Wednesday, October 28, 2015

2015 Week 8 Fantasy Advice

Did you have a good Week 7? If you can believe it, by Sunday we'll already be in November, and half of the NFL season will have passed (or there about). In this weird season of top heaviness, debilitating injuries and shaky fantasy play all around, winning has become tougher and tougher to do. Weeks like this one could end up being the difference between winning leagues or being in that NFL commercial for second chance fantasy with the crying Steelers fan in the shower. And you don't want to be a crying Steelers fan in a shower.


Who to Start:

QB Cam Newton (CAR) vs. IND MON: He's still prone to turnovers, but he could be in line for a big Monday Night show against the Colts. Their secondary has been torn apart by almost everyone this season, which means even as Newton isn't the best of fantasy options normally, this week he most certainly is.

RB Todd Gurley (STL) vs. SF: His fantasy stock has soared in recent weeks, and for good reason. He's been consistent and getting better every time he takes the field. The 49ers defense is by no means the 49ers defense of old, so Gurley is as close to a must start as it gets this week.

WR Alshon Jeffery (CHI) vs. MIN: Jeffery's best games have often come against division opponents, and here is his stat line for his last three games against the Vikings: 25 receptions for 418 yards and three TD's. Jeffery had a great game against the Lions before the bye, and there's no reason to think he won't replicate that performance against Minnesota.

WR Keenan Allen (SD) vs. BAL: While the Chargers are pretty pitiful away from home, Philip Rivers puts up gaudy numbers no matter where he is playing (and for the Chargers every game feels like a road game right now). The Ravens secondary is a sieve, so Allen, who has been one of the best fantasy wideouts this season, could have another big day.

TE Tyler Eifert (CIN) vs. PIT: He's not really a secret anymore, is he? He's been one of the best fantasy TE's all season, and that means he's really a must-start almost every week. The Steelers have been dinged by decent TE's this year, so another big day could be in the offing for Eifert.

DEF Arizona vs. CLE: They are as opportunistic as it comes, which means for fantasy owners they can put up boatloads of points. The Browns have QB issues to deal with, which makes this even more of a tantalizing matchup. (Bonus: Rams against SF is a gimme, but since I already recommended a Ram to start I wanted to do something a bit different).

Who to Sit:

QB Derek Carr (OAK) vs. NYJ: He's improving dramatically week by week, and it helps when you have Amari Cooper to throw passes to. But he's going up against the incredibly scary Jets defense, which means he's a fantasy must-sit (as most players going up against the Jets are now).

RB Jeremy Hill (CIN) vs. PIT: He's hard to sit with four teams on a bye, but the Steelers have been incredibly stingy defending the run at home. They haven't allowed a rushing TD at home this season.

WR Randall Cobb (GB) vs. DEN: His numbers are sliding consistently, which was already worrying. On Sunday Night, he gets to go up against Aqib Talib and that fearsome Broncos secondary which has already held Calvin Johnson, Steve Smith and Amari Cooper in check.

WR T.Y Hilton (IND) vs. CAR: Josh. Norman. Enough said.

TE Kyle Rudolph (MIN) vs. CHI: Tom Jackson used to say on NFL Primetime that all former Viking Cris Carter did was "catch touchdowns". That phrase could be re-appropriated for use when talking about Rudolph, who has 19 yards receiving in his last two weeks but two TD's. That's not start worthy.

DEF Miami vs. NE THU: The Dolphins have racked up fantasy points the last two weeks against an injured Marcus Mariota, Zach Mettenberger and Brian Hoyer. Tom Brady is up next, therefore reality will set in fast.

Three Super Sleepers:

QB Matt Stafford (DET) vs. KC LONDON: He's still a bit of a fantasy double-edged sword, but the Chiefs have been a favorable matchup for opposing QB's in fantasy this season. He's also been on fire the last two weeks after his benching against Arizona too.

RB Mark Ingram (NO) vs. NYG: This matchup is a bit weird considering even when the Saints have good defenses to run on they never seem to do so. But I have a feeling that will change on Sunday. When the Saints run the ball well, they seem to look more complete as a team, and the Giants are susceptible to being run on (as DeMarco Murray showed two weeks ago).

WR Stefon Diggs (MIN) vs. CHI: HE. A. TERP. But college biases aside, Diggs has become the Vikings number one receiver and for good reason (see his TD catch last week against Detroit as evidence). The Bears secondary is still pretty woeful, so the 5th round pick could put up another huge stat line.

Buyer Beware:

DEF New York Jets vs. OAK: Even though they're usually a must start here, it's hard not to be a bit squeamish when talking about the matchup against the high-powered (!!!!!!!!) Raiders offense. Even when the Jets defense has exerted its will, they give up points. 30 against New England in a good performance should be worrisome. You'll probably start them anyway, but the Raiders can look good, even throwing out their Cincy and Denver performances.

(BONUS) QB Peyton Manning (DEN) vs. GB: His fantasy star has been falling fast, but it seems like he may be finding a little bit of consistency. Even though the matchup isn't that terrible, especially after the Packers gave up over 500 yards passing to Philip Rivers two weeks ago, it's hard to start Manning anymore, even as a bye week replacement.

Good Luck in Week 8!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Did You See That: Where in the World is Marlins Man?

   In sports, there is a kaleidoscope of color, especially during the playoffs. White is common, so is black, blue and almost every color in the spectrum enough that Roy G. Biv would blush. Orange is somewhat common in sports, but often it sticks out like a sore thumb. So when that orange shirt pops up behind home plate in Chicago, or at the Preakness, it's jarring. So is the story of Laurence Leavy, better known as Marlins Man. So where will he be found next? Thankfully, I've received some important help...

   There's only thing left to do and you know what it is... do it Rockapella:

    Well he flies around the country from San Fran to Chicago
    He's a superfan in orange in Miami and beyond
    And nobody knows where he will find his way to next so tell me
    Where in the world is Marlins Man?

    Behind home plate in Chicago
    To black-eyed Susans at the Preakness
    He has the best seats in the house to watch Manny and Floyd
    Soon he might become Spike Lee's best friend at MSG so tell me
    Where in the world is Marlins Man?

    He goes from Cleveland to Calgary
    LA to Philly
    Then DC and Denver and Detroit and back

    Well he'll be courtside with the Lakers
    Now friends with Jack and Magic Johnson
    Then he'll pop up on the glass to watch Sid and Ovi
    Pitbull will sit with him when the Fish are in the playoffs tell me
    Where in the world is Marlins Man?

    Tell me where in the world... where can he be...

    Pittsburgh to Phoenix
    Then Vegas and Columbus 
    Indy and KC, Green Bay and away 
    He goes across the country
    Watching games in every city
    We don't know how he does it but he does it anyway
    Look around for that orange shirt to let you know he's here so tell me
    Where in the world is Marlins Man?

    Where in the world is Marlins Man?
    Where in the world is Marlins Man?

    And we still don't know where he'll pop up next.

2015 Week 7 Fantasy Advice

Did you have a good Week 6? Parity? What parity? There are five undefeated teams in the NFL today, and no winless teams. Parity at the bottom means that mediocrity is widespread, yet the power is concentrated mainly in the top six or seven teams in the league. What that means is up for you to decide, but with a fantasy week that sees three of those seven teams off on byes, depth will be tested, and so will your fantasy chops.


Who to Start:

QB Carson Palmer (ARZ) vs. BAL MON: He's been a staple at this part of the column all season, and that is absolutely going to continue against the Ravens, whose secondary has been torched by just about everyone, including a Colin Kaepernick that admits he doesn't make reads and a "revived" Josh McCown. With the Cardinals weapons, Palmer could be in for a big night.

RB Todd Gurley (STL) vs. CLE: As the next coming in the backfield, or the "revival" of the running back position, Todd Gurley has many expectations on his shoulders. But so far, he's met nearly all of them. Against the Browns, his stock could soar again considering how poor the Browns have been at stopping the run all season.

WR Jarvis Landry (MIA) vs. HOU: If Landry doesn't go low to try to break someone's leg (wrong side of the defense, sorry), he could have a massive day against the Texans despite some weary performances of late, including last week. The Texans defense has been incredibly poor, especially the secondary.

WR Martavis Bryant (PIT) vs. KC: While the matchup is incredibly favorable, the QB worries for the Steelers make this slightly less of a good play than it would have been otherwise, despite Landry Jones (!!!!!!!!) tossing him a TD against a far better defense in Arizona.

TE Charles Clay (BUF) vs. JAX LONDON: No matter who the QB is for Buffalo, Sammy Watkins is likely out and LeSean McCoy still isn't 100%. Clay has been Buffalo's best receiver this season, and the Jaguars have a knack for getting killed in the open field by Tight Ends, especially on short and underneath patterns. Clay could have a huge game, if you find out where to watch it, that is.

DEF Atlanta vs. TEN: Sure, the unit didn't look good against the Saints last Thursday, but the Titans offense has been stuck in neutral since their bye week and old Mett is returning under center, which means the Falcons defense likely rebounds in a big way.

Who to Sit:

QB Sam Bradford (PHI) vs. CAR: Coming into the season, Bradford was one of the best 2 QB options out there. His performances of late threw that status out the window, and even in Eagle wins he hasn't been that impressive. Carolina's defense is getting healthy, and Josh Norman is the best corner in football you don't know enough about. Bradford could be back to his early performances Sunday night.

RB Carlos Hyde (SF) vs. SEA THU: He's not only dealing with a bum foot on a short week, he's dealing with a Seahawks team that is probably fuming about the way they lost to Carolina. In a rivalry game, that motivation is probably as good as any, and could spell doom for Hyde and his fantasy owners.

WR Allen Robinson (JAX) vs. BUF LONDON: Whatever the term "leg contusion" ends up meaning, his matchup against the Bills is anything but pretty. Going up against the Bills has proven to be troublesome for opposing teams #1 receivers, which have included Odell Beckham, T.Y Hilton and A.J Green thus far this season.

WR Brandin Cooks (NO) vs. IND: Sometimes, you throw the matchup out the window and look at production as the determining factor in deciding whether to start or sit someone. In this case, Cooks has not produced at all this season, which means it is hard to trust him even against the Colts sieve of a secondary.

TE Heath Miller (PIT) vs. KC: The Chiefs despite their poor start have practically erased opposing Tight Ends from the stat sheets this season, which means even with a third string QB, normally the bat signal for fantasy tight ends, Miller is probably someone to avoid starting, even if you need a bye week replacement (which is likely).

DEF New York Jets vs. NE: They have one of the best reality and fantasy defenses in football. But despite that, it's incredibly hard to start them against the Patriots thanks to the matchup and history between these two teams.

Three Super Sleepers:

QB Drew Brees (NO) vs. IND: The shine has worn off on one of history's best fantasy QB's, hasn't it? But this week, if you're in the need for a bye week replacement, Brees could be an interesting play against the pathetic Colts secondary.

RB LeSean McCoy (BUF) vs. JAX LONDON: I'm honestly surprised he's a sleeper here, but his performances this season have merited it. But this week, his matchup against the Jaguars on the Wembley pitch is a positive one, especially since the Jaguars seemingly forgot how to defend the run and/or tackle recently.

WR Mike Evans (TB) vs. WSH: There might not be a bigger bust in fantasy football this season than Mike Evans. But this week in Washington, he's going up against a secondary that has been ravaged by injuries and is out of form, so he could kick start his season at long last.

Buyer Beware:

QB Ryan Tannehill (MIA) vs. HOU: The matchup against Houston is good, for sure, but it doesn't feel like Tannehill has taken the step to the next level that his contract would merit. Even though he could still have a great day, his recent play feels ominous.

Good Luck in Week 7!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

2015 Week 6 Fantasy Advice

      Did you have a good week 5? The Injury Ninja (thanks to my old friend from Twitter Chris Wassel for this staple) was particularly ruthless this week, taking Jamaal Charles and many others with him. The dregs of the fantasy season now are in full swing, and with bye weeks and injuries now playing major roles in fantasy seasons, it's becoming a struggle for many. How well you do in your league may well come down to how well you do in these critical weeks.


Who to Start:

QB Carson Palmer (ARZ) vs. PIT: He's found the fountain of youth after his season ending injury last season. He has been elite this season for the Cardinals on the field and for his fantasy owners. That form is likely going to continue against the Steelers, who have well documented issues in their secondary. Palmer could rack up serious numbers once again on Sunday.

RB Dion Lewis (NE) vs. IND: Yes, my own rule for fantasy that should be followed religiously (because it's bitten me in the rear end too often to admit), is that you should never trust a Patriots running back. But... Dion Lewis is making me want to buck the rule. He has been not only good, but consistent to start the season, and the Colts have never been able to effectively stop the run. 

WR DeAndre Hopkins (HOU) vs. JAX: Against everyone not named Josh Norman, Hopkins has been incredibly effective this season, even with the QB flip-flopping. The Jaguars secondary is still hobbled with injuries, and Brian Hoyer is a better QB than Ryan Mallet, so Hopkins could enjoy another good day at the office.

WR Brandon Marshall (NYJ) vs. WSH: He's quietly revived his career even with Ryan Fitzpatrick as his QB. He has been putting up solid numbers in every game, and even though the Washington secondary played well against Atlanta last week, they are saddled with injuries. Marshall could have more success Sunday.

TE Travis Kelce (KC) vs. MIN: Absolutely everything that could have gone wrong for the Chiefs has in the past four games. Now with Jamaal Charles out, consistency is going to be critical for the Chiefs offense. Kelce provides that consistency, especially against a Vikings defense that has been susceptible to Tight Ends this season.

DEF Cincinnati vs. BUF: Tyrod Taylor is hobbled, LeSean McCoy is hobbled and Sammy Watkins is hobbled. The Bengals defense was solid against Seattle last week, but against the Buffalo backups, could be in for a bigger day Sunday.

Who to Sit:

QB Cam Newton (CAR) vs. SEA: Playing in Seattle is never easy, especially for Cam Newton and the Panthers who have struggled against the Seahawks no matter where they play each other. 

RB Jeremy Hill (CIN) vs. BUF: He's quickly losing touches to Gio Bernard week by week, and not only does he have a tough matchup against Buffalo staring him in the face, but his only points are coming from TD's and not yards, and that's frankly not a sustainable trend.

WR Jordan Matthews(PHI) vs. NYG MON: It's painful to type his name into this section of the column, but it's way past due. The Giants secondary is paper thin, but has only allowed two receiving TD's thus far this season. And with Chip Kelly's offense starting to become wide open, Matthews is losing targets too.

WR Jarvis Landry (MIA) vs. TEN: Once he was an underrated potential fantasy gem that many deep divers were trying to stash away in hopes that he would come good. Now, he's a bust like most players on Miami's offense. Going up against a stingier than expected Titans defense (opponents they've played certainly helps), is not going to help his case.

TE Jimmy Graham (SEA) vs. CAR: So you're telling me that asking a Tight End who never blocked in New Orleans to block consistently in Seattle and take a hit in production is going to cost him fantasy points? Wow, that's almost like telling me what Mike Huckabee tweeted during the Democratic Presidential Debate was racist or something.

DEF San Francisco vs. BAL: They were dynamite in Week 1, and terrible ever since. Even though matchup looks semi-favorable on paper, this unit really cannot be trusted. 

Three Super Sleepers:

QB Teddy Bridgewater (MIN) vs. KC: He's been a solid QB in reality, if a bit week on the fantasy stat sheets. The game against Kansas City is a somewhat favorable one for Bridgewater, meaning he could put up some better than expected numbers. He looked comfortable against a far better defense when the Vikings played the Broncos two weeks ago.

RB Arian Foster (HOU) vs. JAX: He's becoming healthier, which is a good thing. He's going to take pressure off of the QB carousel, which is also a good thing. But keep note of the injury report for the Jaguars this week. If Paul Pozlusny can't play, Foster could be elevated into starting territory. Without him last week, the Jaguars were absolutely carved open by Doug Martin. Keep this in mind as the week rolls on.

DEF Baltimore vs. SF: The 49ers looked competent last week! But that doesn't tell us very much about how they'll do this week. In a rematch of Super Bowl XLVII (where both teams are now 1-4), the Ravens defense could be a sneaky little play considering how the 49ers offense is trending of late.

Buyer Beware:

RB Melvin Gordon (SD) vs. GB: His last two games have been pretty good, but the Packers defense is so stingy against the run, especially at home. Todd Gurley was held effectively in check last week, and another running back could be held in check all the same on Sunday.

Good Luck in Week 6! 

Monday, October 12, 2015


   Deadspin's twitter account gets suspended, and everyone flips. When the popular consensus sides with quite possibly the internet's most divisive sports website, eyebrows are raised. Then, SB Nation's GIF handle, which is solely responsible for tweeting out GIF's and Vines of recent moments was also suspended. Early reports say that MLBAM, MLB's new media arm (now its own company) was responsible but it could be the NFL, or the NHL, or the Premier League, because all sports leagues suffer from this inferiority complex when it comes to the proliferation of their material.

  Sure these leagues aren't making money when vines and GIF's of Jack Eichel's brilliance populates twitter like wildfire, or someone doctors Michael Jordan's head onto a coach after his team just spiked the ball on fourth down. But they are getting free publicity, and when something goes viral, it often sticks. MLBAM does a great job posting vines and GIF's themselves, but other leagues do not have the same capabilities, or social media nous. The Premier League is notorious for taking down vines of goals or controversial moments almost immediately after they spread through social media, even though a large majority of their audience can't see the games live (this is the league that prevents TV broadcasts of games in England during a specific window to promote attendance, as if its still 1956).

  Emerging forms of media are always going to be faster to the punch than copyright law can even dream of putting a fingernail on. Vines and GIF's are one matter, but what about someone Periscoping warm-ups at a hockey game? The NHL has already banned that from media members, with those streams only coming from the teams or rights holders. What is the NHL losing if the Canucks beat writer periscopes a short warm up to see if a player is taking line rushes? If more people are talking about your product, isn't that a good thing? Isn't going viral supposed to make you more money, and make you more famous?

  Someone on the internet got famous for working the checkout line at Target, so it's quite possible that a GIF of Connor McDavid doing Connor McDavid things isn't going to be that harmful to the NHL's bottom line.

  Leagues establishing progressive policies towards social media and working with websites like Deadspin and SB Nation to establish guidelines for vines, GIF's periscopes, snapchat and whatever the next hot app is the way to not only build trust with your fans, but extend your reach even further. Non sports fans may see the crazy monkey-riding-dog GIF on social media if they weren't banned, limiting the reach of who could see the GIF of the amazing athletic accomplishments.

 Some leagues, like MLB, the NFL and the Premier League don't comprehend where the audience is growing the largest and fastest and how to reach them. TV plays a huge role, but it's importance is being shared by social media. There might not be a way to monetize GIF's of diving catches, or sick shootout goals, or Odell Beckham catches galore, but they can lead to new eyeballs flocking to your product, meaning the money will keep rolling in otherwise. That 12 hour wait to see a crazy Mike Trout catch means the window for viral spreading has already long been shut, no matter how fancy or official the product is. The formula isn't that hard to solve.

   This goes for old game footage on Youtube or anything of the like around the internet. Its vastness and reach goes beyond that of TV, the newspaper, radio and conventional websites. Once something goes viral, there is no taking it back, and wouldn't leagues want that in spades? TV networks are embracing the viral and second screen experience and they're hemorrhaging money compared to sports leagues. If the NBA can crack the code and let social media and copyright co-exist, why can't everyone else?

  These leagues are costing themselves money for every DMCA claim they peddle.

For further reading, go to Lookout Landing on SB Nation when they had issues with MLBAM DMCA claims earlier this year, or or this article from Complex about the NBA's progressive attitude.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Fandom Question

   In the human experience, being attached to a sports team is quite possibly the most unique hobby or pastime of them all. When one plays video games, they are directly in control of their actions. Watching film, TV or listening to music requires choice and conscious decision making, but doesn't nearly have the catharsis in moments of joy or satisfaction (usually). Playing sports can bring about intense emotions, but so few play sports on high enough of a level for these feelings to come to roost.

  Being a fan of a sports team is different. I've already compared it to religion on posts previous on this blog, but religion shouldn't make anyone feel an intense feeling of regret, sadness, and an overall sense of being drained (unless you agree with Bill Maher). How your teams do is completely out of your control, no matter how wildly superstitious you are. Sports fandom feels like an unbreakable contract, and with the emotional swings so many of us go through, many times the emotional grinder we're put through doesn't feel even remotely worth it.

   But the carrot dangled in front of so many of us is the cathartic joy that can come when your team wins. However far away it might be, that little glimmer of hope, that small ounce of optimism can drive even the most loyal fanatics insane. All of the emotional turmoil that is wrought before us can be absolute torture of the highest order, but with the carrot of future success still dangling tantalizingly in front of us, we stay on way beyond the point of no return.

  As so many of us get older and achieve wisdom, our attachment to our sports teams foments in different forms. No longer are we as maniacally attached as we were before because life is suddenly hitting us square between the eyes. But even then, the most level-headed and worldly among us can become animals and beasts when our teams fail us again and again. The seven stages of grief have been gone through so many times, we're on a first name basis with each. "Rationalization" is our personal favorite, since anything can be done once the human brain rationalizes it, no matter how dumb or thoughtless it may be.

  When a man who proclaims absolute sobriety thinks of downing three or four free Jager shots because of sports, and for once he's not joking, it's time to question and reassess our relationship with sports teams and fandom in general.

  When it feels like God himself is piling on to one person for his amusement because he knows that man is loyal to a fault and will stick with it beyond the point of no return, it's time to ask questions.

   And when a man curses out another man for something done on the field in the heat of the moment, dirty or not, it's time to ask questions.

   In "Psychology Today", Susan Krauss Whitman tries to explain what these feelings are, and codify them in language different than a simple chain of expletives. Sports fans are particularly willing to bask in the glow of success, duck away in the shadow of failure, and are superstitious to the point of being compared to pigeons (not by being a statue and getting dumped on). And sports fandom has also proven to be incredibly beneficial to one's social health as well.

  So how are jilted, tired and and past it sports fans are to deal with their inevitable pains? Most of us don't know the answer. We believe that our fanatical devotion will lead to future successes, and by association future joy, but when it doesn't come, it feels as if every ounce of energy expended was a waste.

  Karl Marx once said the "opiate of the masses is religion". Based on my own comparisons, then the opiate of the modern masses is professional sports. Opium can bring about one helluva high. It also can bring about crashing lows.

  Maybe sports fandom then deserves to come with its own warning label from the surgeon general on jerseys, hats and autographed helmets. "Sports fandom causes mood swings, depression, anxiety, over and under eating, and potentially alcoholism".

  OK... maybe not. But maybe if we sports fans understood the highs and lows better, however irrational they may be, maybe we'll be able to better deal with the ebbs and flows that come with the territory.

  But fear not... we'll probably be back on the emotional rollercoaster tomorrow. The high is too good to pass up.

Psychology Today Article here.

Huffington Post Article here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

2015 Week 5 Fantasy Advice

Did you have a good Week 4? This NFL season is as muddled and murky as any in recent memory, which means fantasy performances have been equally as murky. Players like Devonta Freeman have been fantasy superstars and expected studs like DeMarco Murray have been complaining about not getting the ball enough. As the first quarter of the season has already passed us by, are we all to expect more of the same?


Who to Start:

QB Philip Rivers (SD) vs. PIT MON: What's astonishing to this observer is how Rivers can continue to rack up impressive stats despite the rash of injuries affecting his weapons on the outside. The Steelers secondary is not very good, so despite the short deck, Rivers could be in for another big game on Monday night.

RB Dion Lewis (NE) vs. DAL: This goes against my own better judgment of "avoid Patriot running backs whenever possible because of their coach", but it seems that the Pitt graduate has earned the lions share of the carries. He's facing a poor Cowboys rush defense which although it is getting back key cogs, will still be weak.

WR Larry Fitzgerald (ARZ) vs. DET: His resurgence this year has been incredibly impressive, and because the Lions have not stopped established receivers well throughout the years, Fitz could be in for a huge day at the office.

WR Travis Benjamin (CLE) vs. BAL: If you thought that Benjamin's numbers would decline when the Browns switched back to Josh McCown at QB, you were wrong. He's still put up big numbers despite the switch, and form should hold against a Ravens secondary that has been torn apart by every team it has played this season.

TE Tyler Eifert (CIN) vs. SEA: He's struggled in his last two games, but that shouldn't stop you from playing him even against Seattle, who among all of their defensive prowess do struggle to stop Tight Ends.

DEF New York Giants vs. SF: The supposedly weak Giants defense has actually been pretty stout this season, and their matchup against San Francisco is incredibly favorable. When some are calling for Blaine Gabbert to be the starting QB, defenses start licking their chops.

Who to Sit:

QB Andy Dalton (CIN) vs. SEA: Is his fantasy fast start about the become a thing of the past? If there's any team that could scupper his momentum, it's Seattle. They've been stout the past two weeks, even if they're not quite as good away from Seattle as they are in Seattle.

RB Melvin Gordon (SD) vs. PIT MON: Danny Woodhead has been a more viable SD RB fantasy option than Gordon has through the Chargers first four games this season, and even though the Steelers can be killed through the air, they are fairly strong on the ground.

WR Amari Cooper (OAK) vs. DEN: It is tough to sit him at this pace, but the Broncos secondary has been locking down everyone in sight thus far, and there is no reason to think that won't be the case again on Sunday. Cooper is a risky play.

WR Golden Tate (DET) vs. ARZ: Speaking of another stout defense, the Cardinals defense has been pretty fantastic as well this season. Unlike Calvin Johnson, Tate has been far more inconsistent in his performances, meaning that he too is a risky play.

TE Zach Ertz (PHI) vs. NO: The Eagles offense has been anemic even against teams one would think they'd be able to rebound against. This has dramatically affected the stock of Ertz, who can be a viable fantasy TE but hasn't nearly shown the signs to be one this season. Even though this matchup isn't bad, if you have better options, may as well go with them until Ertz proves himself again.

DEF Dallas vs. NE: This should be fairly obvious but if it's not: Even though the Cowboys get pieces back, they're still injured to heck and the Pats are coming to town.

Three Super Sleepers:

QB Jameis Winston (TB) vs. JAX: He has struggled to open his pro career, to be fair. The Jaguars defense isn't necessarily that bad either. So why is Winston a sleeper? The Jaguars can get gashed by underneath patterns, are injured to absolute heck in the secondary, and do not force turnovers. Winston's stats might not be super impressive, but a solid day is more than likely in the offing.

RB Devonta Freeman (ATL) vs. WSH: He's not really a sleeper anymore, but he's here because at some point he's going to stop scoring every one of the Falcons TD's, right? Right? Bueller?

WR Jeremy Maclin (KC) vs. CHI: Has the Chiefs wideout hex finally been broken? If one looks at Maclin's last two games, quite possibly that is the case. The Bears defense is unmistakably still very poor, so Maclin could rack up more catches and yards on Sunday.

Buyer Beware:

WR Martavis Bryant (PIT) vs. SD MON: He's back! But will he be back in the way most of his fantasy owners would like? With Michael Vick not Big Ben tossing him the magic bean? It's dicey, to say the least.

Good Luck in Week 5!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

2015 MLB Playoff Predictions

   My preseason predictions aren't even worth recapping, because they were incredibly terrible. Now is the chance to redeem myself, because the playoffs are here! It's fantastic to see some fresh blood in the postseason, and should make for some fun and hopefully even series.

AL Wild Card Game: NYY over HOU
NL Wild Card Game: CHI over PIT

ALDS: TOR over TEX in 3
             KC over NYY in 4

NLDS: STL over CHI in 5
            LAD over NYM in 5

ALCS: TOR over KC in 6

NLCS: STL over LAD in 6

2015 World Series: TOR over STL in 6

  Toronto is going to win a Championship for the first time in 22 years. And for the record, my prediction for World Series MVP will be Josh Donaldson. He's been too good for Toronto this season not to be the favorite should the Jays get there.

  Of course, sorry to the Blue Jays in advance for ruining your chance of finally getting back to baseball's summit.

Friday, October 2, 2015

2015-16 NHL Season Predictions

Can you believe the NHL season is upon us already? The hockey void in our lives is thankfully about to be filled again. Even though off-ice controversies are threatening to derail some good feelings about this new season, they aren't going stop me from being excited. Player movement was rampant this offseason, two potentially league changing rookies are getting their starts, and the defending champs look very vulnerable. Uncertainty makes for fun hockey, and that doesn't even count the 3-on-3 madness sure to come. Let's get predicty!


1. Washington
2. Pittsburgh
3. New York Rangers
4. New York Islanders
5. Columbus
6. Philadelphia
7. New Jersey
8. Carolina

Thoughts: This is a sentiment echoed by many, but probably cannot be echoed enough: This Capitals team is the best since Alex Ovechkin began his career in DC 10 years ago. T.J Oshie is better than Troy Brouwer in generating shots and offense, and Justin Williams lives to make teams better in the playoffs, which of course the Caps desperately need. Their Power Play is still going to be lethal, and with their tremendous scoring and defense depth, this could well be their year. If they are going to break through, they'll have to get past the scary Pittsburgh Penguins, who now have Phil Kessel to go with Crosby and Malkin. The roster is better constructed than it ever was last season, and if the team stays healthy, they could be the team that emerges from the East. The defense corps is still a worry though. The Rangers are still very solid, but the same questions come about every year when talking about them breaking through: Can they get out of their own way? They have all the talent and the amazing goaltender, but the block almost seems mental now. The Islanders move to Brooklyn is emblematic of a team in some transition, which could cause a dip in performances this season as their environment shifts. The Blue Jackets with Brandon Saad have a terrifying Top 9 that if could stay healthy will be one of the best in hockey, and combined with Sergei Bobrovsky, they may have the needed ingredients to break back into the postseason. The qualifier here of course is whether their defense corps is good enough, and to this observer it might not be. Philadelphia has a new coach and maybe the best forward duo in the NHL of Giroux/Voracek, but little else; The Devils have great goaltending but little else as Ray Shero brings the team out of the Lamioriello era into the 21st century, and the Hurricanes will be a hungry team that possesses the puck well but does little else.


1. Tampa Bay
2. Montreal
3. Detroit
4. Florida
5. Ottawa
6. Buffalo
7. Boston
8. Toronto

Thoughts: The defending Eastern Conference Champions don't look like slowing down at all this season, and with minor tweaks are still the favorites to make it out of the East, and possibly win the Cup. The Steven Stamkos contract situation is a distraction, but a minor one. And yet, they still have some pretty exciting prospects coming through their system too. They'll win the division unchallenged this season. It feels like in Montreal, the same story will be written again. Carey Price is dominant, but their system is inherently fallible and will keep them from breaking through once again. Maybe Alex Semin will help generate some needed offensive punch, but because it's Michel Therrien, it's just as likely he'll spend as much time in the press box as he will on the ice. In Detroit, out goes Babcock and in comes Blashill. His familiarity with the Red Wings bevy of young talent should do them wonders as they transition to a new era, but it will be the old horses of Datsyuk/Zetterberg/Franzen et al that keeps the playoff streak alive despite some defense corps issues and goaltending controversy. Keep an eye on the Florida Panthers (and not just because I'm a fan). Their young talent looks primed to blossom, and if it does they could break their playoff jinx. Huberdeau-Barkov-Jagr could be one of the more fun lines to watch in all of hockey this season, and they should be a step quicker and more solid defensively too. The Ottawa Senators fairy tale last season was fun and all, but they've made exactly zero additions to make this team better. Having Erik Karlsson and being a young team at the core keeps them in the playoff race, but with the improvements other teams have made, it feels like they've been lapped somewhat. The Sabres will be a poor man's Blue Jackets: Amazing up front, weak on the blueline with the only difference being a tremendous question mark in goal. The Bruins had one harrowing offseason that leaves them with a skeleton D corps, slower up front, and probably a sacked coach at some point.

Finally, the Maple Leafs will be very bad, but they won't be the type of bad they were last season. With their entire roster comprising of almost only players on one year deals who are hungry to earn a new contract (either in Toronto or elsewhere), they will be a fun team to watch. Mike Babcock will also have them play a sustainable style where they'll limit scoring chances and possess the puck well. Their goaltending is very good for a bad team too. They'll be frustrating to play against all season.


1. Blues
2. Stars
3. Blackhawks
4. Predators
5. Wild
6. Jets
7. Avalanche

Thoughts: The Blues are the NHL's version of the San Diego Chargers or Cincinnati Bengals: Fantastic regular season team, but they can never find the way to break through in the playoffs. That will probably stay the same way this season because Ken Hitchcock is surprisingly still the coach. If they can't find their way up in the playoffs, expect some major changes at Scottrade Center. The Stars are very likely going to be the most fun team in hockey. With Patrick Sharp joining the likes of Benn, Seguin and Spezza, they'll light up the scoreboard most nights, which should help them cover up some defensive deficiencies and massive goaltending issues (Niemi and Lehtonen, really?). The Blackhawks finished third in their division post their last two Cups, and with the massive changes they had to undergo this offseason, there's no reason to think that won't happen again, irrespective of the Patrick Kane mess that could easily get worse as the season rolls on. The Predators have the goalie, have the anchoring defenseman, and some interesting wingers to roll out this season. But their lack of depth at center is terrifying, especially in the West where centers win games and playoff series. They'll take a step back, but still make the postseason. Minnesota feels a bit long in the tooth, and the lucky streak of Devan Dubnyk does not feel at all repeatable. They'll kill penalties well, possess the puck equally, but it still feels like they're lacking that final piece. The Winnipeg playoff party was a fun one last season, but they feel like they're a year away from being consistently at the dance. Connor Hellebuyck will also be their fulltime netminder by the end of the season too. And for the advance stat denying Avalanche, karma will hit them like a ton of bricks once again, since their defense corps are still iffy and their bottom six is fairly poor.


1. Anaheim
2. San Jose
3. Los Angeles
4. Calgary
5. Edmonton
6. Vancouver
7. Arizona

Thoughts: All hail your regular season overlords, the Anaheim Ducks. Bruce Boudreau knows how to coach a team in the regular season. They are young, fast, physical, and talented in almost every department. The playoff question is one they'll have to answer in April and May, which they could not do last season. Why are the Sharks this high, you might be wondering? It all has to do with their coach, Pete DeBoer. He always, always, always has him teams overachieve in his first season in charge. In Florida, his Panthers were a tiebreaker away from the postseason in 2008-09, and in New Jersey? That team finished two wins away from the Stanley Cup. These Sharks are going to overachieve in the regular season, but still get dumped by their nemesis, the LA Kings, in the postseason, Speaking of them, the Kings had their own harrowing offseason, but seem a tighter knit group coming out of it. Milan Lucic really does fit the Kings profile, and adding Christian Erhoff brings depth to a defense corps that needs it badly. Everything that could go wrong for LA did last season, and don't expect that to happen again. The Calgary Flames might be hockey's most interesting team. Their defense corps is ridiculously good and insanely talented. Their young forwards have grown by leaps and bounds with their postseason experience last season, and might be even better with Michael Frolik on board. But, their goaltending is still suspect and will their performance take a dip because of poor possession numbers last season? They'll regress, but they're too strong to miss the postseason.

Ah, Edmonton. Is this the year you break through after having every #1 draft pick since the '05 lockout? Probably not, but there is reason to be optimistic. Their defense and goaltending should be a little bit better, but probably not good enough to make the postseason. Watching Connor McDavid will all of the other young forwards will be a treat though. In Vancouver though... oh boy. Jim Benning seems out of his depth with this whole GM thing. The roster is getting worse and worse by the year, and boy does it look like they overachieved last season. It's a race between them and Boston (funny enough) for the "worst run team in the NHL" moniker, snatched away from Toronto this offseason. And in Arizona... Auston Matthews is really, really good and is from Scottsdale. Get those lucky cats out now.

Playoff Predictions:


M1 Washington over M4 NYI in 6
M2 Pittsburgh over M3 NYR in 6

M1 Washington over M2 Pittsburgh in 7

A1 Tampa over A4 Florida in 5
A3 Detroit over A2 Montreal in 6

A1 Tampa over A3 Detroit in 6

M1 Washington over A1 Tampa in 6


C4 Nashville over C1 St. Louis in 6
C2 Dallas over C3 Chicago in 7

C2 Dallas over C4 Nashville in 5

P1 Anaheim over P4 Calgary in 5
P3 LA over P2 San Jose in 7

P1 Anaheim over P1 LA in 7

P1 Anaheim over C2 Dallas in 5

2016 Stanley Cup Final: M1 Washington over P1 Anaheim in 6 (Boudreau Bowl!)

Awards Predictions:

President's Trophy: Anaheim
Hart: Steven Stamkos
Vezina: Braden Holtby
Calder: Connor McJesus
Norris: P.K Subban
Selke: Anze Kopitar
Jack Adams: Lindy Ruff

I was close-ish last year (I had Tampa in the Final), so maybe the jinx of being picked by me to do well is starting to fade! Probably not though. Enjoy the new hockey season!