The Fantasy Ranx- Quarterbacks (1-3)

July 29, 2016 at 3:34pm in Fantasy

1.) Cam Newton– Killa Cam returned to fantasy glory last season with a comeback tour that would make the New Kids on the Block green with envy. He did it all without his number one wideout in Kelvin Benjamin, who will be ready to go for the 2016 campaign. Many think that Cam will regress back to the mean this year, as he won’t be forced to run as often with an improved offensive line and the return of some key contributors in the passing game. That being said, I’m of the belief that Cam is poised for another monster year in 2016. He made tremendous strides in term of accuracy and pocket presence last season, and at the ripe young age of 27, he still has room to grow in all aspects of his game. If Cam can continue to develop as a passer, use his legs when the opportunity presents itself, and avoid the kind of injuries that have thwarted his fantasy potential over the years, he should be an absolute stud once again in 2016.

2.) Aaron Rodgers– The longtime “King of Fantasy QB’s” was finally dethroned this past season, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t poised for another big year in 2016. Last year, Rodgers finished a disappointing 7th in QB rankings, (ESPN scoring) so conventional wisdom might suggest that he’s not the fantasy superstar we’ve grown accustomed to over the years. Well in the words of my guy Lee Corso “Not so fast my friends!”. Rodgers less-than-stellar numbers can be attributed to a number of factors, the least of which have to do with his play or ability. First off, his receiving corps were held together by glue and popsicle sticks, with Jordy Nelson out for the entire year and Randall Cobb battling a bevy of injuries over the course of the season. Secondly, Rodgers once stud RB1 Eddie Lacy took one too many trips to PF Chang’s last offseason and quickly became one big, fat punchline. Eddie Lacy wasn’t just football fat, he was “Jonah Hill pre-21 Jump Street fat”. Luckily for Rodgers, Nelson appears as though he’ll be ready to start the year and Lacy has popped in the “Kanye West get right for the summer workout tape” and has slimmed down considerably. Given those developments and the fact that Rodgers is still the most gifted thrower in the league, he should once again return to fantasy dominance in 2016.

3.) Tom Brady + Replacement Level QB- Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that Tom is suspended for the first four games of the year for the horrendous acts he committed against humanity. I know that most quarterbacks would be at a tremendous disadvantage having missed the first four games of the season, and I know that it might take Tom and the boys a few weeks to truly get firing on all cylinders.  What I also know is that Tom Brady put together a stellar 2015 campaign that saw him finish 2nd among QB’s in points (ESPN scoring) and throw for the most touchdowns (36) and the least interceptions (7) among starting quarterbacks. He did all of this while missing his number one wide receiver in Julian Edelman for a majority of the season, as well as emerging pass-catching threat Dion Lewis. Consider these factors along with the common knowledge that Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all-time, and you can begin to see why I am so high on him despite his four game suspension. Brady will also benefit from the return of left tackle Nate Solder as well as offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, who should help to remedy the Patriots porous offensive line that allowed Brady to be sacked 38 times in 2015. When Brady does finally take the field, he will be more motivated than ever to prove that Deflategate was one giant hoax from the start, and that he and the Patriots are still the big, bad bullies on the block. Drafting a QB in the later rounds with a favorable schedule weeks 1-4 (something I will get into in my draft strategy column)  along with Brady could result in the highest scoring QB for you and your team in 2016. A pissed off Tom Brady offense will be running up the score every chance they get, and that will be sure to render big time fantasy numbers this coming season.

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Fantasy Baseball Outlook: First Base

February 23, 2016 at 5:10pm in Fantasy, MLB

This analysis offers a tiered ranking system of first basemen for the upcoming fantasy baseball season. It assumes a 16 team mixed-league keeper format with a standard 5×5 scoring system and a 22 man roster with the following positional requirements: C (1), 1B (1), 2B (1), 3B (1), SS (1), CI (1), MI (1), OF (3), UT (3), SP (5), RP (4). All statistical information is referenced from


Paul Goldschmidt (ARI)

Not much needs to be said here. Goldy is arguably the most valuable fantasy player and is only 28 years old. It will be fun to watch him lead a Diamondbacks team with World Series aspirations.

Anthony Rizzo (CHC), Jose Abreu (CWS)

The 26 year old Florida native is another stud. He is the cornerstone of what may become the Cubs team to break the Curse, and will hit in the middle of their lineup for the foreseeable future. Don’t expect the 17 stolen bases he had in 2015, but he is a high caliber talent worthy of your first round draft selection. 

Jose Abreu gets included in this tier because at 29 he is reaching his prime as a first baseman, and in his only two seasons has hit 30 home runs with 100 RBI. This production may not rise any more, but is an absolute asset to fantasy owners as he reaches his prime as a first-basemen.

Miguel Cabrera (DET), Edwin Encarnacion (TOR)

It’s hard to argue that Miggy is not the best hitter in baseball, but what separated him from the likes of Rizzo and Goldschmidt is the injury risk. Cabrera is 33 years old and has had trouble staying healthy in recent years. A luxury when he stays on the field but his ability to do so has become a concern.

Edwin Encarnacion is a similar case. Offers four category production when healthy but struggled with some wrist and hand injuries and is not getting any younger. 

Joey Votto (CIN), Eric Hosmer (KC)

Votto is a model of consistency. He is a pure line drive hitter that reaps the benefits of Great American Ballpark and it seems like he is always on-base thanks to his 21% walk rate. His value is degraded slightly by the lousy Cincinnati lineup this season but he is still a fantasy asset.

Hosmer is a player on the rise after his performance last season and is hitting the stride of his career. His steady contact and line drive rates have helped him maintain a good average and there remains some untapped power potential.

Miguel Sano (MIN), Freddie Freeman (ATL), David Ortiz (BOS)

Sano is oozing upside despite the fact that he has yet to manage MLB pitching enough to maintain a decent average, He has keeper value rooted in the elite raw power and young age, but he needs to find a position to play on the diamond so that he does not have assume a strictly DH role.

Freddie Freeman will have the unfortunate duty of hitting in the middle of the Braves lineup this year. Pitchers are likely to pitch around him and there no one behind him likely to produce on a consistent basis. He is  really good line drive hitter entering his prime but the problem is his supporting cast. A keeper, but he will not be able to do it all himself this season. 

Last here is Big Papi. I acknowledge this is a generous ranking in his last year before retirement, but a lock to hit 30 HR with 100 RBI in his send-off tour, he deserves nothing less.

Adrian Gonzalez (LAD), Prince Fielder (TEX), Kendrys Morales (KC)

Adrian Gonzalez is a pure line-drive hitter that stabilizes the middle of the Dodgers lineup. Unfortunately he is on the wrong side of 30 and although a proven fantasy asset he does not offer the same potential as other options. 

Prince Fielder is in a similar situation. He bounced back nicely at the start of last season from neck surgery but failed to maintain that performance in the second half of the season. He can hit when he stays healthy but, like Gonzalez, his best years are behind him. 

Morales is aging too. Now 33 he has seen his peak years in the rear-view mirror. He remains a is a solid utility option that can boost the HR, RBI categories while maintaining a respectable batting average.

Albert Pujols (LAA), Brandon Belt (SF), Carlos Santana (CLE)

Pujols will provide power and power. His line drive rate was its lowest in five years last season (16%) as he hit for an abysmal .244 batting average. He did hit 40 home runs last year, but at 36 years old he is no longer the machine he once was. 

Belt is the youngest of the group that is a contributor when on the field. But concussion problems are well-noted and make him a wild card at this point. This is confusing option for fantasy owners. A line drive hitter with some contact issues at timees, he offers surplus value if he falls in the draft because of health concerns. 

The last on the list is Carlos Santana. He fits a power profile with a lack of batting average but supports his value with very good OBP and the opportunity he will have to drive in runs from his spot in the Indians’ lineup. 

Mark Teixeira (NYY), Evan Gattis (HOU)

I am biased against anyone on the Yankees roster but Teixeira deserves a spot on here because he’s a proven veteran that benefits from playing in the new Yankee Stadium. If he can stay on the field he offers owners a nice value pick opportunity.

Evan Gattis’ fantasy value has dropped because of his status as a pure designated hitter with the Astros but his offensive output seemed to benefit from the change. One concern is a sports hernia that will delay his 2016 debut until after opening day. He will hurt a team’s OBP but make significant contributions in the home-run and RBI categories.

Ryan Zimmerman (WAS), Lucas Duda (NYM)

If Zimmerman can find a way to stay healthy he will serve as a run producer in the heart of the National’s lineup this season. The problem is his health; he hasn’t logged over 400 at-bats in either of the last two season so it’s hard to anticipate a valuable season from him.

Teixeria’s New York City counterpart, Luca Duda, is a pure power hitter. He won’t hit for an average but has shown promising improvement in his OBP over the last few years and is a mid-level fantasy option 

This class of first basemen offer owners a wide range of quality options depending on the roster you have put together. At the top are bonafide fantasy baseball studs that can anchor a team through the season, and are absolute keepers worthy of top draft picks. If you miss out on those guys and get your fantasy star at another position there are other first basemen that make solid contributions. As expected, most of these guys will produce for power categories like home runs, and RBI and can provide decent production in a utility role for almost any team.

Fishing for Prospects: A.J. Reed (HOU)

If you only take only one thing away from this entire series, let it be this name because A.J. Reed is poised for stardom. He was selected 42nd overall selection in the 2014 MLB draft after a stunning season at Kentucky that culminated in the Golden Spikes Award. That season he led the nations in home runs with 23 with a .336 batting average, and also contributed a 12-2 record on the mound with a 2.09 ERA and 71 strikeouts. The Astros player development staff decided to commit to Reed as a hitter and he thrived in the Class A Advanced California league before earning a promotion to Double-A in the second half of the season. Headed in to 2015 the Astros have other options ahead of him, but depending on how spring training unfolds Reed may get a shot to prove himself with the major league club as soon as this season.


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Fantasy Baseball Outlook: Behind the Dish

February 3, 2016 at 7:29pm in Fantasy

This is the start of the 2016 Fantasy Baseball Outlook. This analysis offers a tiered ranking system of first basemen for the upcoming fantasy baseball season. It assumes a 16 team mixed-league keeper format with a standard 5×5 scoring system and a 22 man roster with the following positional requirements: C (1), 1B (1), 2B (1), 3B (1), SS (1), CI (1), MI (1), OF (3), UT (3), SP (5), RP (4). All statistical information is referenced from As the title of the post suggests, today we will start by focusing on the catchers.

Buster Posey (SF)

This guy is the cream of the crop and has been for years now. He has lifetime batting average above .300 against both right handed (RHP) and left handed pitching (LHP), and makes consistent hard contact at the plate. Posey is the heart and soul of the San Francisco Giants and, given his durability and ability to play first-base, is a lock for 500+ at-bats per year. His profile stands alone in the catcher rankings once again this season.

Kyle Schwarber (CHC), Brian McCann (NYY)

Schwarber is a lock for keeper leagues. He may lose his catcher eligibility after this season, but no matter where he plays and whether he learns how to hit for a higher average, he has elite power.

Then there is McCann who has caught more MLB games than Schwarber has played in total. I put him in the category because he is a proven asset. Another plus: his average fly ball ratio over the past three seasons lends itself to some juicy slugging potential at Yankee Stadium. Schwarber will go much earlier in the draft because of his keeper prospects and a bullish market, so McCann may offer the better value pick of the two.

Travis D’Arnaud (NYM), Jonathan Lucroy (MIL)

These two are high risk, high reward players. They both have concerning injury histories (D’Arnaud more so than Lucroy) and the latter has openly stated his desire to leave Milwaukee. Neither of these are promising developments for fantasy owners. D’Arnaud has a higher ceiling of the two if you’re willing to take the chance, but neither are comfortable picks.

Salvador Perez (KC), Russell Martin (TOR), J.T. Realmuto (MIA)

Perez plays nearly every inning for the Royals and although his walk rate somehow fell to just 2% last, his consistent contact rate (86%) and line drive tendency (21%) over the past three seasons show the potential to continue to succeed.

Russell Martin took his talents to Canada in 2015 and once again produced solid numbers. While is high home-run to fly-ball ratio last season (21%) suggests some power regression and he struggled against right-handed pitching last year, Martin is the workhorse for Toronto whose offensive output will get help from that potent lineup.

This last player in this tier is Realmuto. He may not sound familiar but remember the name. Only 24 years old, he has been a line drive hitter in his two seasons in MLB (27%) and makes consistent contact (82%). On top of the intriguing bat tool, he runs very well for a catcher and a 10+ SB season is conceivable.

Stephen Vogt (OAK),  Nick Hundley (COL), Welington Castillo (AZ)

Vogt stands out statistically among these three but his struggles against left-handed pitching last season (.631 OPS) could land him in a platoon role for the Athletics this year.

Rockies’ starting catcher Nick Hundley had the best season of his career in 2015 with a .300 batting average and 10 HR. He has historically been a better hitter against RHP in his career, but in the second half of last season exploded for a .915 OPS against LHP after managing a mere .575 OPS in the first half. Don’t expect a full repeat of 2015, but if he can carry this success against RHP in to this season Hundley will have a productive season at Coors Field.

Finally, Castillo. He didn’t show the ability to make consistent contact last year (73%) but the 2015 ISO of .216 demonstrates his raw power. He has the potential to hit 15-20 HR, especially at Chase Field.

Miguel Montero (CHC), Yasmani Grandal (LAD), Blake Swihart (BOS), Yadier Molina (STL)

Montero and Grandal are both mid-level power options that won’t hit for much of an average. Montero simultaneously had his contact rate drop to 70% and line drive rate rise to 26% last season, which led to a substantial power increase.

Meanwhile, at 27 years old, Grandal has had trouble making contact over the past three season (73%) and hits for a low batting average. He is the starting’ catcher for the Dodgers, but A.J Ellis is sure to take some at bats. Swihart is in this tier because of his keeper value. He is a blossoming hitter and has above average speed for a catcher. The problem in the short term is Red Sox’s catching depth, as he and Vasquez will likely to split the bulk of the time this season.

Then there is Yadier Molina. Long gone are the days of Molina’s fantasy prominence. He has proven himself a line drive hitter that makes consistent contact, but he is no longer going to provide double digit home runs. Will play every day if he avoids injury, but don’t expect the Yadi of the past.

Derek Norris (SD), Francisco Cervelli (PIT), Yan Gomes (CLE)

Yan Gomes has injury history that is worrisome, and while he has hit a lot of line drives in the last two seasons (25%), his low contact (71%) and walk (3%) rates do not show me a comfortable hitter at the plate.

Cervelli will catch everyday for the Pirates IF he can stay healthy, but that is a big if. His high contact (78%) and line drive rates (25%) produce a high average but the problem is he is a one category contributor.

Norris, conversely, had trouble making contact last season (75%) and exhibited a troubling platoon split (810 OPS vL, 678 OPS  vR), neither of which inspire optimism. Austin Hedges and Christian Bethancourt are knocking on the door for his duties and a platoon in San Diego is the likely conclusion this season.

Devin Mesoraco (CIN), Wilson Ramos (WAS)

Devin Mesoraco, like Yan Gomes, is another risky player. I’m staying away him because of his low line drive (13.9%) and hard-hit ball rates (19.4%) in limited time at the end of last season. He is also coming off of hip surgery. He offers potential but has a lot to prove.

Wilson Ramos seems to be on the decline as well. His contact rate has plummeted in each of the past two seasons and his average ground ball rate over the past three seasons (56%) does not suggest a power rebirth. What keeps owners interested in both of these catchers is the potential power output, but it does not look promising.

Get a top tier catcher or you’ll be fighting for the best of the worst. A common theme among the is consistency vs high risk, high reward. I tend to favor consistency at the catcher position, but it all depends on your strategy as an owner. My player to target from this list is J.T. Realmuto. He will handle the primary catching responsibilities for the Marlins this year and is potential keeper who could produce 15 HR and 10 SB for years to come.

Fishing for Prospects:

Before concluding each week, there will be a prospect you should keep an eye on throughout this season as a potential keeper for your team down the road. Depending on how many keepers your league allows this portion may or may not offer relevance. Fair warning on looking for keepers at the catcher position – they’re very rarely a good investment.

Reese McGuire (PIT)

The Pirates selected McGuire out of Kentwood Senior High School in Washington with 14th overall in the first round of the 2013 MLB draft. Now just age 20, McGuire has progressed smoothly in his two seasons of professional baseball and played last season in the Advanced Class-A Florida State League. The Pirates developmental philosophy for catchers stresses defense over offense, which McGuire as bought in to. This may hinder his progression as a hitter but puts him on a faster track to make his debut at PNC Park. McGuire’s naturally advanced, high contact approach from the left-hand batters box offers promise as a hitter, and with more time to develop he could become a strong catcher in MLB. Don’t expect him on the Pirates roster this year, but down the road McGuire is a name to keep an eye on.

We will move on to first-basemen next week.

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Will Kirk Cousins have the game of his life against New Orleans in Week 10?

The biggest week of bye weeks is over and the final bye week is Week 11, so this is one of the final weeks where you don’t have to choose who to start/sit with bye week replacements. The matchups are the only decision maker going forward, but here are some options to start/sit based on bye weeks and matchups combined.

Start ‘Em

Kirk Cousins (vs. New Orleans): New Orleans’ secondary has given up ample yards all season and Cousins now has Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson and Jordan Reed to throw passes to. Expect big things in a high-scoring affair. Continue reading Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 10, 2015 »

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Should Peyton Manning owners be worried this week?

Another week and another chance to improve on your fantasy team in Week 8. Sure, your team might be 3-4 or 4-3, but you still have a chance to be a Wild Card team if you play the right players going forward. Here are a few of my suggestions:

Start ‘Em

Jay Cutler (vs. Minnesota): The Vikings made Matthew Stafford look good last week and Cutler has a healthy Alshon Jeffrey to throw too. Expect at least three touchdown passes from the Chicago signal caller in this one. Continue reading Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 8, 2015 »

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Is this the week Alfred Morris goes off? (Andrew Weber / USA TODAY Sports)

With the bye weeks taking away Aaron Rodgers, fantasy-bust Eddie Lacy and even noodle-arm Peyton Manning all on bye, it is time to make sure you have the potential sleepers in your lineup. Sure, there are several players who should be started every week, but here are some names to start/sit based on matchup or performance this season:

Start ‘Em

Cam Newton (vs. Philadelphia): After a stellar performance at Seattle, Newton comes into this Week7 matchup with the ability to find the open man downfield as well as run the ball whenever necessary. Expect another 30-point home performance as long as this game remains close. Continue reading Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 7, 2015 »

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Will Carson Palmer be the best QB in Week 6? (Getty / Christian Petersen)

We are almost at the midway point for the playoff regular season and that means it is time for your team to figure out if it’s a playoff contender or pretender. It might be tough dealing with these bye weeks, but this is the time of year fantasy players are divided into the men and the boys of their fantasy leagues. Here are my suggestions this week:

Start ‘Em

Carson Palmer (vs. Pittsburgh): Palmer has really been one of the best QBs this season and the Arizona Cardinals have put up the most points in the NFL through five weeks. Expect maybe 3 TDs and possible 400+ yards through the air for the veteran this week. Continue reading Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 6, 2015 »

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