Monday, August 15, 2016

Fantasy Football Dossier 7.0

"It's years since you've been there
Now you've disappeared somewhere
Like outer space, you've found some better place
And I miss you..."

What is happenin' cap'n? Is it once again football season...thank you Jesus!! August is such a boring sports month. No offense to the Sox or baseball, but when that is the only sports entity that is on, it literally lulls me to sleep.

At least we have the Olympics now to kind of cure the least a little bit...some of that stuff is also mind-numbingly boring. Here's a few Olympic quick takes while I'm on the subject:
  • USA Swimming and Gymnastics are going to dominate for a long, long time. Phelps obviously, but the emergence of Katie Ledecky dominating the rest of the world and winning the 200, 400, and 800 freestyle. Simone Biles is the best all-around gymnast in the world, while Massachusetts' own Aly Raisman could be #2.
  • USA Basketball should be as dominating, yet have looked very undominant (?) lately, barely getting by Australia, Serbia, and France. Despite not having LeBron, Steph, Westbrook, and Harden, the games shouldn't be this close.
  • Korea has a bad ass Archery team.
  • Fencing is so sick to watch. They black out the crowd and spotlight the floor so all you see is the two fencers battling. Then when a touch is made, a light illuminates the winning's a sight to behold (thank you On Demand and streaming!).
  • The shooting coverage is horrible. They just show the people shooting, but they don't show the targets that they're shooting I missing something? Isn't the entire point of the sport to hit set target? Why would we not want to see how close a shooter is to the target? I would put a little box next to the shooter that had a camera on the target. This way you get the results in real time and not have to wait for a box to turn green or red at the bottom of the screen...that stuff really grinds my gears.
  • Water polo is the most dreadful game to's like slow-motion handball, which is the second-most dreadful game to watch.
  • While it's not in the games this year, there is a distinct possibility that ballroom dancing will get added for the 2020 games in Tokyo. I'm actually ok with this. I think there is a heightened awareness of the art of dancing and while it may have grown through unconventional means (Dancing With The Stars, So You Think You Can Dance?...even Dance Moms), it's still there. Also, if you have a few couples that you can spotlight and that put on a spectacular show, it could be an interesting added revenue stream for an event that takes very little to put on (basically just a dance floor right?)
  • Last point: Michael Phelps is the greatest Olympian EVER. Period.

So there's some Olympic coverage for ya. Now, back to why you clicked on this (if you came to the jam, well I'm glad you came), football, FOOTBALL!!!! Yesssssss!!! So it's been kind of an auspicious start to the NFL season, as the Hall of Fame game that normally gets played the Sunday after the HOF induction ceremony was cancelled this year due to field conditions...not quite what they were going for. How is it possible to not account for how the paint that you use to paint the field can have an adverse reaction to the field turf you intend to paint on? I mean have we not done this before? Literally every Hall of Fame game ever has gone off without a hitch. Just incredibly bad timing for a league that really did not need any more bad pub. Sure this is not going to derail the league entirely, but it's yet another blow to its integrity, which at some point will matter (at least I hope).

So fantasy time is here. If you are not familiar with how I conduct my preview, it's pretty simple. I will run through a mock draft I did with total strangers (hopefully some of them cared) on a now not-effed up laptop (thank you Acer for making a $200 computer). I'll show you who I picked, why I picked them, then tell you about other targets in the area and guys that I wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole (this Bud's for you Eli!). So, without further ado...

Team Name: Free Brady: Well this was a fairly easy decision. Whatever the case may be, my team name was going to be something pro-Brady or something very, very, VERY anti-Goddell (which is tough to give away given ESPN's stance on inappropriate names...different in private leagues though!)

Pick Position: 1: I landed at #1 in one of the two mocks I did before this one. Nice to get anyone you want to, but that wait after you pick until #20 is LOOOONNNNNGGGGGGG.

1. Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh: Brown is the concensus #1 pick, which marks the first time basically ever that a receiver will go #1 in a fantasy draft, and not only that, but Odell Beckham, Jr. is slotted right behind him at #2. So while receivers are suddenly dominating the top of the board, just remember this...

Theory #1: Do Not Rule Out Taking Adrian Peterson or Todd Gurley #1: Obviously in this example, I went Antonio, but in the back of my mind, I did consider this one fact...there just aren't many workhorse backs in the league anymore, which explains why receivers, who play every down, are now being valued much higher in an overall sense than backs. In the top 10 of most people's boards, you are looking at only a few RBs (AP, Gurley, David Johnson, Ezekiel Elliot). Meanwhile, there are a slew of guys that I would not mind being my team's top receiver in the second round. So it's something to consider. Ultimately, I just love Antonio and I think he's the best overall player in the league right now, and although his numbers were eye-popping last year, there is nothing to suggest that he cannot repeat that performance this year.

So obviously, there's about three or four options at #1, and once you decide on that, the wait is long for the next pick, and lots of the top talent will go off the board. There are three guys I would be a little bit wary of:

1. Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta: I do really like Freeman's game, but he trended downward over the second half of last year, and new head coach Dan Quinn is said to really like Tevin Coleman, meaning there's a chance the carries could happen in less than a 75/25 split for Freeman. He projects as a 3rd to 4th rounder who is going in the top 10-15.

2. Eddie Lacy, RB,  Green Bay: After his rookie year, Lacy was pegged for stardom, being a top 5 pick two years ago, but his inconsistency is well documented, and until he proves he can play at a high level for more than a half a season, I'm staying away from Lacy.

3. Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City: This guy is one of my favorite players in the league, but comes with such a huge risk price tag that I can't in good conscience recommend taking him in the top 20. He is a good guy to target in a trade, especially if he struggles out of the gate, and could be a nice buy-low candidate.

20. Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans: Ingram also comes with a bit of injury concern, but I feel like at 26, this is going to be the breakout season. Again with relatively no competition for carries, Ingram not only will get the bulk of the carries, but also be used in the passing game, making him even more valuable in PPR leagues.

21. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay: I have been a huge advocate for Evans since he was catching balls from Johnny Manziel at A&M. He's got one of the best frames for a receiver in the whole game, and with Jameis Winston perhaps poised for a big season (more on that later), one would think that Evans makes the leap into the All-Pro category this season, and that even at #21, this could become a steal.

...and now we wait...

Guys Going From 20-40 I'm Big On:
  • Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle: By far my favorite fantasy QB not named Tom Brady or Cam Newton. In all seriousness though, I think Wilson is so good he potentially could beat out Newton for #1 fantasy QB this year. One can only hope Thomas Rawls can keep the running game going, which really frees up Wilson to do his thing. Imagine if they can actually get Jimmy Graham involved too?
  • Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland: Like Evans, I feel like this is the last time Cooper will be falling in this range. Cooper has already shown that he can be a legit superstar in the league, and has a reliable battery with David Carr, so look for him to wind up in the 1200-1400 yard range with 6-10 scores.
  • Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego: Of all the receivers clumped into this range, I feel like Allen is arguably the most reliable of the group. Despite always having an array of receiving targets, Philip Rivers always seems to find Allen. He did miss half of last year, but that was due to a lacerated kidney (ouch), so I don't really think there's so-called "injury concern" (although it is football, so there's "injury concern" about everyone really).
Guys I'm Like "If I Get 'Em In The 5th Round, I'll Be Happy, But Here?...Ehhhhh...:
  • Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay: So Cobb couldn't crack the top 100 last year when he was by far the main target of the offense, and now Jordy Nelson's back, and you still want me to take him this high? Okie dokie!
  • Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina: I feel like we've been waiting for Stewart to be a top back since forever, and yet, it's been kind of blah. Carolina's got a crowded backfield, and with Kelvin Benjamin back, obviously the pass game will be even more emphasized, so expect more blah. 

40. Jordan Reed, TE, Washington: I was ecstatic to see Reed fall all the way to me at the bottom of the 4th round. I would think he is a lock for the 3rd round, so I wouldn't expect this turn of luck to happen again. Outside of Gronk, Reed is by far the best TE option there is. He's clearly established a rapport with Kirk Cousins, and could break into the top 20 this season.

41. Jeremy Langford, RB, Chicago: At this point in the draft, you have to know that the well of potential "star" RBs is about to completely dry up, especially if you have to wait 19 picks for your next selection. Langford could be anything from a bust to a top 10 pick. He hasn't been the main man for a prolonged stretch yet, but has shown he has the ability to be a star, being a threat running the ball and almost even more so, in the passing game, much like his predecessor, Matt Forte. The feeling is that you're not going to be able to get him for this cheap again.

Guys Going 40-60 That You Can Call Honey Smacks 'Cause I Dig 'Em: 
  • Jeremy Maclin, WR, Kansas City: Maclin broke the mold of what had been the black hole of receivers' careers in KC (here's to you Dwayne Bowe). Also, he had six TDs in his last six games, so clearly his value is on the uptick.
  • Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle: Baldwin was on a TD storm in the second half of last season, producing top 10 numbers over the final eight weeks of the season. Seems like the 'Hawks are focused on involving him more in the offense, and while he may not go on a tear like last year, he should have a quality season.
and last but not least...
  • Thomas Edmund Brady, Jr., G.O.A.T., New England: So yeah, there's the whole suspension thing, but once he returns in Week 5, expect Brady to absolutely set the world on fire.

Guys I'm Not So Keen On: 
  • Latavius Murray, RB, Oakland: While he did rush for 1,000 yards, Murray was altogether really unspectacular in an offense where he could have broken through and been a star. I feel like Oakland may be trending towards a more pass-heavy offense with more and more trust being placed on Derek Carr.
  • DeMarco Murray, RB, Tennessee: I feel like once he left Dallas, he never was able to find a comfort zone in Philly, and while one would hope a change of scenery will help, my thoughts are that Murray will end up being a timeshare back with newly drafted Derrick Henry figuring to get 30-40% of the action right off the bat.
Apparently I'm not a fan of Murrays in this instance haha.

60. Ameer Abdullah, RB, Detroit: Both Langford and Abdullah will come with the exact same risk/reward factor...either breakout stars, or duds. Again, Abdullah, like Langford, is useful both running and catching the ball. Theo Riddick will likely get carries, but over the long haul, it will be Abdullah getting the bulk of the work. Remember that the Lions no longer have Megatron, so expect a rise in the amount of work the backfield gets this year.

61. Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland:

Theory #2: Take Josh Gordon Whenever You Can: Yes, he's suspended for the first four games. Yes, he didn't play at all last year, but after his 2013 and 2014 seasons, there's no way I'm not taking him. Once he serves his suspension, he will likely rise to the top of the FLEX rankings, making him a steal at the top of the 7th round.

Player To Watch: Delanie Walker, TE, Tennessee: I would say Walker is in a tie with Greg Olsen for third best TE on the board, and you can get him two to three rounds after him. Great value play. Walker should have a big season with Marcus Mariota becoming more and more comfortable behind center.

Player To Avoid: Arian Foster, RB, Miami: No way...there's just no way I take him. Too much injury concern, and Jai Ajayi actually looked competent last year, so who's to say he won't continue to keep the starting job once Foster comes back healthy?...that is, if he comes back healthy.

80. Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle: Lockett is emerging into a stud receiver and while Doug Baldwin is obviously still the #1 threat, Lockett is a solid backup target for Russell Wilson. There's definitely going to be a lot more passing going on in Seattle as well.

81. Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville: 

Theory #3: Blake Bortles Will Be A Top 5 QB This Year...Again: Yes, Bortles actually was a top 5 QB last year, and yet he is being treated as a borderline top 10 QB. There is nothing to suggest that Bortles can't have close to 5,000 yards this year. He has dynamic playmaking threats in Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, and Julius Thomas, all of whom are expected to have better seasons than last, and he looked very strong down the stretch.

Player To Target: John Brown, WR, Arizona: There are a lot of options at Carson Palmer's disposal, but he seems to be an equal-opportunist for his receivers. Brown was great last year because if he wasn't having big yardage games, he was scoring touchdowns.

Player To Say Class Dismissed To: T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jacksonville: The addition of Chris Ivory has to be incredibly telling that they do not believe Yeldon as being a workhorse guy and someone who can be of fantasy relevance. Both Yeldon and Ivory are going in this range, so be wary of drafting either.

100. LeGarrette Blount, RB, New England:

Theory #4: LeGarrette Blount Will Be A Top 15 Back Despite Being Drafted As The 30th RB Off The Board: With Dion Lewis still recovering from his ACL tear last year, Blount figures to be the main back of the committee. Also, with Jimmy Garroppolo going the first four games, the run game likely will get a boost in numbers. I think this is an absolute steal this late. Literally no risk and RB2 upside at the end of the 10th.

101. Seattle D/ST: At this point, you have to start thinking defense. I know at some point they will have a bye week and render themselves useless, but it's imperative to get a top 5 D. Those 15-20 points the good D's score consistently can make a huge difference. 'Hawks, Broncos, Texans, Panthers, of those five you need.

Player To Target: Gary Barnidge, TE, Cleveland: Barnidge was solid last year and really found his groove right as Josh McCown was settling in as the starter. Barnidge went for over a 1,000 yards, which is quite the feat for a tight end. Remember also that Travis Benjamin is in San Diego and Josh Gordon will not be back until Week 5. Obviously the chemistry between him and RG3 has yet to be tested, but if you have waited this long to grab a TE, Barnidge is a great value pick from the 8-11th rounds.

Another Player To Target (why focus on potential duds?'s the 11th round!!): Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota: Diggs at times showed he has the potential to be a WR2 and even a FLEX play with his explosive playmaking abilities. The Vikes did draft Laquon Treadwell, who is expected to see plenty of run in his rookie campaign, but Diggs remains an extremely low risk/high reward guy with Teddy Bridgewater improving each year he is in the league and his ability to distribute the ball around.

120. Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay: 

Theory #5: Jameis Winston Will Be Drafted Like A QB2 But Will Start For A Team In Your Fantasy League Playoffs: I don't see any way how Winston will regress after what he showed last year. Now he's clearly the leader of that team even though it's his second year. It's very much the same way Cam Newton took over the Panthers. They were a struggling team, then suddenly, new QB, more wins...okay this is a philosophy we can get on board with! Winston has weapons everywhere and is already a borderline top 10 QB (finished 13th in ESPN last year).

121. Devin Funchess, WR, Carolina: Funchess is a lottery pick. The height of his value will likely be due to injury, which is unfortunate to say, but he is third in line next to Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen in terms of who's getting the targets. However, if in some scenario he slipped into the #2 spot in that rotation, he could easily be a 1,000 yard, 8-10 TD receiver.

Player To Target: Derek Carr, QB, Oakland: I am at the point of almost being scared because everyone has the Raiders as their "darkhorse" team...which means they're not much of a darkhorse. In any event, still love Carr. He'll be a solid backup for you and can spell you in a bye or in case of injury.

...Another One: Markus Wheaton, WR, Pittsburgh: With Martavis Bryant gone with the wind, Wheaton becomes their #2 man, and if Bryant's production is any indication, being the #2 in Big Ben's rotation can be quite lucrative from a fantasy perspective. Wheaton has also shown his tremendous upside while Bryant was suspended the first time around, so grabbing him this late is a great play.

140. Darren Sproles, RB, Philadelphia:

Theory #6: Darren Sproles Is The Most Underrated Player In Fantasy...And Probably Has Been For His Entire Career: Sproles is still getting it done and now has an even clearer path to touches with DeMarco Murray out of the picture in Philly. Couple that with Ryan Mathews...where it's like who the hell knows what you're gonna get with him? Obviously Sproles has been a PPR phenom his whole career, but is also quite useful in standard leagues. He's a tremendous handcuff given Mathews' injury-prone past. Here we are at the end of the 14th round, and Darren Sproles is still here? Really?...alrighty then!

141. Roberto Aguayo, K, Tampa Bay: Obviously I have a proclivity for Tampa's offense, and I get the impression that they are going to be putting up a lot of points. Aguayo is amongst the likes of Sebastian Janikowski, Martin Gramatica, and Stephen Gostkowski in terms of most ballyhooed kickers coming out of college (not going to lie, this article was just a giant rouse in order for me to slip the word ballyhooed into a discussion haha). apparently have to draft a kicker right? Well then it's settled.

160. Eric Ebron, TE, Detroit: Ebron's gigantic frame sets up as a great target for Matthew Stafford. Obviously there is a great deal of risk with injuries, but his production should see an uptick with Megatron retiring, and you're drafting him as a backup, so really there's no risk involved at all...this is the last pick of the draft so you can afford to get a little nuts.

Undrafted Player Who You Should Think About: Anquan Boldin, WR, Detroit: In getting back to Megatron retiring, I feel like this move went wildly under the radar. Golden Tate is the clear #1, but Boldin is in line for a 60-70 catch season regardless.

Sooooooooooooooo here's a rundown (round drafted in parentheses):

QB: Blake Bortles (9)
RB: Mark Ingram (2)
RB: Jeremy Langford (5)
WR: Antonio Brown (1)
WR: Mike Evans (3)
TE: Jordan Reed (4)
FLEX: Ameer Abdullah (6)
D/ST: Seattle (11)
K: Roberto Aguayo (15)
BN: Josh Gordon (7)
BN: Tyler Lockett (8)
BN: LeGarrette Blount (10)
BN: Devin Funchess (13)
BN: Darren Sproles (14)
BN: Eric Ebron (16)

As with any draft, of course I'm going to say that went well. Also keep in mind that Josh Gordon is likely to slip into the FLEX spot upon his return from suspension, so it stands to reason I'll have three top 10 receivers starting for me every week. Also, if Langford busts (I don't see that happening, but you never know), I have plenty of insurance with Abdullah, Blount, and Sproles, who you could make an argument could all be in the RB2 tier at some point this season.

I wasn't really sure how to react to having the first pick. Sure you get Antonio, but again...the wait for the next pick is brutal, but after running through this sim, I did a ton of damage. It's also nice to have back-to-back picks and strike twice in one swoop. I've always enjoyed that position.

Well I hope this was informative for you guys. When all is said and done though, obviously this isn't gospel. Your team is dependent on your likings and your observations. I'm not an expert, but I've always enjoyed educating people and arguing ideas and opinions. You're going to be inundated with fantasy football stuff, so I'm just very happy you chose to check this out. It means the world to me. Hope y'all have a great day! Good luck in your drafts and leagues this year! (unless you're in my leagues...y'all are in trouble haha). Stay safe and happy y'all! Peace.


Tuesday, August 02, 2016

No Chris Sale...Well Not Yet

"Last year I had drama, girl not right now."

What's up campers? I know the song lyric is "it never rains in California...but when it pours, man it pours"...but the exact same happens over Fort Lauderdale Beach. Lots of storms miss us, but when they hit...look out! So as the rain continues to fall (going on three hours now), let's talk about some recent sports events.

The PGA Championship had a dramatic finish on Sunday. I watched most of it, which was great and at the same time unfortunate because I was at work, and quite frankly, the more sports I get to watch, the less $$ I make...kind of a Catch 22...thank you 7th grade summer reading list! Haha. Anywho, Jimmy Walker (tremendous name) won the tourney, edging out Jason Day by one stroke at Baltusrol (also tremendous name) Golf Club. This marks the third time ever that all four majors were won by first-time major winners (I can't believe there was more than one?). Say what you will about golf, but there's nothing like when a major tournament comes down to the final 9 holes.

The last two majors have had fantastic finishes. The Stenson/Lefty duel at Royal Troon was epic, calling on not only the two to be ten shots clear of the field, but also for Stenson to fire a major score-tying 63 (whose list now stands at 29 players all time...also another shockingly high number). I's tough not to root for Phil if he's in the hunt at a major. He sinks a few putts, gets the little fist pump going, sheepishly starts acknowledging the crowd as he has commanded the second biggest amount of batshit crazy fans of our generation (Tiger) do you not get caught up in that? Another 2nd for Phil, but the fact that he is still playing at as high of a level as he has for as long as he's done it...guy's sick I guess is what I'm getting at (he made his pro debut at the U.S. Open 24 YEARS AGO!!). Stenson absolutely deserved the Jug though...63 in the final round of a major? When the guy you're paired with is in a heads-up match with you? That's crazy.

Jason Day is the #1 player in the world, and yet if we're talking about who is the best golfer in the world, I would make a guess that his name continues to be passed up, most likely in favor of the other top 2 of the "New Big Three" (copyright 2008 Boston Celtics), Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth. This despite the fact that not only did he win the FedEx Cup last year, he is also the leader and odds-on favorite to win this year. Day also has two Match Play Championship victories and has finished in the top 2 in consecutive PGA Championships, including a victory in the event last year, his first major victory. I think the only reason Day is not considered to be the unanimous #1 player is simply because he does not receive the amount of exposure that McIlroy and Spieth get. You have to wonder what attributes to this? Why is it that an average sports fan probably is not aware of Day's accomplishments, or that he is actually, literally, the #1 player in the world? It's fascinating. He's actually a really easy sell too. He is by far the most accomplished Australian golfer since Greg Norman, and all of this before he hits 30 (turns 29 in November), and in addition to all that he has done, let's not forget that he nearly won the U.S. Open last year despite dealing with vertigo and collapsing during the final round. This guy is an animal. One has to wonder if he has, unknowingly to the masses, actually already lapped the field in terms of who is and has been the best over the last two seasons. The way that the three main characters are trending, it would seem that it is Day, and not the other more touted players, is on the higher and longer career trajectory.

(Quick side note: While obviously being ranked 4th amongst the most important of the four majors, the Wanamaker Trophy is the biggest of the trophies handed out in those events...classic male overcompensation?)

Baseball's non-waiver free agency trade deadline came and went with plenty of activity, setting a new all time record for amount of trades made from June to the deadline at 48. The Sox made a little bit of a splash acquiring reliever Fernando Abad from the Twinkies for a minor leaguer. Abad strikes out a lot of guys, and looking towards a potential postseason run, it never hurts to have more bullpen help. Of course they were unable to corral Chris Sale away from the ChiSox, but ultimately, I don't think they were ready to let Moncada go, and the more I think about it, they are probably very correct about being so hesitant to move him. He seems like he's going to be a stud. My opinion is that they need to think about moving him or Pedroia to first base next year when HanRam will officially ascend to the DH spot in replacement of the DH G.O.A.T., Big Papi. They lose a huge bat in Ortiz, but perhaps will be benefited if Moncada can join Andrew Benintendi, who just got the call-up today and is expected to play in the Seattle series starting tonight, and hopefully fill the void. Moncada, while being a highly-paid prospect, has the potential to outgrow the amount the Sox are playing him by as early as next year. So while it was disappointing to not get Sale and get that second ace a la Randy Johnson/Curt Schilling, it's understandable to see why they balked on any deal involving Moncada.

Now while the Sox were unable to acquire Sale now, it stands to reason that the more of a headache he becomes in Chicago's clubhouse, the more they will be willing to move him. So while he's not here yet, I would be very surprised if he would be around past next year's deadline, especially if the White Sox continue on their current decline.

I think the most interesting story to come out of the trade deadline is that suddenly, the Texas Rangers, at least in my opinion, became the overwhelming favorite to represent the AL in the World Series (where they will face, barring some insane circumstances, the Cubs). This is yet another splash the Rangers have made at the deadline, acquiring Cole Hamels from Philly last year, and this year, adding the potent trio of Jonathan LuCroy to play behind the dish, Carlos Beltran at DH, and Jeremy Jeffress to be the 8th inning man for incumbent closer Sam Dyson. If Yu Darvish can help out in any way, shape, or form that even closely resembles his form pre-Tommy John surgery, they are going to give every team not only in the AL, but every team en general a run for their money. Armed with probably the best lineup in baseball, a potentially dynamite 1-2 in the starting rotation, and the back end of their bullpen seemingly sewn up, the Rangers were the big winners and took a tremendous stride to bringing home their first ever World Series title.

Well short and to the point...just how I like it. Hope y'all have a terrific eve
ning. Stay classy. Peace.


(PS: Ichiro is at 2,998 hits!!!)

(PPS: How sick was the Sox game on Friday? Pedroia hits a 3 run bomb, then X Man goes deep, and the whole bench is going nuts? That was freggin' amazing!!!)