• Fantasy Football - Trade Targets and Free Agents

    Numbers are fun to me. I can remember my Dad and I riding to church and giving each other mental math problems to figure out over and over again. Numbers (especially when there are dollars signs in front of them) have always been easy and straightforward to me. I remember my junior year project in U.S. History. It was our job to use $100,000 in fake money and invest it in the stock market over one month (still not sure what this had to do with history, but I digress). That project was fascinating to me as I blew away my classmates. I put more time and research into it then the rest of the class combined. And because of it, I blew away the competition, nearly doubling my money. Yet, it really wasn’t that hard. I just adopted the buy low idea. The thought behind it is that you have to find the low spot for a company’s value and assume it can only go up from there. Why buy a stock when it’s on top when you can get a better return on investment from finding the ones in the valley. Yes, this is where the fantasy analogy kicks in. Before I get to my weekly free agent finds I want to look at some players whose value is currently at a low point. Whether that means they’ve recently been injured, have had some tough matchups, or just haven’t yet produced, you can find some studs to target in trades. Here’s a look at 3 guys you should look to acquire from their owner who might be burnt out on them:

    ·      RB Arian Foster

    o   Yes, in most leagues Foster was likely a late first or early second rounder in your draft. But, I get the feeling Foster’s owners are worried about his nagging hamstring injury that had him sit out week 3 and play injured this weekend. His last two weeks he’s put up a goose egg and 6 points. The time to buy is now! After being worked like a dog the first two weeks of the season, you had to expect an injury at some point. But as he now nears full health, he’s coming back into a very fantasy friendly stretch of games. In weeks 6-9 he faces bottom 15 fantasy rush defenses each game, and following a bye in week 10 he faces the 2nd worst defense in the league in a game against the Browns. Foster is primed to explode in the coming weeks so grab him pronto.

    ·      WR Michael Crabtree

    o   The 49ers wide receiver is coming off a 5 catch disappointment against a beatable Eagles secondary. But don’t overlook a few important things that make him a prime trade target. First of all, he leads the team with 32 targets, that’s 8 a week through the first quarter of the season. He’s Kaep’s most trustworthy pass catcher. Secondly, Crabtree went to the locker room with an ankle injury in the first quarter of his week 4 matchup but came back and hobbled his way to those 5 receptions. His lack of production therefore shouldn’t be worrisome. Lastly, after a bye in week 8, Crabtree comes back to face 4 straight bottom 10 pass defenses. Go get the young wideout while he’s still “gettable”

    ·      QB Cam Newton

    o   Superman hasn’t looked very super to start the year. The rib injury that forced him to sit week 1 has apparently been lingering. Newton has yet to throw multiple touchdowns in a game and hasn’t been running enough to keep his fantasy value. But as his health returns, he’ll return to the running, efficient QB we’ve come to know. He has yet to throw an interception this season, which shows great decision making from the injured pass thrower. Not to mention, he also has a great stretch of games coming up. In weeks 8-10, he faces three of the seven worst fantasy pass defenses in the league. Go trade from him now and thank me later when Superman returns to form and saves your lineup.

                Every week before free agent finds, I want to look back at my hits and misses from the previous week’s free agent recommendations in a section known from this day forward as You’re Welcome/Sorry About That

                You’re Welcome

    ·      Lorenzo Taliaferro- 15 carries for 58 yards and a TD…You’re welcome

    ·      Dolphins D/ST- 2 sacks, 3 interceptions, one TD…You’re welcome

    ·      Larry Donnell- 7 receptions for 54 yards and THREE TDS…YOU’RE WELCOME!!!!

    Sorry About That

    ·      Jake Locker- ruled out because of sore wrist…Sorry about that

    ·      Jeremy Kerley- 1 reception for 3 yards… Sorry about that

    ·      Kirk Cousins- 257 yards, 1 TD, 4 INTs…Yeah I’m really really sorry about that

     

    Free Agent Finds

    ·      QB

    o   Joe Flacco (owned in 18% of leagues)

    §  Flacco is coming off a torching of the Panthers D to the tune of 327 yards and 3 touchdowns. Look for this trend to continue as Flacco and co. go into Indy and face the red-hot Andrew Luck led Colts. Prediction: 315 yards, 2 touchdowns

    o   Ryan Fitzpatrick (4%)

    §  Fitz is likely never going to win you a week. But he is plenty sufficient to get the job done. He’s scored at least 12 points every week and is pretty efficient which limits turnovers. With the Texans going on the road to face a Demarco Murray-led Cowboys team, Fitz may be forced to throw if the Texans fall behind early. Prediction: 275 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception

    ·      RB

    o   Darrin Reaves (0.1%)

    §  Reaves has suddenly found himself the starter in a depleted Panther backfield. Stewart and Tolbert were out before week 4’s matchup and DeAngelo was sent to the bench with an injury himself. Reaves’ upside may be limited but any RB in a starting role has to be given a close look in a league short on dependable RBs. Going up against a Bears run D that has allowed 100 yards or a TD to running backs in 3 of the 4 weeks this year, Reaves should be able to hit pay dirt. Prediction: 18 carries for 67 yards and a TD

    o   Jerick McKinnon (0.8%)

    §  The Viking running back right now can’t be considered more than a speculative add. Yes he just had a monster game against the Falcons, putting up more than 150 all-purpose yards. But Asiata (for some unknown reason) remains the lead back in Minnesota and he’ll be getting all short yardage and red zone carries. McKinnon won’t be a starter on your team this week but if he can start carving his role in the offense, you could be looking at a nice spark in your flex spot come playoff time. Prediction: 12 carries 56 yards, 4 receptions for 27 yards

    ·      WR

    o   Justin Hunter (77%)

    §  First of all, Hunter is likely to be dropped in a large amount of leagues this week so expect that ownership number to plummet. The young wide receiver was a training camp star as reporter after reporter raved about his hands and athletic ability. But through 4 games, he leaves us wanting more. The targets are there (he’s had 26 through 4 weeks). I think this is the week his athleticism is put on display as Cleveland will look to shut down Delanie Walker and PPR monster Kendall Wright. Prediction: 6 catches, 71 yards and a TD

    o   Andrew Hawkins (12%)

    §  Hawkins may still be a little difficult to own in standard, non-PPR leagues but even in those, I think he’s worth a bench spot. Hawkins had at least 6 catches in each game before the Browns’ week 4 bye. Furthermore, his yardage line each game thus far has been 87, 70, and 87. A guy that catches this many balls is bound to find himself in the end zone at some point or another, and this may be that week. Prediction: 8 receptions, 90 yards and a TD

    ·      TE

    o   Heath Miller (12%)

    §  Heeeeeeeeath’s name is likely to show up on just about every free agent recommendation article you read today, and for good reason. The tight end who only had 3 or 4 receptions each week previous, exploded for 10 receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown against Tampa Bay. Miller will look to continue this trend against a helpless Jags defense that ranks second to last against TEs. Miller is easily Roethlisberger’s second favorite pass catcher behind the incredible Antonio Brown. Although the matchup is scary because they may just try to run out the game, expect Miller to do his damage early. Prediction: 5 catches for 51 yards and a TD

    o   Jace Amaro (1%)

    §  Another week, another Jets pass catcher on the list. Hopefully this one works out better than Kerley. Amaro, the rookie out of Texas Tech was drafted to give Geno Smith a reliable option in the middle of the field. Through 3 weeks, it didn’t seem like they were on the same page as they only connected on 6 passes. However, in week 4 alone, Amaro nearly matches his season total, catching 5 passes for 58 yards.  With an offense lacking much firepower, the Jets figure to find themselves down frequently which means passing, passing, passing. Someone on this team has to catch passes; this week I’m betting it’s Amaro. Prediction: 6 catches for 63 yards

    ·      Defense/ST

    o   Eagles D/ST

    §  Coming off an impressive defensive and special teams display in which the units combined for 3 touchdowns, the Eagles will be flying high in their home matchup against the Rams. With the long time backup Shaun Hill at the helm for St. Louis, expect Chip Kelly’s defense to bring the blitz early and often. The Eagles D will be seeking out the turnovers again and I believe they are primed for a top 10 week. Prediction: 17 points against, 2 INTs, 4 sacks

    o   Steelers D/ST

    §  Every single defense to play the Jacksonville Jaguars this week has scored double-digit fantasy points. Pick the Steelers up and start them. Enough said.

    Feel free to send in your lineup questions, waiver wire thoughts, or trade help to FantasyDecisions@gmail.com

    This tool is free and I promise to get back to you by the end of the day you send in your question. Send away!

    This has been another edition of Fantasy Decisions with Bradley Maddox. Always remember: An elite owner stays ahead of the curve

  • NBA Award Predictions

    What better way to kick off the first day of NBA media days, then having some way too early predictions for the season that is a month away? Let’s get started.

     

    Rookie of the Year

    With the most anticipated rookie class since 2003, this award will have quite a few rookies making a great case for the award. Andrew Wiggins has the highest ceiling of them all, Marcus Smart is the most physically ready, then you have Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton, and Zach Lavine who could all bloom into superstars but can’t expect that in year one. However, Jabari Parker is the most NBA ready, went to a team he wanted to play for, and well he is arguably their best player already. Parker will have his touches on offense to put up close to 20 points a game while snatching 5 rebounds and a couple assists along the way.

     

    Coach of the year

    Coach of the year can translate to breakout team of the year or the team that exceeds expectations the best. Or how about an unproven coach who leads his team to the best record in the conference? Sounds to me like David Blatt makes the perfect case. Blatt, new head coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers, has never coached an NBA team before. His coaching experience comes from overseas where he coached for 20 years. But he inherits a loaded Cavs team led by LeBron James, not a bad deal.

     

    Most Improved Player of the year

    This one is always a tough one to predict, because there is no telling which player will break out. Some worthy candidates are Chandler Parsons, Lance Stephenson, Kawhi Leonard, and plenty of others. The one that stands out is Kawhi Leonard. Coming off an unforgettable NBA Finals series where he defended LeBron better than anybody else has, and led the Spurs offensively as well. Plus, when your coach says the offense will run around you now, there’s no telling how improved Leonard will be.

     

    Defensive Player of the year

    Another one of those categories where plenty of players fit the role well. Defending champ, Joakim Noah poses a great chance to repeat as the winner. But the likes of Roy Hibbert, Dwight Howard, and a rejuvenated Tyson Chandler will all make strong cases. This year, the NBA will see a first time winner take this award home, Serge Ibaka. He will likely lead the NBA in blocks once again, and his rebounding skills are only improving. On top of this, there are countless instances where he disrupts the opposing offenses rhythm with his long arms and quick feet.

     

    Most Valuable Player of the year

    This race is always the most fun to monitor throughout the year. And this year will be no exception. The league is full of superstars that are looking to lead their respective teams to the next level. Of course defending champ, Kevin Durant makes a strong case to repeat but Chris Paul and teammate Blake Griffin are both looking to improve on what were MVP like seasons. A dark horse in this race could be Lamarcus Aldridge. Last year in the playoffs, Aldridge looked unstoppable against the Houston Rockets. If he can find that groove again, and the Blazers continue to excel, he could make a great case. But lets be real, this award is LeBron James’ to lose. The superstar is coming off an incredible statistical season. And now you add weapons like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love around him is almost unfair. And not to mention the depth this Cleveland team has in Dion Waiters, Shawn Marion, Tristan Thompson, and Mike Miller. This will arguably be LeBron James’ best team, so what is there not to like about James winning his fifth MVP award?

     
     
     
  • NBA Award Predictions

    What better way to kick off the first day of NBA media days, then having some way too early predictions for the season that is a month away? Let’s get started.

     

    Rookie of the Year

    With the most anticipated rookie class since 2003, this award will have quite a few rookies making a great case for the award. Andrew Wiggins has the highest ceiling of them all, Marcus Smart is the most physically ready, then you have Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton, and Zach Lavine who could all bloom into superstars but can’t expect that in year one. However, Jabari Parker is the most NBA ready, went to a team he wanted to play for, and well he is arguably their best player already. Parker will have his touches on offense to put up close to 20 points a game while snatching 5 rebounds and a couple assists along the way.

     

    Coach of the year

    Coach of the year can translate to breakout team of the year or the team that exceeds expectations the best. Or how about an unproven coach who leads his team to the best record in the conference? Sounds to me like David Blatt makes the perfect case. Blatt, new head coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers, has never coached an NBA team before. His coaching experience comes from overseas where he coached for 20 years. But he inherits a loaded Cavs team led by LeBron James, not a bad deal.

     

    Most Improved Player of the year

    This one is always a tough one to predict, because there is no telling which player will break out. Some worthy candidates are Chandler Parsons, Lance Stephenson, Kawhi Leonard, and plenty of others. The one that stands out is Kawhi Leonard. Coming off an unforgettable NBA Finals series where he defended LeBron better than anybody else has, and led the Spurs offensively as well. Plus, when your coach says the offense will run around you now, there’s no telling how improved Leonard will be.

     

    Defensive Player of the year

    Another one of those categories where plenty of players fit the role well. Defending champ, Joakim Noah poses a great chance to repeat as the winner. But the likes of Roy Hibbert, Dwight Howard, and a rejuvenated Tyson Chandler will all make strong cases. This year, the NBA will see a first time winner take this award home, Serge Ibaka. He will likely lead the NBA in blocks once again, and his rebounding skills are only improving. On top of this, there are countless instances where he disrupts the opposing offenses rhythm with his long arms and quick feet.

     

    Most Valuable Player of the year

    This race is always the most fun to monitor throughout the year. And this year will be no exception. The league is full of superstars that are looking to lead their respective teams to the next level. Of course defending champ, Kevin Durant makes a strong case to repeat but Chris Paul and teammate Blake Griffin are both looking to improve on what were MVP like seasons. A dark horse in this race could be Lamarcus Aldridge. Last year in the playoffs, Aldridge looked unstoppable against the Houston Rockets. If he can find that groove again, and the Blazers continue to excel, he could make a great case. But lets be real, this award is LeBron James’ to lose. The superstar is coming off an incredible statistical season. And now you add weapons like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love around him is almost unfair. And not to mention the depth this Cleveland team has in Dion Waiters, Shawn Marion, Tristan Thompson, and Mike Miller. This will arguably be LeBron James’ best team, so what is there not to like about James winning his fifth MVP award?

     
     
     
  • MLB Wild Card Preview

    The MLB postseason is upon us, and though we didn’t get the drama of two one-game playoffs to get to the one-game Wild Card playoffs like last season, we’re still going to experience a lot of great baseball.

     

    First, the wild card games have to be played to determine who will face the top seed in each league. Here’s a quick breakdown of the two match-ups and my prediction of who will be advancing to their respective division series.

     

    American League

    The Oakland Athletics (88-74) will be going to Kansas City to face the Royals (89-73) on Sept. 30 to find out who will advance to the ALDS to play the Los Angeles Angels. They faced each other seven times this season, with the Royals winning five of those games.

     

    However, both Kansas City losses came when Jon Lester (LHP, 16-11, 2.46 ERA) was on the mound for the Athletics- as will be the case on Tuesday night. James Shields (RHP, 14-8, 3.21 ERA) will be hurling the ball for the Royals and hoping to continue an impressive month of September.

     

    Shields won two of five starts and boasted a 2.31 ERA in the last month of the season and has an extremely solid bullpen to back him up late in the game. Lester was fantastic in the postseason last year, helping the Boston Red Sox win the World Series by going 4-1 with a 1.56 ERA. He has some good relievers behind him, too.

     

    Offensively, the Royals come into the postseason with the fourth best team batting average (.263) in the majors. But the Athletics have a slight edge in on-base percentage and scored 78 more runs than Kansas City during the season.

     

    Scoring early will be crucial considering both teams have incredible closers. The Royals have the slight advantage in the closer situation with Greg Holland winning 46 of 48 save opportunities during the season and coming into the playoffs with a 1.44 ERA. Sean Doolittle of the A’s isn’t too bad either, going 22-for-26 with a 2.73 ERA.

     

    Overall, I feel that whoever gets the bats going first will take this one. Both teams struggled during the final stretch of the season and had little run production, and with two great pitchers on the mound I don’t expect this to be a high-scoring game.

     

    Kansas City waited an awful long time to get back to the playoffs, and unfortunately I don’t see them lasting very long. I’m taking the Oakland Athletics in this game.

     

    National League

    The San Francisco Giants (88-74) will be traveling to Pittsburgh to play the Pirates (88-74) on Oct. 1 to fight for the chance to play the Washington Nationals in the NLDS. They played six games against each other in the regular season and the Pirates won four.

     

    San Francisco will be sending their ace Madison Bumgarner (LHP, 18-10, 2.98 ERA) to the mound and the Pirates will put the ball in the hands of their surprise of the season, RHP Edinson Volquez (13-7, 3.04 ERA).

     

    Volquez was fantastic in the month of September, earning a 1.08 ERA and going 5-0 in his last 10 starts. If he can continue his dominance, the Pirates might end up winning this game. But Bumgarner was pretty good in the final stretch as well, going 6-2 with a 2.12 ERA in his last 10 starts.

     

    A big difference between the two leagues is that NL pitchers have to hit. In that aspect, the Giants have a substantial advantage because Bumgarner (.258) has a much better batting average than Volquez (.038). Collectively, the Pirates have a slightly better team batting average and got on base and scored more than the Giants during the regular season.

     

    The Pirates will have some momentum going into Wednesday’s game after winning 18 of 27 games in September, but they are on a two-game losing streak. The Giants are riding a two-game winning streak and went 13-25, not including the completion game they won over the Colorado Rockies, in the last month of the season.

     

    I had a tough time choosing a winner in this match-up, but in the end the experience of the San Francisco Giants was too much for me to overlook. I think they’ll rally behind a solid performance from Bumgarner and their veteran core of Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence to beat Andrew McCutchen and the Pirates.

     

    All in all, I think we’ll see two tight games to kick off what should be a great postseason.