George Hill: Too fragile for any real fantasy NBA upside

 

Pacers PG George Hill should be avoided in standard fantasy basketball formats as his fantasy basketball upside is limited by his inability to stay on the court. Hill has played in just 15 games as he has battled injuries all season long and cannot be expected to stay healthy enough to produce consistently.

Hill has been plagued with a groin injury for most of the season and has recently been nursing a bum leg. Despite having his minutes limited, he's still not been able to battle back from his nagging injuries. The other problem is that the underwhelming Pacers roster cannot alleviate the pressure in order to ease him back into action.

One of the better NBA players in Indiana, PF David West, could be on the move before the trade deadline, leaving George Hill with even more of a workload to take on. The guard's scoring is up 3.8 PPG (from 10.3 to 14.1) from a season ago, but his sample size is too small to suggest he can put up decent numbers every game. 

Hill is coming off a good performance against the Pelicans, putting up 17 points and 9 assists, so now might be the right time to convince another fantasy NBA owner to take the bait and strike a deal. It's only a matter of time before one of his injuries becomes re-aggravated and he misses time yet again.

Stay tuned to ASL for the most updated fantasy basketball news and advice!

Nick Foles is one of the most polarizing figures in the league right now

 

QB Fantasy Football News -

There's so much news swirling around Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, it's almost impossible to keep it all straight. Seeing that I am the world’s foremost expert on all things Nick Foles, there's no doubt that you’d like my take on the almost-trade for Josh Gordon with Cleveland.

Add to that, Xavier Cromartie’s current prediction in his CFM Mock Draft 3.0 that the Titans will trade the pick to Philly in exchange for Nick Foles (and now other Mock Drafters are following suit)…and now we got a lot of Foles-based chatter to discuss.

I know, I write a lot about Foles, but is there any other player in the NFL who is such a lightning rod right now? The two main QB-based stories from the 2015 NFL Draft right now are: (1) Jameis Winston v. Marcus Mariota. (2) Will Philly move up for Mariota? If Philly is moving up after Mariota, then Foles is likely on the move—which sets off a whole chain of events in the NFL, and Dynasty-Fantasy Football 2015.  

First, I want to tackle the Gordon for Foles info…

I have to start by saying Mike Lombardi is now my new favorite football mind in all the NFL. Lombardi came out of working on the media side of things after 5+ years to become the GM for Cleveland in 2013. He fought with Norv Turner over Brian Hoyer v. Brandon Weeden…and he was right (Hoyer). He fought with the owner (who is as bad as they get), and got fired—onus points in my book. He swindled Indy for a #1 pick in exchange for Trent Richardson (which everyone hated for the Browns at the time, except me and a few others, and now that trade is sheer genius). He jumped to the Patriots in early 2014, after his unceremonious firing by the Browns—and ‘ta da’, the Pats befuddle experts by taking Jimmy Garoppolo, who is a thousand-times better than the football media’s preferred QB prospects:  Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles.

…and he almost dumped Josh Gordon in exchange for Nick Foles to begin 2013.

We have to analyze the timing here…

Before the 2013 season, no one in the football media really liked or cared about Nick Foles. He relieved the disaster that was Michael Vick (who helped get Andy Reid fired), and played well for a cold rookie to end the 2012 campaign. Despite the encouraging finish, Foles was mostly ignored—by the media and his own coaches (as Vick would earn the start for 2013…but not for long).

Before the 2013 season, Josh Gordon had not ‘broken out’ yet. He was flashing at year’s end 2012, but was going to begin the 2013 season suspended for a few games—he was a talented, troubled enigma at the time of the Foles-Gordon offer. It was about halfway into 2013, where Gordon exploded to a superstar status. Lombardi knew what most did not, and still do not want to face—Gordon was a pending train wreck. Lombardi was rumored to be in attempts to trade Gordon multiple times that season.

A very savvy personnel man (Lombardi) was trying to swipe Nick Foles, but Philly denied him. You might interpret that as “Ohhh, Philly really likes Foles then!” I’m not so sure. I think that was a low-point to nab Foles. Philly loved them some Michael Vick (which was brilliant), and they just draftedMatt Barkley (like I said then—disaster). If they loved Foles back then, they sure had a funny way of showing it.

The non-deal was more likely a fear of Josh Gordon, and the fact (as I have been railing), there are no trades made in the NFL…because most GMs are frightened creatures, if that were not so, there would be deals happening all over—like in all the other major sports. Lombardi tried to make it happen, but I’m sure Philly’s recently bounced GM, and his 2012 stated desire for Kirk Cousins overNick Foles, was not ‘confident’ enough to make a deal.

The fate of the Cleveland Browns under Lombardi, with the Gordon and Richardson trades, could have been special. Instead, the new Browns GM (Ray Farmer) is about to get harshly penalized for rules violations, and the genius owner is looking at mega-busts with his two first-round picks from 2014.

Which leads me to my next thought: Nick Foles will NOT be traded this year.

Again, go back to my rule of NFL GMs as ‘scared puppies’. No team is going to step up big for Nick Foles, because they all, by and large, follow the media–which controls the majority of vocal fans…and the media discounts Foles, thus so do the vocal fans…thus the majority of NFL GMs, with no conviction, will not buck the media—because if they are wrong, the media/fans will crucify them. It takes a bold GM to make a Foles deal, but bold, confident, ‘not afraid of being fired’ GMs are not likely needing to overtrade for a franchise QB…because they probably got one already. Mike Lombardi doesn’t need Nick Foles in New England. Only crappy franchises that keep striking out at the QB spot need Foles, but those junk teams with junk GMs wouldn’t know a real QB from a hole in the ground…thus they’ll keep chasing…or deferring to the Head Coach for picks like Blaine Gabbert, and Jake Locker, and Blake Bortles, and E.J. Manuel, etc. a.k.a. the media’s preferred fantasy QBs.

Even the places where a Foles fit is very logical, a trade at this time doesn’t make sense. Philly trading with St. Louis, doesn’t help them get high enough to take Mariota. If a team were going to make a big run at Foles, and if he were truly on the open market—a deal would have happened by now. A team desperately wanting Foles cannot wait—there is no real ‘plan-B’ franchise QB just sitting out there. If Philly wants to trade Foles in order to bring in Mariota…they cannot deal with most teams who would might want Foles (STL, BUF, NYJ)…it leaves them too short of where Mariota is likely being picked.

It would take brass balls mixed with desperation mixed with genius to make a Foles deal with Tampa or Tennessee…because those two franchises do not possess any of those three attributes. I just think Tennessee and Tampa are horribly run, and wouldn’t possibly see Foles as an answer at all.

Really, the only logical time for Philly to make a deal is when they know Marcus Mariota will be available…and he may not be at #2. So unless Tampa wants Foles, we won’t see a Foles deal (if it happens) until draft day. Tampa may want Jameis Winston, but one more character hit surfaces, and he’s falling out of the 1st-round. Tampa may be forced into taking Mariota because Winston’s draft his stock plummets (which I think might happen). If Philly preemptively traded up to #2 today, as Xavier Cromartie and others are speculating, only to see Mariota gone at #1…then what? Especially, if it took Foles being traded away to move up. Philly cannot wake up with Matt Barkley as their starter. Foles only goes in a deal if Mariota is absolutely in hand. It’s too early to figure that out yet—unless Tampa bites, and trades the #1 overall.

**Fantasy Football Metrics and College Football Metrics IDP Dynasty (three-year) projections now exist on the Fantasy Football Management technology: “The Machine.” See “The Machine” here (link): The Machine via FFM

Many have asked me: “What’s Foles’ Fantasy Football value on a deal to Tennessee (or wherever)?”

As a pro-Foles ‘in every way imaginable for Dynasty/Fantasy’ guy, I want Foles gone from Philly for three reasons:

1) I think if he stays in Philly, they will eat him (and Chip Kelly) alive. Philly’s vocal fans (a.k.a. the local media and conventional wisdom) want Pontius Pilate to free Barabbas, and to crucify Jesus. Unless, Foles stays, and wins a Super Bowl in the 2015-16 season, there will always be complaining…and it’s about to become deafening on Chip Kelly. If I were Nick Foles’ agent, I would take out a huge insurance policy, and play without the worry of a new contract in 2015 (whether as a starter or on the bench behind whomever for Philly).

I’d then have my client Foles become a coveted free agent in 2016. We would leave Philly no matter what. There is no joy to be found there.

So I hope for Foles sake he is traded…soon.

**See the 2015 NFL Draft and 2015 Dynasty Rookie Draft, like never before with our Moneyball-style scouting reports and rankings. Go to www.collegefootballmetrics.com **

2) I think if a team trades for Foles now, it’s an ‘all-in’ deal. They are banking their future on him. A commitment is being made…which is a much better work environment than being vilified at every turn by your home-town fans. I want Foles to go where he is wanted.

3) So much is made of Chip Kelly’s Offense ‘making QBs’, which is funny since Michael Vick, Matt Barkley, and Mark Sanchez have all pretty well sucked royally. Only one QB among them nearly broke NFL efficiency records, and has a huge winning percentage as a starter, along with a better thanAndrew Luck career TD-to-INT ratio (2.7-to-1 vs. 2.0-to-1)…and we hate that guy, apparently.

Guess what?

I think the Chip Kelly Offense is all wrong for Nick Foles. I mean, Foles is great so he can almost set NFL records in it and all, but I see him much better in a traditional down field passing game. Just let him sit back and pick apart the defense vs. all the trickeration screen passes, and fake hand-offs, etc.

Nick Foles was made for Bruce Arians’s passing game. He actually works in Norv Turner’s offense as well. There are many places Foles could flourish—I was long-shot hoping Peyton retired, and Foles would wind up in Denver.

The main point is: Foles is not a Chip Kelly story. We may even find out Chip Kelly was more aNick Foles story than anyone wanted to believe (a la Belichick-Brady).

15-4 record (78.9%) = Nick Foles as the starter (or main snap QB) for Chip Kelly in the NFL

  5-8 record (38.4%) = NOT Nick Foles as the starter (or main snap QB) for Chip Kelly in the NFL

Mike Lombardi making a move for Nick Foles…it shows there was some general interest before Foles exploded in 2013. I don’t know why there would be less interest in Foles today after all he has accomplished under the circumstances the past two seasons. Foles is going to be fine whatever happens. Just sit back and enjoy the show.

For Fantasy Football QB news purposes, I think Foles works on any NFL team, obviously some teams have better weapons and lines than others, but by and large, I think Foles is one of the top NFL QB in-waiting and he’ll have Fantasy value wherever. He is an experienced, established, high-functioning passer…who will only get better. I’d love him on any team, with Philly becoming my least favorite option.

For more QB fantasy news, stay tuned to Fantasy Focus!

R.C. Fischer is an NFL Draft analyst for College Football Metrics.com, and a football projections analyst and writer for Fantasy Football Metrics.com. He is also a lead writer for ‘Play The Draft.com’. His group also provides player projections for Advanced Sports Logic’s football software “The Machine.” See “The Machine” here: The Machine via FFM

 

Patience is running short for Jrue Holiday fantasy basketball owners  

 

Basketball News

Pelicans PG Jrue Holiday may be close to returning from a 16-game absence and fantasy owners are praying that he's worth the wait. Owners in most fantasy NBA leagues are hoping he can provide some kind of spark during the second half of the season. 

If he returns, Holiday could also provide a major lift for a Pelicans team that only trails Phoenix by a game and half for the final playoff spot in the West. Holidays' presence on the offensive end has been severely missed, and his return could give the Pelicans the boost they need to make a significant run.

Holiday has very impressive statistics when he's on the floor, averaging 15.2 PPG, 7.1 APG and 3.5 APG in 37 appearances. His ability makes him an important asset for any basketball organization, but his role may have changed since he went out with an injury.

He had been their facilitator, but it seems that Tyreke Evans has solidified himself as the primary ball handler and distributor. Evans is averaging 7.9 assists, in addition to 16.6 points and 5.3 rebounds after taking over at point guard for his injured teammate (9-7 in the stretch). 

Due to Evans' thriving in the PG role, Holiday may have to become more of a scorer, similar to the way NBA players such as PG Kyrie Irving has given up some of his ball-handling duties to SF LeBron James in Cleveland. With his quickness and long-range jump-shot, he could be seeing a decent rise in points per game. Expect Holiday to be getting more looks than before he went down to injury, and possibly a reduction in assists per game.

Jrue Holiday is worth an add in standard fantasy basketball formats if he's still available, and is a great buy-low candidate as his production is sure to be solid in points, assists and threes.

 

Whether he plays again or not, Wes Welker has cemented his legacy

 

WR Fantasy Football News -

It's not exactly breaking WR fantasy news that Wes Welker has been arguably the best wide receiver in the slot during the last ten years in the NFL. Of course, he's had the great fortune of having Tom Brady and Peyton Manning throwing him passes for a majority of his career. With 890 receptions, Welker is now 20th on the all time receiving list for receptions.

With his 34th birthday on the horizon, the free agent is strongly considering retiring due to his history of concussions and having caught just 49 passes this past season. Welker will likely be playing for a fourth team if he does not retire and he has to ask himself if he wants to risk another concussion to play football for a team that doesn't have a future Hall of Famer under center. 

The only way fantasy WR stud Welker will remain in Denver is if he takes a significant pay cut to sign a one year deal and if Peyton Manning decides to return for a final season or two. It's looking like Manning will return for at least one more year and Welker may want to take one final shot at a Super Bowl ring before he hangs up the cleats.

Even if Manning comes back, it's a long shot that Welker will remain in Denver. He's likely to hang up his cleats unless he can find a one-year home for a title contender such as Seattle or a team with a Pro Bowl quarterback like Tony Romo or Matt Stafford.  

However, given his age and concussion history, him playing at all would be a surprise for next season.

For the latest in WR news, keep reading ASL!

Tobias Harris should put up monster numbers after the All-Star break

 

In recent basketball news, Magic forward Tobias Harris sat out the last two games with a knee injury, but is in no danger of missing any more time after All-Star Weekend. Harris was just starting to put together a solid streak of impressive performances, so fantasy basketball owners had to look elsewhere for temporary production in his absence, but they have nothing to worry about in reference to his availability.

Harris has been tearing it up as of late, averaging 22.5 points, 6 boards and 3.25 assists per game over his last four games played. His knee injury does not seem to be holding him back, and once he's truly healthy, he should be unstoppable. With Elfrid Payton gaining confidence and spreading the floor well, Harris should continue to get more opportunities to put up points.

Tobias Harris is having his best season as a pro, posting averages of 17.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal per contest. The 22-year-old stretch forward is one of many young players on the Orlando Magic roster, but seems to have the most upside with his athleticism and ability to score from anywhere on the court.

The Magic are currently sport a 17-39 record, and are a long shot to make the playoffs as they are 7 games behind the 8th seeded Miami Heat. If they have any chance to at least make it close, along with C Nikola Vucevic, Orlando will have to lean on Tobias Harris to make late-game shots and big plays down the stretch.

It's not as though Tobias Harris is a buy-low candidate due to his recent play, but his potential to continue to improve makes him worth the hefty investment. He is holding mid-round fantasy NBA value, but could become one of the top 60 NBA players during the second half of the season. 

With more focus on play calling, the Packers offense could soar to new heights

 

Green Bay Head Coach Mike McCarthy is giving up the reins of offensive play calling. That has to be blasphemy right?

McCarthy came to the decision just weeks after the Packers melted down against the Seahawks. Now the questions shifts to who will start calling the shots in Green Bay. Packer’s offensive coordinator Tom Clements would be the likely candidate to take on this role.  This could have significant NFL fantasy implications.

Giving up this much control will be a tough pill to swallow for McCarthy who has helped mold Green Bay into an offensive power house. It seems that some players and coaching staff questioned the urgency and effectiveness of his play calling during the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship game. Rodgers even said, “When you go back and think about it, at times we weren’t playing as aggressively as we usually do.”

It would seem that the play calling is not the issue in Green Bay. Via Football-Reference.com, Green Bay has finished in the top 10 in eight out of the nine seasons. We could name about 95% of the other teams in the NFL that would kill for that type of productivity.

Regardless of the success McCarthy has had in the past, it seems that change is imminent. One plus of this change is that McCarthy will acquire new features of the head coaching job other than play calling. Green Bay fans shouldn’t be too worried by this change. The bad news for opposing defenses is that with the reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers at the helm and more focus on play calling, the Green Bay offense could develop into something even more lethal, both on the gridiron and for fantasy football teams.

For the latest on NFL player news, keep reading Fantasy Focus!

 

With his laundry list of character issues, Jameis Winston is a top-flight draft risk

 

I recently had an opportunity to interview the best player/trader in the ‘Play The Draft’ (PTD) universe (and arguably the most astute Mock Drafter in the world)—Xavier Cromartie.

Xavier won the coveted 2014 Senior Bowl prize package, despite joining two weeks after the PTD contest began, and also beginning $1M+ behind the leaders (everyone starts with a $12M amount to trade with). He ended up winning the Senior Bowl Challenge by $350,000+. He joined a second public PTD league for fun…and won that by $2.6M+.

Xavier Cromartie…is the team to beat” in ‘Play The Draft’ 2015.

Do you think Xavier was just lucky in his NFL Draft knowledge in 2014? In 2007, which was the last time ESPN had a big-time sponsored Mock Draft contest, he won that too. What did he win? An all-expense paid trip to Bristol, CT for an ESPN tour, and lunch with Trey Wingo. Oh yeah, plus he won a Hummer H3 (the contest was sponsored by Hummer). In 2005, he narrowly missed ESPN’s top prize in the same contest.

Xavier Cromartie is the ‘Oracle of Play The Draft’, which doesn’t roll off the tongue, and may be copyright infringement from Warren Buffett, so I will dub him: “The Prophet of PTD.” The ‘Prophet’ and I, had a chance to discuss his 2014 ‘Play The Draft’ experience, and look ahead to 2015…

RC: How did you find ‘Play The Draft’, initially?

Xavier: I first competed in ‘Play The Draft’ in 2013. A friend tweeted a link to it. I knew instantly that I wanted to play it. Unfortunately, I heard about the game only a week or so before the draft, but it gave me a chance to learn the rules. I remember that I had some big moneymakers that year. The biggest was D.J. Hayden, who went from not being in the first round to possibly being the Raiders’ pick at #3 overall. I missed on Ryan Nassib, and the false-rumored Doug Marrone connection at pick #8 overall. I guess I never expected a team to take E.J. Manuel with their 1st-pick because “he had the biggest hands.” I remember being annoyed by that pick, because in my final mock draft that year, I had the Rams trading up to #8 overall for Tavon Austin and the Bills getting a QB at #16… Except that QB was Nassib instead of Manuel.

RC: Would you call yourself and active trader in PTD? Did you deal every day, or content to sit and hold…or a blend of both?

Xavier: I analyzed my team daily, and made changes if it made sense to do so. Thankfully, PTD does not have the 24-hour, real-time nature of most markets, and so there’s enough time to trade without missing out on the moves.

RC: How often do you check on your PTD account in season? If ‘every day’, how early—like first thing? I ask because, out of nowhere, the first thing I did each day was click my account to find out what happened overnight. I had to know! Did you get like that as well?

Xavier: I signed-in twice per day, usually. I checked in the morning to see how the numbers changed. But more importantly, I scrolled down for the daily R.C. Fischer article. No one on Earth could be a better representative for PTD. I remember reading your first article and being immediately intrigued. “Finally, someone who thinks the way I do.” I hadn’t heard of you before then, but soon afterward I was reading everything on Fantasy Football Metrics and College Football Metrics as well. Anyway, I absorbed information throughout the day, and then devoted some time at night to determining whether I should make any changes to my fund. 

RC: Would you say that playing PTD helped/forced you to follow more prospects across the board—that you otherwise wouldn’t have (like Guards, etc.)…or were you already ‘way into’ the NFL Draft, and followed them anyway?

Xavier: With or without PTD, I start to lose interest in the draft/prospects once we get into round four. But PTD requires me to pay a lot more attention to the potential second/third round prospects than I otherwise would. Why do I do it? I’m not really a die-hard football lover or follower of any team or fan of the players. I love the football-related challenge. I was born to do analysis. My university degree is in philosophy, and I have many years of experience in using technical analysis to trade markets. Analyzing the NFL Draft is a perfect match for my talents. You can’t really program a computer to do it like in chess, because it’s more than pure calculation; it requires human understanding.

RC: When you think back on 2014: Who would you look back and remember fondly as your best play and one of your top fantasy sleeper picks? Who would you look back at 2014 with scorn—what player hurt you with a big loss, or never got the heat you hoped for?

Xavier: The three big moneymakers in the weeks leading up to the draft (and my gains) were Cody Latimer (+100%), Joel Bitonio (+75%), and Tom Savage (+40%). On draft day, I banked onJaWuan James (+180%) to go to Miami and Dominique Easley (+110%) to go to New England in round one. My biggest regret is that I took out Marcus Smith (+150%) for draft day after holding him for weeks. I knew that Smith had a chance to go late round one, but I had to make room for players who had what I thought were better probabilities. 

There’s one particular loss that still haunts and confuses me: Martavis Bryant (-30%). I thought that if Pittsburgh didn’t take this much-needed, tall red-zone threat at #46 overall then there would be plenty of other potential landing spots in the mid-to-late second round. He fell to pick #118 overall. Remember that Stephen Hill was taken with pick #43 purely on athleticism in 2012. The Jets had two fourth-round picks in 2014, and they passed on Bryant twice for WRs Jalen Saunders andShaq Evans. So they were purposefully attempting not to repeat the mistake they made with Hill. In other words, they think that drafting an athletic marvel should be avoided at all costs. Are you kidding me? Jalen Saunders is 165-pound WR with nowhere near Dri Archer/Tavon Austin’s speed. At that weight, he better run a 4.1 if he’s going to play in the NFL. The Jets already waived him in September. Meanwhile, Bryant scored 9 TDs in 11 games as a rookie.

RC: Who do you think the lightning rod player will be in 2015—the guy who’s price goes high-low-high and all over because of rumors and diversions, etc.?

Xavier: The first thing that comes to mind when you talk about volatility has to be quarterbacks. So many QBs who were mocked as the first overall pick early in the process ended up plunging, likeJimmy Clausen, Geno Smith, Matt Barkley, Teddy Bridgewater, and Jonathan Football. You could pick either Bridgewater or Manziel as the most volatile guy last year. Other major causes of volatility are character concerns (Isaiah Crowell, Da’Rick Rogers, Colt Lyerla) and medical red flags (Da’Quan Bowers, Jamar Taylor, Jesse Williams).

This year, the glaringly obvious choice for volatility is Jameis Winston, a QB with character concerns. Another obvious choice is WR Dorial Green-Beckham, who also has character concerns. We can throw in RB Todd Gurley as well because of his torn ACL. One prospect with some genuine intrigue is WR Sammie Coates. I cannot wait to see what numbers he puts up at the NFL Combine. We know his athleticism will be spectacular, but everyone rails on his catching ability.

End.

**See the 2015 NFL Draft and 2015 Dynasty Rookie Draft, like never before with our Moneyball-style scouting reports and rankings. Go to www.collegefootballmetrics.com 

Thanks to Xavier for giving me some time to pick his brain on fantasy football keepers and NFL fantasy sleepers!

Do you think you can take down the “Prophet of PTD” Xavier Cromartie in 2015?

You have your chance now—Xavier has been bouncing between #1-2 rank in the PTD 2015 ‘FRX Insiders’ contest from the day it opened, and is getting ready to crush spirits in the Fantasy Football Metrics contest starting 2/9. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of other contests available that he will not be in–if you’d like to avoid him…which is probably a wise move. However, I’m thick-headed, and looking forward to trying to defeat the PTD Prophet in my own contest!

You can join as many PTD contests as you wish—so come join the war with me, or just laugh at me as I get humiliated trying to knock off Xavier (who is about 100+ spots ahead of me right now—I’m pacing myself)! It’s never too late to join the race in ‘Play The Draft’, so come along for the ride—you will enjoy the NFL Draft process like never before, I promise!

A new season of “Play The Draft” has begun. Play The Draft’ website 

R.C. Fischer is an NFL Draft analyst for College Football Metrics.com, and a football projections analyst and writer for Fantasy Football Metrics.com. He is also a lead writer for ‘Play The Draft.com’. His group also provides player projections for Advanced Sports Logic’s football software “The Machine.” See “The Machine” here: The Machine via FFM

DeMarco Murray silenced all of his critics by capturing his first NFL Rushing Title

 

RB Fantasy Football News

The NFL's 2015 free agent class reads more like a who's who in fantasy football, but what team these players end up on can most definitely impact and shape each player's fantasy value.

One of the top free agents coming into the 2015 season is Cowboys WR Dez Bryant. The high-profile wideout had a remarkable season, finishing first in receiving touchdowns with 16 and 8th in receiving yards with 1,320. Bryant helped guide Dallas to the playoffs, as the Cowboys sported an impressive 12-4 record. Bryant is most certainly set to sign a contract that puts him among the top 10 highest-paid wide receivers in the NFL and it appears that the Cowboys will be the team to get the job done. With Tony Romo still at the helm of the fast-paced Cowboys offense, Bryant should be poised to have another remarkable season, and he could easily be drafted as a top 3 wide receiver for next season.

Dez Bryant's Cowboys teammate and bell cow fantasy RB, DeMarco Murray, is also available as a free agent. Whether or not the Cowboys can bring him back to Dallas is a HUGE question mark. Murray paced the league with 1,845 rushing yards, out gaining the second leading rusher, Le'Veon Bell by nearly 500 yards.

In RB news, Murray proved all the doubters wrong as he was able to endure various injuries, and take on a workload that consisted of 392 carries on the year, missing no games in the process. His ability to take the field during every game will no doubt make him an appealing tailback on the open market. It's nearly impossible to determine where this talented halfback will land, but regardless, he should be drafted as top 5 option as he has proven his ability to put together a complete season.

Another wide receiver on the market that should be monitored closely is the highly-talented Demaryius Thomas. Thomas finished second in the league by racking 1,619 receiving yards, adding 11 touchdowns as well. He ended the regular season on a hot streak as he put up 115 receiving yards or more in 2 of his last 4 games in the regular season, and should be seen as a candidate to replicate those numbers, no matter what team he winds up on.  

Thomas is most definitely a very valuable asset for the Broncos moving forward, and they will do all they can to keep him in Denver. He might require a franchise tag to keep in the city, but that might be necessary as he should be a hot commodity if left open to the market as a clear-cut top 3 receiver. Thomas has shown the ability to breakout on a weekly basis, and should be drafted as a high-end number one wideout in all fantasy formats.

Demaryius Thomas' teammate Julius Thomas (no relation) is also set to his the free agency market, and will be heavily targeted as a difference-amker at the tight end position. Despite missing 3 games due to various injuries, Thomas was able to secure 12 touchdowns, tying for first for his position with Chargers TE Antonio Gates, and Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski.

If Thomas makes it to the free market, without retaining his position with the Denver Broncos, his position should remain in demand as an athletic stretch tight end with the ability to make defenses struggle in opposition. His only downfall is his inability to block for the running game, but his offensive possibilities should trump his deficiencies against the run. His overall snap count may diminish ever so slightly depending on his landing spot, but he should still see enough targets to retain his place in the top 3 tight ends in the league.

The last free agent to discuss is Lions DE Ndamukong Suh, and his landing spot is of optimal importance. The Lions finished second in the league in allowing 300.9 total yards per game, and their success can be attributed to Suh's presence on a weekly basis. Since he has had difficulty with his temper, and has dealt with multiple disciplinary issues, he might have seen his last day as a member of the Detroit Lions. That being said, the defense of whatever team he joins is certain to see an increase in dependability, and in performance against both the run and the pass. Be sure to monitor Suh's status on the market, as he can personally influence a team's defensive performance simply by being present.

Stay tuned with ASL's RB fantasy news all offseason for the most updated info!

The Cleveland Browns fan base has been crushed yet again by bad management and poor decision making

 

It sure seems like a long time ago that the Cleveland Browns were 7-4 atop the AFC North and in control of their division. Cleveland ended the year on a five game losing streak and things have only gotten worse.

Josh Gordon has been in NFL player news for his suspension for a minimum of one year for another violation of the NFL's substance policy and one of their first-round draft picks, Johhny Manziel, checked himself into a treatment facility last week. The Browns also parted ways with their Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan who will now be calling plays in Atlanta and the NFL is investigating the Browns front office for possibly sending text messages to the Browns sidlelines during games this season which the NFL prohibits.  Plenty of fantasy football implications!

Cleveland shocked the NFL by jumping out to their surprise 7-4 start but things are back to normal with Cleveland's future looking anything but bright. Cleveland had two first round draft picks last year. One was "Johnny Football" who couldn't beat out Brian Hoyer for the starting job and when he did get opportunities to play, Manziel played terribly and couldn't stay healthy. Their other first-round pick was the eighth overall pick, Justin Gilbert. Gilbert only started in two games this year and is rumored to be very immature. 

While the near future does not appear to be bright for the Cleveland Browns, they should be competitive for years to come. They got all but one of their wins last year without Josh Gordon and have a good core of young players on both sides of the ball. The Browns have two first-round draft picks again this year so as long as they can get solid production from both picks they should be a respectable team during the 2015-16 season.

Stay tuned to Fantasy Focus for up to date NFL fantasy info!

Chris Matthews was a whisker away from winning the Super Bowl MVP

NFL Fantasy Sleepers and Fantasy Football Keepers - 

Seattle wide receiver Chris Matthews didn't record a single catch during the regular season, but delivered an EPIC performance in the Super Bowl recording 4 receptions for 109 yards and touchdown.

Now Dynasty Diehards in search of those fantasy sleeper picks are clamoring for information wanting to know, “Where the heck did Chris Matthews fall out of the sky from?”

And - “Should I care about him for Dynasty leagues?”

Let’s examine those questions…

*First, note that he was projected and discussed in our 2014 Fantasy Football Draft Guide. In my write up/analysis of his 2014, I began it with: “…more interesting as a deep-deep-deep sleeper for FF with the retirement of Sidney Rice.” So, it’s like I knew this was coming! Kidding. Can you believe it’s almost time to start work on the 2015 Fantasy Football Draft Guide? You’ll be reading it in less than six-months…

**Second, the odds that every radio, TV or print personality who mentions Chris Matthews’ name tomorrow, will make a joke about the talk show host on MSNBC with the same name: it’s 1-to-9. It is the same odds that I will go legally insane about the 3rd-4th time I hear it Monday.

Matthews’s bio notes…

 — Matthews is a legit 6’4”+, and was a high school TE/WR and Defensive End.

 — Matthews became a JUCO star WR…and going the JUCO route due to being academically in eligible for D1 schools.

 — As a Junior, Matthews qualified to join the University of Kentucky, and was a solid SEC WR—playing two years with Randall Cobb (who was then a WR-RB-QB). Matthews was useful as a Junior, but shined a little as a Senior (2010), with 61 catches (4th in the SEC) for 925 yards (6th in the SEC) and 9 receiving TDs (led the SEC).

His big game came against South Carolina as a Senior: 12 catches for 177 yards and 1 TD.

He would be classified as pretty good, but not dominant in his time in the SEC.

 — He was not an NFL Combine invite. At his Pro Day, he ran a 4.6+ 40-time with decent agility, and a below average vertical. He was solid, but not spectacular athletically…thus the following path to the NFL:

 — He went undrafted in 2011 NFL Draft, and had a tryout with the Cleveland Browns, and ultimately was cut before the season began.

 — In 2012, he played in the Arena League with Iowa, and then flipped over to the CFL. In 2012, Matthews was the CFL ‘Most Outstanding Rookie Award’. He posted 81 catches for 1,192 yards and 7 TDs for Winnipeg that season.

 — In 2013, he had a bout with turf toe, and was released by Winnipeg…and thus wound up working at the infamous Foot Locker. If they aren’t on the phone with him right now for an ad deal…

 — He was signed to a future’s contract with Seattle in 2014. He was cut before the season, and then placed on the practice squad. He would later recover the critical onside kick against Green Bay, and then make his first NFL catches in the Super Bowl—winding up with 100+ yards and a TD. He would have been the MVP had Seattle not blown it/lost in the final moments.

**See the 2015 NFL Draft and 2015 Dynasty Rookie Draft, like never before with our Moneyball-style scouting reports and rankings. Go to www.collegefootballmetrics.com **

Fantasy Football 2015 Outlook:

If this entire Seattle WR group is back as-is, then I would get interested in Matthews. He showed an ability to ‘play with the big boys’ on a big stage. He didn’t have a lucky debut. He was physical with DBs, and made some outstanding ‘up for grabs’ catches. He’s a worthy NFL WR…arguably their best red-zone target in 2015—as it stands today.

However, I maintain that Seattle is going to re-do their entire offensive skill position depth chart—all new WRs via draft and free agency, and a possible end of the Marshawn Lynch era. Matthews may maintain a role in that new mix…but likely will not be a featured player. If you don’t believe that Seattle changes things up much at WR in 2015, then Matthews is definitely worth a stash.

…of course, everyone is chasing him now—so good luck.

I wouldn’t go crazy in FF-pursuit. I would claim him (if possible), if I could do so for little-to-nothing, and then deal him away quickly—that would be my main plan. I don’t think there is a mega star here, but in the right situation (a.k.a. a good-great QB and an opening as a 3rd-WR), he is a decent WR and nice red-zone threat. If he gets a chance, he’ll produce solidly.

Would I draft him in the 2015 Dynasty Rookie Draft? Not as highly as someone else is willing to, I’m sure. Is he on my list? Yes. Is he someone I would take in the first couple of rounds–not likely. 

R.C. Fischer is an NFL Draft analyst for College Football Metrics.com, and a football projections analyst and writer for Fantasy Football Metrics.com. He is also a lead writer for ‘Play The Draft.com’. His group also provides player projections for Advanced Sports Logic’s football software “The Machine.” See “The Machine” here: The Machine via FFM