NFL's most run-heavy offenses over the past two seasons. The 49ers defense figures to be as bad as its been in years this season, and new OC Geep Chryst obviously took this defensive assessment to mind when he revealed that the 49ers will play at a much faster tempo this season. even if Boldin hits on his average for the past two years, he'll be tough for the young guys to beat. But the sytem should be a bit riper from a WR standpoint this season.
Liz – STEVE SMITH. He's announced that he'll retire at the end of the season. Given the boulder sized chip on his shoulder, I'm willing to bet he'll end his career with an exclamation point. Plus, with Torrey Smith now in San Francisco and Owen Daniels gone to Denver, he's Joe Flacco's most familiar target in the passing game.
Dalton – RODDY WHITE. I'm not in anyway bullish on any of these wideouts, but White scored seven times over 14 games last year, and he averaged 1295.5 receiving yards from 2007-2012. All of these receivers are clearly in the decline phase of their careers though.
Unlike 2014's historic rookie class, this year's crop of youngsters largely pales in comparison, at least in the average drafter's mind. Essentially it's Amari Cooper, Nelson Agholor and everyone else. Out of the leftovers, who has the best shot to shine: DeVante Parker, Breshad Perriman, Phillip Dorsett, Dorial Green-Beckham, Devin Funchess or WILDCARD?
Liz – DEVIN FUNCHESS. I like DeVante Parker a lot, but with the news that Kelvin Benjamin will be lost for the season due to a torn ACL, Funchess has intriguing value. He's very raw, but so was KBen a year ago. Cam Newton - who has a habit of throwing the ball high and wild - benefits from receivers built like skyscrapers. At six-foot-four and 225 pounds, Funchess fits that profile. His involvement Week 3 of the preseason will be telling, provided his tender hamstring is healed.
Dalton – I'll stick with PERRIMAN, but it's tough with his injury situation (although Parker is hurt too). Devin Funchess also gets a boost with Kelvin Benjamin now out for the season. This really seems like a total crap shoot.
Scott – For the most part I'm fading rookie WR hype this year, thinking last year's historic output sets most of them up to be overpriced this time around. That said, DEVANTE PARKER might be a relative bargain in most drafts, given the foot injury that collapsed the price. It sounds like the rehab is going well and he might be ready for the opener. Parker has the highest long-term upside in Miami by far (Jennings is too old, Landry just a chain-moving possession guy).
What overlooked WR is the virtual game’s most undervalued?
Dalton – TORREY SMITH. His current ADP is 108.6 as the No. 40 WR off the board. Smith scored 11 touchdowns last season and had 1128 receiving yards the year before that. The 49ers' defense was decimated during the offseason, and the team is now projected to win just 6.5 games, so they should be throwing more than ever.
Scott – I love an Ibanez All-Star in any fantasy game, an boring but useful veteran who comes with a tiny cost. ANQUAN BOLDIN is the best fit for that suit, though I also like the names recommended by Behrens, below. I'm sure I'll have shares of all three, in the appropriate WR4 or WR5 tag of course. (And I'd also like to mention, the hate has gone way too far on Jeremy Maclin. Not everything was Alex Smith's fault last year; Dwayne Bowe can't play any more.)
Andy – Am I allowed to award this to both EDDIE ROYAL and STEVIE JOHNSON? Both guys are in line to see 100-plus targets and both have generated low-level camp/preseason buzz. For whatever reason (probably because we know these guys so well), neither Royal or Johnson is getting drafted inside the top-120 picks in typical Yahoo drafts. Both players have a clear path to top-40 value.
On the flip side, what WR is the most overvalued?
Scott – AMARI COOPER is drafted as a WR2 in many pools, which strikes me as foolish given the limitations of Derek Carr and the overall stench of the Oakland offense. I'd be head over heels for Cooper in most cities, but not in this wasteland. Hell, even the stadium stinks.
Andy – Well, since I went with a Bears receiver in the last question, I'll take a different one here. ALSHON JEFFERY is going a bit too high for my liking. For one thing, he's already dinged, dealing with a calf issue. We also have to accept the fact that Chicago doesn't want to be the sort of team that puts the ball in the air 600 times. And when the Bears are throwing, plenty of Cutler's attempts will be going to Royal, Bennett and Forte. Basically, I'm not ready to assign Alshon to the Jordy Nelson (pre-injury) or the A.J. Green class, but I've repeatedly seen him selected in that range.
Brad – T.Y. HILTON. Fast, a strong route runner and reliable, Hilton has plenty of plus attributes. However, given the sheer number of weapons Luck has at his disposal, including offseason additions Andre Johnson, Frank Gore and Phillip Dorsett, it's hard to imagine he matches or tops last season's 82-1345-7. Expect a slight regression, which means he's unlikely to profit at his 26.1 ADP (WR11).
To the point. Rank, in order, the top-five reception leaders this season. Also, include a catch projection in parentheses.
Andy – Antonio Brown (109), Odell Beckham (104), Demaryius Thomas (102), Calvin Johnson (100), Randall Cobb (98).
Brad – 1) Antonio Brown (112), 2) Demaryius Thomas (105), 3) Odell Beckham (102), 4) Julio Jones (100), 5) Brandin Cooks (98)
Brandon – 1.) Demaryius Thomas (115) 2.) Antonio Brown (112) 3.) Odell Beckham (101) 4.) Julio Jones (99) 5.) Brandin Cooks (97)
Universally, the Yahoo fantasy crew has Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Travis Kelce, Greg Olsen and Martellus Bennett inside their TE top-five. Peering down the list, what oversized target has the best odds of joining the position's elite?
Brad – AUSTIN SEFERIAN-JENKINS. At 6-foot-5, 258-pounds, ASJ is an ogre. Yes, Jameis resembled refried butt in his pro debut, but you know Dirk Koetter will encourage him to lean on his tight end in the short field. Couple that with a generous Tampa D and the attention Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson are sure to draw and Seferian-Jenkins has all the makings of a breakthrough campaign.
Brandon – TYLER EIFERT. I absolutely loved him coming out of Notre Dame. Had great athleticism, and was murder on the defense in jump ball situations. When he first entered the league, Jermaine Gresham was still a decent player, so Eifert had to take a bit of a backseat. When his opportunity to step up into the spotlight finally arrived in '14, he hit the IR and was lost for the season. Now fully healthy, he's got the skill and opportunity to take his fantasy game to the upper class.
Liz – TYLER EIFERT. With Jermaine Gresham out of the way and the shoulder/elbow injury that sent him to the IR in 2014 fully healed, Eifert offers legit breakout appeal. Since entering camp, he and Andy Dalton have been clicking and demonstrating serious chemistry. As much as I like Marvin Jones, he's been slow to recover from the ailments that took him out of last season. And Mohamed Sanu drops more balls than he catches. That leaves Eifert as the Red Rifle's potential number two option in Ciny's passing game.
Scott – I'm also an Eifert fan (he's well-documented above), but let's additionally keep an eye on VERNON DAVIS. Last year can mostly be written off to injury (and the Harbaugh/Kaepernick disconnect); Davis was a terrific fantasy producer in four of the previous five seasons.
Play the Powerball. What WR shocker special (100-plus Yahoo ADP) will come out of nowhere and rock the fantasy world?
Andy – JOHN BROWN. His highlights last year were as good as anyone's (click it), and he's such an ideal fit for a vertical passing game. It wouldn't surprise me a bit if he made the leap into the top-25 at his position.
Brad – JOHN BROWN. Eddie Royal is a windmill slam dunk with Kevin White shelved, but for the sake of diversification, give me the Desert Bird. With Carson Palmer on the field from Weeks 6-10, he was the 29th-best wide receiver in the virtual game. This spring, Brown tacked on 10 pounds of upper-body bulk to improve his execution against the press, an area he posted an already stellar 75-percent success rate last fall. Considering Floyd's sketchy availability early, he has 65-950-7 upside.
Brandon – MARQUES COLSTON. I know what you are thinking ... "Ewww!" But, while we all love Brandin Cooks, we have to consider who Drew Brees is going to look to in the red zone now that Jimmy Graham, who has averaged 23.5 RZ targets over the past two seasons, is off to Seattle. Sure, Colston has slowed down, but his been a solid TD guy throughout his career, five times scoring at least 8 TDs. At 6-foot-4, it's likely he'll be among the red zone target leaders in '15. I also like Anquan Boldin, and rookies Philip Dorsett and DeVante Parker for this question. And I'll definitely be keeping an eye on Colston's emerging teammate Brandon Coleman, who continues to build up buzz with an excellent camp.
Liz – CECIL SHORTS. I've been banging the Stevie Johnson drum since the early summer, so I figured I'd change things up. While Houston's talent under center is decidedly sub-par the team will have to throw the ball with the centerpiece of their offense likely to miss half of the regular season. DeAndre Hopkins is the Texans clear-cut No. 1 receiver, but Cecil Shorts could very well fill the vacancy left by Andre Johnson. He's certainly not as studly, but with the ability to play both the outside and the slot he could see a decent amount of targets while Foster is on the shelf.
Dalton – NELSON AGHOLOR. He's in an ideal situation in Philly for a team that scored the third-most ppg last season and has impressed so far in camp. The Eagles lost Jeremy Maclin (and his 143 targets) during the offseason, and Zach Ertz is questionable to be ready to start the season.
Scott – Apparently everyone loves John Brown now. Glad that wasn't the case when the Stopa Auction went down in July. I like EDDIE ROYAL to be a handy value at the 128 ADP buy-in; the Kevin White injury opens up a few targets, and Royal and Jay Cutler had some fun in Denver.
Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise
We have 11 games to choose from on Thursday, with a collection of sketchy pitchers on the mound. Let's find some friendly matchups. As always, check the weather before you leave the house.
Nick Castellanos, 3B, vs. Tex (Perez), $13: Castellanos is 8-for-21 over his last five games and he's coming off a two-homer performance at Wrigley on Thursday. He'll face a left-handed starter on Thursday, and that's been a nice pairing all season — his OPS against lefties is .981 for the year (.628 vs. RHPs).
Welington Castillo, C, at Cin (Lamb), $16: After sitting on Wednesday, Castillo should be good to go against Lamb. For his career, Beef has slashed .297/.369/.486 against LHPs (.238/.305/.393 vs. RHPs), so the matchup clearly works. Stacking D-backs seems like a decent play on Thursday.
Patrick Corbin, P, at Cin (Lamb), $46: Corbin is coming off a useful start (6.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 8 Ks) and his team is a pretty clear favorite here. Lamb was shaky in his first start (6.0 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 7 Ks); I'm not expecting him to shut down Arizona's bats here, either.
Jake Arrieta, P, vs. Atl (Foltynewicz), $50: The Cubs are a massive favorite here (-270), largely because the pitching matchup so obviously favors Chicago. Arrieta has been ridiculous all season, and particularly dominant since the all-star break: 4-1, 1.56 ERA, 40.1 IP, 40 Ks. Atlanta is dead-last in the National League in run-scoring and slugging, so no great worries there.
Cubs LHBs, C-1B-2B-LF-CF, vs. Atl (Foltynewicz), various prices: Foltynewicz has been hammered by LHBs this season, both in the minors and the bigs. At Triple-A, left-handed hitters slashed .271/.354/.447 against him. In the majors, it's .333/.373/.583 with eight homers and 13 doubles in 156 at-bats. Thus, I'm rolling out some lineups that look like the one over there on the right -->
Schwarber certainly isn't cheap ($21), but he might just be worth it. Coghlan has hit all 14 of his home runs and all but one of his XBHs against right-handers this year. He seems like a steal at $14.
Xander Bogaerts, SS, vs. KC (Duffy), $17: Continuing our theme, Bogaerts has just absolutely crushed left-handers this year: .390/.433/.517, 46-for-118, 10 XBHs. He's not exactly a bargain on Thursday, but this matchup really seems like a layup.
Jason Kipnis, 2B, at NYY (Nova), $15: I'm happy to take the post-injury discount here, considering the quality of the player. Nova is a perfectly hittable pitcher — 4.17 ERA over his last seven starts — so he certainly shouldn't scare you away from Kipnis.
It’s a headache fantasy commissioners know all too well. Chasing down that old college buddy to send you a check or stalking a coworker to give you the cash he promised he’d have last week. Collecting league dues and paying out at the end of the season can be a pain in the tight end. Starting this Fantasy Football season on Yahoo Sports, users will be able to pay their league dues in a seamless and easy way for free -- introducing private cash leagues.
Coming off the heels of our Yahoo Sports Daily Fantasy announcement back in July, we’re excited to give our users something they have wanted for a long time.
With private cash leagues, commissioners will have the power to set the amount players owe for league dues and what the final payout will be at the end of the year. Yahoo will not take a transaction fee. Players can use credit card, Paypal or their Fantasy Wallet to pay their dues easily and seamlessly. No waiting, no delay, just your reward for dominating your league. Already created a league? No worries, just head to the commissioner tools and create a Cash League contest for your league. Learn more.
Football preseason has already begun, so if you haven’t created your league, now’s the time. If you have a league, time to get those dues in before the season starts!
The post-hype sleeper is dead. Long live the next post-hype sleeper.
We’ve been having a roto party with Aaron Hicks, Minnesota’s snappy outfielder, but the story came to a halt Wednesday in The Bronx. Hicks suffered a left-hamstring injury in the sixth inning of Minnesota’s loss to the Yankees, and he was subsequently placed on the 15-day disabled list. Rotoheads will feel a sting on this one, as Hicks has been a Top 24 outfielder over the last month (.277-18-5-16-2), ultimately settling in as the team’s leadoff man.
Maybe it’s a stretch to call Byron Buxton a true post-hype case – he’s still considered the top hitting prospect in all of baseball. In other words, these are the present-hype days. Alas, Buxton didn’t do much with the Twins during an earlier cup of coffee (.189 average, 15 strikeouts in 11 games), but perhaps the 21-year-old is ready to make an impact now.
Buxton missed about six weeks with a busted thumb, and the Twins decided to send him to Triple-A, not the big-league club, when the smoke cleared in early August. But Buxton’s been on a tear with Rochester, a .400 binge through two weeks of play.
The Twins are desperately hoping to stay in the wild card race in the AL, and they’ll give Buxton a shot to play right away. He's capable of being a difference-maker on the bases right away, and he might show some pop, too.
If you’re in the move to roll the bones, Buxton is a free agent in about 75 percent of Yahoo leagues.
• The Dodgers have a handful of problems right now – an injured second baseman, a slumping center fielder, the looming Giants. The latter issue won’t go away anytime soon, but a trade on Wednesday addressed the first two issues.
L.A. made the move for veteran 2B Chase Utley, sending two prospects (Darnell Sweeney, John Richy) to Philadelphia in exchange for the 36-year-old infielder. Utley will be reunited with Jimmy Rollins, his former double-play partner in Philly, and he’ll settle in as a starter while Howie Kendrick rehabs his hamstring injury.
Utley’s seasonal numbers are in the toilet, but he’s been a different player since his return from an ankle injury. He’s on a 15-for-31 tear over his last eight games, with a 1.227 OPS. Maybe that .179 first half can’t be taken at face value. Utley was a respectable .270/.339/.407 stick last year, with 11 homers and 10 steals.
Enrique Hernandez had been the temporary second basemen for the Dodgers, but he’ll probably get a new assignment: center field. Rookie flash Joc Pederson has been in a monstrous slump for two months, posting a messy .173/.332/.311 line with 71 strikeouts. You can’t blame the club for wanting to go in a different direction, at least for now. Hernandez has been a pleasant surprise through his 61-game sample, posting an .863 OPS with six homers.
Utley is owned in 37 percent of Yahoo leagues, while the versatile Hernandez (three positional tags) trades at seven percent. Start your engines.
• Back to the post-hype song we love to sing, how about Jackie Bradley Jr. of the Red Sox? He’s been an angelic defensive outfielder for his entire pro career, but his bat has been suspect for a couple of years now.
Perhaps he’s finally turned a corner in 2015. Bradley, 25, posted a super .305/.382/.472 line with nine homers in 71 Triple-A games, and he’s been a dynamo for the Red Sox in the second half (.1.037 OPS over 68 plate appearances, three home runs). You probably noticed his two-homer, seven-RBI jamboree against Seattle last weekend, and he had a three-run jack in Wednesday’s victory over Seattle.
The Red Sox don’t have an obvious place for Bradley to play now that Hanley Ramirez is back on the field, but the way Hanley’s hobbling around these days, I’m not confident he’ll be playing much longer. And given where Boston sits in the standings, it might as well let kids like Bradley play – this season should be about development and evaluation. Bradley actually reminds me a lot of Hicks, another 25-year-old outfielder who finally started to hit this year after a couple of fizzled tryouts.
Bradley is still ready for a tire-kick in 78 percent of Yahoo leagues. There’s a pedigree here, and it wasn’t entirely built on his defense. Keep an open mind.
In the midst of fantasy football draft season, we caught up with Steve Rannazzisi, who plays Kevin MacArthur on the hit FXX show, "The League."
Rannazzisi breaks down his top fantasy pick, Adrian Peterson, saying a year off should help the running back's body but does admit he's no sure thing.
He's also high on Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill taking a big step forward, predicting he could become the top overall fantasy QB this season.
While many advocate taking a running back with their first two picks, Rannazzisi sees a lot of depth at receiver and it should depend on who is available when you are drafting instead of a predetermined plan.
Much the opposite of his character on the show, Rannazzisi cautions not to take yourself too seriously and have fun during your draft.
Each week the ADP Progress Report highlights the movers and shakers over the past several days from data compiled by Fantasy Football Calculator. Satisfactory check-pluses in courteousness, self-control and neatness are not required. Today's topic: Fastest fallers.
Melvin Gordon, SD, RB (Current ADP: 36.5, -10.1 from July 20) – The electricity once tied to the rookie rusher has subsided considerably in recent days. Gordon, an explosive, gliding runner whose style echos Jamaal Charles', was expected to step in and handle the load immediately for San Diego. Though that may still be the case, worries have mounted. Danny Woodhead, who missed most of '14 with a broken leg, is healthy and slated for an integral role in Mike McCoy's offense. The plucky back's superior receiving and pass protection skills suggest Gordon will play exclusively on early downs, a probable outcome this year. Couple that with Woodhead's possible goal-line poaching, and it's clear why the youngster's ADP continues to slide. His pro debut didn't exactly help reverse the trend. Against Dallas, Gordon recorded a miserable 11 yards on six carries. He often made the first defender miss, but was quickly swarmed under behind an ineffective offensive line, a unit that ranked dead last in run-blocking last year per Pro Football Focus. Still the most sought after rookie in average drafts, he's terribly overvalued. Anticipate closer to 1,100 total yards with 4-6 TDs than the 1,300-9 projections many 'experts' have spouted.
C.J. Anderson, Den, RB (8.3, -2.2 since July 20) – Scars from last year's Montee Ball burning, apparently, remain visible. Owners have pushed the panic button ceaselessly since Anderson rolled his ankle in Denver's preseason opener in Seattle. Though painful memories of Ball's disastrous 2014 are still fresh, the overreaction on CJA is unnecessary. Yes, Anderson has a limited track record, but what he accomplished last season was nothing short of magnificent. Carrying the mail from Week 10 on, he tallied 4.7 yards per carry, 132.1 total yards per game and 10 touchdowns, the second-best fantasy output among all rushers. Equally impressive, he recorded 53.6 percent of his yards after initial contact and recorded the fourth-best elusive rating (70.4) at the position. Not only an adept rusher, he's also an impactful receiver and blocker. Undoubtedly, he's the most balanced RB on the Broncos roster and an ideal fit for Gary Kubiak's zone-blocking scheme. Add that to his head coach's fondness for workhorses (e.g. Arian Foster and Justin Forsett), and it's plain to see why he'll be a 300-plus touch back. Denver's patchwork offensive line remains a work in progress, but 1,500 combined yards with 10-12 TDs are achievable. No player, particularly a RB, is 100-percent safe. However, Anderson is a dead bolt. Quit slamming the silly sauce. Trust the projected volume.
C.J. Spiller, NO, RB (53.6, -6.3 since Aug 11) – Spiller hurt? Here we go again. Scheduled to miss the remainder of the preseason after undergoing minor knee surgery, Spiller has lost many supporters over the past week. Reservations are warranted. Though he generated occasionally vibrant numbers at his previous stop in Buffalo, he missed eight games due to myriad injuries from 2013-2014. If he plays a full 16-game slate this year, Donald Trump wins the presidency next November. Still, he's worth plucking off the clearance rack in PPR leagues. Even over 13 contests, he could be spectacular. Sean Payton has repeatedly said he wants to feed Spiller in space. Mark Ingram will almost certainly handle the tough, between-the-tackles carries and goal-line totes, but his sidekick should take on a Pierre Thomas-like role, functioning as a swing and screen-game weapon. Recall over the past five combined seasons, New Orleans RBs averaged 142.6 receptions and 1,052 receiving yards per year, far and away the most at the position. And from 2011-2013, Spiller hauled in 116 receptions netting a stout 7.97 yards per catch. Dude is about to do WORK as a gadget back. Don't be surprised if he exceeds 65 receptions, 1,000 combined yards and five TDs this year.
ADDITIONAL FREE FALLERS
Russell Wilson, Sea, QB (50.7, -4.7 since July 20) – Why on earth is Wilson falling? Unsustainable rushing production? WR concerns? Conservative offense? Refusing to seal the deal with Ciara?! Whatever the reason, the Seahawk's slide is inexplicable. With Jimmy Graham in town, this is the best arsenal the passer has ever had. Sure his rushing stats will likely decline from last year's lofty level (849-6), but it's not like he's going to morph into Tom Brady on the ground. Behind a rickety offensive line, one that put him under duress 46 percent of the time last year, he'll take advantage of what the defense gives him and break contain often. Another 800 rush yards are unlikely, but he should make up that lost production through the air, retuning to 2012 and 2013's 26 TDs. Behind Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers, he's the third-best QB option. Period.
Tevin Coleman, Atl, RB (82.1, -15.5 since July 20) – Coleman's value decline is a prime example why most fantasy owners fear the unknown. After missing critical practice time with a hamstring injury, drafters have greatly lowered their expectations for the Indiana product. Buy on the bear. The rookie is an aggressive, relentless north-south runner who isn't shy about contact. A pedal-to-metal accelerator (4.39 40-yard dash) who explodes through tight spaces and leaves second/third-tier defenders eating dust in the open-field, he's the definition of "home-run hitter" (7.54 ypc in '14). Also an accomplished receiver and pass blocker, he owns three-down potential. In Kyle Shanahan's zone-blocking system, a scheme similar to what he played in while at IU, he should overtake Devonta Freeman at some point this year. Coleman will likely enter the regular season locked in a near 50-50 timeshare, but come October, it would be no surprise if he titled the scales in his favor, netting 60-percent of the touches. Point blank, he's too talented not to.
Sammy Watkins, Buf, WR (56.3, -4.8 since July 20) – "Uncoverable." "Makes difficult catches look routine." "Head-and-shoulders the best player in camp." These are descriptions writers walking the Bills beat have said about Sammy this summer. No one questions Watkins' skills. He's a tough, explosive receiver who notched admirable numbers in his inaugural campaign (65-982-6). However, the quarterback situation is remarkably undesirable. Matt Cassel, Tyrod Taylor and E.J. Manuel wouldn't scare an intramural flag football team. Greg Roman's ultra conservative offense is also a knock. Put it all together, and it's easy to see why people have shied away. Still, if he slips outside the WR top-24, there's plenty of profit potential. it's entirely conceivable he matches what Anquan Boldin did last year in Roman's offense (83-1062-5). Do that and he should flirt with a top-20 finish.
Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise.
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. From time to time, as part of this process, we decide 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 (six rounds) each expert required to draft players currently owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues ...
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Round 1 Pick 1 — Ryan Mathews, Phi, RB (Brandon Funston)
Funston says – Expected to get 8-10 touches per game as it stands, which sits just fine for the player pool we are pulling from here. But the upside goes through the roof if DeMarco Murray goes down.
Round 1 Pick 2 — Stevie Johnson, SD, WR (Scott Pianowski)
Pianowman says – Put a coin in the slot machine. Cherry, cherry, cherry. Eddie Royal was useful in this position last year, and Johnson has more physical gifts than Royal.
Round 1 Pick 3 — David Cobb, Ten, RB (Dalton Del Don)
3D says – He hasn't exactly impressed so far in camp, but Cobb should still be considered the favorite to act as the Titans' lead back, which could prove fruitful with a major upgrade in QB who's a threat to run.
Round 1 Pick 4 — Carson Palmer, Ari, QB (Andy Behrens)
Behrens says – He's healthy again, directing an Arians offense with high-yield potential. Palmer was on a 4300-yard pace before last year's injury.
Round 1 Pick 5 — Shane Vereen, NYG, RB (Brad Evans)
Big Noise says – According to local reports the new Giant has performed marvelously in training camp. Out from under Belichick his role should be more defined. Could be in line for some 12-14 tchs/g.
Round 1 Pick 6 — Andy Dalton, Cin, QB (Liz Loza)
Loza says – With A.J. Green, Marvin Jones, and Tyler Eifert all healthy as well as another year of experience for pass-catching back Gio Bernard, the Red Rifle is set up to have a sneakily solid FF season. I wouldn't be surprised to see him close out 2015 with 3,7000 yards and 26 TDs.
Round 2 Pick 1 — Tre Mason, StL, RB (Loza)
Loza says – Last year he averaged 4.3 YPC. This year he's cut weight and added speed. He's also slated to start ahead of Gurley and carry the bulk of the load while the Georgia product is eased in.
Round 2 Pick 2 — Eddie Royal, Chi, WR (Evans)
Big Noise says – The rekindled romance with Jay Cutler is real. With Kevin White ailing and Adam Gase emphasizing high-percentage throws, the slot machine is a dark horse for 75-plus receptions.
Round 2 Pick 3 — Bishop Sankey, Ten, RB (Behrens)
Behrens says – No, of course I don't trust him. No one trusts him. His BACKUP went ahead of him in this mock, understandably so. But it sounds like Sankey is still running with the varsity Titans at this point; no reason to abandon all hope after just one season.
Round 2 Pick 4 — Jameis Winston, TB, QB (Del Don)
3D says – He's coming from a pro system and has Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson and ASJ as weapons in a division that should feature a bunch of shootouts. I'd normally wait on QBs, but this specific setup is different.
Round 2 Pick 5 — Alfred Blue, Hou, RB (Pianowski)
Pianowman says – I don't think much of his ability, but this exercise is about lottery tickets, and for the moment, Blue is the No. 1 back on the Houston depth chart. Opportunity is a big part of the game.
Round 2 Pick 6 — Devonta Freeman, Atl, RB (Funston)
Funston says – Don't count on the rookie Coleman to take this job and run with it - Freeman was actually leading on the local beat writer scorecard before both got hurt (hammy) - my money is on Freeman being the platoon leader
Round 3 Pick 1 — DeVante Parker, Mia, WR (Funston)
Funston says – Targeting Week 1 return (foot). Velcro hands, big-time downfield playmaker that seriously goes after the ball - MIA offense arrowing up, and Parker expected to play a sizeable role from the get-go
Round 3 Pick 2 — Tyler Eifert, Cin, TE (Pianowski)
Pianowman says – Buzzy camp, high pedigree, Year 3 on the way. I like when the dots connect like this.
Round 3 Pick 3 — Breshad Perriman, Bal, WR (Del Don)
3D says – He's dealing with a knee injury but should return soon and is in a terrific situation in which he might immediately be Baltimore's No. 1 wide receiver.
Round 3 Pick 4 — Reggie Bush, SF, RB (Behrens)
Behrens says – I do not really share the fantasy community's enthusiasm for either Kaepernick or this team's offense. But I thought it best to select a second RB who's actually going to play. Bush will clearly be the passing-down back for this team.
Round 3 Pick 5 — Danny Woodhead, SD, RB (Evans)
Big Noise says – A return to 2013 is unlikely, but he'll log more snaps/receptions than you think considering Melvin Gordon's struggles in pass pro and pass catching. Like his 900-total yard, 5-TD appeal.
Round 3 Pick 6 — Marvin Jones, Cin, WR (Loza)
Loza says – Sanu drops balls. Jones catches them.
Round 4 Pick 1 — Roy Helu, Oak, RB (Loza)
Loza says – A versatile back coming off of a career year, he should see a lot of action on third downs. In addition, Murray's extensive injury history makes him a tempting late round stash, especially in PPR formats.
Round 4 Pick 2 — Marcus Mariota, Ten, QB (Evans)
Big Noise says – His passing numbers won't excite, but the Cam Newton-lite QB will be an asset on the ground, padding his fantasy stats. I'm expecting a final line around 3,200 pass yards, 18 pass TDs, 500 rush yds and 4 rushing TDs.
Round 4 Pick 3 — Dwayne Bowe, Cle, WR (Behrens)
Behrens says – This is, by far, the worst team I've ever drafted in any sport. So thanks for putting us through this exercise, Funston. At least Bowe is in line for a whole mess of (inaccurate) targets in Cleveland's (atrocious) passing game.
Round 4 Pick 4 — Terrance WIlliams, Dal, WR (Del Don)
3D says – His TD production was a bit fluky last year, but I fully expect his targets to increase this season. Imagine if Dez Bryant were to get hurt.
Round 4 Pick 5 — Jonas Gray, NE, RB (Pianowski)
Pianowman says – Get him a new alarm clock and cell phone. Never had a doubt about the ability, and he flashed in the first preseason game.
Round 4 Pick 6 — Phillip Dorsett, Ind, WR (Funston)
Funston says – I like the blazingly fast rookie to beat out Moncrief for the No. 3 WR job, which actually should have some some decent value in what could be the highest-scoring offense in the league
Round 5 Pick 1 — Ladarius Green, SD, TE (Funston)
Funston says – Can count on at least four games of full-time duty - if the freakish athlete makes good on the opportunity, it should keep him heavily in the mix after that, even with Gates back
Round 5 Pick 2 — Cody Latimer, Den, WR (Pianowski)
Pianowman says – He had no idea what he was doing as a rookie, but he's made up a lot of ground in the last eight monhts. If he can quickly gain the trust of Peyton Manning, the entire equation changes.
Round 5 Pick 3 — Coby Fleener, Ind, TE (Del Don)
3D says – There are a lot of mouths to feed in Indy, but Fleener got 774 receiving yards and eight touchdowns during his third year in the league last season.
Round 5 Pick 4 — Michael Crabtree, Oak, WR (Behrens)
Behrens says – Turn back the clock a few years, and perhaps this team wouldn't look so awful. (Just kidding. This roster is full of bad ideas.) Crabtree has a starting role and history that suggests he's capable of, say, a 68-900-6 fantasy line.
Round 5 Pick 5 — Brian Quick, StL, WR (Evans)
Big Noise says – Before he was felled by a shoulder injury last fall, he was on pace for 57 receptions, 857 yards and 7 touchdowns, a borderline top-30 WR output.
Round 5 Pick 6 — Josh Huff, Phi, WR (Loza)
Loza says – I like the former Duck over Riley Cooper and/or Miles Austin. Chip Kelly's offense is prolific enough to proivde its third receiver with 100 targets. Huff has the upside.
Round 6 Pick 1 — Jacob Tamme, Atl, TE (Loza)
Loza says – Kyle Shanahan runs a TE-friendly offense. Roddy White is declining. Moeaki and Toilolo are no threat to Tamme. He could have some big weeks.
Round 6 Pick 2 — Virgil Green, Den, TE(Evans)
Big Noise says – A freakish size/speed mixture at TE, he's an interesting out-of-leftfield pick in deeper formats. He's sharpened his routes in training camp and should be a field fixture in Kubiak's two-TE system.
Round 6 Pick 3 — Ben Watson, NO, TE (Behrens)
Behrens says – Because this team just had to get one more 45-year-old skill player. Always a winning strategy. Watson is currently running ahead of Josh Hill for New Orleans; it wouldn't be much of a surprise if he finished with 4-6 TDs.
Round 6 Pick 4 — David Johnson, Ari, RB (Del Don)
3D says – He's dealing with an injury, but that's why he lasted so late here. The rookie RB could make a major impact if Andre Ellington gets hurt again.
Round 6 Pick 5 — Robert Griffin III, Was, QB (Pianowski)
Pianowman says – Hard to feel great about his confidence and consistency, but Jay Gruden knows how to dial up big plays in a passing game. There's still a theoretitcal upside here.
Round 6 Pick 6 — Derek Carr, Oak, QB (Funston)
Funston says – Out of necessity, Oakland threw it a ton last year (fourth-most), and I'm not sure those circumstances have changed drastically. At least for Carr, who finished his rookie campaign as the No. 20 fantasy QB, his weapons have been significantly upgraded - Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Roy Helu.
More fantasy advice from Yahoo Sports
Mark Buehrle, SP, at Phi (Morgan), $39: Things didn’t work out great for R.A. Dickey on Tuesday, but the Blue Jays are once again the biggest favorites of the day, and there are a dozen pitchers more expensive than Buehrle. He offers little strikeout upside but has allowed three runs or fewer in each of his past 13 outings. Meanwhile, opposing pitcher Adam Morgan has a 26:14 K:BB ratio over 50.1 innings.
Nathan Eovaldi, SP, vs. Min (Santana), $25: He has a 3.41 ERA at home this season and is the cheapest pitcher available Wednesday despite the Yankees being one of the more favored teams on the board. Eovaldi’s average fastball velocity (96.4 mph) is by far the highest among all starters, for what it’s worth.
Buster Posey, C, at Stl (Garcia), $18: He’s facing a tough pitcher, but Posey is easily the best catcher in baseball, and he’s just $3 more expensive than James McCann.
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, at Pit (Happ), $21: Going back to the well here based on his price. J.A. Happ has been very homer-prone against right-handers during his career.
Anthony Rendon, 2B, at Col (De La Rosa), $14: Obviously he’s been a massive disappointment this season, but he was the No. 12 fantasy hitter last year and is facing a southpaw in Coors Field.
Josh Donaldson, 3B, at Phi (Morgan), $23: He’s up to 33 homers and 91 RBI after going yard twice Tuesday and is an MVP candidate. Donaldson owns a 1.100 OPS against lefties this year.
Troy Tulowitzki, SS, at Phi (Morgan), $18: This seems like a bargain for the best hitting shortstop in baseball. Morgan has allowed seven homers over 38.2 innings with a weak 21:10 K:BB ratio versus RHB this season.
Jose Bautista, OF, at Phi (Morgan), $21: I prefer them at home, but I’m stacking the Blue Jays here. Bautista is up to 28 homers even in what’s seemingly been a down year, and he’s facing a lefty starter on a team with the second-worst ERA (4.70) in major league baseball (the only worse plays in Colorado).
Jayson Werth, OF, at Col (De La Rosa), $14: He hit leadoff Tuesday, resulting in three runs scored. Werth has struggled this year, but he’s seemingly back to health, is facing a lefty and is hitting in Coors Field at a discounted price.
Michael Cuddyer, OF, at Bal (Jimenez), $7: Paying for so many elite hitters results in one cheap option, and that’s Cuddyer (he’s one season removed from posting a .955 OPS). In reality, the point here is just to find any outfielder who’s in the starting lineup in the $7 range.
John Axford has a 6.14 ERA and 1.64 WHIP over 6.1 August innings. It might not sound like much, but it's been good enough for a promotion.
The likable Canadian is headed back to Colorado's closer role.
Manager Walt Weiss made it official Tuesday afternoon, saying Axford "looks like himself" again. Must be the facial hair. Axford has been clean in his last two innings, allowing just one hit and striking out two.
The immediate schedule isn't particularly friendly, as the Rockies are at home all week. The scuffling, desperate Nationals kick off a series Tuesday – perhaps playing for Matt Williams's managerial post -– and then the first-place Mets visit on the weekend. If Axford is called on to protect a lead, he won't have gravity on his side.
Tommy Kahnle's slump forced this move as much as anything else. Kahnle gave up six runs (five earned) over his last couple of appearances, and his two saves prior to that were anything but smooth (three walks). His strikeout rate is that of a closer, but he's walked 20 men in 30.1 innings. That doesn't fly anywhere, especially at Coors Field.
Back to The Axman, he's ready to add in 75 percent of Yahoo leagues. How badly do you need those handshakes?
R.A. Dickey, SP, at Phi (Nola), $25: He’s allowed three runs or fewer in 13 of his past 14 starts, recording four wins over his past five outings thanks to going deep into games and playing for a Blue Jays team that’s scored by far the most runs in baseball this season. Dickey is facing a Phillies offense that has scored the second-fewest runs in MLB but despite this, he’s the cheapest SP on the board Tuesday.
Francisco Liriano, SP, vs. Ari (Anderson), $50: He has 88 strikeouts over 69.2 innings at home this season, with a 1.13 WHIP. The Pirates are the most favored team Tuesday other than the Clayton Kershaw led Dodgers.
Buster Posey, C, at Stl (Lynn), $17: He has a 149 wRC+, and the next closest at catcher is 119. Posey also has four hits over six at bats during his career against Lance Lynn, for what it’s worth.
Albert Pujols, 1B, vs. CHW (Danks), $16: John Danks has ceded a .307 BAA and a 1.61 WHIP against RHB this season. Pujols is at home, has the platoon advantage, and there are 15 more expensive first basemen.
Robinson Cano, 2B, at Tex (Gonzalez), $18: He continues to bounce back and is facing a righty while likely hitting cleanup.
Trevor Plouffe, 3B, at NYY (Sabathia), $10: He’s really cheap, and Sabathia has given up 21 homers over 98.1 innings when facing LHB this season to go along with a 1.66 WHIP and a .329 BAA.
Jose Reyes, SS, vs. Was (Zimmermann), $15: He has a seven-game hitting streak going, shortstop remains thin and he’s moderately priced while hitting in Coors Field.
Mike Trout, OF, vs. CHW (Danks), $21: He’s slumped of late but had a .367/.462/.861 line with 12 homers in July. Trout is at home facing a southpaw Tuesday.
Chris Coghlan, OF, vs. Det (Sanchez), $8: He has 13 homers and 11 stolen bases in fewer than 300 at bats against RHP this year, lately batting third for a really good Cubs team.
Bryce Harper, OF, at Col (Hale), $20: He’s clearly been the best hitter in baseball this season and is facing a right-handed pitcher in Coors Field. David Hale has given up 19 earned runs over 31.0 innings this season. Harper seems like the clear must-start for Tuesday’s slate.
Here are ten recommended DFS plays for Monday, and yes, Virginia, they collectively fit under the Yahoo Daily cap. Be sure to double-check on lineups and weather before you make your final commitments.
Scott Kazmir, SP, vs. TB (Ramirez), $45: Although the Rays offense gets an upgrade against southpaws (and we're playing one notable Tampa hitter, below), this is still the type of matchup you feel comfortable exploiting, and paying up for. Kazmir is a -159 favorite Monday and not at a prohibitive price.
Colin Rea, SP, vs. ATL (Perez), $25: I like one ace and one hyperspace on the mound, so we roll with Rea in his second MLB turn of the year. Rea was dominant in Double-A (1.08 ERA), so-so at Triple-A (4.39, but it's the PCL), and then credible in his first San Diego start (five innings, three runs, four strikeouts). The friendly park and opponent make you feel better (he's a heavy -190 favorite), and obviously it's the minimum price for a Yahoo pitcher.
Yan Gomez, C, at BOS (Barnes), $11: As mediocre as the season has been, at least Gomes has stepped forward somewhat in the second half (.784 OPS). He's not facing one of the AL's aces in this draw, and Fenway Park's been handing out crooked numbers this month.
Mark Canha, 1B, at BAL (Tillman), $7: It's a little unusual to go onto punt mode at first base, but there are name-brand outfielders I want to dial up. Canha is slotted second for a game at scoring-friendly Camden Yards, and Chris Tillman was not sharp in his return last week.
Dee Gordon, 2B, at MIL (Garza), $18: Platoon advantage is nice, especially for a left-handed rabbit (the platoon edge also translates to base-stealing). Gordon no longer has Christian Yelich or Giancarlo Stanton to ride shotgun, but maybe he'll get there on his legs alone.
Evan Longoria, 3B, at HOU (Kazmir), $17: I usually won't look to start hitters against one of my pitchers, but on an abbreviated slate, that's no longer a deal-breaker. Longoria has been somewhat overrated as a general commodity for a few seasons, but he's still raking against lefties this year (.340/.423/.521).
Jean Segura, SS, vs. MIA (Nicolino), $13: The batting average climbs up to .300 when facing a lefty, and he's also confirmed to bat leadoff Monday. Jean Genie, come through for us.
Nelson Cruz, OF, at TEX (Hamels), $21: Cole Hamels is no rag arm, but he allows homers, too. And when I see Cruz against a lefty in a friendly park (in August, no less), I want to take some hacks.
Mike Trout, OF, vs. CHW (Rodon), $21: There's been good and bad with Carlos Rodon this year, with the last start a beauty. But after pinching pennies elsewhere on the lineup, I'm fine to take the AL's premiere player against an inexperienced rookie, with the platoon edge added to the mix.
Ryan Braun, OF, vs. MIA (Nicolino), $19: I haven't always been in Braun's corner this year, but I can't deny the .294/.388/.529 slash against opposing lefties. Justin Nicolino is only three turns into his MLB career, but he concedes a .851 OPS in the platoon disadvantage.
Each week the Average Draft Position (ADP) Progress Report highlights the movers and shakers over the past several days from data compiled by Fantasy Football Calculator. Satisfactory check-pluses in courteousness, self-control and neatness are not required.
Ameer Abdullah, Det, RB (Current ADP: 40.6, +24.2 from July 15) – Some believe the Abudllah hype train is bound to derail. To doubters, his ADP, which has climbed from the mid-60s a month ago to 40.6, warrants little profitability. Margins have shrunk considerably, but his Round 4 price tag in 12-team leagues is about right. A magician in his pro debut against the Jets, his sharp cuts, laser vision and short-area quickness left would-be tacklers awestruck. In total, he carried the rock seven times for 67 times, including a 45-yard scamper off right tackle. “The Butcher,” as Nebraska fans know him, probably couldn’t have outrun Chris Farley back in the day. Evidenced by his 4.60 40-yard dash, he's no burner. However, straight-line speed is overrated and he possesses the single most important quality for a RB: wiggle. His willingness to block and reliable hands are also plus attributes. Yes, the buzz is deafening, but with Joique Bell still in recovery mode from offseason knee and Achilles procedures, Abdullah has foot firmly in door. At this point, it’s no exaggeration for him to total 14-15 touches per game starting Week 1 and 1,200 total yards with 5-7 TDs on the season. Achieve that, and he’ll likely be fantasy’s most coveted rookie RB, a top-20 asset.
Martavis Bryant, Pit, WR (51.6, +6.9 since Aug 16) – Loud thuds echoed throughout Fantasyland just a couple weeks ago. The cause: Gamers jumped off the Bryant bandwagon. Ben Roethlisberger’s prediction Markus Wheaton, and not the sophomore receiver who was dealing a minor elbow setback, was on the brink of a breakout almost overnight changed the Bryant narrative from “must have” to “must avoid.” As a result, his ADP plunged from 43.6 to 56.1. But his stellar performance to begin the preseason (3-55-1) could reverse his value course. Even if Wheaton solidifies his position as the WR2, Bryant is sure to play a prominent role. Todd Haley’s offense features numerous thee-receiver sets. I still anticipate his 47.2 snap percentage from last year to rise around 60-65 percent. He’s simply too explosive to keep off the field. At 6-foot-5 and blessed with 4.34 40-yard wheels he’s a menacing target for DBs to contain. Last year, he broke press coverage 70 percent of the time. His improved understanding of the offense and added weight make him more than just a one-trick pony. He’s unlikely to post another 0.45 fantasy points per snap, but a final tally in shouting distance of 60-1050-10 is entirely possible. Another standout effort and his ADP is sure to shoot back into the mid-40s. Take advantage while you can.
Eddie Royal, Chi, WR (131.0, +32.7 since Aug 1) – After a six-year hiatus, Jay Cutler and Royal are once again BFFs. Kevin White’s demoralizing shin injury, which could keep him sidelined the entire year, elevates the slot man’s value. Alshon Jeffery, dealing with an ailment of his own (calf) albeit a minor one, should be Cutler's primary weapon of choice, the Demaryius Thomas in Adam Gase’s offense. However, Martellus Bennett and Royal are sure to rack plentiful targets in the short-to-intermediate fields. The latter possibly generating as many as 125-130 looks. Chicago’s “camp MVP” according to the Sun Times, Royal, working both inside and out, will likely offer more consistency compared to his recent efforts in San Diego. Recall when he and Cutler were teammates in Denver they combined for 91 receptions, 980 yards and five touchdowns in 2008. The catch total is unrepeatable, but the yards and TDs feel spot on. Currently the 53rd wide receiver (131.0 ADP) off draft boards, he’s worth reaching for after pick No. 90, especially in PPR settings. As witnessed in his brief appearance in the Bears' preseason opener (2-19-0), he will play an integral role right away. Give me Royal over Torrey Smith (111.9 ADP), Davante Adams (96.3) and Charles Johnson (83.2) all day long.
ADDITIONAL LADDER CLIMBERS
Sam Bradford, QB, Phi (113.2, +15.5 since July 15) – Though he didn’t see action in the Eagles’ first preseason matchup and countless words have been penned about His Holiness, Tim Tebow, over the past couple days, the former No. 1 pick is the fastest upward mover at QB. In a frenetic system that registered the fifth-most pass attempts, he undoubtedly has 4,200-yards, 30-TD appeal. Remember, Philly QBs combined for the ninth-most valuable line in fantasy last year (4,581 pass yards, 27 TDs). If you play the patience game at QB, Bradford needs to be the primary target, despite the injury risk.
Doug Martin, TB, RB (55.2, +16.4 since July 15) – Reflecting back on his breakthrough rookie campaign, drafters just can’t quit the "Muscle Hamster." Martin, in an attempt to regain his short-field shiftiness, went all Jenny Craig this offseason. Leaner and meaner he’s gained praise from coaches and beat writers alike, many predicting a bounce-back campaign. He did look lighter on his feet against the Vikings, but Tampa’s offensive line, which lost Demar Dotson for six weeks (MCL) in that contest, remains a giant concern. He’ll definitely be more valuable compared to 2013 and 2014, but at his hefty Round 5 price keeping investors in the black is unlikely.
Kyle Rudolph, Min, TE (138.2, +12.7 since July 15) – Greatly limited by myriad injuries the past couple seasons, Rudolph has yet to live up to his TE1 promise. That, however, may soon change. Resembling the nimble, reliable and athletic target that flashed top-five potential in 2009, he’s looked terrific in two preseason games catching four passes for 46 yards. As many are aware, tight ends have been highly relied upon in Norv Turner’s offense historically. Antonio Gates and Jordan Cameron are two guys that flourished in his system. Still largely available after pick No. 130, the Red-Zone Reindeer could bring statistical gifts to good little fantasy girls and boys. Provided he staves off the injury imp, a 55-600-6 campaign is attainable.
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For some reason, Jones saw just four targets inside the 10 (teammate Harry Douglas was given six), which ranked No. 36 among all wide receivers (behind Jermaine Kearse, Riley Cooper and Nate Washington, among others). So if Atlanta starts properly utilizing the 6-foot-3, 220-pound wide receiver in the red zone, a return to double-digit touchdowns should be in store (it’s not like they have a big RB to use at the goal line). And the NFC South should feature a bunch of shootouts. Jones is going to be an absolute monster in 2015. Go get him.
Jamaal Charles has averaged 1,683 yards from scrimmage over the past three seasons (despite missing two games), totaling 39 touchdowns over that span. He averaged just 250 carries over those three years, never once reaching 290 rushing attempts. He's gotten 5.5 YPC throughout his career and is still just 28 years old and will remain the focal point of Kansas City's offense. He’s the No. 1 player on my board, however I get the argument for Le’Veon Bell, who’s just 23 and would be the clear choice if not for the two-game suspension (although it would be a stretch to expect him to repeat last year’s success). I’m stating the obvious Charles should be taken early, but why is he not No. 1 on everyone’s board? He totaled 1,324 yards with 14 touchdowns while getting just 206 carries and playing hurt throughout all of last season. That’s pretty impressive for someone who got just 13.7 rushing attempts per game.
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Jordan Matthews had 872 receiving yards and eight touchdowns as a rookie, and the Eagles said goodbye to Jeremy Maclin (and his team-high 143 targets) during the offseason. I like Zach Ertz, but he’s questionable to even be ready for Week 1 after suffering a groin injury and was always more of an unknown than Matthews, who will now be the No. 1 target on a team that runs a fast pace offense that averaged the third-most ppg last season despite its cumulative quarterback rating ranking No. 23 in the NFL. I’d be shocked if Matthews wasn’t at least a top-15 fantasy wide receiver in 2015, and his current Yahoo ADP is barely inside the top-50 overall. He’s worthy of a third-round pick.
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Mike Evans had 12 touchdown catches on just 68 receptions last year, which is like saying a hitter had an unsustainable .400 BABIP. He averaged just 42.8 yards over his final six games and reached 80 yards in just three games during his rookie campaign (he totaled 458 in three others, to be fair). For someone with so few catches and averaging so few yards down the stretch, it seems a bit crazy his ADP is in the top-30 overall, but Evans passes the eye test, so even though he’ll be competing for targets with Vincent Jackson and Austin Seferian Jenkins, who looks like a breakout candidate, it makes sense. Who knows how good Jameis Winston will be, but it’s safe to expect him to be an upgrade over Tampa Bay’s quarterback play last year. Evans scored all those touchdowns during his rookie campaign despite just five targets inside the 10-yard line. He sure looks like the real deal...One more quick TB note: Doug Martin has been a bum for two years running, but this is still a 26-year-old who totaled 1,926 yards and 12 touchdowns as a rookie three seasons ago. He's already been declared Tampa Bay's lead back, yet Martin's Yahoo ADP is just 106.7
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I’m hardly the only one hyping him, but C.J. Anderson totaled 1,057 yards and 10 touchdowns over the final eight games last season. Pro Football Focus graded him as the No. 3 overall running back despite his 510 snaps coming in behind 22 other backs. Anderson forced 44 missed tackles (the seventh-most in the NFL, more than LeSean McCoy and Jamaal Charles) while never fumbling during a rushing attempt. Despite a lack of pedigree (he went undrafted, although he showed plenty of promise in college), Anderson is now the clear lead back for a Denver team that scored the second-most ppg (30.1) in the NFL last season. He’s 24 years old and apparently got into the best shape of his life during the offseason (although he’s now dealing with a minor ankle injury). I worry about Peyton Manning’s health, and it’s always questionable to rely on a running back with so little history, but I’m advocating taking Anderson in the first round of fantasy drafts, even in the top half. CJA has a real chance of finishing as the No. 1 fantasy player in 2015.
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Offensive architect Marc Trestman switched hats this offseason going from Chicago to Baltimore. What affiliated running back will churn out more fantasy production: The former, Matt Forte (10.1 ADP), or the current, Justin Forsett (21.5)? Fanalysts Brad Evans and Liz Loza disagree completely. Read. Ponder. And insult the loser in the comments section below.
Liz sings "Sweet Home Chicago:" Don't fall victim to simplistic plug-and-play analysis...
Forte caught more balls than any other RB in the league last year.
He did that in Trestman’s offense.
Trestman is now the Ravens’ offensive coordinator.
Forsett is the Ravens lead back.
Whoah! Forsett is going to catch over 100 balls too!
To be fair, I like Forsett. And I think he could put up RB2 numbers. But to rank him above a Pro-Bowl talent like Forte is shortsighted.
A fantasy mainstay since his rookie outing, Forte has consistently produced RB1 numbers, falling outside of the top 12 prospects at the position only twice (and one of those times was in 2011 when he finished as the RB13).
Known for his sure hands, the dual threat RB has also rushed for over 1,000 yards in five of the seven years he’s been in the league. What’s even more impressive is that he’s done all of this while staying remarkably intact, having missed a mere five regular season games over the length of his career.
Coach John Fox has openly stated that he wants to employ a more balanced and run-friendly offense in 2015. So yes, Forte’s receiving stats are bound to regress. However, Fox has never been blessed with a pass-catching weapon of Forte’s caliber before. Additionally, he’ll be bringing offensive coordinator Adam Gase with him, who, over the past two years, has successfully utilized receivers out of the backfield. In fact, both Knowshon Moreno and C.J. Anderson averaged nearly 4 receptions per game in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
Furthermore, Forte’s rushes should see an uptick under the new regime. When Denver recognized Peyton’s failing arm and shifted their focus to the ground attack – from Weeks 12 through 17 - Anderson averaged over 23 rushing attempts per game. While I don’t think Forte will carry the rock that often, he should get upwards of 18 touches per game.
Forsett may have won hearts with the feel-good story of 2014, but Forte has been a stud for the better part of a decade. He’s the top dog in Chicago with a burst-less Jacquizz Rodgers and fourth-round pick Jeremy Langford far behind him on the depth chart. Forsett could easily lose touches to either/both of the younger and beefier power backs on Baltimore’s roster (Pst… keep an eye on Buck Allen).
Perhaps not the PPR dynamo he was under Trestman, Forte is a proven commodity who will continue to pay dividends.
Brad quotes the Raven: The arguments against trusting Forsett this year are your run-of-the-mill RB clichés:
He’s too small to handle a heavy workload.
He’s bound to break down.
He’s 30 years old, which means he’ll self-destruct.
He’s a one-year wonder …
Ignore the played-out narratives and the Raven will reward you with a vault full of statistical treasures.
The scheme and situation in Trestman’s offense are crafted perfectly to maximize his versatile skill set. Just look at what Forte, a rusher of similar ilk though larger in size, accomplished in the system. Last year, he set a new RB record for receptions in a season (102) and totaled 1,846 yards with 10 touchdowns.
More importantly, we can’t overlook what Forsett accomplished in his breakout campaign saving the organization in wake of the Ray Rice incident. Behind the fourth-best offensive line in terms of run blocking according to Pro Football Focus, he slashed and accelerated his way to 1,529 combined yards with eight touchdowns and 44 receptions. His 5.4 ypc set the pace among RBs with 500 or more snaps. He also ranked top-12 in breakaway percentage (No. 1) and elusive rating (12). Even though a different marshal will call the offensive shots this year, the zone-blocking scheme Gary Kubiak installed last season has been retained, a system that plays to the strengths of a patient, one-cut runner like Forsett.
Whether via ground or air, well-rounded RBs are always the focal point in a Trestman offense. That’s why many writers walking the Baltimore beat project as many as 75 receptions for the pint-sized rusher. And that could be a conservative estimate. Throw in roughly 1300-1500 yards and 8-10 TDs, and he’s sure to be the toast of the town in PPR.
Yes, Forte’s king of consistency crown still sparkles. He’s tucked inside the RB top-12 in fantasy points per game five times in seven seasons. Once again slated to handle a hefty load, he’s the crutch John Fox will lean on in a more traditional power attack. However, a reduced role in the pass game combined with his high mileage (2,315 career touches) raise doubt. Most worrisome, Chicago’s offensive line isn’t nearly as rigid as Baltimore's
Bottom line, Forsett is more bang for the buck.
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Nelson Cruz, OF, at Bos (Owens), $21: He has a .385/.460/.743 line against lefties this season, with a 1.120 OPS on the road, including 25 homers over 224 at bats. Meanwhile, Henry Owens has totaled just 10.0 innings during his career (and has a 1.64 WHIP when facing RHB). Since the start of July, Cruz has a .324-30-16-38 line over 139 at bats, as he’s been the No. 3 fantasy player over that span. He should be in your lineup Sunday.
Shelby Miller, SP, vs. Ari (De La Rosa), $40: He still hasn’t recorded a victory since May 17 despite a 2.48 ERA, but this is a pretty good price for someone who’s proven to be so good with run prevention this season.
Taylor Yungmann, SP, vs. Phi (Harang), $40: He hasn’t allowed more than two runs in any of his previous nine starts (and the one he did before that came in Coors Field), and Yungmann owns a 2.12 ERA with 30 strikeouts over 29.2 innings at home this season. He’ll be facing a Phillies team that has the second-lowest OPS (.674) against right-handed pitchers, and the Brewers (-180) are one of the most favored teams on Sunday’s slate.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, at Atl (Miller), $7: The goal here is to play a catcher at the lowest price possible, whether it be Salty or any other backstop who’s in the starting lineup at $7.
Miguel Cabrera, 1B, at Hou (Fiers), $17: He’s returning from an injury, but Miggy seems underpriced here as one of the best hitters in baseball with 11 first basemen more expensive. Adam Lind has the same price, and Yangervis Solarte is one dollar cheaper.
Jedd Gyorko, 2B, at Col (Rusin), $15: He has an .813 OPS against lefties on the year and will be hitting in Coors Field on Sunday,
Nolan Arenado, 3B, vs. SD (Kennedy), $18: He continues to hit better against RHB than southpaws this season and at this price he’s hard to pass while hitting at home.
Jose Reyes, SS, vs. SD (Kennedy), $15: It’s crazy how much more he’s running since joining the Rockies. I’ll continue to roll with Reyes at this price during his Coors Field debuted.
Coco Crisp, OF, at Bal (Chen), $7: He dropped $4 from Friday to the bottom here, so let’s go back to the well for someone who’s averaged 14 homers and 26 steals over the past three seasons while averaging just 126 games over that span.
Matt Kemp, OF, at Col (Rusin), $20: He has two homers and eight RBI over the past three games. Kemp owns a .902 OPS since the All-Star break and will be hitting in Coors Field on Sunday against a pitcher who’s allowed a 1.61 WHIP against RHB this season.
Carlos Gonzalez, OF, vs. SD (Cashner), $22: Since June 6, Gonzalez has a .305 batting average with 22 homers, 40 runs and 52 RBI. He’s been the No. 2 fantasy hitter over this 58-game span despite not recording one steal and being one of the bigger fantasy disappointments beforehand. CarGo has as many homers (13) over the past 22 games as he did over the season’s first 85 contests.
Brett Anderson, SP, vs. Cin (Holmberg), $33: He’s coming off a rough start but has been perfectly serviceable all season (3.43 ERA). Anderson is the fifth-cheapest pitcher Saturday despite the Dodgers being the most favored (-180) team on the entire slate.
Patrick Corbin, SP, at Atl (Foltynewicz), $43: He sports a 35:8 K:BB ratio over 35.1 innings since returning from injury, with an 11.1 SwStr% combined with a 1.63 GB/FB ratio. Corbin will be facing an Atlanta offense that’s recorded the third-lowest OPS (.641) in baseball this season.
Stephen Vogt, C, at Bal (Gonzalez), $15: He owns a .275/.361/.504 line with 15 homers over 262 at bats against right handers and should be in the lineup after resting Thursday. Vogt has hit better on the road this year, and he’s batting in a park Saturday that’s increased home runs by 33 percent over the past three seasons, which is the most among any in the American League.
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, at Atl (Foltynewicz), $20: He remains one of the best hitters in baseball yet isn’t priced as such here. Mike Foltynewicz has strike out stuff and may turn into a good pitcher in the future, but he currently has a 5.23 ERA with a 1.59 WHIP and a .307 BAA.
Chase Utley, 2B, at Mil (Nelson), $7: He’s 11-for-22 since returning from the DL, as he’s clearly feeling better at the plate than at any point earlier in the year. There’s no guarantee Utley will be in the lineup Saturday, but the main takeaway here is to go cheap at second base.
Nolan Arenado, 3B, vs. SD (Cashner), $17: He’s hitting in Coors Field and for what it’s worth, 27 of his 29 homers have come against righties this year. Those 29 bombs rank second among all National League hitters, but his price doesn’t reflect that.
Jose Reyes, SS, vs. SD (Cashner), $15: He has an ugly .505 OPS since joining the Rockies, but he’s attempted six steals in those 14 games, continues to hit atop the order, and the best hitter’s park in baseball is going to help boost his stats soon enough.
Josh Reddick, OF, at Bal (Gonzalez), $15: He has a .307/.353/.498 line with 11 homers over 293 at bats against RHP this season, and he’s facing a pitcher who’s allowed 10 home runs over 58.1 innings against LHB.
Coco Crisp, OF, at Bal (Gonzalez), $11: Before this year, Crisp had been very productive when in the lineup. More durability issues have came about in 2015, but he’s back in action now and had four hits Friday, and he’s pretty affordable for someone who’s averaged 14 homers and 26 steals over the past three seasons while averaging just 126 games over that span.
We have a full Friday slate, featuring a handful of aces — Scherzer, Price, Kluber, Keuchel. Let's make good choices, people. As always, please review the weather reports and check MLB lineups before committing to lineups.
Kendrys Morales, 1B, vs. LAA (Weaver), $15: Morales has been a monster thus far in August (.356/.420/.556), as most of you know. He also has a history of mauling Jered Weaver: 8-for-12, HR, 2 BB, 0 Ks. I'm willing to guarantee a minimum of three total bases and one RBI. Book it.
Mike Moustakas, 3B, vs. LAA (Weaver), $13: If it seems like I do not have much faith in Weaver ... well, yeah. That would be accurate. It's really not easy to tread water at the major league level with a low-80s fastball and sub-5.0 K/9. Moose has a double, homer and a walk against Weaver in nine career plate appearances, and he has a pair of multi-hit games over his last three. He's available at a friendly price, for those of you attempting to squeeze a pair of $50-plus arms into your lineups.
Corey Kluber, P, at Min (May), $57: Kluber-vs.-May feels like Friday's most unfair matchup, yet Corey is not the day's most expensive pitcher. You might recall that Kluber had a pretty fair outing against Minnesota in his most recent turn.
Jonathan Schoop, 2B, vs. Oak (Mills), $13: Schoop has been scorching hot this month, slashing .395/.405/.579 with five extra-base hits. Meanwhile, Brad Mills has had a rough season at Triple-A (4-11, 4.45 ERA, 5.94 K/9), and his career big league numbers are far worse.
Josh Reddick, OF, at Bal (Jimenez), $15: Reddick has been great against RHPs this season (.308/.355/.498, 11 HR) and he has a decent enough history against Ubaldo (3-for-10, double, HR). Jimenez has basically been alternating between useful and terrible outings; . he's allowed six or more earned runs in three of his last five turns.
Nick Hundley, C, vs. SD (Ross), $16: Not a bad way to get a cheap-ish share of the Coors Field party. Hundley has slashed .353/.386/.571 at home this season, and seven of his nine homers have been hit in Colorado.
Charlie Blackmon, C, vs. SD (Ross), $18: Continuing the Coors parade, let's take a shot with a guy who hasn't collected a hit since Sunday. While the cold spell is a small concern, Blackmon at least has a nice history against Ross (4-for-13, double, HR). He's also a 30-steal guy facing a starter who's allowed the second-most stolen bases in the majors (29). LHBs have reached base at a .364 clip against Ross this season.
Jedd Gyorko, 2B, at Col (Flande), $15: Here's my final Colorado investment opportunity. Gyorko has had success against lefties so far this season (.382 OBP, .804 OPS), plus he's working on a six-game hitting streak (which is awesome by his standards).
Yan Gomes, C, at Min (May), $15: Gomes has been terrific over his last five games, going 8-for-21 with five runs scored, two doubles, one homer, eight RBIs and three walks. He also has a nice-though-inconsequentially-small history against May (3-for-4, HR).
Yasiel Puig, OF, vs. Cin (Lamb), $16: This is clearly a lost season for Puig, but he's been tolerable against LHPs (.831 OPS). Lamb is a rookie of interest, but we're not talking about a top-of-rotation starter. (For scouting details, click this.) Puig can deliver a profit on this modest investment.
If you’re a regular visitor to this space, you know “numbers, not names” is the unofficial baseline of the column. The path to roto glory is all about getting the numbers to go where you want, getting the puzzle to sway in the proper direction.
And once the season gets into the second half, especially the dog days of August, we need to think categorically more than ever.
I’m not the type of player to get hung up on how a trade looks on the marquee at any time, but that’s especially true now. Work the categories. Get what you need. Don’t sweat the vacuum values.
As you peruse your current roto standings, be on the lookout for outliers – teams that are isolated in a specific category, far removed from other teams. This doesn’t always mean first or last in the category: sometimes a team will be in fourth for steals, say, but with little upside to gain points and little downside to lose points. When an opponent is in this position, he is likely to give you something for less than the usual market cost. And when you are in the position, the angle flips: you no longer have to necessarily demand full market return, as the loss of that category might not hurt you much, if at all.
Sure, get all you can, but be willing to accept far less than vacuum value if it still works in your favor.
Also keep in mind that the enemy of your opponent is your friend. Sometimes you’ll be able to make a trade that hurts another contender in the standings. Again, we’re working the category puzzle here. The season has personality to it; forget trying to look good on the front page, just get the agate type flowing in the direction necessary.
You might see some funky deals go down as the Yahoo trading deadline approaches in many leagues. Don't take them at face value. It's likely the teams involved are letting the unique context drive their decisions. Cheers to that.
• Sticking with the idea that context is everything, it’s a good time to kick the tires on the San Diego offense. The Padres are just 20th in runs, of course, but that’s just about meaningless as they settle into Colorado for a three-game series at Coors.
Yangveris Solarte probably fits on one of your rosters, somewhere. He’s hitting .316 over the last month with 16 runs, and he qualifies at three infield spots. He’s been slotted first or second for most of the second half, and you can snag him for nothing in 81 percent of Yahoo leagues.
It also might be time to open your mind you Jedd Gyorko, the swing-and-miss infielder. He’ll be facing a pair of left-handers in this series, and his career OPS jumps 128 points in the platoon advantage. Jaygee awaits your call in 87 percent of Yahoo.
I realize Will Venable has personally let down most of the fantasy community at some point over the last two years, and the lefty-heavy slate is a buzzkill for him. But let’s at least recognize he’s running liberally – five steals over the last couple of weeks. His ownership tag rests at two percent.
Make The Chicken happy. Find a Friar for the weekend.
Entering their fourth seasons, Alshon Jeffery (24.5 ADP) and T.Y. Hilton (26.3) are largely considered WR1s in fantasy circles. Both should be 100-plus target assets for their respective teams, provided Jeffery's calf setback doesn't prove serious. However, Brad Evans and Scott Pianowski are divided on which one owners should target. Read their stances, ponder and declare a victor in the comments below.
Brad feeds the Bear: “Absurd.” “Too inflated.” “Completely ridiculous.” These are a few of the descriptions some fantasy ‘experts’ have used to paint Alshon Jeffery’s Round 2-3 value this draft season.
To those naysayers the Noise shouts “BLASPHEMY!”
With Brandon Marshall now catching soft spirals from Ryan Fitzpatrick in New York, Jeffery is the main man in the Windy City. Blessed with terrific long-range speed, length, athleticism and exaggerated cartoonish hands, he's an imposing physical specimen who should thrive as the No. 1. Last year, he logged an 85-1133-10 line (on 145 targets) for a wretched Bears team, the 12th-best output by a WR.
To some, the transition from Marc Trestman to Adam Gase is a negative, but it shouldn’t be. Essentially he’s Demaryius Thomas in Gase’s offense, a position that averaged 155.7 targets, 99 receptions, 1,494.3 receiving yards and 11.7 touchdowns per year since 2012. Considering Kevin White’s slow progress, Eddie Royal’s fixture in the slot and the Bears’ projected horrendous defense, he’s a shoo-in for 150-plus targets, 90 receptions, 1,200 yards and 11-13 TDs. Achieve that and he’ll comfortably finish inside the position's top-10. Yes, even with the most punchable face in the league, Jay Cutler, throwing him the ball.
Hilton is a marvelous talent in an air-friendly environment, but I’m expecting a slight downturn in his overall worth. Offseason additions Andre Johnson, Duron Carter, Philip Dorsett and Frank Gore present new mouths to feed. Combine that with a bevy of tight ends that combined for 98 catches, 1,287 yards and 18 TDs in ’14 and Pep Hamilton’s desire to script more four-WR sets, and a volume decrease for Hilton is in the cards. Andrew Luck will spread the love. It’s irresponsible to think the wideout meets or exceeds last year’s 82-1345-7 production. Shave roughly 5-10 receptions, 200-300 yards and a 1-2 TDs and you’re looking at his 2015 ceiling. In other words, bank on him reverting to 2013 (82-1056-5, WR21). Bottom line, T.Y. is more middling WR2 than back-end WR1 as his price point suggests.
Bear … UP!
Scott tosses a Horseshoe: Obviously Jeffery is a bigger player, and projects to be far more involved in the red zone. Cheap touchdowns are a good thing in fantasy. But if you look at the players broadly, Hilton looks like the better football player.
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Can it Flava Flav.
The top-20 hype about Detroit running back Ameer Abdullah is not only warranted, it’s 99.9 percent believable.
Splitting time with the first and second string offense in his pro debut against the New York Jets, the rookie from Nebraska cut, accelerated and juked his way to a splashy 67 yards on seven carries, an indelible first impression. Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin admitted recently Abdullah has been practically untouchable throughout training camp, an applicable description based on what he showed Thursday night.
To begin the evening, Abdullah gained seven yards on a simple toss sweep. He then exhibited a sick jump cut on a nifty 6-yard up-the-gut run. Next was his best tally of the night, an off-tackle bolt in which he planted, squeezed through a tight gap and accelerated for 45 yards, making Jets linebacker Demario Davis look foolish in the process (WATCH IT HERE).
Salivary glands … activated.
By any means, Abdullah wouldn’t outrun a ticked off Grizzly (4.60 40-yard). After all, snaillike Darrelle Revis caught him from behind on his long scamper. However, he’s still a “big-play player” as Barry Sanders called him. His elusiveness, suddenness and agility – he dominated cone drills in February’s Combine – are trademarks that conjure comparisons to the Hall of Famer. Also solid in pass protection and a superb receiver, he has a three-down makeup despite a diminutive frame (5-foot-9, 200-pounds) (FULL SCOUTING REPORT HERE).
Admittedly, I’ve had both cheeks firmly planted on the Abdullah bandwagon for months. The former 'Husker, who set all-purpose records in Lincoln, is in line for a hefty Week 1 workload. That's the case even if Joique Bell, who is still rounding into form after offseason Achilles and knee procedures, returns in short order. Recall Bell, a versatile yet sluggish runner, averaged a very mundane 3.88 yards per carry over the past two seasons. Roughly 13-15 touches per game should be expected for the youngster, though Bell could poach fantasy critical goal-line touches.
Rising up the ranks at lightning speed, Abdullah's 54.5 ADP (RB25), exorbitant to some, should rocket into the 40s soon. That price tag may seem outlandish, but considering how offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi utilizes his backs in multiple ways – Detroit RBs totaled 113 catches and 930 receiving yards in ’14 – the kid should inflict serious damage in moderate doses. Approximately 1200-1300 combined yards with 5-7 TDs are possible, especially with Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate assisting the ground game. Honestly, it’s no stretch to think he’ll be the most productive rookie RB this year. Yes, over Melvin Gordon, who will surrender several touches to Danny Woodhead due to protection/pass-catching concerns.
Ask yourself: Would you rather have Gordon at his 29.3 ADP or Abdullah 15-20 picks later?
You know my answer.
Hear the Lion roar.
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