• 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

  • Predictions on the NHL award winners

    Just as Nostradamus prophesied the end of times (with the help of misinterpretations and mistranslations by us), I will skillfully predict the end times of the NHL. 

    No, just kidding. After covering five NHL veterans who will make a big impact with their new teams last week, my NHL season preview will wrap up today with predictions on the award winners of this upcoming season.

    Calder Trophy: Jonathan Drouin, left winger, Tampa Bay Lightning

    Coming into this season, Drouin possesses both hype and a proven track record. While playing with the Halifax Mooseheads in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last year, he scored 29 goals and 79 assists, while proving himself to be an offensive threat. This year, he'll have to prove himself to be capable of producing at the NHL level. I think he'll be able to do that next to All-Star center Steven Stamkos on the first line.

    Selke Award: Patrice Bergeron, center, Boston Bruins

    Bergeron winning another Selke would be no surprise. This award, given to the best two-way forward in the NHL, was won by Bergeron last year. He posted 30 goals and 32 assists while having the best overall season of his career. On a team where some of last season's offensive production was not replaced, Bergeron will have to bear the brunt of the goal scoring. Thanks to this, I foresee him having an even better season than last year with a full-season of Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith on his line.

    Hart Trophy: Sidney Crosby, center, Pittsburgh Penguins

    Despite being regarded as the best player in the league, Crosby has only won two Hart trophies (the NHL's MVP award) through nine NHL seasons. His health has hampered him at times, but his production has not suffered a decline. Last year, he finished with 36 goals and 68 assists, leading the league in both assists and points scored. Crosby's performance and team record (51-24-7) were good enough for Crosby to win his second Hart trophy last year. I think he'll be able to win another this year thanks to good health, continued production at the highest level, and more responsibility as the leading scorer on the Penguins.

    Vezina Trophy: Carey Price, goaltender, Montreal Canadiens

    Along with defenseman P.K. Subban, Carey Price was integral to the Canadiens (and the Canadians in the Olympics) success last season. He had his best statistical season last year with a .927 save percentage and a 2.32 goals against average. While I don't think he'll surpass those numbers, thanks to continued high production on a great team, he'll get more recognition as a top goaltender. 

    Norris Trophy: Drew Doughty, defenseman, Los Angeles Kings

    Through Doughty's six NHL seasons, he has four top-10 finishes for the Norris Trophy. But this year, I'm predicting he'll finally get over the hump and win the trophy for himself. Last season, Doughty's performance as an offensive-minded defenseman was integral to the Los Angeles Kings' Stanley Cup win. He held his own and proved that defensemen don't need gaudy offensive statistics to be hugely effective for their team. Thanks to Doughty's incredible 2014 performance in the Stanley Cup playoffs, he'll have the momentum necessary to be recognized as the top defenseman in the NHL.

    Stanley Cup: Boston Bruins

    Last season, the Bruins were defeated by the Montreal Canadiens in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. For the winners of the President's Trophy (the NHL's best regular season team), being knocked out of the playoffs so early was a disappointment. Due to salary cap constraints, the Bruins were unable to retain right winger Jarome Iginla and were forced to trade defenseman Johnny Boychuk this off-season. However, I think the Bruins will come back strong this year thanks to their Holy Trinity (center Patrice Bergeron, defenseman Zdeno Chara, and goaltender Tuukka Rask) and a weak Eastern Conference.

  • Longhorns look to rebuild team through offensive line commits

    Following a season in which the Longhorns failed to win more than nine games for the fourth year in a row, culminating in a 30-7 defeat against Oregon in the Holiday Bowl, new head coach Charlie Strong came into the offseason looking to bolster its program in a multitude of ways.

    For Strong, one key way to improve the program was to upgrade the talent level coming to the team. In an increasingly competitive state featuring vastly improved programs such as Baylor and Texas A&M, Strong focused on building the team through the offensive line in his recruitment of the Class of 2015.

    Currently, the Longhorns have 17 commits for the Class of 2015, five of those commits being offensive linemen. This is the highest number of offensive line commits the Longhorns have had in four years. The five commits on the offensive-line -- offensive tackles Connor Williams, Ronnie Major and Toby Weathersby and offensive guards Patrick Vahe and Garrett Thomas -- will come to a Texas team that has recently seen mass changeover on its offensive line in the first year of the Strong era. 

    Of the changes at offensive line, the first came during the season opener, in which senior center Dominic Espinosa broke his ankle during a 38-7 Longhorns win. Prior to the injury, Espinosa was viewed as the anchor of the Texas offensive line -- and the Texas offense as a whole -- as Espinosa had started 40 consecutive games for the Longhorns, dating back to the beginning of the 2011 season. 

    After the departure of Espinosa, the offensive line was dealt another blow when Strong suspended senior offensive tackle Desmond Harrison and junior offensive tackle Kennedy Estelle for violating team rules. Estelle was eventually dismissed from the team on Sept. 23, making him the ninth Longhorn dismissed from the team during Strong’s tenure as head coach. 

    The injury to Espinosa and the dismissal of Estelle dealt large blows to an inexperienced Longhorns offensive line, that minus Espinosa had only nine career starts coming into the season. With an offensive line that has lacked any true sense of cohesion thus far, the Longhorns are  currently ranked 106th in the nation in points per game, averaging under 16 points per game in their last three contests.

    For a Longhorns offense that has struggled to move the ball both on the ground and through the air, a revamped offense can be expected for the 2015 season. The addition of the five offensive line commits will be an integral part of that revamped offense, and their ability to play together as a cohesive unit will be vital to the Longhorns hopes of returning to the top of the Big 12 in years to come. 

  • Early look at the College Football Playoffs

    When a giant sequoia falls in Northern California, and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound? I’d be willing to bet it does, and a pretty loud sound at that.

    On Thursday, the Oregon Ducks fell at home to the Arizona Wildcats, making it the second straight loss to Arizona in two seasons. Unfortunately for the Ducks, many were around to see and hear them fall from their number two ranking.
     
    With Oregon’s loss, the likelihood of having four unbeaten playoff contenders is starting to get very, very slim.
     
    There are now several possibilities for this year’s college football playoff that many had not anticipated earlier this season. With Oregon’s defeat, the number of possible undefeated teams from the Pac-12 dwindled to one, UCLA, until Saturday night when the Bruins fell to Utah. 
     
    The SEC West is by far the most competitive division in college football, boasting Auburn, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State with undefeated records. However,  only one team out of that group can make it to the SEC Championship.
     
    The Big Ten will likely not have an undefeated squad, leaving Florida State, and two Big 12 schools, TCU and Baylor, at the top of the totem poll now that the Horned Frogs took down undefeated Oklahoma.
     
    This year’s matchup between TCU and Bears just got a lot more serious. It has a large chance of guaranteeing the winner a spot in the college football playoff, provided that the winner can stay undefeated outside of the anticipated matchup.
     
    With Texas struggling and Oklahoma State without it’s top quarterback, J.W. Walsh, two major contenders have been moved aside in this year’s run for the Big 12. I’m not discounting these teams’ ability to pull an upset, but their chances to win the conference are unlikely.
     
    The Baylor and TCU control their future. The quest to stay perfect starts now.

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