Re-Ranking Fantasy Football Running Backs

The first two weeks of the NFL Season have raised some questions about the fantasy value of some prominent running backs in the league.  Still, there hasn’t been much change at the top of the RB boards.  The most notable changes are the breakout of Carlos Hyde and the amazingly fast fantasy collapse of DeMarco Murray.

  1. Adrian Peterson

A shaky week one performance might have had some AP owners worried, but a dominating week two (192 yards on 31 touches) made it clear that he is still an elite fantasy running back.  Teddy Bridgewater is improving, but Peterson is still the center of Minnesota’s offense.  They will continue to lean on him, and he will continue to produce.

  1. Le’Veon Bell

DeAngelo Williams was arguably the best fantasy RB of the first two weeks (204 yards and 3 TDs).  Some might be concerned that his success hurts Bell’s value.  What it really shows, though, is just how good the Steelers run game should be.  Bell comes back in week three and, despite DeAngelo’s success, Bell is going to get most of the carries.  Don’t forget that Bell had over 2,200 total yards and 11 TDs last season.

  1. Jamaal Charles

Charles had two terrible fumbles in week two, but he is still a clear fantasy stud.  He’s obviously the cornerstone of the Chiefs’ offense.  He has already racked up 182 yards on the ground, and the Chiefs always keep him involved in the passing game.

  1. Eddie Lacy

Lacy seems optimistic about the possibility of playing next week.  Assuming he is right, or he at worse he only misses one game, lacy is as solid of back as there is in the league.  He closed last season out with 9 straight games with over 100 total yards, and in the Packers high-powered offense he always has a chance to score.

  1. Carlos Hyde

Hyde is also dealing with an injury (thigh contusion), but it doesn’t look like he will miss any time because of it.  Despite missing most of the second half, Hyde is still on pace for over 1,600 yards.  That number may be inflated because of his huge week one, but he is the primary back on what will be a run first offense.  He should be on his way for a big season, and week one has already shown how high his upside is.

  1. Marshawn Lynch

Seattle is off to a rough start, and so is Marshawn Lynch.  It is too early to panic on him.  He has not played at home yet this season, where he rushed for 11 of his 13 TDs last year.  Seattle should start to win some games, and win they do we can expect Lynch’s workload and production to increase.  If he struggles against a terrible Bears defense next week, then consider panicking.

  1. Matt Forte

Forte had a great week one and solid week two.  The fact that back up Jeremy Langford got a whole series last week is concerning, but Forte is still a solid RB1.  He is still highly involved in the passing game, and new coach John Fox is going to continue to give him plenty of carries (especially with Cutler out).  Forte’s early season yards per carry average is up from his career low last year of 3.9 to 5.2.  At almost 30 years old his career may start to decline soon, but there is no indication that it will be this season.

  1. LeSean Mccoy

After week two it looks like Shady McCoy is getting healthy and going to be getting plenty of work.  He is one of the most talented backs in the league when healthy, but there is still a question about whether his hamstring will hold up.   McCoy rushed for 1,319 yards behind a questionable offensive line in Philly last year.  If the hamstring holds up, this should be another big season for the winner of the 2013 rushing title.

  1. Arian Foster

The Texans offense desperately needs Arian Foster to come back.  Admittedly, the first two games have been against stout defenses, but their leading rusher right now has only 60 yards. Foster played 13 games last season and was held under 100 total yards only twice.   He was also second in rushing yards per game last year.  When Foster comes back he should be the center of this offense again.

  1. Jeremy Hill

Last week fumbles landed Hill on the bench watching Gio Bernard show out.  Still, indications are that Hill will resume his role as the early down back next week and his upside is very high.  He had a great rookie season going over 1,100 yards and averaging over 5 yards per carry.  His role was not expanded until week eight last season.  Even with a sluggish start, with an expanded role for a full season it is a good bet that Hill will at least match his production from last year.

College Basketball Falls Under Dark Cloud As Regular Season Nears End

As the nation heats up for college basketball conference tournaments and then one of sport’s greatest events, March Madness, the world of college basketball is struggling with a few stories that are giving the sport a black eye. The storied Duke basketball program is facing questions regarding guard Rasheed Sulaimon, who was dismissed from the team earlier in the season.

Allegedly, Sulaimon sexually assaulted two women during the 2013-14 academic year and the claims eventually made their way to the Duke coach staff and athletic administration in March of 2014. Sulaimon was removed from the program in late January by Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Another storied NCAAB program, Kansas, will be without one of its prized freshmen, Cliff Alexander, for what has been deemed an “NCAA matter.” There is no timetable on Alexander’s return, but the 6-foot-8 forward has been awful in the Jayhawks past ten games. He only played an average of 15 minutes a game and averaged just 3.8 points per contest.

At Louisville, head coach Rick Pitino had to remove point guard Chris Jones from the roster in late February.  Jones was initially suspended from the Cardinals basketball team for sending a threatening text message to a female student. He was reinstated to the team only to break a 9 p.m. curfew. Pitino removed Jones, who averaged 13.7 points a game, from the team following the second incident. Jones has now been charged with rape.

Now that March has come, college basketball is now front and center among major sports. With the spotlight firmly on college basketball, it will be interesting to see if the sport continues to shine throughout March Madness.

2015 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers

The big question for fantasy baseball owners entering the 2015 season is who will be the biggest sleepers of the season. After you get past those first few rounds of you fantasy draft the big name stars will start to come off the board. This is where draft preparation as well as landing a few of those sleepers will make you stand out from the rest.

Now everyone classifies a sleeper a little different and sometimes you might have a few different classes. For example let’s take a look at first baseman Chris Davis and outfielder Jay Bruce. Both had down seasons last year but we expect to have bounce back. Each of these players should fall in drafts opening up the door for a fantasy owner to cash in with them.

After the bounce back sleepers we are looking for someone who might not be on many fantasy baseball owners radars. This sometimes includes a rookie who might make the jump to the majors or a veteran who has struggled in his first few seasons. A guy we really like is Travis Snider of the Baltimore Orioles who has a chance to be the team’s everyday right fielder. He also brings a left handed bat to the Orioles lineup in a stadium with a short porch in right field.

More 2015 Fantasy Baseball sleepers

Didi Gregorius, Short Stop

The New York Yankees newly acquired short stop will look to bounce back after a down season in 2014. Gregorius will not get to use his ability to hit left handed as an advantage hitting in Yankee stadium. Last season Yankee Stadium finished as the second best ball park in baseball for left handers to hit in.

Drew Smyly

Smyly will start his first full season with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2015 after coming over in a trade that would send Davis Price to the Detroit Tigers. The Rays starter finished strong pitching to a 2.20 earned run average over the second half of 2014.

Avisail Garcia, Outfielder

The Chicago White Sox outfielder managed to only play in only 46 games after dealing with injuries. That being said, Garcia still finished with seven home runs and 29 runs batted in during that stretch. If you multiple that out for an entire season those numbers would break down to around 25 home runs and 102 runs batted in.

Kris Bryant, Third Baseman

Typically I wouldn’t put a rookie on this sleepers list that didn’t appear in the majors last season but Bryant has the makings to be a great player. The Chicago Cubs third baseman will enter spring training with a real chance to break camp with the team giving the team another potential power hitter in the lineup. That being said I wouldn’t gamble early on him unless you are joining a keeper league.


Good luck to everyone in there 2015 Fantasy baseball leagues!

Fantasy Baseball Preview

The 2015 Major League Baseball is just around the corner as fantasy owners prepare for the upcoming season. This gives us a chance to start looking at our lineup from top to bottom with what hitters to focus on. That list includes some of the best hitters in the game over the past three or four years including Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton and Miguel Cabrera. The list also includes some up and coming stars like Jose Abreu, Chris Carter and Anthony Rizzo.

As we move around the infield the catcher position is headlined by a few big named stars such as Buster Posey. The two catchers that might slip under the radar of some is Matt Wieters and Russell Martin both playing in the American League East. Wieters who missed most of last season was putting together his best season at the plate will be entering his final year of his contract. Martin on the other hand now has the opportunity to hit in the friendly hitter ball park at the Rogers Centre.

Here are a few of the other key players to keep an eye on for you fantasy roster at each position.

Fantasy Baseball Infielders

This list is star studded across the board but here are a few key players to consider rounding out your infield in 2015. Starting at first base Anthony Rizzo of the Chicago Cubs looks to build on a terrific 2014 campaign that resulted in a National League best 32 home runs. This season the Cubs lineup looks to be even deeper in talent which should provide protection for Rizzo.

Moving on to second base the top option on the board will be Robinson Cano and his stock rose after the team added another big bat to the lineup in Nelson Cruz. If you are considering a later round pick at the position consider someone like Kolten Wong as well as Jedd Gyorko.

On the left side of the infield the one guy we expect to have a bounce back season with the bat is J.J. Hardy of the Baltimore Orioles. Hardy finished the season with just nine home runs after finishing with at least 22 homeruns in three straight seasons in Baltimore. At third base we stay in the American League East with Josh Donaldson of the Toronto Blue Jays. Donaldson moves out of a pitchers ball park in Oakland to a much more hitter ball park in Toronto.  These infielders would all be a great addition to your fantast lineup.

Fantasy Baseball Outfielders

In the outfield you will have a ton of great options depending on the round you might be drafting and the pick. In the early rounds Mike Trout is the best outfielder in the game while someone like Adam Jones continues to put up big seasons year in and year out. Another name to monitor this season is Yoenis Cespedes who is entering a contract season and will more than likely be plugged into the Detroit Tigers lineup right in front of Miguel Cabrera.

In the later rounds a few names to monitor include Jay Bruce for the Cincinnati Reds, George Springer of the Houston Astros and Mark Trumbo of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Good luck to everyone and have a great 2015 Fantasy Baseball year!

Fantasy Baseball: Why pitching is still the name of the game

OK, Fantasy gamers draft day is around the corner and you are likely still licking your wounds from last season, which piles on the anticipation even more. There’s a good chance you are blaming your pitching staff for your team’s over all failure, and are currently contemplating going with offense for as many consecutive picks to start the draft as humanly possible. So here’s the challenge: Don’t write off pitching this season, whether you are in a head to head or rotisserie league, simply pay attention, make better value picks and keep that line up balanced.

The top 10 fantasy pitchers are just as valuable to your line up as any hitter, and the drop off after the top 10 is significant. Make sure and grab a top 10 pitcher, regardless of who it is – Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw, Corey Kluber, Chris Sale and Max Scherzer are all capable of anchoring your staff. Don’t overpay for Madison Bumgarner if you are in an auction draft especially if you think he’s going to piggy back his playoff performance with a season long stat line that is better than the 5 mentioned above.

Stay away from injury prone pitchers like Masahiro Tanaka, Matt Harvey, CC Sabathia, Fernandez, and Brandon Beachy. Even though one of those guys is likely to bounce back and kill it this season, its too tough to call which one. So be conservative, look for value and target pitchers who have averaged 28 starts or more over the last 3 years. Guys like John Lester, Gio Gonzalez, James Shields and Zack Grienke have been pillars on their respective staffs.   What makes a serviceable pitcher effective is that he doesn’t hurt your stat line by missing starts.

If you have to take risks, or are wanting to reach early on certain guys, take a look at Alex Wood, Justin Verlander and Mike Fiers. You can count on exceptional value from all three, and if you can land two of them with a top tier pitcher you’ll be off to the races.

Don’t forget relief pitchers. Saves is a category you can win if you want, but keeping with the theme of balance, make sure to nab a top 3 closer – it doesn’t matter which one. After that 4-20 are statistically negligible. Jonathon Broxton is going to be the best value as he has potentially the clearest path to keeping his job. Don’t draft more than 2-3 closers and be sure to hand cuff your picks. Closers will pop up all season long so be patient. Good luck gamers.

NCAA Tournament #1 seeds

Wisconsin, Not Gonzaga, Will Be No. 1 Seed In Upcoming NCAA Tournament


With just over two weeks remaining in the college basketball regular season, the No. 1 seeds in the upcoming NCAA tournament are beginning to take shape. Unbeaten Kentucky (25-0) is likely the tournament’s overall No. 1 seed, while fifth-ranked Wisconsin will sneak in and grab one of the three remaining No. 1s.


Second-ranked Virginia (23-1) is surely a No. 1 seed as is perennial NCAA title contender Duke, ranked No. 4 with a 22-3 record. The surprise will come when the Badgers, and not No. 3 Gonzaga, are rewarded with the final No. 1 seed.


Gonzaga, a mid-major power that has become such a household name in college basketball that the “mid” is virtually irrelevant, is currently 26-1 and is a sure bet to win both the regular season and post season titles in the West Coast Conference. And therein lies the problem.


The Zags strength of schedule is rated as 104 and the West Coast Conference, unfortunately, is full of teams ranked below 50 in the RPI. Other than an early season win over #22 SMU and a three-point overtime loss to then No. 3 Arizona, Gonzaga’s resume just isn’t as worth as that of Wisconsin.


The Badgers are off to the best start in school history at 23-2. One of their losses was to Duke, 80-70 back on Dec. 3. Head coach Bo Ryan’s squad is 12-1 in a very competitive Big Ten. Wisconsin is 6-1 versus teams ranked in the RPI top 50. Only four of the team’s win were against teams rated below 150 in the RPI.


With games at No. 16 Maryland and No. 24 Ohio State plus the Big Ten tournament, the Badgers still have time to pad their already deep resume. Don’t forget, the Badgers made it to last year’s Final Four as a No. 2 seed. When it’s all said and done, the tournament selection committee will have no choice but to reward Wisconsin with a No. 1 seed this year.

NBA Trade Deadline Winners and Losers


There are definitely winners and losers of this year’s NBA trade deadline, but we must take into account the situation of each team. Sometimes teams look like they lost when in reality they won considering that they may be in a rebuilding mode or took off some heavy finances on their books.

That being said, the winners of this year’s deadline are the OKC Thunder, Miami Heat and Portland Trailblazers. OKC has made it clear that they are in “Championship Now” mode especially with their most recent success in their transactions. They were able to trade Reggie Jackson (who eventually would command a huge payday and also wanted to have a starting role) and Kendrick Perkins (who is on a steep decline in his career) for D.J. Augustin, Enes Kanter, Kyle Singler and Steve Novak. All 4 of these of players will play huge roles in increasing the Thunder’s chances of winning that illustrious title. Augustin will provide a huge boost off the bench as their backup point guard, while Enes Kanter may even become their starting center. Kanter is more seasoned than Adams on the offensive end, but needs a lot of work defensively. Singler will be a great wing coming off the bench who can score, shoot the 3 and surprisingly, facilitate. It is still unknown whether Novak will be bought out or if he will have a role in this Thunder team, but they do need a consistent shooter on the perimeter.

The Miami Heat were able to trade away their ailing players for the Dragic brothers. Goran will help the Heat in a position that was lacking production. With his uncanny ability to hit the long range, finish at the rim and distribute the ball, Dragic should immediately help the Heat improve their chances in making the playoffs. And with Bosh’s season in jeopardy, Dragic may be forced into a larger workload than originally planned. Miami wins in this transaction because they get a serviceable point guard and only gave up role players and future first round draft picks. The Heat will remain a “Win Now” team so the future first rounders do not hurt them at all.

The Portland Trailblazers also win because of their recent acquisition of Arron Afflalo. It was no question that the Trailblazers were looking to add firepower to their wing position and Afflalo will help them as a reliable perimeter defender and offensive threat. Although he won’t be asked to do much on the offensive end and perhaps won’t get to start for this team, Portland needs him as their sixth man and for occasional defensive matchups against the league’s most feared players. Afflalo is a better defender than he is as a scorer, but don’t count him out just yet. He can get to the rim and shoot the trey just as well as Batum and will have the green light to shoot in the second unit.

Out of all the teams who participated in transaction, only one comes to mind as the loser of this year’s trade deadline. Many of the teams who dealt players and draft picks received decent to great value in return. The Philadelphia 76ers however, traded away last year’s ROY Michael Carter-Williams and high upside rookie K.J. McDaniels. They did receive future draft picks from the Lakers, Thunder, and Denver/Minnesota, but it still doesn’t make much sense. They gave away their starting point guard on a team that had no backup point guard and traded away McDaniels who is one of their better defenders. For a team who is looking to have a defensive identity, it doesn’t make sense to trade away McDaniels. Also, they picked up Javale McGee who hasn’t been healthy for the past couple years and still has 2 years on his contract. Call me crazy, but having 3 injured bigs on your team as your future building blocks isn’t looking so bright at the moment. Perhaps the 76ers didn’t think that MCW and McDaniels were in their future and are looking to strike gold in the future drafts, but in my opinion, they definitely lost in the transactions.

Ranking 2015 NFL Coaching Hires

With no live NFL action except some guys running 40 yard dashes without linebackers in their way, now is a great time to grade out the teams that made new coaching hires this offseason. It’s the players that make the most difference in terms of winning or losing, but getting the right head coach is pivotal to the overall chemistry of the franchise. There were quite a few hirings so let us jump right in.

strong>Jack Del Rio, Oakland Raiders: C+: How can anyone get excited about a coaching move the Raiders make? I know Al Davis is long gone, but until I see proof that things have changed, I’m not going to be high on this troubled franchise. Del Rio has solid experience under his belt and a good young quarterback in Derek Carr, but the wheels could fall off at any point with this team.

Jim Tomsula, San Francisco 49ers: F-

This grade isn’t much about the new coach. Tomsula may be a great coach at some point in the future. That’s irrelevant. The 49ers had a head coach in Jim Harbaugh that was already one of the best in the league. Management should have found a way to get along with the guy. Now they face an uphill battle with a new man in charge.

Gary Kubiak, Denver Broncos: B-

John Fox did an admirable job in Denver, but couldn’t get over the Super Bowl hump. Elway did his job by supplying a much improved defense in 2014, but to no avail. Kubiak and Elway may be a better overall fit as they shape the team in their own mold going forward. Kubiak didn’t wow the world in his run with Houston, but a new team presents new opportunities. Many a head coach needed two opportunities to get rolling.

Todd Bowles, New York Jets: B+

Even though Bowles has no head coaching experience in the NFL, he is at the top of the game defensively. His biggest hurdle is at QB. I’m sure he can coach up the defense, but he has to find a real replacement for Geno Smith. I cannot see Smith being the long term solution there. Geno Smith would get Bill Walsh fired.

John Fox, Chicago Bears: B

This ‘B’ could be for blah. Fox was good, not great in Denver. That’s why he’s in Chicago now. This team should thrive under Fox’s steady hand. That may not be good enough longterm, but it should smooth over the debacle of last season in the short run.

Rex Ryan, Buffalo Bills: A-

I believe Rex Ryan is still a top tier head coach despite a couple of rough years with the Jets. His players play hard for him and he knows the game, especially on the defensive side. He does face a familiar problem in Buffalo with the lack of a true number one QB however.

Dan Quinn, Atlanta Falcons: B+

We don’t know what Dan Quinn is going to be as a head coach. This is his first shot running the show in the NFL. Atlanta had to fire its most successful coach in Mike Smith as they had gotten in a two year rut. Quinn may be the defensive wizard that he is purported to be, but management best get him some players to work that magic. There is no Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas III, or Kam Chancellor on the Falcons’ roster.