- Tim Haberin - Fantasy Focus
Fantasy Waiver Wire Pickups -
With only a week in the books, you're probably still getting a feel for your MLB fantasy squad. But if you're the proactive type, here are a few waiver wire pickups you might consider to stay ahead of the competition.
Anthony Gose - OF, Detroit Tigers
The young outfielder, traded from Toronto in the offseason, is off to a fast start in Detroit. He has gone 9-for-23 in his first five games with six runs scored, a home run, five RBI, and a stolen base. Though he didn't exactly set the world on fire during his time with the Blue Jays (.633 OPS in three seasons), he was a well-regarded prospect and still has plenty of room to improve at 24 years old. Though you shouldn't expect him to maintain his current pace, batting atop a stacked Tigers lineup should continue to offer him plenty of opportunities to score runs and show off his speed.
Roberto Perez - C, Cleveland Indians
With starting catcher Yan Gomes out 6-8 weeks with a knee sprain, backup Roberto Perez will assume the role for Cleveland. Perez exhibited some solid offense in limited action last season, hitting .271 with five doubles over 29 games. He's enjoyed success in the early going this year as well, with a home run and three RBI in his first eight plate appearances. His plate discipline can use some work (26 strikeouts in 85 at-bats in 2014), but Perez will now have the chance to show what he can do on a regular basis. Gomes owners or those seeking depth at catcher should give Perez a look.
Jed Lowrie - SS, Houston Astros
Lowrie showed some pop in the opening week of 2015, belting two homers in his first six games back with the Astros after returning to the team as a free agent. That's already a third of his total from last year, and although you shouldn't bet on Lowrie turning into a bona fide slugger or anything, he is only two years removed from hitting .290 with 15 HR and 75 RBI for the A's. With offense always at a premium at the middle infield spots, it might be worth your while to take a flyer on a player like Lowrie who's still widely available throughout leagues. He could prove to be one of the better early season fantasy pickups.
Archie Bradley - SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Bradley had a major league debut to remember, limiting a potent Dodgers lineup to one hit over six innings, allowing no runs and striking out six as well. His youth (22 years old) and upside make him an appealing commodity, but he isn't one of those mandatory fantasy pickups. Bradley has exhibited some lack of control, walking four and needing 112 pitches to make it through those six innings. He earned a rotation spot on the strength of his Spring Training, posting a 1.61 ERA and 1.16 WHIP over six spring appearances. Fantasy owners in deeper leagues willing to roll the dice on a back-end rotation piece would do well to pick up Bradley.
C.J. McCollum has been on fire since the beginning of the month and his high level of production should continue despite spraining his ankle. He's putting up solid fantasy basketball numbers in multiple categories and should be counted on to stay hot as the season comes to an end. He could be a great fantasy NBA option going into the home stretch.
McCollum sprained his ankle in Portland's road loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, but the sprain was too petty to even require an MRI, and he should have little restriction in the season finale.
With one game remaining on Portland's schedule, C.J. McCollum will get the start at shooting guard. The Blazers will take on the Dallas Mavericks, and the young scorer should see plenty of action with the myriad of injuries plaguing the Portland squad. The Northwestern division champions will be without Wesley Matthews, Arron Afflalo, and possibly Nicholas Batum as well, leaving major gaps to be filled by McCollum and company.
Before the loss to the Thunder (when McCollum left early due to injury), the 23-year-old guard had strung together 6 straight impressive performances. Over that span, C.J. McCollum posted averages of 18 points and 1.3 threes on 54 FG%, 4.3 rebounds, 2 assists and 1.7 steals per contest. This particular upcoming match up with the Mavericks might be an easy one for McCollum, as they could be without their best NBA players Chandler Parsons, Monta Ellis, Dirk Nowitzki, and Tyson Chandler, as Dallas is already locked in at the 7 seed for the playoffs.
Look for C.J. McCollum to continue his high level of play in a plus match up with the Mavericks, and for him to get some solid run for the playoffs as well.
NFL Player News
The New York Jets are banking on the fact that running back Stevan Ridley will be good to go when training camp kicks off this year. It’s been five months since his knee surgery and many believe that this former fantasy football RB stud can lead a crowded New York backfield.
Ridley's 2014 season got cut short when he tore his ACL and MCL in October playing for the Patriots. His injury dropped his stock in free agency dramatically considering he’s only two years removed from a 1,200 yard, 12 TD season.
Ridley has always had issues with ball security but if he can protect the ball and get back to his old self, he could regain fantasy relevance.
Ridley joins Chris Ivory as the second power-back on the roster. Ridley will need to establish himself in the passing game if he wants to get on the field during third down situations. Ridley has always had success finding the end zone so there is a lot of upside for the Jets.
At 26, Ridley has several good years left in the tank and could end up being the top-dog for Gang Green's backfield this season.
Keep reading for the latest NFL fantasy info!
Derrick Rose's torn meniscus does not seem to be holding him back, as he had little trouble being present in Chicago's comeback win over the Heat Thursday night. Though his numbers may not have been too strong, his athletic movement indicates that he should be able to contribute heavily in the postseason once the rust wears off.
An outsider staring at statistics may see Rose's fantasy NBA performance as subpar, as he scored 12 points on just 5-15 shooting from the field, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 turnovers. However, there were several times where his body language did not mimic that of a broken down scoring guard and has-been one of the best NBA players around.
One play in particular, a give-and-go with C Joakim Noah, gave the audience a glimpse of what Rose is able to do. Rose passed the ball to Noah, cut behind him, then received a pass back and converted with a dunk from the baseline. He looked very agile, and the knee did not seem to be getting in the way of his decision-making.
Should he stay healthy, Derrick Rose could certainly lead the Bulls to at least a conference championship match up, and possibly even a spot in the NBA Finals. It'll be important to monitor Rose's minutes, and ensure his availability for the postseason, so he can play a pivotal role down the stretch.
For the most comprehensive and latest fantasy basketball news, keep reading ASL!
- Greg Pokriki - Fantasy Focus
Fantasy Baseball Sleepers
Tis the season for overreactions, and here is quite possibly yet another. Adam Lind’s first four games with the Brewers are telling of a bigger, looming successful season with true MLB fantasy value.
So far this season, Lind is 8-13 with a HR and four walks. I’m not great at math, but I think that works out to a .615 batting average. You say ridiculously small sample size? I say he’s setting a precedent of being a MLB fantasy difference maker.
Now the question becomes whether or not he can hit 54 home runs register 162 walks with a .600 average over an entire season. The answer of course is no, but that doesn’t eliminate him from having a workman like season worthy of a roster spot on your fantasy team.
In seasons where Lind has played in more than 100 games, he has consistently hit more than 20 home runs, topping out at 35 in 2009. His 2014 campaign was shortened to 96 games, but in 2013 (playing in 143 games) Lind hit 23 home runs and batted .288.
Lind also had a 2.3 WAR in 2013. In 2009 Lind actually received MVP votes and a Silver Slugger award. You say dated, dusty awards on a mantle over his millionaire fireplace, but this guy deserves a chance.
He’s traditionally had problems dealing with left-handed pitching, but it looks like he may have turned the corner on these issues coming into 2015. If your league is a standard 5x5 league he’s a strong addition, depending on the rest of your roster. When picking up Lind, understand that you aren’t signing up for a MVP season, but you can expect a solid bat at first.
Stay tuned to ASL for the best fantasy baseball news and advice!
- Tim Haberin - Fantasy Focus
Fantasy Baseball Sleepers
Lance Lynn showed off his MLB fantasy value on Wednesday against the Cubs even though he couldn't squeeze out the win. In six-plus innings of work, the Cards right-hander allowed one earned run on two hits, walking one and striking out nine. He provided MLB fantasy owners with virtually everything they could have asked for except a win, which the St. Louis offense did little to capture against a very effective Jake Arrieta.
The 27-year-old has been no stranger to wins during his four seasons in the majors. In 2012, he netted 18 of them on the way to All-Star honors, and the two following seasons saw him earn 15 apiece. His offensive support should typically be much better than it was in this first start, and if he stays healthy Lynn will get his fair share of victories. He has been a dependable fixture of the Cardinals rotation, throwing over 200 innings in each of the last two seasons. If he continues to do so, MLB fantasy owners will have many reasons to smile.
Lynn posted the lowest ERA of his career last season (2.74) and though a repeat performance might be ambitious (see 3.35 FIP), a sub-3.50 mark is a good bet. Other pitchers may help you more in terms of WHIP (1.26 last year), but Lynn should offer plenty of strikeouts. He has maintained at least an 8.0 K/9 rate every season of his career, and he appears quite ready to keep that streak alive if the nine batters he fanned on Wednesday are any indication.
If your league counts quality starts, Lynn's value only grows. Last year he enjoyed a quality outing in 73% of his starts and put up a career-high of 24. Over the last three seasons he has averaged 20. It's a decent consolation on days like this when weak run support squanders win opportunities.
MLB Fantasy owners can take away many positive observations from Lynn's first outing against an improved division rival. Look for him to be a top-30 starting pitcher in 2015.
For the latest fantasy baseball news, keep reading ASL!
- Greg Pokriki - Fantasy Focus
Fantasy Baseball Sleepers
Michael Brantley is a fantasy owner’s dream player with unlimited MLB fantasy value. His well-rounded skill set fits perfectly into the fantasy scoring system, especially if your league follows the standard 5x5 format.
Last season Brantley hit 20 home runs, a number that becomes even more impressive when thinking about the speed and average he maintains. Brantley finished 2014 with a .327 batting average to go along with 23 steals.
Brantley is the real deal finishing last season just shy of 100 RBI, tallying 97 total. With an improving Indians lineup, Brantley could finally break the century mark. His 94 runs scored last season ranked him tenth in the league – a number that could also rise by the end of the season.
During 2014, he finished third in MVP voting. He had the sixth best season based off of WAR, putting up a 7-win season. Brantley turns 28 next month, which should translate into some of the best numbers of his career.
The Indians are legitimate playoff contenders and Brantley is the biggest reason why. While most others in your league likely will underestimate the centerfielder, make sure you properly evaluate and respect his numbers.
With the lack of attention Brantley attracts, you may even be able to consider him a steal for his average draft place or dollar number during an auction. Brantley is a piece to build your team around. Don’t be afraid to go all in on Brantley or the Indians.
Stay tuned to ASL all season long for the best fantasy baseball news!
- Tim Haberin - Fantasy Focus
Fantasy Baseball News
Drawing conclusions from one game out of 162 is a misguided exercise at best, but MLB fantasy owners can't help but speculate on a player's MLB Fantasy Value. Opening Day 2015 certainly gave nervous fantasy owners several things to chew on as the new season kicks into gear.
Tanaka Struggles: After an impressive first two innings, it appeared that Masahiro Tanaka was going to coast to the kind of effortless outing he enjoyed many times in 2014. Things fell apart in the third, however, when he surrendered five runs, four of them earned. Tanaka made little use of his fastball, instead relying on off-speed pitches to mixed results. Like last year, he was most effective working the edges of the strike zone with his slider or getting hitters to chase the ball down, evidenced by the six strikeouts he accumulated over his four innings. When he left his fastball elevated, he got hit hard: see Edwin Encarnación's two-run blast. Tanaka owners can take heart in the fact that he made it through the game by all accounts pain-free, a concern that will persist in light of last season's elbow injury. If he can refine his control going forward, his slider showed enough of its signature bite to keep missing plenty of bats this season.
New-Look Cubs Shut Out: The Cubs didn't fare much better on Opening Night than fans searching for a bathroom amid the renovations-in-progress at Wrigley Field. Cardinals pitching, led by Adam Wainwright through six shutout innings, held them to five hits and no runs in a rather uneventful commencement to the 2015 MLB season. Jason Heyward owners hoping a move to St. Louis would see the young outfielder really start to deliver on his potential were likely encouraged by his performance on Sunday night. He went 3-for-5 with two doubles, stole a base, and scored a run in the victory. Batting second in the Cards lineup should give Heyward ample opportunity to have more days like this where he can showcase his multi-faceted talent.
Colon Shines: Just like everyone predicted, Bartolo Colon outdueled Max Scherzer at Nationals Park on Opening Day. The 41-year-old Mets starter gave up three hits and one run in six innings, fanning eight and walking one against a capable Washington lineup. As usual, Colon kept things simple, working fast and throwing his fastball for over 80% of his pitches. While you shouldn't expect this kind of performance to be the norm, pitching-needy MLB fantasy owners might consider picking up Colon as a one of their fantasy baseball sleepers to see if he can go on a little run to start the season. Though he pitched to a 4.09 ERA last year, his FIP was about a half-run lower at 3.57.
Royals Hammer ChiSox: The reigning AL Champs got off on the right foot, routing the White Sox 10-1. Chicago's big offseason pitching acquisition had a debut to forget, as Jeff Samardzija gave up five earned runs in six innings, walking three to just one strikeout. Mike Moustakas (2-for-3, solo home run) and Alex Rios (3-for-4, 3-run home run) led the way in the Royals' offensive outburst. Moustakas has largely underwhelmed at the big league level but this type of game might persuade MLB fantasy owners that the 26-year-old third basemen is poised for a turnaround batting out of the second spot in the Royals lineup. Also worth noting: Moose's homer was the first opposite-field shot of his career.
Hornets C Bismack Biyombo has taken over for the injury-plagued star Al Jefferson and has stepped BIG-TIME for Charlotte. As the regular season comes to a close, fantasy NBA owners can not deny his sudden fantasy basketball value when it comes to blocks and boards.
Biyombo has come and seized the opportunity with his extra run at center with Al Jefferson out and is proving to be both consistent and reliable. During his last 6 games, he's had at least 2 blocks in every game, averaging 2.8 blocks over the span. In that same time frame, he's also averaged 8.3 rebounds per contest. Biyombo should continue to see major minutes as he and the Hornets look to secure a spot in the playoffs.
Though his situation seems ideal, the Hornets' tough schedule could limit Bismack Biyombo's immediate upside. Charlotte has to face the Rockets, the Heat, the Hawks, and the Raptors twice, leaving the team's game against the Pistons as the only plus matchup for Biyombo.
At just 22-years-old, Biyombo continues to improve and his ceiling to become one of the better NBA players at his position has to be very high due to his size and athletic ability. He looks to be a decent add for the remainder of the season, as well as a possible sleeper in dynasty leagues. For fantasy relevance for the playoffs, Biyombo should hold mid-round value since Jefferson will likely miss the rest of the regular season to avoid aggravation.
- Greg Pokriki - Fantasy Focus
Justin Verlander- Detroit Tigers
In other fantasy baseball news, the Tigers announced that Justin Verlander will be start the MLB season on the DL. However, the organization seems confident that he will be ready to return quickly. Manager Brad Ausmus said it’s simply a matter of carrying a complete roster into opening day, not a long-term situation. With that in mind, Verlander’s drack stock should not be heavily penalized in your league. He’s a natural competitor and will likely return quickly. He also knows he has something to prove this season after a down 2014. The Tigers are counting on Verlander this season, and you shouldn’t have any reservations doing the same for your fantasy team.
Coco Crisp- Oakland Athletics
Coco Crisp had successful surgery on his elbow on Friday and is out for at least the next 6-8 weeks. The best advice for handling Crisp in the fantasy world would be to avoid him in the draft. If you have a deep enough bench after the draft and feel comfortable using a wasted spot for two months on him, grab him out of free agency. However, at 35-years-old and injured you must understand the risk. Unless you can snag him for a cheap price in an auction format, avoid Crisp in the draft.
Curtis Granderson- New York Mets
Unfortunately, Granderson is very familiar with the injury bug. Even further, Granderson is familiar with being hit by pitches forcing him to miss time. Thursday Granderson’s old friend revisited him, as he was struck on the knee by a Lance Lynn pitch. His fate is now uncertain. “We’ll see how it feels tomorrow,” Granderson said. This is one situation to monitor very closely when deciding if and when to draft Granderson. He has put in a phenomenal spring training. He’s parked three homeruns and is hitting .435. If healthy, it seems Granderson is primed for a big year. He’s also somewhat flying under the radar, giving him steal potential for your fantasy team. Keep an eye on his knee, but stay confident on a healthy Granderson.
Bruce Rondon- Detroit Tigers
Rondon is no stranger to the DL. He spendt all of 2014 watching from home after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Now, Rondon returns to the DL with bicep tendinitis. Concern luckily remains low and optimism high around Detroit. Apparently the injury is very common for pitchers, specifically when picking their game back up in spring. The Tigers are not expecting this to be a long-term situation. With their generally weak bullpen and softened starting staff from last season, a good campaign from Rondon would be ideal for the Tigers. His fantasy stock should remain around the same area for now, but be sure to monitor his next throwing session before over committing.