Friday, July 26, 2013

FAABulous: Fantasy Football 2013 Pre-Season Ranks - QB

Joe Flacco proved himself to be an elite QB in reality, but in fantasy, much remains the same. (msn.foxsports.com)

I like having a steady QB situation on my fantasy teams. I'm not one to try to piecemeal together my imaginary team's signal caller. No position has a higher floor on a week to week basis than QB, so why wouldn't I want to pencil in 20-25 points every week and just focus on everything else?

If you do a snake draft, well, the picks may not always break in your favor. You might have to build around two mid-range guys and hope one breaks out, or if it's last year just grab a rookie QB that's the age a rookie qb should be.

This year, you won't be so lucky as to nab a rookie QB that can lead your team to a fantasy title, but the good news is that these now second-year QBs have added immense depth to the fantasy QB pool. All 4 of 2012's breakout stars are in the Top 11 of my rankings, and all of them have the potential to do even more damage this year.

In my rankings, I suppose I tend to lean a bit more on QB's that are secure in their position. Not only job-wise, obviously, but also the protection and skill weapons they have around them. Since I tend to put a higher value on QB than most, I want to make sure the guy I take is as sure-fire as can be. That's a little easier to gauge near the bottom portion of the rankings, but once you get near the top, it's when some of this picking nits really shows itself. So let's run through the tiers together, shall we.

TIER FANTASY BACK-UPS

25. Ryan Tannehill, MIA

24. Matt Schaub, HOU

23. Alex Smith, KC

22. Carson Palmer, ARZ

You always like to have 2 QBs in your 1 QB league for insurance purposes? Don't want to go dig up Christian Ponder off waivers during a bye week? Here are your guys. People that given a match-up and a situation can certainly be a worthwhile sub to your elite QB.

The surprising pick in this tier might be Schaub, but I'm not nervous about dropping him. Schaub has decent numbers at the end of every year, but there isn't a QB more likely to give you 0 TDs than Schaub (did it 5 times last year). He did have a 4 TD and 5 TD game, so like I said, match-ups.

TIER WILL THEY-WON'T THEY

21. Sam Bradford, STL

20. Josh Freeman, TB

19. Philip Rivers, SD

18. Andy Dalton, CIN

17. Jay Cutler, CHI

All of these QBs are at a point in their career where we really need to see something out of them this year to dictate where their fantasy future lies. There have been flashes of greatness from these players, but there has also been an inability to keep that level of perfomance up for a full season.

It's sad to see Rivers here. He looked to be every bit the QB his fellow draft classmates Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger were, and for fantasy purposes he looked to be even better. But perhaps it's injuries, attitude and team that have dragged him down.

Bradford is the guy that is the least accomplished of this group. The benefactor of the no rookie draft slot era, Bradford hasn't come close to paying back the $50M in guaranteed money he signed for after he was drafted #1 overall from Oklahoma. I do feel like it's between him and Freeman in this tier for who has the most upside to offer. Bradford has an improved offensive line and some legit speed and athleticism lining up along side him. It'll be up to him to gel this unit together and do what great quarterbacks do ... elevate his team to a new level.

TIER FLEAS

16. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT

15. Michael Vick, PHI

14. Joe Flacco, BAL

13. Tony Romo, DAL

12. Eli Manning, NYG

We know these players. We know what they can do, we know what they can't do. We know their strengths, but ultimately we know their weaknesses that befall them. Whether it's injuries, inconsistency, or just steady play none of these guys have high ceilings or low floors.

The first two on this list, Big Ben and Vick, I have some serious questions about. Roethlisberger's injuries are mounting and this Steelers team looks to be the weakest in a long-time. Roethlisberger has never been an elite fantasy player so those strikes against him threaten to drop him significantly.

Someone that was once a valuable fantasy commodity in Michael Vick may not even have the job out of training camp. New Eagles head coach Chip Kelly has preached an open competition for running out of the big inflatable helmet priviledges. Insiders and/or Vick haters already have to job going to Nick Foles, but we shall see. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Vick doesn't get the job. Regardless of what Kelly's NFL offense looks like, the number one skill needed will be making quick reads and decisions. Not read-option, not the ability to scramble, but knowing the defenses and how to audible appropriately. Two things that Vick is abhorrent at. However, in this tier, his ability to potentially thrive in the offense along with his running ability gives him some bonus points.

TIER JUMP STREET

11. Andrew Luck, IND

10. Colin Kaepernick, SF

9. Matthew Stafford, DET

8. Tom Brady, NE

All of these guys could easily overthrow the next tier. A couple may even be knocking on the doors of the top tier come the end of the 2013-2014 season. Right now though, there are some minor questions as a side dish to their major upside entree.

Andrew Luck is, skill wise, one of the best QBs in football. He had a fantastic rookie year, but let's be honest, he had an easy schedule and to his credit was able to put his team in a position to win a lot of games. But comfort wise you have to wonder how new offensive coordinator's Pep Hamilton will use the Stanford offense Luck commanded in the NFL (can we please call Hamilton the Director of Offense, please? If not, can we make this Luck's official nickname?) and if Luck's lack of offensive talent around him will start to show.

A lot has happened to Tom Brady in the off-season. The short of it is he lost 2 of his top 3 passing targets, and the third has had more surgeries in the past year than Brady has played in Super Bowls. When you get yourself purposefully removed from Madden, you know you've done gone done something bad. It is hard to tell if Brady will be able to overcome all of this. While effecient as ever running the Pats high-octane offense, you have to have doubts as to who is going to come through on offense. This can either break with Brady making stars out of Danny Amendola and Daniel Fells or them dragging him down.

TIER WORTHY OF THE HYPE

7. Robert Griffin III, WAS

6. Russell Wilson, SEA

5. Matt Ryan, ATL

4. Cam Newton, CAR

Sure RG3 and Wilson have some questions around them, but last year they had a lot of great answers. RG3 obviously has the injury to deal with. He appears to be getting back to full strength, and barring a setback he will be ready to go Week 1. Even if he's limited on his feet, RG3 is an extremely accurate passer on short, medium, and deep throws. The guy is a weapon.

The addition of Percy Harvin isn't the only reason to look forward to a greater year out of Wilson, but Harvin's hip injury and migraine history leads me to think he might not be as big an impact player as we all want him to be.

I was really looking forward to banking on the Matt Ryan last year of his contract bandwagon. Thanks for nothing, Atlanta.

Killa Cam is a guy that is going to make me or break me this year. In this ranking, I'm at my most optimistic about him, but I can't say there aren't concerns. Last year was a marginal improvement or step down for Cam depending on what you're looking at. His sophomore year was overshadowed by the new crop of rookie QBs and attitude issues continued to follow Cam as his Panthers finished 7-9 and were completely average.

The Panthers focused on defense in the draft, which shoudn't be followed with an eye roll. If the Panthers can get more turnovers, stop more drives from developing, then that means Newton gets back on the field sooner and more often. However, the front office did nothing in free agency to help Newton out. Fringe players like Ted Ginn might amount to one spectacular play, but that's about it. The short of it is, this team isn't much different from last year. So what I'm basically relying on is his inability to get hurt because he's gigantic, an uptick in his passing efficiency, his run game, and Carolina utilizing the read-option better this year with his bloated RB corps. If he can take large strides in his pass game, then #1 overall player is a possibility.

TIER DISCO

3. Peyton Manning, DEN

2. Drew Brees, NO

1. Aaron Rodgers, GB

There aren't many concers about these three. If you're particularly nervous about any of them, then you probaby do mock drafts in your reinforced bomb shelter.

Manning has somethings like age and injuries to underline, but that's why he's third on the list. He has the most elite group of wide receivers in the league who all perfectly fit what he wants to do. If Manning takes futher control of the offense this year, I don't see why they couldn't run more plays per game and really pile up the offensive numbers.

Brees throws and he throws a lot. His interceptions went up a tick in 2012, but when you throw as often has he does, they will tend to happen. So long as the TD passes don't drop 15-18 INTs are palatable.

Rodgers is again the best fantasy QB in the game. He passes, he runs effectively, he does everything you could want out of a high pick. He may never hit the heights of his ridiculous 2011 season, but his ability to perform at an elite level, consistently week in and week out with a group of skilled players around him at minimum injury risk makes him the best pick you can make at QB.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Fantasy Funkhouser: No Reason to Live in the Past, It's Time to Look Forward to the Second Half Stars


Hanley is back, and he's ready to finish of his best year in a long time. (USAT)
Fantasy Funkhouser will review all things Fantasy Baseball. After all, life is a small sample size.

Whew! That was a long couple of days without baseball, or basically any sports whatsoever. We had some exhibition games (or is the All-Star game real? It matters? Chris Sale for ASG MVP!), but real baseball fires back up for the stretch run. 

For fantasy purposes that means making massive overhauls to your team and doing your best guessing for how the rest of the regular season will play out. Below is a rundown of some players of the buy-low variety who I'm confident in finishing the season out strong. 

C - Mike Napoli, BOS

Napoli led off my stellar group of players I liked back in March, and after a torrid start he's cooled down quite a bit. I'm still in on Napoli. Sure it was nicer when David Ortiz wasn't taking all his RBIs away, but beyond that Napoli's K-rate skyrocketed and he wasn't making solid contact. With only 11 HR thus far, he's not hitting anywhere near where he should be, but in that line-up he'll get his opportunities to out produce a lot of the catchers out there.

1B - Kendrys Morales, SEA

Considering that this is one of the more inundated positions due to multiple players getting eligibility here, the 3-spot has been a total bust. Many of the pre-season Top 10 aren't performing as they should, and that "depth" that is always there is basically made up of Chris Davis, Matt Carpenter, and Michael Cuddyer. So, when we look at Morales it's a guy that has pretty good LHP/RHP splits, has shown some pop, and does have 54 RBI on a below average Mariners offense. Here's hoping he's shipped to say the New York Yankees at the deadline. He hasn't shown the power from pre-leg break, but he's rounding into form. Even if he stays in Seattle, all he needs are the at bats to get to mid-20 homers and push 90 RBI.

2B - Ben Zobrist, TB

Zobrist is not a fun player to own. He has the worst Twitter account ever (seriously, who shares their Twitter with their wife?) You love his position flexibility, but he earns his stats in bits and pieces. Even in an OBP league, this has been a down year for Zobes. I'm sure you won't have to search far and wide for a team that is disappointed in his production thus far. In that same light, Zobrist is consistent. He plays for the Rays who always seem to turn it up this time of year. He won't get to his 20 HR target this year, but he should get to something like a 15/12 end of season number. His best production is in front of him.

SS - Hanley Ramirez, LAD

This isn't a sleeper article or a waiver pick up article. This is a buy low article. Hanley Ramirez has fit the bill of any position player that has had major shoulder surgery. You feel great, you can play, but it really takes about 2 years to get fully back to form (take note: Jacoby Ellsbury, Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez). If you look at ESPN's Top 250 for the rest of the year, Ramirez is plunked at a healthy #27. I have no problem being aggressive on this front. I think he's easily a Top 20 player until the end of the year. Buy accordingly.

3B - Xander Bogaerts, BOS

Yeah, hype train! All on board. Bogaerts emerged as a player ready to roll after his Futures Game performance. By the way, you know you're old and synical about baseball when you prefer to watch the Futures Game over the actual All-Star game. But Bogaerts put fantasy owners on high alert. He could earn a call-up should Stephen Drew get hurt or struggle, but he's in a prime position to use his on-base and power to make a dent in 2013. Beyond that he looks to be something special. Also, I listed Bogaerts at 3B instead of SS (Hanley has 3B eligibility as well so it's a flippable situation) to note that while I think it is unlikely the Sox would move Bogaerts to 3B (a la Machado last year, as Machado is a plus plus fielder) it could happen. So be on the look out how he is deployed.

OF - Jason Heyward, ATL

Heyward's nickname should just be "If Only." If only he can stay healthy, if only he could fix his swing, if only he hit the ball in the air more. These are all issues that have previously and currently frustrated fantasy owners about Heyward. He has everything you could imagine a baseball player to be, except that the slightest flaw in his mechanics send him to a tailspin for a long, long time. It's important to realize he is still only 23 years-old, but as the years drag on it's becoming less and less of an excuse (hear that Johnny Football?). The good news is that Heyward won't miss time due to his hammy injury he suffered right before the All-Star break, and his peripheral numbers look good. He's striking out less, hitting the ball in the air more, and for what it's worth he was flying around the bases before he pulled up lame. If Only he could live up to his potential, we'd have a superstar on our hands.

OF - Ryan Braun, MIL

Here's a guy that has some stuff going on, huh? While Biogenesis is looming, it's pretty evident that no player will be suspended this year, sans some kind of plea bargain. If you're Braun I'm not sure how you accept a 20, 30, 40 game ban with a plea bargain after all of this. Anyway, the more immediate threat to his productivity is his thumb. He's been dealing with this issue for a good part of the season, and after oddly being placed on the bereavement list before the All-Star game he appears back for games starting today. The issue with thumb injuries is the loss of power, which Braun has shown. Also, if he stops running then that's another huge blow to his value. He can still get on base and be a productive outfielder with the potential to regain some of his previous Braun form. If you could get him on the cheap for say a Yasiel Puig, Alex Gordon, Yoenis Cespedes type. I'd do it.

OF - Coco Crisp, OAK

Injuries are always an issue for Crisp. That is a given. The good news for people looking to buy-low is that Crisp has been injured and in a slump recently. Before his most recent hammy injury, Crisp was having a career year. He's batting atop a very good line-up, and although his 14 steals to date aren't what you signed up for, he has it in him to go on a tear to easily double that SB total. All for a guy that won't give you a big goose egg in the homer category, that's value.

SP - Rick Porcello, DET

Like many pitcher suspensions, Porcello's was a non-issue. He served it right before the All-Star break and hardly caused a blip on the fantasy radar by missing  a start. He's back in full force post-break with a couple of favorable match-ups out of the gate. His increased K's and decreased walks in 2013 have been a great surprise. Not that chasing wins is a good idea, but being on easily the best team in the division gives him a nice cushion moving forward. He'll have his off nights, but they'll be a lot less frequent ROS.

SP - Corey Kluber, CLE

Already covered here. Some tough match-ups out the gate (again!), but keep an eye on him after those. As a note, when I'm looking to build my staff down the stretch I want pitchers on good teams and pitchers I know will be there for me in the playoffs. Kluber may not necessarily fit either, but it's something to keep in mind. In redraft leagues, Jose Fernandez might make you happy as shit on a pig, but he's carrying the burden of an innings limit on him. Build for consistency and proven history, which leads us too ... 

SP - Cole Hamels, PHI

It's been beaten to death, but there's virtually nothing wrong with Hamels. There have been a few more erratic starts this season, but overall, he's the same guy. No injuries, no decrease in anything except for wins. 

RP - Steve Cishek, MIA

Losing your closers is also a big fear of fantasy owners down the stretch. Closers are by far the most volatile because other team's (specifically other bad team's) closers are easy to acquire for a few mid-level prospects. Cishek has been brilliant for the past couple of months - minus his implosion in the last game of the first half - so he's certainly on any team's radar that needs bullpen help. The caveat with Cishek is that he's really good, and if you've noticed there aren't a whole hell of a lot of closers with tons of job security. When Cishek does get traded, there is a high likelihood that he will not lose his status as a closer. For a team to acquire the side-winding righty at the Marlins price and simply plunk him in the set-up role would be indulging in a form of luxury that not many teams have the priviledge of enjoying.


RP - Blake Parker, CHN

One player who could very well lose his job is Kevin Gregg. Gregg has been solid, but struggled of late. The Cubs have no reason to hold onto this now valuable asset they picked up off the trash pile earlier this year. Theo Epstein and company will get good value for him, and I certainly envision Gregg not getting handshakes at the end of the night wherever he heads to. Parker has been tabbed as his successor, and with a K/9 inching towards 9.00, previous experience closing games in the minors, and a h/t from manager Dale Sveum, he's a good player to pounce on once Gregg is traded.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Looking for a Fight @ UFC 162: The Aftermath

This isn't a dream. Chris Weidman is the UFC Champ. (espn.com)
If Helen of Troy had the face that launched a thousand ships, then the title fight between Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman on Saturday night at the MGM Grand is the fight the launched a million blog comments.

In one of the most surreal fights in the UFC, the pound-for-pound champion was flattened by 9-0 #1 contender Weidman in the early 2nd round. Like most things though, it's not the final outcome, but how the final outcome happened that left fight fans everywhere speechless. People have read, seen, heard, or absorbed what happened Saturday night, but in short Silva goofed around with a very dangerous opponent and for the first time in his UFC career paid for it.

As I was watching the fight, after Silva got back to his feet after an early takedown and submission attempt by Weidman the Maia/Griffin/Bonnar shenanigans began. This time though, Silva must have attended the Actor's Studio because his motions and antics were even more pronounced and foolish. So seeing him horizontal with the floor of the Octagon was jarring enough, once he had a chance to explain himself in the ring to Joe Rogan, that's when things really went crazy.

Silva was gracious in defeat, but he also mentioned not wanting a rematch. He wanted to get back to Brazil with his family. Weidman was the champion and he deserved respect. For a man that had rarely known defeat, a man who many consider the best fighter on the planet to seem so ... relieved at losing his title this led to a whole new world of questions.

Was the pressure getting to him? Was the fight fixed? Was Silva too confident? Did Silva underestimate Weidman? What the hell just happened?

I'm not conspiracy theorist (although I do love hearing about them) so assuming any sort of fight fixing is a bridge too far for me. What makes Silva's in-ring decisions so hard to grasp is that the man himself is hard to grasp. Dana White has said on multiple occassions that Silva can act erratic and odd. "He's like a great artist," White would say when referencing his handling of Silva. Well, you know what happens to great artists? They go fucking nuts sometimes.

They chop their ear off, they break up a gigantic band in their prime, they disappear, they kill themselves, and on and on. Look, being a genius is all kinds of fun until you have to deal with what goes on inside a genius' brain. It's not all clarity and happiness there. There's a constant search for more, being driven and focused so much that all you want or need is the next new challenge.

Ultimately, after several days to run through a bunch of scenarios, I think Anderson Silva just lost his path. By that I mean, he's worked so hard for so long and been so great, he didn't care anymore about winning. He wanted to do things on his own terms. And you know what, doing things on his own terms has worked out pretty darn well for him so far. He was going to put on a show. He was going to showcase his talents and  win and move on. The path he was going down was, frankly, boring to him. In the eventuality of the outcome and in the challenges it presented.

His intent was to win and keep moving, but it wasn't for his legacy or to defend the belt again, it was just a means to an end. You can't tell me that a guy concerned with his legacy and how history would remember him would fight a person that way. You think Georges St-Pierre is going out there and crazy legging it?

Silva has been so undeniably brilliant in the UFC that with the mentality he has to have to be a fighter, he felt like he could not be harmed. Not by Chris Weidman, not by a grizzly bear.

What makes - let me say that again, what MAKES - Silva the best fighter on the planet is that he did things his way. He finished fights, he displayed his craft, and he was able to execute that like no one else.

The ending of the fight left more questions than answers. It didn't discredit Silva (aside from the showboating) and it didn't undo what Weidman accomplished (as he put it, Silva has done what he did in the ring to a lot of other fighters and they couldn't finish him). Hopefully what it does do is give Silva a chance to refocus himself. To remember what losing feels like. What being mortal feels like. Maybe when Silva is at home in Brazil three weeks from now he'll realize that his "boredom" and taking the UFC for granted has cost him a small piece of his legacy that even a dominant rematch win won't get back. He's lost the opportunity to close to book on any GOAT for this lifetime at least.

This isn't boxing. In MMA everyone loses. But the manner and style in which Silva seemingly threw everything away leaves a bad taste in everyone's mouth. If he was to lose to Weidman or Jon Jones or GSP, fans who respect and revere him want to see him go out fighting, not trying to be Neo.

It'd be insane, but not impossible that Jones and GSP both lose their next two fights and all of a sudden we're redoing this whole conversation and Jose Aldo is the best fighter on the planet. But I'd say the odds of GSP losing while breakdancing or Jones losing reciting a scene from MacBeth aren't likely. Should they lose, they'll lose fighting. And while Silva was doing what he wanted, he was doing his best to win, it wasn't what he needed to do. In the fight game, no matter who you are, there's a difference.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Looking for a Fight @ UFC 162 - Silva v. Weidman

Anderson Silva is pure magic inside the Octagon. (bleacherreport.com)

A lot of the time it's important to take a look at and appreciate some of the more unheralded fights on a UFC pay-per-view. Just because a fight isn't the main event doesn't mean it won't be entertaining, and it certainly has the potential to be fight of the night. Times like this though, at UFC 162 in Las Vegas on Saturday, no disrespect to Cub Swanson or Frankie Edgar or Chris Leben, but this is Anderson Silva's show.

The 38-year-old middleweight kingpin puts his title on the line for the first time since the anti-climactic Silva Sonnen II almost a year ago to the date (he threw in a light heavyweight match against Stephan Bonnar in between). Silva has been and is the most electrifying fighter the UFC has ever had. Apart from two fights that basically shouldn't have happened (Thales Leites and Demian Maia) Silva has finished every single opponent in the Octagon. In fact, his last decision was September 11, 2004 against Lee Murray.

Since then, there have been elbows, knees, front kicks and chokes exectued by Silva with near perfection. His toughest fight was Silva Sonnen I, where he submitted Sonnen after being dominated for 4.5 rounds. This might be his most memorable fight to date, but certainly not his most memorable highlight.

What Silva is able to do in the cage is unlike what anyone else can do. When he fights it is like a national holiday. Coincidentally, with his first title defense in a year, his bouts are starting to be literal holidays.

The fantastic thing about MMA though is that no matter what you've done, what you've accomplished, or who you are there is always a new challenge. People will poke holes and cast doubts, that's normal, but with the UFC there's always a new contender. Sure if you're Silva list that contender line isn't as robust as say, Jon Jones', but each person that squares off against Silva has a chance to win or at least push the long-time middleweight kingpin.

This is the opportunity bestowed on Chris Weidman. The #1 contender is 9-0 and after a signature win against Mark Munoz, he was being talked about as a serious threat to Silva's reign thanks to his elite wrestling and apparenlty even more elite jiu-jitsu. Weidman, however, has been injured and he too has been out of action for a year. In hearing him talk, it doesn't seem like a deterrent, only a better chance to prepare for a potentially life changing moment.

Much of the hype surrounding this fight has been built around other fighters saying that Weidman can win. Chael Sonnen, Georges St-Pierre, Frank Mir ... the list goes on of fighters that haven't sided with The Spider in this upcoming fight. Now, you have to look at where these fighters motivations really are. Does Chael want Silva to win? No. GSP's jiu-jitsu coach also coaches Weidman. When you're Anderson Silva and you've wrecked your share of faces in the UFC, you won't have to look far to find a fighter or two who wouldn't like to see some of that brutality served back to the champ.

The fact that Silva is so dominant and that the UFC appears to be making a big deal about fighters giving some hype worth quotes could lead many a Silva fan to skepticism. This shouldn't underrate the skills Weidman has shown in the cage. He does possess the skills that have given Silva the most trouble in his time fighting for the UFC. Wrestling and the ground game (not sure if he has a flying scissor heel hook in his back pocket) are areas where the tall, limb-lengthened champ was dominated by Sonnen in their first fight, and clearly an area where he would be less dangerous than on the feet.

However, this is a gameplan that Silva has gone against before. As the old addage goes, the fight always starts on the feet, well, when you're fighting Silva this is most notably the case. When Weidman engages Silva, he won't just be looking for a take down, he'll be defending against severe leg kicks, the best fast-twitch movements in all of MMA, and oh yeah, he might just get a front kick to the face if he's not careful.

And when Weidman is able to get close, if he wants to try to take Silva down that way, he'll have some knees to the ribs to deal with.

Yes, Weidman's wrestling style is far more of the shoot in, double-leg variety, but he has to keep all options open to not be predictable. There is a dangerous test here, but I think the greater challenge will be in Weidman's end, not Silva's.

BREAKDOWN

Have I bought into the hype for this fight? Has the UFC marketing push brainwashed me? No. I'll watch any Anderson Silva fight with great joy. Since this is MMA, anything could happen, and anyone can win at any time. So nothing is guaranteed.

When I do look at this fight though, I see Weidman having a very tough time closing the distance against Silva. Weidman is suprememly athletic and tough, but he'll have to get through a lot in order to lay his hands on Silva. I say this not only in the wrestling game, but also in Weidman's striking game. He is a pressure and in your face kind of fighter that Silva handles very well.

For the takedowns, this is obviously something both fighters will be aware of. I have enough respect to Weidman to imagine he'll be able to take Silva down and might squeak out a close round or two as a result. Silva does have good take down defense. I'm buying that his rib was busted in Silva Sonnen I, hence Chael being able to take him down at will, but at no other time has he gone down that easily.

I keep coming back to my respect for Weidman. He fought the tough fights, came back from injury, had a great belief in himself. As a result I think he won't quit or be scared of Silva. He's mentally strong enough to push past that. However, I think his toughness, his constant need to pressure, and his overall lack of superior skills compared to Silva will be his downfall. I think Silva keeps Weidman at bay with leg kicks and great movement, and if Silva can block or clinch up with Weidman early on and do some damage, that will be a huge thing moving forward for Weidman's gameplan.

I don't think Weidman is backing down, and I'm not sure how good his chin is, but I do think he'll give the fans one hell of a fight. I can already picture Dana White proclaiming how fantastic this fight was and how much heart Weidman showed. I'm going to say 3rd round TKO for Silva after a close first two.