Monday, September 30, 2013

Fantasy Funkhouser: 2013 Season Wrap-up and 100 Predictions/Comments for 2014

Chris Davis was fantasy's breakout star in 2013. (rantsports.com)
Fantasy Funkhouser will review all things Fantasy Baseball. After all, life is a small sample size.

I always feel bad near the end of the fantasy baseball season. I read, write, focus a lot of time and energy into it, but much like the actual baseball season, as the conclusion of the regular season approaches it becomes harder and harder to focus on. Especially when you try to write about it semi-monthly the approach, advise, and outlook of things becomes so narrowed. I mean if Craig Gentry is the 2nd most valuable player in the final two weeks of the season, what kind of advice can one really give? 

That's not to say I don't follow all of my teams through to the end. If you're going to dedicate so much time throughout the year, then it's foolish to just bail out of disinterest in the last week or so. Overall though this was a great fantasy year. I had a lot of nice calls early on, and outside of some mismanaged teams of my own, I finished in the top 3 in every league - including a clean sweep of my ESPN leagues (a championship auction and 12 team roto). Yes, I will be participating in some Yahoo! Winner's Leagues as well.

The best thing about fantasy baseball for me is that it's a perfect combination of endurance, skill, and luck to make it through a season. Predictions and hopes may be greatly exceeded or frustratingly underminded, but that's what playing this game is all about. Shockingly a lot of my predictions (the first time I've put them out for the public to see) weren't embarrassing. Even the round for round rankings I did had some decent insight. Every time a season comes to a close, I immediately miss fantasy, but at the same time you need to take a break and recharge your batteries and clear your head. 

So as we depart and before the free agents and trades and injuries and hopefully recoveries (Matt Harvey!) I want to close this season with 100 predictions/comments for 2014.


1 Mike Trout should be the #1 player taken in all drafts next year. No question.
2 Clayton Kershaw should be the #1 pitcher taken in all drafts next year. No question.
3 Chris Davis is no fluke. Even if his average dips a bit, he still has 50 HR potential. Top 10 player.
4 Yasiel Puig will be a good player, but people will draft him more for his first half of the season than his second.
5 It really was the year of the Cubans. Jose Fernandez should continue his dominance on the lowly Marlins.
6 Ryan Braun is a Top 15 player next year.
7 My starting SS in many leagues next year will be Andrelton Simmons.
8 Cliff Lee keeps on ticking. One of his best seasons to date.
9 I'm glad Manny Machado avoided serious injury, but his 2nd half slide can't be ignored. 
10 Paul Goldschmidt, welcome to the Top 10 in the fantasy ranks for a long-time coming.
11 Pedro Alvarez will join the 40 HR club next year.
12 Edwin Encarnacion will bash 40 HR's next year too.
13 Albert Pujols returns in fine form. Looking like he did his last year in St. Louis.
14 Jason Kipnis avoided a 2nd half swoon. Showed us what kind of player he is.
15 Adam Jones is always under valued, but his high K/BB rate always gives me pause.
16 Josh Hamilton is the reason Robinson Cano won't be getting $305M.
17 I think Cano stays a Yankee, unless the Dodgers really, really want him.
18 Domonic Brown was a pleasant surprise. Let's hope he's found a comfort zone in Philly.
19 I won't be completely comfortable with Giancarlo Stanton until he is out of Miami.
20 Joey Votto has become a better reality baseball player than fantasy.
21 Do not draft Brandon Phillips. He is not a top 10 2B next year.
22 It'll be interesting to see where Tim Lincecum lands.
23 Brandon Moss. Platoon star (.904) OPS against RHP.
24 Where will David Price go in the off-season? Hopefully not Texas.
25 Happy to see Eric Hosmer come into his own. I thought we'd see this next year, but he's back on track.
26 Matt Kemp should be just fine in 2014. Not as many steals, but he should come around from his shoulder issues.
27 Intrigued by Brett Lawrie at 2B, not at 3B.
28 I'd really like to see what Pablo Sandoval can do when he's in shape.
29 Stephen Strasburg will be over-drafted yet again.
30 I still believe in Anthony Rizzo.
31 Salvador Perez and Wilson Ramos. Draft them.
32 I'm not sure how long David Ortiz can keep this going, but I can't bet against him anymore.
33 The non-OF player with the 3rd highest SB total? Everth Cabrera, who was suspended for 50 games. 
34 Bryce Harper's career numbers thus far: 42 HR, 117 RBI, 29 SB, .272 AVG. Seems like a good baseline for his 2014 production.
35 Justin Verlander fixed whatever is wrong with him. He's a Top 5 pitcher next year. Better than Scherzer.
36 Still don't see Homer Bailey as an "ace" or SP2. He's just too inconsistent and gives up too many HR balls.
37 Austin Jackson fell short of my expectations and was injured yet again. Might be time to reassess him overall.
38 Not sure what to make of Jean Segura's stats declining each month of the season. Can't be a good thing.
39 I'm out on Ben Zobrist. Versatility thy name has been replaced by Matt Carpenter.
40 Justin Upton is running out of time to be great.
41 Billy Butler is who we though he was. Not that good.
42 Mike Napoli is the 2nd ranked catcher. He's the 16th ranked 1B. He won't have C-eligibility next year.
43 Minus a severe ankle injury, Jose Reyes had a great first year in Toronto.
44 Michael Bourn. Black listed.
45 Joe Mauer IGWH (Is Good When Healthy).
46 Chase Headley showed some signs of life. He's not as good as 2012, not as bad as 2013.
47 Depending on the ranks, I'd be thrilled to have Cole Hamels as my SP3 next year.
48 How'd Coors treat Nolan Arenado? I'm not buying him.
49 Avisail Garcia. Keep your eye on him.
50 Alex Rodriguez won't play an inning of baseball in the majors next year.
51 Zack Wheeler is still a couple of years away from becoming dominant.
52 Matt Moore will not be on any of my teams next year.
53 1B is not deep and there doesn't appear to be any top prospects coming along any time soon outside of a certain Cuban.
54 If Elvis Andrus can keep stealing 40+ bases then he deserves to be in the Top 60 players.
55 Pitchers will adjust to Billy Hamilton. That doesn't mean he still can't lead the league in steals. By a lot.
56 Matt Carpenter will be underdrafted next year. 
57 I'm out on Lance Lynn. Never again.
58 What Jason Heyward does in the post-season will greatly affect how I rank him in 2014.
59 Drafting a catcher early in a standard league continues to be a useless endeavour. Mike Piazza isn't walking through that door.
60 Will Venable is hitting LHP better than ever, but tends to get streaky in August. If he gets regular starts, 20/20 is one again doable.
61 Patrick Corbin overrated. James Shields underrated.
62 Not sold on Wil Myers yet. 
63 It will be tough for me to put Hanley Ramirez in my Top 10 next year, but I really want to.
64 Will Middlebrooks has earned the 3B spot in the Sox line-up next year.
65 That means Xander Bogaerts should be next to him at SS. Xander didn't produce as well as hoped, but inconsistent playing time will do that.
66 I see Bogaerts as a lesser version of Manny Machado. Not creative, I know.
67 Some other pitcher on the Marlins is getting all the attention, but don’t sleep on Nathan Eovaldi.
68 I still believe in Jeff Samardzija.
69 Ike Davis. Black listed.
70 More big production rookies are coming in early 2014.
71 Depending on what the Yankees do in the off-season, this might be the start of many missed playoffs to come.
72 Ian Desmond now has two straight 20/20 years.
73 Oswaldo Arcia. Draft him.
74 Kyle Seager completely collapsed in the last month of the season. Don't let this dissuade you from taking him.
75 Chris Johnson probably won't get drafted next year, and rightfully so.
76 Looked like Prince Fielder was due for a down year, but he straightened himself out. Would still rather have Chris Davis than him in 2014.
77 Christian Yelich will get you double digit homers and steals. If only he played 1B.
78 Matt Wieters. Offensive catchers develop late.
79 Matt Harvey will pitch in the Arizona Fall League, but due to ineffectiveness opt for Tommy John surgery.
80 No thank you to B.J. Upton. Ever.
81 Alejandro de Aza is always underrated. 
82 I still believe in Michael Saunders.
83 Jimmy Rollins is not a Top 12 SS next year.
84 Remember Nate McLouth's first half in 2013? Ride em while they're hot.
85 David Robertson could struggle as the new Yankees' closer. Not Jim Johnson struggle, but struggle.
86 Ubaldo Jimenez back? He has seemed to figure something out.
87 Jurickson Profar need playing time, but I'm not sure how he gets it on the Rangers in 2014.
88 Andrew Cashner ended the year healthy and productive.
89 Josh Donaldson is not a fraud. He's a Top 10 3B.
90 I still believe in Starlin Castro.
91 Daniel Murphy underrated.
92 There is just something I enjoy about Michael Brantley.
93 I'm shocked Freddie Freeman is this good. Last year people were saying he's better than Heyward. Turns out he might just be.
94 I'm not drafting Jonathan Papelbon.
95 Put the entire Houston Astros roster on my do not draft list in standard leagues.
96 Greg Holland has turned into the AL Craig Kimbrel.
97 The St. Louis Cardinals will be doing themselves a disservice if Matt Adams and Oscar Taveras aren't in the starting line-up on Opening Day.
98 Pitching is just so deep, and with the high rate of injuries, I'm just waiting and waiting next year. 
99 Trevor Rosenthal will be valuable in whatever role he fills in 2014.
100 Most of these will probably be wrong, but I'm already missing 2013 and looking forward to 2014.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Fanduel.com Week 4 Running Back Pick-ups

Please to enjoy: Some running back picks courtesy of Fanduel.com.

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The bye weeks begin in Week 4 this season, so many fantasy football owners are already looking to shake things up a bit. Whether you need a spot starter or you want to go a different direction with a guy who is struggling, here are three guys to target for Week 4.


Bilal Powell


The secret is starting to get out about Powell, as he exploded for 149 yards on the ground against the Buffalo Bills. Still, he is available in about 65% of leagues right now, and he is worth the gamble. Chris Ivory is having health issues, which means that Powell will be forced to carry a bigger load. Even if he is not as good as he was against the Bills each week, he will still provide plenty of value.


Jacquizz Rodgers


Rodgers is another guy that still is hanging out on the waiver wire in far too many fantasy football leagues. He is the lead running back for the foreseeable future in Atlanta, as Steven Jackson is pretty banged up. Jason Snelling is a solid player who is an even bigger sleeper owned by virtually no one right now, but Rodgers is the option to take if available.


Danny Woodhead



Hidden in San Diego, Woodhead is quietly starting to make a name for himself in fantasy football circles. Ryan Mathews gets the majority of the touches, but Woodhead does enough with his workload that he is worth a risk. He is also targeted by Philip Rivers a decent amount of times as well, so he could pick up some fantasy football value there. Chances are he is available in your league, and against the Cowboys, he should have some openings.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

FAABulous: Fantasy Football Pick-ups Week 4

Jordan Cameron hauled in 3 TD's in Week 3. (msn.foxsports.com)
FAABulous will recap the week of football activity and point fantasy owners where to spend their hard earned (not really) FAAB or waiver priority. Players will be owned in at most 50% of Yahoo! FFL. This is the one time where mo' money probably wouldn't mean mo' problems.

It's a funny thing when work gets in the way of your free time. I'm a day late, but not a dollar short on this week's pick-ups due to some pressing matters in reality. So far it's been a crazy season, but I feel like we say that every year. Trent Richardson was traded, Colin Kaepernick is being heavily questioned, and Jordan Cameron launched what I can only imagine is a personal attack on my TE rankings. The Giants lost the most standard of "New York Football Giants" games as they failed to win on the road, while 0-2. Now they're 0-3 and can add themselves to the laughing stock that has become the NFC East.

There's a lot of chaos going on, and not quite enough time to filter all my thoughts. Week 4 also starts the bye weeks, so I will try to pick out one player from each position, so with that as a preface, let's open the Book of Manning and see what's what.

Ryan Tannehill has led the Dolphins to a 3-0 record. (utsandiego.com)
Ryan Tannehill, QB - MIA @ NO (18% owned)

As I tuned into the Dolphins Falcons game near the end of regulation, I couldn't help but notice how much better Tannehill looked this year. He was poised and confident in the pocket and led the Dolphins to a victory against the Falcons. He didn't put up the gaudy and unexpected numbers of Brian Hoyer, but Tannehill looks ready to take a nice leap up this year.

Brandon Bolden, RB - NE +Atlanta Falcons (14%)

Unlike Jason Snelling and Jaquizz Rodgers who will turn back into pumpkins as soon as Steven Jackson is healthy, Bolden finds himself in the enviable position of taking carries away from Stevan Ridley. Last week saw each RB, including LeGarrette Blount rattle off an even amount of touches. The game was out of hand, but we've seen how the Patriots like to utilize their 3rd down backs, which Bolden now is. I can see him getting more and more in the mix as Ridley continues to struggle.

Stephen Hill, WR - NYJ @ TEN (15%)

Well, well, well, it's a Jet. A couple of weeks after I mentioned Bilal Powell with some indifference, it turns out this Jets team has an excellent defense, and an offense that can put some points on the board. Having Geno Smith at quarterback instead of Mark Sanchez goes to show you what a little confidence can bring to that position. Both Hill and Santonio Holmes had a big week last week, but against a lousy Bills secondary. The Titans have a good defense, so depending on how they choose to cover Hill and Holmes, this add could be a coin flip. I'm assuming they'd lean more heavily on Holmes here, so I like Hill as a play.

Colby Fleener, TE - IND +Jacksonville Jaguars (31%)

The red sea has parted for Fleener. Previously with players like T.Y. Hilton and Dwayne Allen battling Fleener for catches, Allen has been placed on IR, and under new Director of Offense, Pep Hamilton has flipped the script from last year. Gone is Bruce Arians' big play, pass happy offense, and in it's place is Hamilton's run first and more conservative pass game. This all favors Fleener as Hilton's value takes a big dive do to less deep passes (along with some of those going towards Darius Heyward-Bey). Fleener and Hamilton, oh and that guy Luck have had a lot of reps together, so I see Fleener getting a lot more opportunities.

Previously mentioned:

There are also a couple of players whose stocks have risen even higher since I first mentioned them in FAABulous. It's not worth rehasing them, but worth mentioning them.

Bilal Powell,  Ryan Broyles, and Brian Hartline

PENNY SAVED IS A PENNY EARNED

Jonathan Franklin, RB - GB BYE (19%)

The Pack are on a bye, and after James Starks was injured early on Sunday, Franklin took over and had the game of his life. After a training camp and preseason that was as loathed and poorly received as a Miley Cyrus live performance, Franklin does get credit for shining when credit is due, however, he also fumbled away the football and caused the Packers to lose. I find it hard to believe that he'd build up enough good will to get significant playing time going forward or supplant Eddie Lacy when he's back and healthy.

THE 1%

Mike Glennon, QB - TB @ ARZ (1%)

I was leaning Delanie Walker here, but how often can you pick a starting QB that's 1% owned? Plus, since this is breaking news this morning, I get to take advantage of my 24 hour delay. Win win! So much for the Josh Freeman era. The only person that's more upset than Freeman is probably his agent who couldn't get that fat second contract out of Freeman. Actually, his agent is probably more pissed than Josh.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Looking for a Fight @ UFC 165: Jones v. Gustafsson

Jon Jones launches a jump kick against Ryan Bader. (mirror.co.uk)
Two and a half years ago Jon Jones fought Ryan Bader. Both were undefeated, both had a lot of hype and potential behind them, and the winner was pegged to be a pretty big deal in the UFC. Jones won convincingly, and he's certainly become a big deal.

With combination of some issues outside of the ring, dominance in it, and a luke warm relationship with fans, Jones has become the UFC star that has the potential to sign the brightest. Deals with Nike and Gatorade (?) have given him the two biggest "on shorts" sponsors in the UFC, and surely he must be in the running to be on the cover of the new EA Sports UFC game.

As we've followed the career and watched the development of Jones as a fighter in the UFC and as an entity in media, it has always been interesting to see how Jones continually tries to develop his media persona. He wants to fight and be the best fighter ever, but at the same time it's confusing how a man who - when he's not trying - comes off as very aware, intelligent, and captivating. When he is at his most distant is when he tries to be someone other than himself or live up to the image of what he thinks he should be.

He's gone from aw shucks, to cookie-cutter fighter mode, to cocky and arrogant, to comfortable in his own skin, to slightly awkward at times, and where we stand today a man at peace looking for new challenges.

Surely, though it must be difficult to restrain any hubris when your job and your success has come from beating up the toughest guys on the planet. Georges St-Pierre certainly does that and does it well. And despite many less fan pleasing performances than Jones, is the most beloved fighter the UFC has. With all due respect to GSP, the UFC does not want another version of him.

The UFC is looking for that marketable star that wants the limelight and can become the guy that everyone and their mother knows. In Jones they have that, and he wants to be that. While his in-ring product might be approaching a polished product at 205, his out of ring persona is far from complete.

What the UFC wants is Floyd "Money" Mayweather. The undisputed champ of boxing and pay-per-view, excuse me May-per-view. Money is as big as the sport itself, maybe bigger. His persona is every bit as perfect as his boxing ability. While Mayweather is a devisive figure, what he does is get a whole lot of people's attention. People want to see him fight whether he wins or loses. People are drawn to him because the idea we all have of Floyd Mayweather is compelling, but honest. You may not like or agree with how he carries himself or lives his life, but what you see is what you get. With Jones, you don't get that feeling. You get the feeling that a part of him would rather be Ronda Rousey.

Jones is beginning to discuss other interests. Whether it's getting into movies or boxing a Klitschko brother Jones is looking for challenge that, frankly, the UFC's light heavyweight divison can no longer offer him. Who knew being the best of the best at something at 26 would be so unfulfilling?

For Jones, the compelling part for him, the challenge is to become an icon and stir an emotion inside of fight fans that compel them to be invested in what he does. To want to watch him. That's a challenge, and that's also a big part of what will bring him the attention, earnings, and fanfare he desires.

Rousey go there faster because she has a crazy story, is an Olympian, is fiery, and is beautiful. People want to know what she's doing.

People are just as inclined to shrug their shoulders when Jones is on SportsCenter.

Jones may be at peace or confident he'll beat Alexander Gustafsson this weekend at UFC 165 in Toronto, and that's fine. But he shouldn't make the fans watching him be indifferent. Talking about how Gustafsson doesn't do anything better than him, or that Gustafsson is mistaken to have a "stick and move" boxing strategy and wax poetic about the art of boxing itself isn't what people want from Jones. He has to make more of an effort, not to be likable, but to just be a person of interest. The answer about what works for Jones is an unknown. Who should he try to emulate? Ah, but that's it, he shouldn't try to emulate anyone at all. It's a matter of how to make yourself as compelling a figure as possible using the tools that God gave you.

As crazy and as mixed up as it sounds, the audience that will be entralled with Jones' pure excellence in the Octagon is much smaller than the audience that is intrigued about a figure or a person (i.e. Kardashian, Kim). There's a part to Jones that seems to think this is all figured out and wins and movies and money and cars and fame and legendary status are all but promised through hard work and dedication, but the truly legendary figures always have a bit more going on than that.

BREAKDOWN

Nitpicking over a champions past fights is never worth it. Fighters fight who is out there at the time. That moments best of the best or best available. Just because Anderson Silva fought Patrick Cote doesn't make him any less of fighter. When you deal with these upper echelon fighters, a lot of opponents they go up against won't seem up to snuff. The names of Rua, Rampage, Machida, Evans, Belfort, and Sonnen are all marquee wins. None outside of Sonnen were complete gimmies, and we all know what Sonnen is capable of. If this was the BCS (RIP!) then Jones would have built up quite the compelling case. Certainly, Jones' severe height and reach advantage has been played up ad nauseum, but it could also be argued that Bones hasn't taken on a fighter at or near his prime since Bader

You can cross both of those items off the list this Saturday when Jones fights Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165. A fighter that is by all means approaching his prime. Again if you want to nitpick, you can say Gustafsson isn't ready yet. Sure, but people didn't think Jones was either when he fought Shogun to win the title on a quick turnaround.

Gustafsson has improved each fight, especially after a submission loss to Phil Davis that exposed his lack of wrestling. Gustafsson actually began training with Davis after that fight to improve. This is an evolving fighter who has showcased a wide variety of skills and a great ability to use his length and body control to give opponents a tough time.

That reach is actually no advantage against Jones who sports the longest reach in all the UFC. Both men will be heading into the fight with, likely, very different strategies. While Gustafsson has worked on improving his wrestling, his game is his boxing and his distance. People are wondering how Jones will handle someone of similar size in the Octagon with him, but I'll be interested to see how Gustafsson does the same.

Bones, will likely want to box and strike with Gustafsson. He doesn't appear to have any doubts when it comes to how good his striking is, and he really shouldn't. Hardly anyone has taken less damage in their fights than Jones. The most severe injury he had was from his own doing against Chael Sonnen when he severely dislocated his big toe pushing Sonnen up against the cage.

We have seen Gustafsson's chin in action, but not Jones'. Undoubtedly, at some point Jones will take this to the mat, where it'll be up to Gustafsson to get back on his feet. These are two major advantages that Jones has.

After the Siva-Weidman fight, there are some extra nerves in the air about champs taking things a little too lightly. While Silva more likely served as a cautionary tale for Bones, it's hard not to wonder if maybe he is a bit more focused on a movie role than a big Swede. I feel it myself, but in all of Bones' fights no matter how big or small he's never been out of control. Never been reckless or in danger. Now, he can't avoid danger at his own behest, but the being in control part is vital.

It's reaching that point where Jones wants the standing KO finish in the UFC. I doubt that'll happen in this fight. I wouldn't be surprised if this fight actually started off rather dull. Jones won't force any engagement and if Gustafsson is too concerned with keeping his distance we might hear some boos early on. Ultimately though, things will start moving, and depending on when Jones moves this fight to the ground, that's probably where it will end.

Jones by 3rd round submission.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

FAABulous: Fantasy Football Pick-ups Week 3

RG III (left) and Aaron Rodgers had two very different Sundays, but for fantasy .. not quite. (msn.foxsports.com)
FAABulous will recap the week of football activity and point fantasy owners where to spend their hard earned (not really) FAAB or waiver priority. Players will be owned in at most 50% of Yahoo! FFL. This is the one time where mo' money probably wouldn't mean mo' problems.

From a football perspective, you'd much rather wake up Tuesday morning and be Aaron Rodgers as opposed to Robert Griffin III. Rodgers led the Packers to their first win of the season by crushing the Washington football club 38-20. Griffin, however, struggled to get anything going for the second straight game, only to see his defense struggle again and put Washington FC in a deep hole. One team kept their division title hopes alive, while the other couldn't be plummeting any faster.

In fantasy however, the difference isn't so vast. In that game Rodgers hurled 4 TD passes and set a franchise record for a single game of passing at 480 yards (beating out .... Matt Flynn's previous franchise record!). Griffin playing the catch up game tossed he second straight 300+ yard passing game and 3 TDs of his own. Overall, for what looked like an absolute beatdown on Sunday turned into only an 11 point difference between Rodgers (34.90 points) and Griffin (23.90 points) in standard Yahoo! fantasy leagues.

In fact, RGIII ended up with the 4th best QB fantasy performance in Week 2. "Beating" other QBs that actually won their games like Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, and Peyton Manning. Yes, for this seemingly out of nowhere performance we can thank garbage time.

Piling up stats in garbage time is no secret amongst fantasy players. Just ask Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson owners last year. There's a certain art to owning a player or players on a bad team, that you know once that defecit grows to double digits, the running and gunning come out. There's really no definitive way to assume a player will garner a lot of garbage time points, but so far RGIII has mastered it.

From Grantland's Bill Barnwell:
The final scores from these past two weeks undersell just how little Washington has had to offer in its opening contests of 2013. Washington was down 24-0 at the end of the first half against the Packers on Sunday, and the Eagles took it to the woodshed with a 26-7 halftime lead last Monday; that's a 43-point halftime gap over the first two games of the year.*

*Also, that 7 points that Washington scored against the Eagles was a defensive touchdown. So Washington's offense has been in a 50-0 hole.

Out of that mess came two very solid RGIII fantasy performances. While no one will mistaken these past two weeks as RGIII playing well, it's worth noting that even though Washington FC might be heading for a rough year, it doesn't mean that the team will be dragging down RGIII or Alfred Morris - for that matter - with them. There's still a lot of fantasy value to be had when you treat your gameplan like Richard Sherman treats, well ... everyone. Aside from the growing injury concerns in the nation's capital, I still view RGIII as a worthwile fantasy play moving forward. It's clear that he is not able or not comfortable running like he used to, but it's also clear that the NFC East has a collection of the worst defenses in all of football. With a slate of games that are sure to be high scoring against poor defenses, RGIII - even without running - could easily finish a top 10 QB barring injury/benching by cashing in on the seemingly gigantic amount of garbage time that will be coming his way. As the season progresses, his health should improve making a top 5 ranking in reach, but Washington as a whole look to not be a competitive team this year.

It may not be pretty on Sunday's, but Tuesday morning is what we're all shooting for.

Eddie Royal has 5 touchdowns already. (wtnh.com)

Among the large amount of significant Week 3 injuries, let's see who is worth our time. Onwards!

Eddie Royal, WR - SD (23%) @ TEN

Sure it was easy to ignore Royal's Week 1 performance, and many people did. Week 2 however caught the attention of everyone. Three touchdowns albeit against the horrid Eagles' secondary established Royal as at least a fantasy bench option moving forward. We've seen the situation before where a breakout game ultimately leads to nothing, but Royal has always had an ability to be productive. He had 91 receptions for 980 yards and 5 TDs in 2008, but since then he hasn't really had steady opportunities. What he's getting in San Diego is just that. New head coach Mike McCoy might not have been counting on Royal when he took over the job, but injuries to Malcolm Floyd and Denario Alexander have given Royal a window of opportunity to succeed. Also, don't sleep on the San Diego offense, McCoy was the offensive coordinator for the Broncos the last two years where he built a highly effective offense behind two of the most drastically different quarterbacks you can find: Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning.


Ryan Broyles, WR - DET (25%), Nate Burleson, WR - DET (10%) +Washington Redskins 

Wide receivers against Washington! All of them! Broyles should make his season debut this week, and I'd expect him to get used to suiting up moving forward.



Isaiah Pead, RB - STL (14%) +Dallas Cowboys 

Daryl Richardson owners, just go get him.

Percy Harvin, WR - SEA (31%) Injured

Word is the medical staff in Seatlle is doing some interesting stuff. Harvin indicated that a Week 7 return isn't out of the question. Seems like a great time to stash him in case. Sure, this could be just a super competitive athlete's optimism, but who knows? If you're looking for an immediate impact guy, Doug Baldwin (8%) is always underrated.

PENNY SAVED IS A PENNY EARNED

James Starks, RB - GB (10%) +Cincinnati Bengals 

I said it before in my running back preview, but when it comes to the Packers, I just do not trust them to run the ball affectively. Eddie Lacy suffered a concussion on a finable hit by Washington safety Brandon Merriweather. There'd probably be a lot more bad blood going around if Merriweather didn't get some of his own comeuppance by later suffering a concussion of his own trying to take down Starks in a similar manner. There's certainly not much to work with based on Lacy's touches so far this year. It's difficult to judge him on the 14 carries he had against Seattle, and one 10 yard carry on Sunday doesn't make things any clearer.

If you need a Packers RB, then Starks is your guy. Just keep in mind that his breakout performance took place in 2010's postseason. He's failed to impress since then, and his performance on Sunday was against a clearly overmatched defense who were already defeated once he touched the pigskin. Depending on how long Lacy is out, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Packers dial up Willis McGahee or Michael Turner. He's taken your FAAB money before. Don't let him do it again.


THE 1%

Andre Ellington, RB - ARZ (1%) @ NO

Rashard Medenhall has probably exceeded expectations thus far for fantasy owners, but Ellington has impressed Cardinals Head Coach Bruce Arians. It appears Ellington has already taken over as the third down back in Arizona, and the rookie 6th round pick is inching closer to Mendenhall on the depth chart. It would probably take an injury for Ellington to displace Mendenhall, but that's never out of the question.

BOX OFFICE BOOMER

I don't envision this being a recurring section, but for everyone wondering why the Patriots don't go get Brandon Lloyd, well here's a fun fact about what he's up to.

Brandon Lloyd - WR, FA (2%)

Free agent WR Brandon Lloyd stars in an upcoming zombie movie called "After Effect."
Advice: Maybe now we know why Lloyd has rejected inquiries from at least six NFL teams, including the desperate Patriots. He landed a role in this direct-to-DVD movie as Sargent Chuck Lloyd. The movie stars Daniel Baldwin. Lloyd is just 32 years old and posted a 70/966/5 line last year, but he appears done with the NFL.
Moremasslive.com
(Rotoworld.com)





Tuesday, September 10, 2013

FAABulous: Fantasy Football Pick-ups Week 2

Anquan Boldin made a lot of new fans on Sunday. A lot. (mmbq.si.com)
FAABulous will recap the week of football activity and point fantasy owners where to spend their hard earned (not really) FAAB or waiver priority. Players will be owned in at most 50% of Yahoo! FFL. This is the one time where mo' money probably wouldn't mean mo' problems.

You're Joe Flacco. You won a Super Bowl last year after one of the great playoff runs in NFL history. You signed a piece of paper that gave you $120M for that performance, so that's pretty nice. So come week 1 of the NFL season you pull a tough draw with a road game in Denver because your baseball team wouldn't reschedule their game against the Chicago White Sox of all teams. Then you proceed to get obliterated by Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. Still reeling from such an embarrassing defeat, you try to take your mind off your game and just be a regular ... Joe and watch some football on Sunday. You happen to see your former teammate Anquan Boldin, now in San Francisco. Boldin was traded from the Ravens because they wanted to save $2M. Now, he's playing for one of the best teams in the NFL and happens to accounting for over 200 receiving yards. This is not good.

When that game is over, Boldin would have a line of 13 catches for 208 yards and a touchdown. Your entire wide receiver crew would only put up 15 catches for 215 yards and a touchdown (h/t MMQB). You are bummed.

You're Tom Brady. You just resigned in New England at another cut rate price so the Pats so they can, once again, presumably go get some big name players. Soon after, both of your star tight ends would be injured and incarcerated, and your other star receiver departed for your main AFC rivals for the Super Bowl due to not getting an acceptable contract from the Patriots. The same Patriots you gave a little more money to so they can build a team around you. Except now they've replaced Wes Welker with a version of Wes Welker that has trouble staying on the field. In the opening game against a rookie QB and a ragged team in Buffalo, you barely get out with a win. Your running back redeveloped his fumbling problem, the back up running back played great but fractured his wrist, your new Wes Welker battled through a groin strain all game, and the tight end everyone though you could just plug in had zero catches. You are not happy.

Meanwhile, the original Wes Welker was getting along great with his new buddy Peyton Manning. He hauled in two touchdowns in his typical Welker way. Cutting and moving and sprinting every which way. You are bummed.

There were a'plenty of fantasy points to go around this week, but the debut of some new faces in new places (yes, that means you Chip Kelly) really changed the scope of things already. No one wants to be overly reactionary to things, but next thing you know, Julian Edelman could have 32 touchdowns, or the Eagles may run plays to infinity or the opposing teams' defense just self-combusts on the field.

It's fun to dream, but what we saw was an extremely entertaining week 1 that could mean something as the year progresses, however as of right now, we just don't know.

Things might seem great if you're a LeSean McCoy owner, or you could be wondering if Tom Brady in the 6th was such a great deal when Colin Kaepernick was still on the board. Now is not the time for second guessing because there's nothing you can do about it. Everyone wants to live and die by week 1, but it's hardly written in stone how anything will play out.

Trading for Anquan Boldin may not be the most wise decision, just like cutting David Wilson robably isn't either. There are players that will emerge though. Before you go ahead and cut ties with your 2nd round pick, it's important to look to the waiver wire to see what players might keep this thing rolling and which may not. A season isn't wasted at least until a marquee player struggles for a month or an injury happens, but you can't predict that right now. Now it's best to take a breath before next week and claim some players.

From a mess of a game ... a fantasy star ... will rise. (rantsports.com)
DeAndre Hopkins, WR - HOU (49% owned) v TEN

Leonard Hankerson, WR - WAS (3%) +Green Bay Packers 

Brian Hartline, WR - MIA (46%) +Indianapolis Colts 

Regarding Hopkins, Hankerson and Hartline I could just refer you to my Sleeper WR picks I made a couple of weeks back for these two, but why? What could I possibly gain from doing that?

Alex Smith, QB - KC (40%) +Dallas Cowboys 

Andy Reid acquired Smith from San Francisco after he was displaced by a concussion, then Colin Kapernick. It appears both teams will be happy with their decision. Albeit against the Jaguars, Smith was his usual solid, but not spectacular self. He's definitely a safe play at this point, and with Jamaal Charles healthy and getting Dwayne Bowe more involved, he could have more good games than average ones.

Brent Celek, TE - PHI (21%) v SD

There isn't a great need out there for tight ends as this year's class is pretty deep, but there is reason to take note of Celek in Chip Kelly's offense. It's pretty clear that Celek is the preferred TE for the Eagles over James Casey and Zach Ertz. I'm not a big proponent of rookie tight ends coming in a making a big splash, as they're typically one of the positions with the highest learning curve in the NFL mainly due to pass blocking. Casey looked like he was supposed to take over the main receiving TE role, but injuries and ineffectiveness have left the free agent's status on the team cloudy. Let's face it, you want in on some aspect of this Philly offense.

Terrelle Pryor, QB - OAK (12%) v JAX

Hey, look who it is! It's the NFL's leading rusher after Week 1. Pryor took advantage of a completely underprepared Colts defense to scramble for 112 yards and toss 217 more. He did have two picks in a narrow defeat to the regressing Colts, but this game had all the makings of, "My first option and second option is covered, f'it I'm running." This strategy does not work. Teams will clamp down on Pryor and he will rarely be affective like this moving forward. Although he does have a preferred match-up against the Jags next week.

Julian Edelman, WR - NE (25%) v NYJ

There wasn't much to be thrilled about for owners of any Patriot fantasy owners. This game was a huge letdown. One bright spot was Shane Vereen, who - as it turns out - had a broke wrist all game, and Edelman. The 27 year-old has been with the Pats for 5 years, and although Bill Belichick's aura is slowly diminishing, I'm confident in assuming that if Edelman could have been a regular option on offense, he would have been one already. He's worth a grab just in case, but I wouldn't go crazy for someone that did have two TDs, but also lost out on targets to Kenbrell Thompkins and will lose a lot more looks if Danny Amendola can stay health and if Rob Gronkowski is back in Week 3.

PENNY SAVED IS A PENNY EARNED

Da'Rel Scott, RB - NYG (3%)

David Wilson had some fumble issues yet again. Fortunately for him and fantasy owners, with Andre Brown injured, there are no other good options. Da'Rel Scott isn't the answer. Neither is Brandon Jacobs or Willis McGahee. It would be wholly insane for Tom Coughlin to immediate give up on Wilson, who has a ton of promise. In fact, it would basically be the opposite of what it means to be a coach just to give up on the guy. Unless Wilson has another multi-fumble game, I don't expect him to lose his job, so that's good. The bad is that there's almost no way he's getting goal line touches. Good for either Jacobs or McGahee. Good for Brandon Myers.

THE 1%

Harry Douglas, WR - ATL (1%) v STL

Roddy White is not 100%, and this just feels like one of those years where he never will be. Douglas is the guy that could benefit from a less fit White.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

FAABulous: Fantasy Football Pick-ups Week 1

Why Terrelle Pryor? Because no other Raider will proabably ever be pictured in this column ROS. (msn.foxsports.com)
FAABulous will recap the week of football activity and point fantasy owners where to spend their hard earned (not really) FAAB or waiver priority. Players will be owned in at most 50% of Yahoo! FFL. This is the one time where mo' money probably wouldn't mean mo' problems.

Yes, we aren't even a year old yet here at FAABulous. Last year's Week 2 column debuted with some RGIII love and it's been a series of hits and misses since. As I mentioned during my wrap up last year, I'm pretty happy with how things turned out. Picking from a group of players owned in less than 50% of leagues, especially later in the year is no easy task, and the fact that I didn't make a plethora of miserable picks is something I can hang my porkpie hat on

As I look forward to Week 1 both as a fan and inquisitively for some cheap fantasy plays, I'm inclined to point out that ESPN has launched an awesome weekly fantasy game. The Gridiron Challenge. Yes, this is not new, but a feature the ESPN has implemented this season is. Instead of arranging a team based on salary and working the team week to week, ESPN has added a player eliminator option. It's basically a suicide pool of players you can play week to week. So, if you're over the moon about Adrian Peterson this week, do you use him against the Lions or save him for later? It looks to be really entertaining, and I whole heartedly recommend people sign up for this option. I'm in the group Fans of Philadelphia Eagles - Eliminator under Starwin Lubos 1.

Anyway, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Looking at the under utilized fantasy plays this week, I see some old FAABulous favorites pop up. I'll do my best to resist any lingering affections from 2012, but sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants. Leggggggo!

2013 FAABulous Ranks: QB, WR, RB, TE


A Raider and a Jet? Barf. (espn.com)
Bilal Powell, NYJ - RB (33% owned)

Well, Powell has been named the starter over Chris Ivory for whatever that is worth. Honestly, I'd be fine not touching any Jets this season, or at the very least considering these fellow "non-starting" RBs instead.

Knowshon Moreno, DEN - RB (41%)

You're not fooling us all again, Knowshon! The Denver RB situation is murky at best. Ronnie Hillman basically fumbled his way out of contention, leaving the now veteran Moreno to duke it out with Badger Alumnus Montee Ball. Ball is the flashier name, and has more upside than the known Moreno, but as we all know, it's Peyton's show in Mile High. Moreno's knowledge and familiarity in the offense seems to give him the early edge, but this seems to be leaning more towards a split carry situation. But when you're talking the Denver offense, anything could happen. When Moreno played last year, he put up double digit fantasy points in 5 of 6 weeks.

Joique Bell, DET - RB (29%)

I handed in my transfer request on Reggie Bush his first year in Miami. I think he just is who he is now. Sure, when you play to his strengths as a receiver out of the backfield, he'll do better than a straight forward rusher, but I'd rather bet on Ryan Broyles to be the benefactor of some of thos 700+ Matthew Stafford passing attempts than Bush. Bell has shown ability when given the chance. 

E.J. Manuel, BUF - QB (19%)

If you have Aaron Rodgers and want to take a flier on your back-up, E.J. is your man.

Kenny Stills, NO - WR (11%)

It's not so much that Stills is good or bad, it's that he tenuously holds the 3rd WR position in the Saints offense. This position has been really hit or miss over the years with the likes of Lance Moore and Robert Meachem taking advantage of a couple of Brees balls thrown their way. 

Quinton Patton, SF - WR (9%)

You want some fringe guys around Colin Kaepernick. I don't know what to make of Kaep going into this season, but the guy has star quality. Patton has emerged late at Niners camp, and could rise quickly if he can meld with his QB.


PENNY SAVED IS A PENNY EARNED

Christine Michael, SEA (26%)

Perhaps no one gained more pre-season value than Michael. The rooke 2nd rounder created a buzz with his play, and how he looked on the field. While he could be a potential replacement for Marshawn Lynch down the road, that time is not now. Unless Beast Mode gets hurt, Michael won't have much value. 

THE 1%

Marlon Brown, BAL - WR (1%)

Brown is someone to take note of for the defending Super Bowl Champs. There's been no shortage of coverage about the Ravens being disbanded after last season, so when you pay your quarterback $127M you'd expect him to make some players into playmakers. And no one loves the random bomb downfield than Joe Flacco.

FAABulous: Fantasy Football 2013 Pre-Season Ranks - TE

Jimmy Graham remains the only dominant TE in Week 1. (zimbio.com)

Only a couple of years ago the tight end position was having a renaissance. Weapons were emerging from the Tony Gonzalez/Antonio Gates mould. With the new rules the NFL implemented regarding player safety, some teams - notably the New England Patriots - looked to exploit these rules by sending 6'3+ 235+ tight ends all over the field which now were a match up problem for safeties and linebackers who usually cover them as the threat of taking their head off during a crossing pattern was no more.

Seemed like a great and winning strategy, but due to some legal stuff or some rookies that didn't pan out or injuries or some vets that just dried up, as we look to kick off the 2013 football season, there remains only one, clearly dominant TE and that's Jimmy Graham. It's even worth noting that the discrepancy between Graham and the 2nd ranked TE Rob Gronkowski is the largest gap in any fantasy position. This is due to Gronk being injured for anywhere for the first month or so of the football season, but you can't downplay football players that get constantly injured.

Overall, there are some proven vets out there you can count on, and some under the radar guys who could emerge, but rookies who won't and of course, Jermichael Finley. The bane of any fantasy footballer.

So with not much to dig into, let's run the Chip Kelly no huddle for our TE ranks.

1. Jimmy Graham, NO
2. Rob Gronkowski, NE
3. Jason Witten, DAL
4. Tony Gonzalez, ATL
5. Owen Daniels, HOU
6. Greg Olson, CAR
7. Kyle Rudolph, MIN
8. Vernon Davis, SF
9. Antonio Gates, SD
10. Jermichael Finley, GB
11. Brandon Myers, NYG
12. Martellus Bennett, CHI
13. Fred Davis, WAS
14. Jordan Cameron, CLE
15. Jared Cook, STL