• Look past the fights of the NHL

    There’s a popular joke, “I Went to a Fight the Other Night and a Hockey Game Broke Out,” and I hate it. It’s a hackneyed joke about a sport that has evolved past its pugilism. Well, I should reword that last phrase. Hockey is a sport that is trying to get past its boxing-like nature.

    Last year, 29.76 percent of the 1,230 NHL games had at least one fight occur. This follows the pattern of decline that the NHL has seen over the past 13 years. Through rules changes like Rule 46.6 which states, “No player may remove his helmet prior to engaging in a fight. If he should do so, he shall be assessed a two-minute minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. Helmets that come off in the course of and resulting from the altercation will not result in a penalty to either player,” and the mandatory visor rule, the NHL is doing its part to decrease on-ice violence and the numbers show this.

    That being said, will the NHL ever abolish fighting altogether? Probably not. At least not in the next few years. Currently, there is too much friction coming from the players’ side in order to enact such a major rule change. For them, both job security and job safety is at stake. For less than skilled players like Shawn Thornton of the Florida Panthers, he provides leadership in the enforcer role. As an enforcer, he protects his teammates from vicious hits on the ice by ensuring that something worse, such as a fight, will come for the offenders later. And, without fighting, a player like Thornton probably wouldn’t have a job in the NHL despite his fantastic leadership ability.

    Teams, however, have been phasing out the enforcers role themselves. Thanks to advanced statistics, the ongoing concussion debate, and salary cap constraints, having a player who is solely dedicated to fighting and nothing more is impractical. Especially when considering playoff hockey, a time when overall team depth is so important and fighting is virtually non-existent, having a roster spot for a player without skill is a waste.

    As weird as it sounds, fighting in hockey has a place. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think fighting should be first on the NHL’s marquee. But, I do think that within a regular season team construct, fighting is a valuable way to ensure that more physically minded players on the ice do not destroy skill players. The enforcer role will eventually be eliminated, as I think it should, but I do believe players should be able to retaliate as they see fit in such a physical sport. With all of that said, hockey should always be seen as the sport it is and not for the fighting that has been occurring less and less often.

  • Consistency, TNF Preview and Week 6 Rankings

    Emmitt Smith, Hall of Fame running back of the Dallas Cowboys, once said, “Consistency is one of the hallmarks of my career. You knew what you were going to get out of E-Smith every game, every year, no matter if I was 22, 21, or 35 years old.” 

    One of the best RBs in the history of the game knew that consistency was key. You always want someone on your side that you can depend on. No questions about their performance, just that reliability. In fantasy football, we’re looking for the same thing: Consistency. 

    Boom/bust guys are infuriating as they get 20 yards one week and 200 yards the next. We want reliable players anchoring our teams, guys that get 100 yards every week, put it in the bank.

    Over at ESPN Tristan Cockcroft does a weekly article in which he breaks down his “Consistency Ratings” for each fantasy football player (Go check it out here: http://es.pn/1twBDWe). These ratings take incredible research and time to put together and I think it’s one of the more useful tools on the web when it comes to fantasy studying. The gist of the column is Cockcroft breaking down which guys tend to be consistent: straying little in their weekly output. A lower consistency rating is better because it means you can easily predict a player’s output week to week. The players with lower numbers have very little deviation from their weekly averages. For example, although Drew Brees hasn’t had the elite year many expected from him, he comes in at number one in the consistency rating. Here are his 5 fantasy point totals from week to week: 15, 15, 19, 19, 16. The Saints QB has been extremely predictable this year and that’s the goal of these ratings: to figure out which guys you can trust will stick to the mean or average. On the other end of the spectrum is a guy like Matthew Stafford. His weekly totals so far? 29, 13, 3, 25, and 11. Who knows if this week in Minnesota he’ll put up a stud week like in week 1 or if he’ll have a dud like in week 3.

    Furthermore, Cockcroft also sets up the percentage of weeks in which each player would have been a “start” (top 10 QB or top 25 RB/WR), a “stud” (top 2 QB or top 5 RB/WR), or a “stiff” (worse than 21st QB or worse than 51st RB/WR). As an example, look at the running back position. Only 4 guys have been a “start” in each game this year: Murray, Lynch, Bell, and Bernard. Every other running back has had at least one week outside of the top-25 positional outputs. But all in all, take these for what they’re worth. Sure T.Y. Hilton has one of the best consistency ratings, but his consistent average is around 7 points (4, 6, 8, 10, 9). I fully believe this tool can help you win a championship. But even if you don’t frequent it, at least know that this can really help when you can’t decide which running back to start this week or which QB you can write in 20 points for. On to the Thursday Night Football Preview which spotlights a few guys to keep your fantasy eye on.

     

    TNF Preview

    ·      Andrew Luck

    o   Luck has gotten off to a scorching start this season putting up more than 25 points per game while leading the league in passing yards and touchdowns. In a homecoming game, Luck will look to continue his hot stretch against a Texans D who has yet to hold a passer under 225 yards. Look for the Stanford product to shine once again in the spotlight. Prediction: 289 yards, 2 touchdowns

    ·      Ahmad Bradshaw

    o   When Colts GM Ryan Grigson traded a first round pick to Cleveland for Trent Richardson last year, he thought he had found his bell cow running back. Instead Richardson has plodded along to an abysmal 3.1 yards per carry. Now the Colts find themselves playing the aged veteran, Bradshaw, more and more as he continues to find success. Going into this TNF matchup against a depleted and weak Texans run defense, Bradshaw will look to exploit the weakness on his way to a solid game. Side note: As an avid Texans fan, I have seen receiving backs destroy this defense so look for Bradshaw to excel in the passing game. Prediction: 10 carries, 61 yards and 5 receptions for 30 yards

    ·      T.Y. Hilton

    o   In his 4 career meetings with the Texans, Hilton has destroyed the Texans secondary with 22 catches for 288 yards and 5 touchdowns. The speedy wideout will look to continue that success tonight, albeit with an improved secondary that looks improved from years past. The safeties will surely be tested with Hilton’s over the top speed and I’m afraid Hilton is going to get behind the D for at least one long gainer. Prediction: 4 catches for 89 yards and a TD

    ·      Arian Foster

    o   Just as Hilton has found success against the in-division rival, Foster has feasted on the opponent’s defense over the years. In his 5 healthy games, Foster has averaged 6.6 yards per carry and found pay dirt 6 times. Coming off a stellar performance against the Cowboys, I think the running back will further improve upon those career stats vs. the Indy defense. Prediction: 23 carries for 140 yards and 2 touchdowns

    ·      Andre Johnson

    o   The ageless wonder has yet to eclipse 100 yards on the season but I think if there’s any game he might do that in, it just might be tonight. He loves being the afterthought, the quiet lurker who’s ready to pounce. Dre is known to destroy Colts CB Vontae Davis and he’s going to continue that trend tonight. Prediction: 7 catches for 101 yards

    ·      GAME PREDICTION:

    o   Homerism aside, I truly think the Texans may have the slightest of edges going into tonight’s game. They’re playing in front of the raucous NRG stadium crows and I think QB Ryan Fitzpatrick’s veteran wisdom finally shows itself. Bet the house on it (please don’t bet your house): Texans 20 – Colts 17.

    Week 6 Rankings

    ·      QB

    1.     Peyton Manning

    2.     Philip Rivers

    3.     Aaron Rodgers

    4.     Matt Ryan

    5.     Andrew Luck

    6.     Russell Wilson

    7.     Jay Cutler

    8.     Carson Palmer

    9.     Eli Manning

    10. Matthew Stafford

    11. Ben Roethlisberger

    12. Jake Locker

    13. Andy Dalton

    14. Colin Kaepernick

    15. Nick Foles

    16. Kirk Cousins

    17. Tony Romo

    18. Tom Brady

    19. Joe Flacco

    20. Brian Hoyer

     

    ·      RB

    1.     Arian Foster

    2.     Matt Forte

    3.     Le’veon Bell

    4.     Marshawn Lynch

    5.     Eddie Lacy

    6.     Giovani Bernard

    7.     Demarco Murray

    8.     LeSean McCoy

    9.     Andre Ellington

    10. Branden Oliver

    11. Alfred Morris

    12. Frank Gore

    13. Andre Williams

    14. Ben Tate

    15. Lamar Miller

    16. Doug Martin

    17. Ahmad Brashaw

    18. Zac Stacy

    19. Justin Forsett

    20. Joique Bell

    21. Stevan Ridley

    22. Steven Jackson

    23. Chris Ivory

    24. C.J. Spiller

    25. Fred Jackson

     

    ·      WR

    1.     Demaryius Thomas

    2.     Jordy Nelson

    3.     Julio Jones

    4.     Antonio Brown

    5.     Dez Bryant

    6.     Brandon Marshall

    7.     Emmanuel Sanders

    8.     Jeremy Maclin

    9. Vincent Jackson

    10. Percy Harvin

    11. Alshon Jeffery

    12. Randall Cobb

    13. Golden Tate

    14. Steve Smith

    15. Andre Johnson

    16. Michael Floyd

    17. DeSean Jackson

    18. Victor Cruz

    19. Pierre Garcon

    20. T.Y. Hilton

    21. Mike Wallace

    22. Mohamed Sanu

    23. Rueben Randle

    24. DeAndre Hopkins

    25. Brian Quick

     

    ·      TE

    1.     Rob Gronkowski

    2.     Julius Thomas

    3.     Greg Olsen

    4.     Delanie Walker

    5.     Martellus Bennett

    6.     Larry Donnell

    7.     Antonio Gates

    8.     Dwayne Allen

    9. Eric Ebron

    10. Owen Daniels

    11. Jordan Cameron

    12. Zach Ertz

    13. Jason Witten

    14. Heath Miller

    15. Niles Paul

     

    ·      D/ST

    1.     Chargers

    2.     49ers

    3.     Titans

    4.     Seahawks

    5.     Bengals

    6.     Packers

    7.     Broncos

    8.     Lions

    9.     Giants

    10. Texans

    11. Ravens

    12. Patriots

    13. Vikings

    14. Cardinals

    15. Eagles

     

    ·      Flex

     

    1.     Arian Foster

    2.     Matt Forte

    3.     Le’Veon Bell

    4.     Marshawn Lynch

    5.     Eddie Lacy

    6.     Giovani Bernard

    7.     Demaryius Thomas

    8.     Jordy Nelson

    9.     Julio Jones

    10. Demarco Murray

    11. LeSean McCoy

    12. Andre Ellington

    13. Branden Oliver

    14. Alfred Morris

    15. Antonio Brown

    16. Dez Bryant

    17. Brandon Marshall

    18. Frank Gore

    19. Emmanuel Sanders

    20. Jeremy Maclin

    21. Vincent Jackson

    22. Andre Williams

    23. Ben Tate

    24. Lamar Miller

    25. Percy Harvin

    26. Doug Martin

    27. Ahmad Bradshaw

    28. Alshon Jeffery

    29. Randall Cobb

    30. Golden Tate

    31. Zac Stacy

    32. Justin Forsett

    33. Joique Bell

    34. Steve Smith

    35. Andre Johnson

    36. Michael Floyd

    37. DeSean Jackson

    38. Stevan Ridley

    39. Steven Jackson

    40. Chris Ivory

    41. Victor Cruz

    42. Pierre Garcon

    43. T.Y. Hilton

    44. C.J. Spiller

    45. Mike Wallace

    46. Mohamed Sanu

    47. Rueben Randle

    48. Fred Jackson

    49. DeAndre Hopkins

    50. Brian Quick

     

    Feel free to send in your lineup questions, waiver wire wonders, 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.

  • TCU, Baylor battling to become top team in Big 12

    Week 6 was upset Saturday for college football. For the first time since 1990, four of the top six teams in the country lost.
     
    Among those six was the Oklahoma Sooners, who lost to TCU 33-37 Saturday afternoon.
     
    Going into the game, we knew that TCU’s defense was tough, and the Horned Frogs played close to the Sooners throughout the game. This loss will set back Oklahoma’s plans for making this year’s college football playoff.
     
    Now, there are two new Big 12 unbeatens at the top of the heap, Baylor and TCU. The Horned Frogs are 4-0 and have moved to number 9 in the nation after the big win this weekend over Oklahoma.
     
    The good news is, we won’t have to hold our breath for very long before we find out who the top team in the Big 12 is.
     
    The Horned Frogs will travel to Waco this weekend to face off with the No. 5 Bears in what will be one of the decisive matchups in the Big 12 this season.
     
    After stumbling in the first half, the Bears were able to pull away from Texas last weekend for a 28-7 win in Austin. Now they will have to face another tough opponent in TCU.
     
    If Baylor hopes to win, the Bears cannot struggle in the first half as they did against Texas. TCU has a dynamic offense and a defense that is better than average.
     
    I give the nod to Baylor due to the home field advantage. Regardless of the outcome, the winner of this one will vault to the top of the Big 12, and have a strong shot at a spot in this year’s playoff.
     
    It seems that at this point in the year Oklahoma, Baylor, and TCU have separated themselves at the top of the conference. These three are reminiscent of the 2008 three-way-tie in the Big 12 between Texas, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech.
     
    Keep an eye out for Baylor’s November visit to Norman. That game will still have major conference implications.
     
    TCU and Baylor will kick off this Saturday at 2:30 p.m. central on ABC.
  • James' move to Cleveland more about money than basketball

    ESPN and TNT fended off other TV competitors to retain rights to broadcast NBA games for the next nine years. This deal was a reported 2.66 billion dollars a year by New York Times. The deal is worth nearly 3 times as much as the old deal. So where does this extra money being generated go to?

     

    That’s a question LeBron James and the players association want answered fast. When the NBA went into the lockout in 2011, the owners and players signed a new CBA for five years, so this is set to expire in two more years. Which means there will be plenty of more negotiating between the two sides on where this extra revenue will be going.

     

    The reason James signed only a two year deal with Cleveland had nothing to do with basketball but everything to do with money. James absolutely knew there would be a new TV deal producing much more money. If everything goes accordingly, James and other top free agents will be able to sign longer deals for more money.

     

    This much revenue could open the door to baseball like contracts for the NBA. For example, Albert Pujols signed a 10 year, 240 million dollar deal with the Los Angeles Angels in 2012. However under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, players can only sign a max of five years with their current team, or four years should they choose to sign with another team.  

     

    James realizes how instrumental this can be in terms of players’ ability to capitalize when negotiating contracts. He also understands if the owners and National Basketball Players Association don’t start discussing a potential deal, the NBA could see another long lockout in 2016.


    The reason the lockout lasted 161 days in 2011 was the owners claiming they were losing money. Now with the way NBA franchises have been selling and of course the money produced by this TV deal, no way that argument still stands. Hopefully the fans and certainly the players don’t have to go through another lockout.

  • Fantasy Decision: Week 6 Free Agent Finds

    Every year it happens. But go ahead  and calm down. So what! You’re 2-3, big deal. It’s funny; the world kept on functioning even though you’re under .500.

    Last night your hopes of moving to 3-2 were dashed with the Seahawks D doing absolutely nothing, or Alfred Morris putting up a stinker, or Percy Harvin having three touchdowns called back because of penalties. But your season is not over. Even if you’re 1-4, there’s a reason they play the games (if you’re 0-5, I think fantasy hockey is starting up this week so there’s always that).

    The NFL is unpredictable; you never know what’s going to happen week to week. In the majority of fantasy football leagues, a record over .500 will get you into the playoffs. So look at your 1-4 or 2-3 record and imagine the smile on your face when you’re sneaking into the playoffs with that 7-6 record. So keep reading this article, make the appropriate waiver wire claims, and keep using the same formula you have been. It will all level out over a full season.

    With that, it’s on to everyone’s favorite section: You’re Welcome/Sorry About That…

                      You’re Welcome

    ·       Justin Hunter- My prediction: 6 catches, 71 yards, and a TD Reality: 3 receptions for 99 yards and a TD (15 fantasy points)…You’re welcome

    ·       Steelers D- My prediction: Pick them up and expect double digit points    Reality: 16 fantasy points…You’re welcome

    ·       Eagles D- My prediction: 17 points against, 2 INTs, 4 sacks   Reality: 28 points against, 4 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries, 2 TDs (18 fantasy points)…YOU’RE WELCOME!!!

    Sorry About That

    ·       Joe Flacco- My prediction: 315 yards, 2 touchdowns    Reality: 235 yards, no touchdowns…Sorry about that

    ·       Darrin Reaves- My prediction: 18 carries for 67 yards and a TD  Reality: 11 carries for 35 yards…Sorry about that

    ·       Jace Amaro- My prediction: 6 catches for 63 yards   Reality: 3 catches for 19 yards…..Yeah I’m really sorry about that

    Free Agent Finds

                      Quick reminder, these guys are free agents for a reason, don’t expect a miracle from them. Secondly, the Chiefs and Saints are on bye this week so set your lineup accordingly

    ·       Jake Locker (owned in 2% of leagues)

    o   I’m giving Locker one more shot to prove himself, and the Titans may feel the same way. With a proven backup in Charlie Whitehurst and a rookie they want to see in Zach Mettenberger, Locker needs to improve his play or risk losing his job. The young QB suffered a bruised thumb in Sunday’s loss to the Browns, but assuming he plays, he’s facing a very fantasy friendly defense in the Jaguars. Locker’s got a pretty solid arm and also picks up valuable rushing yards with his feet so he’s someone who could definitely fill in if you’ve got Brees or Alex Smith as your normal starter. Start him this week and pray he finally lives up to the expectations. Prediction: 240 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 INT

    ·       Carson Palmer (6%)

    o   Palmer is pining to get back into the action this week as he recovers from a shoulder injury. And if he does in fact get the start, he couldn’t be coming back into a better situation. RB Andre Ellington is looking like the electric spark he is in the backfield and the Redskins, ranked dead last against the pass, are coming to town. Palmer is an excellent option if he is cleared to play. But if you do go with the veteran, make sure you’ve got a backup ready in case he’s listed as inactive Sunday. Prediction: 273 yards, 2 touchdowns

    ·       Branden Oliver (1%)

    o   Have we seen the second coming of Darren Sproles? It may be a little early to say that, but Oliver certainly looked the part on Sunday taking 19 carries for 114 yards and catching all four of his targets for 68 yards. And don’t forget the two touchdowns he sprinkled in as well. The shifty RB was moved into the starter’s role with Donald Brown going out with a concussion. With Ryan Matthews out for the year and Brown presumably out of the game this week, Oliver looks like a surefire bet to get 20 touches. And with his speed and agility, 20 touches should be plenty to prove his fantasy worth. Facing an Oakland run defense ranked 3rd to last, Oliver has a shot to help out potential MVP Philip Rivers in a game that could be decided at halftime. Prediction: 15 carries, 68 yards and 5 receptions for 43 yards plus one TD

    ·       Rueben Randle (50%)

    o   In three of his last four contests, Randle has either had a touchdown or at least 80 yards receiving. The Giants passing offense is confusing at times with Victor Cruz, Larry Donnell, and now Odell Beckham Jr. all in the mix, but Randle may be the one constant. Through 5 weeks he’s had 40 targets and has had at least 4 receptions each of the last 4 weeks. In week six, Randle gets a matchup with the league-worst Philadelphia Eagles secondary that he will be looking to exploit. In what could turn out to be a high scoring game, Randle figures to be heavily involved.  Prediction: five catches, 61 yards and a TD

    ·       Dwayne Allen (11%)

    o   Allen may be fantasy’s most touchdown-dependent option. In the 4 games he’s had a touchdown this year, Allen has averaged 10 fantasy points a game. But he also had the no-show performance in week 2 where he didn’t even catch a pass. Coby Fleener is going to get more looks and is the starter in Indy. But when Luck is looking for a short yardage/red zone pass catcher, it seems more and more that he’s looking Allen’s way. The young tight end is actually only 1 target behind Fleener on the year so his future seems bright, as he gets more involved. Again, you’re betting on a touchdown if you start Allen and that may be tough against a Texans D that has only allowed 1 touchdown to tight ends this year. However, I see the Colts attempting to establish the middle of the field with their tight ends and running backs on TNF, so an Allen TD isn’t out of the question. Prediction: 3 catches for 32 yards and a TD

    ·       Packers D/ST (8%)

    o   My sneaky steal of the week is the Packers defense. Coming off a dominant TNF performance, Green Bay’s defense will be well rested and have had plenty of time to study Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins offense. Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers is going to draw up some interesting looks against the young A&M product and I think the defense really, really succeeds. The Miami O-line has already given up 9 sacks in 4 games (They had their bye week last week). Expect that number to keep shooting up. Prediction: 14 points against, 3 sacks, 2 INTs

    ·       Titans D/ST (1%)

    o   The Titans have this week’s lovely matchup, facing the hopeless Jaguars. Fantasy defenses have feasted on the Jags so far this season, scoring double digits all 5 weeks. The trend is likely to continue Sunday in Tennessee. Although they haven’t looked stellar thus far, the secondary has collected 6 interceptions in 5 weeks, including 3 in week 10 against the Chiefs. Rookie QB Blake Bortles has thrown 2 interceptions in three consecutive games. All this adds up to the perfect storm for the Titans. Prediction: 17 points against, 3 INTs, 1 forced fumble, 3 sacks

    ·       ***Staying ahead of the curve***

    o   Pick up the Browns D if you have an extra roster spot. Playing against the Jaguars next week, the Browns will be projected double points in every league. So if you’ve got the space, be sure to make this add this week and you can thank me next week.

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

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