- Greg Pokriki - Fantasy Focus
When a former MVP’s MLB fantasy value starts to plummet, fantasy owners are faced with a very tough choice. Do you hold the player and hope that his MLB fantasy stock will rebound or do you cut your losses and move on in a different direction? That’s the hard reality facing any team that’s watching a hobbled Andrew McCutchen struggle through game after ugly game. It’s not exactly breaking fantasy baseball news that the Pirates outfielder is batting a miserable .194 this season with only two home runs and no stolen bases.
Normally a six plus win player (based on WAR), McCutchen is only carrying a .2 WAR through this point in the season. However, the season is still very young and McCutchen could bounce back if the Bucs are smart enough to let him rest his ailing knee. It would be easy to overreact, assume that you as a fantasy owner are stuck with him for the season. But, the alternative is a much better outlook. Assume that things will turn around for McCutchen—because with a little rest, they probably will.
Throughout his career, April has consistently been McCutchen’s worst month of the season. During the month of April, he holds his lowest batting average, lowest hit total, lowest home run total, lowest walk total and his lowest monthly OPS. Yet with all of these repeated slow starts, McCutchen has won an MVP and been voted third in the race two other years. He has proven that he can overcome the slow Aprils and put in a fantastic season.
As a fantasy owner, there is obviously room for concern, but it’s still too early to panic. Monitor his injury closely, but bank on him bouncing back with the coming flip of the calendar. Count on Cutch—at the very least, he’s earned that from you.
For the best info on fantasy baseball sleepers and advice, tune into ASL!
- Greg Pokriki - Fantasy Focus
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Nori Aoki- San Francisco Giants
Nori Aoki is settling in just fine in San Francisco, batting .309 and stealing plenty of bases. During his last seven games, he's doubled his RBI total, knocking in three pushing his total to six. Aoki will never be the power bat crushing dingers for your fantasy team, but he can light up the base paths and push your team average higher. A good base stealer is hard to find, but Aoki could fill that void. Give him the start until proven otherwise.
Lucas Duda- New York Mets
Along with many of the Amazin’ Mets, Lucas Duda is surprising many around the league. He’s made some adjustments with his stance and front leg this season, and is seeing instant improvements. Duda is batting .319 on the season, and that’s after posting a .250 over the last seven. He’s parked two homers and has 11 RBI. Surrounded by an equally excelling team, Duda has also scored 12 runs on the season. It’s safe to say that the Mets have earned some consideration as a contender, and Duda as your starting first baseman. Duda is a must start in this week's fantasy sit start report.
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George Springer- Houston Astros
If you’re in a keeper league, you probably had high hopes for Springer in 2015. But when it comes to sit or start, he is nothing but a liability for fantasy lineups. Fantasy owners probably kept him for a cheap salary and thought they were getting the bargain of the league. That still might be the case, but right now there are severe growing pains. Springer is batting .183 with only six RBI. If your team desperately needs steals, he may be worth a start for his speed, with seven bags on the year. But, his average and lack of power right now may hurt your team more than he can help. I believe in Springer, maybe more than I should, but he’s on my team’s bench right now and should probably take a seat on yours too.
Shin-Soo Choo- Texas Rangers
On the 2015 season Choo is batting .096. No, that isn’t a typo. He has five hits, one being a home run. He’s scored only four runs and has five RBI. Over his last seven games he is 0-19. Obviously these statistics must come up for Choo, but now is not the time to bet on him. The Rangers have the Mariners and Athletics over their next two series, two teams with solid pitching staffs that could help to continue Choo’s stumble out of the box. It may be best to keep Choo out of your lineup, at least until the Rangers road stand where they play the Astros and Rays (yes, both of those teams are on fire, but eventually they have to come back down to earth and Choo has to bat over .100).
Stay tuned to ASL for the best fantasy football start and fantasy baseball start advice!
The Miami Dolphins are looking to draft Georgia RB Todd Gurley with the 14th overall pick in the first round, but it's probably about a fifty-fifty chance that he's still on the board. Gurley is still recovering from a torn ACL that he suffered last November, but many pundits believe he is head and shoulders above all the other running backs coming out of this year's draft.
Gurley would fit well in Miami and most likely be the feature back for the Dolphins, but it would NOT be a shock if a team like the Jets or the Bears grabbed him first. The Georgia running back is coming off a monster season at Georgia, and will most certainly be the first RB selected in the draft this year. Gurley ran for 911 yards and 9 touchdowns in just 6 games on the field before his knee injury. He ran just under 152 yards per game on 7.4 yards per carry, and could easily be a major piece in an organization's offensive unit (not to mention a potential NFL fantasy stud).
If drafted by Miami, the fantasy football focus outlook would be that Gurley would have to fight 24-year-old Lamar Miller for the starting spot, but would most likely win the job outright somewhere in the middle of his rookie season. Gurley could get some pretty solid running lanes with defenses more focused on Ryan Tannehill, Kenny Stills, Greg Jennings and the passing game. However, there are a few teams whose necessity for a running back could push them to draft Gurley, starting with the Jets.
The New York Jets upgraded their backfield with the addition of Stevan Ridley, but since he's more of target in the passing game, they could really use Gurley as an upgrade from Chris Ivory. It not exactly breaking fantasy news that Ivory was a major disappointment down the stretch in 2014, as he scored just 1 TD in the last 8 games of the season, while failing to break 75 yards in any of those games. Gurley's running style would help them with consistency in their offense, and he would allow New York's QB (Geno Smith or Ryan Fitzpatrick) much more time in the pocket to make good decisions.
Gurley could also severely improve the Jaguars offense. According to Rotoworld, the Jags could potentially trade their 3rd overall pick for multiple early picks, and look to draft the Georgia running back as well. Gurley would be able to provide young QB Blake Bortles with some solid contrast to a hopeful passing game, and allow him to find newly acquired target TE Julius Thomas open much more often than expected.
Whether Todd Gurley makes it past the first 13 picks in the draft is a mystery at this point, but the Miami Dolphins have expressed much interest in the prospect, and his addition to the organization could prove to be beneficial for QB Ryan Tannehill and company.
Keep reading for the most up to date NFL player news!
- Tim Haberin - Fantasy Focus
Fantasy Waiver Wire Pickups -
Carlos Martinez - SP, St. Louis Cardinals
Cardinals right-hander Carlos Martinez has put up three consecutive quality starts and is one of the a hottest fantasy pickups. During those starts, he's thrown 19 total innings, allowing just 11 hits and three earned runs while striking out 20. His most recent start last Friday was particularly eye-catching: he held the Brewers scoreless over seven innings, giving up four hits and collecting eight strikeouts. Martinez is just 23, and with the Cards' successful history of developing young pitching, it's easy for MLB fantasy owners to get excited. Keep in mind, however, that St. Louis plans to limit their young arm to around 150 innings. Regardless, if you could use some starting pitching the breakout potential here is hard to ignore, and you can make contingency plans if needed as he nears his innings limit.
Juan Lagares - OF, New York Mets
Though Lagares garners a lot of attention with his glove, he's also gotten off to a solid start at the plate and is among this week's top waiver wire pickups. In 20 games he's batting .316 with a .329 OBP. On Monday night, he went 2-for-4 with a run scored in the Mets' 3-1 victory over the Marlins. He won't offer much in terms of power or run production, but Lagares should have his share of scoring opportunities while hitting in the second spot of the Mets' lineup. He's crossed the plate 12 times so far. If you could use an extra outfielder and are in a deeper league, Lagares might be worth some consideration.
Zack Cozart - SS, Cincinnati Reds
The Reds shortstop has been flexing some power muscles in the opening weeks of 2015, swatting four home runs in his first 19 games. He's also hitting for a respectable .300/.333/.557 slash line over that span. As any MLB fantasy owner knows, offense can be a serious rarity at the middle infield positions, which makes Cozart all the more appealing if he's still sitting in your league's free agency pool. Manage your expectations, however: over the past three seasons Cozart has posted a far more pedestrian .241/.280/.362 line while averaging ten homers. But if you're thin at SS you can certainly scoop him up if you want to see how long he can swing a hot bat.
Chris Young - OF, New York Yankees
Young is off to a surprisingly good start this season and is working himself into regular playing time with the Yankees. In 18 games he's hitting .296 with a .356 OBP. He has been a legitimate run-producer for the Bronx Bombers as well, with four home runs and 10 RBI currently to his name. It's a bit difficult to fully endorse Young since the veteran Carlos Beltran is being given a rather long leash despite his .167 batting average. He might not be in the lineup every day, but if he keeps hitting like this Young will get his at-bats. Right now you could do worse for some outfield depth.
NFL Fantasy Sleepers and Fantasy Football Keepers -
The Jaguars and Buccaneers seem to be the only teams left in the running to acquire Adrian Peterson from the Vikings. Peterson is still on the list of top fantasy keepers, but is all but done in Minnesota. The Vikings are demanding a steep price to acquire the embattled running back which has pretty much scared away Dallas and Arizona as potential landing spots.
Both Jacksonville and Tampa Bay would benefit greatly from the arrival of Peterson, but the Jaguars seem to have the most gain by adding A-P. Peterson would bring a much needed veteran presence to a youthful and inexperienced Jaguars offense, led by second-year QB Blake Bortles. The Jags have already added the stretch TE Julius Thomas, and with AP, they should be able to significantly increase their scoring output.
The Jaguars finished 3rd in the AFC South at 3-13 and their underwhelming offense is to blame. With a large amount of 3 and out drives, the Jags defense didn't get to rest much, and they got trampled. On average, the Jags lost by around 10 points per game, even taking into account the 3 wins they had.
Last season, Jacksonville was last in the league, only putting up 249 total points, which comes out to roughly 15.6 points per game. Just for perspective, the sum of points scored for Peterson's and Thomas' best scoring seasons (2009 and 2014 respectively), the two combined for 217 points (31 TDs).
Peterson would fit in well with this offense, and help Bortles limit his mistakes by alleviating some of the pressure off the passing game. Adrian Peterson wouldn't need to fight any other RBs for snaps, and could easily post his 7th 1,000+ yards, 10+ touchdown season.
Stay tuned to ASL for the latest in fantasy sleeper picks!
- Tim Haberin - Fantasy Focus
Fantasy Baseball Sleepers
Few could have predicted the kind of performance Houston Astros infielder Luis Valbuena has delivered during his first 13 games. On Monday night, he hit solo two home runs and drove in three runs to lead Houston to a 7-5 victory over the Mariners. In 50 total at-bats, he’s smashed five homers and collected seven RBI. It's really been all power so far from the third basemen: his round-trippers account for nearly half of his hits (11).
It's easy to get excited by this kind of early-season display of power, especially from a player typically not on anyone's radar. The main problem is that aside from his unexpected slugging, there's not too much to like about Valbuena from an MLB fantasy perspective. Over the course eight seasons, he's averaged a .229/.312/.378 slash line. His current .220 batting average and .286 OBP are in line with those figures. Valbuena's career-highs in home runs and RBI came last season with 16 and 51, respectively.
This is Valbuena's first year in an Astros uniform after spending time with the Cubs, Indians, and Mariners. His playing time has fluctuated significantly from season to season. The 149 games he played last year were his most in a season by a decent margin; he had not played more than 108 before then.
It's unclear exactly how much Valbuena may have benefited from regular playing time, and at 29 years old, it's debatable how much more room he has to grow. All things considered, his 2014 numbers are probably a fairly good indication of who he is as a hitter.
If you can afford the roster spot and want to see how long Valbuena can continue his hot hitting, feel free to pick him up. Just don't count on him maintaining his current home run pace.
Stay tuned to ASL all season long for the most comprehensive fantasy baseball news and advice!
- Greg Pokriki - Fantasy Focus
In this week's fantasy sit start report, we look at a pair of red hot batters and two long time starters who should be benched until further notice.
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Jose Iglesias- Detroit Tigers
After an injury plagued 2014, Iglesias has rebounded splendidly. Considering that his injuries were in his legs, the shortstop has shown excellent speed grabbing four steals in the young season. He’s also batting .439 and has four doubles. In his last seven games, he has stayed hot, batting .421. In a packed Tigers lineup, Iglesias should score plenty of runs and steal a good amount of bags. Shortstops are hard to come by nowadays, and Iglesias is a solid one for your starting lineup.
Lorenzo Cain- Kansas City Royals
Cain leads the league in OBP at .491 which is imperative to his style of game. He’s already stolen four bases on the season and scored a league leading 12 runs. Oh, and his .414 average can’t hurt. In MLB outfields often full of easy to find power, Cain could be perfect to win over the more difficult 5x5 statistical categories. Give him a start, especially if you need that speed in the lineup.
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Ben Zobrist- Oakland Athletics
Zobrist is putting in a fine first campaign with the Athletics. He’s batting .269 with five doubles and four walks. He also is the ultimate utility man, fantasy eligible at second base, shortstop and outfield. However, he is day to day currently after receiving a cortisone shot on Monday. He is expected to be out several days. Also, over his last seven games he has struggled, going 2-12. Hopefully he gets back to his normal self once recovered, but for now, Zobrist should seat himself on your bench.
Elvis Andrus- Texas Rangers
It saddens me to be sitting the namesake of my fantasy baseball team (Sippin On Gin Andrus), but this is an objective, “what have you done for me lately” game. Andrus is batting .164 so far this season in 55 at bats and just .190 in his last seven games. He hasn’t walked once either, keeping him off the base paths even further. That hinders his chances to steal bags (one in 2015) and score runs (five in 2015). The power has never been there for Andrus either, hitting a career high six home runs in 2009. Currently, Andrus is struggling in all of the fantasy baseball statistical categories. He may be a name you can recognize (and certainly one worthy of a team name pun) but he isn’t worthy of a start with his play currently.
Keep reading ASL for the best fantasy football start and fantasy baseball start guidance!
- Tim Haberin - Fantasy Focus
Here's a list of this week's top waiver wire pickups:
Kendrys Morales - 1B, Kansas City Royals
After a nightmarish 2014 season in which he hit .213 over 98 games for the Mariners and Twins, Morales has gotten off on the right foot with Kansas City. Looking much more like the middle-of-the-order slugger he was earlier in his career, he is currently batting .358 with a .424 OBP, along with an American League-leading 12 runs scored. He has also displayed some of his trademark pop, hitting two home runs and collecting nine RBI over the first two weeks.
Ender Inciarte - OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
Inciarte's hot start has earned him regular playing time with the D'backs and MLB fantasy owners can expect him to be a daily factor in leagues now. The 24-year-old outfielder put up decent numbers in 2014 but if his early performance in the current campaign is any indication, he's poised for a significant improvement. He's batting .327 and reaching base at a .364 clip over his first 13 games. He's also scored 11 runs batting in the leadoff spot for Arizona. Though you shouldn't expect much of anything in the way of power numbers, the early returns on Inciarte are enough to keep owners intrigued. As is the thought of seeing Paul Goldschmidt driving him in all season long.
Alex Rodriguez - 3B, New York Yankees
If the owners in your league stayed away from A-Rod on draft night and he's still sitting in the free agent pool, now might be a good time to scoop him up as he is one of the most attractive fantasy pickups. Rodriguez has smashed all preseason expectations, currently sporting a .286/.412/.643 slash line and serving as the main power threat in the Yankees lineup with four home runs and 11 RBI in 13 games. His early season highlight came last Friday night, when he belted two monster homers and drove in four runs to lead the Bombers to a 5-4 win over the Rays. There's no telling how long he'll maintain this pace, but you might as well take advantage of it while you can.
Angel Pagan - OF, San Francisco Giants
He's struggled with injuries the last couple years, but when he's on the field Pagan is useful to fantasy owners in several key areas. If you can afford to get your homers and RBI elsewhere, Pagan should offer a solid batting average and OBP. Through 14 games he's flourishing in that regard, hitting .321 with a .373 OBP. But where Pagan really shines is in the speed department. Though he's only stolen one base so far, he should accumulate his fair share if he stays healthy. A return to 2010's form when he swiped 37 is probably too optimistic, but if you're in search of steals Pagan could be a promising and widely available option.
Eli Manning wants to limit his turnovers for the upcoming season and his goal is very much in reach. Manning isn't among the top fantasy football keepers, but he had a very successful season, posting a 2.14 to 1 TD/Int ratio and there's no reason to doubt that can improve upon those numbers and put himself in the conversation for an MVP award.
The Giants offensive unit has been significantly upgraded and will alleviate some stress for QB Eli Manning. New York just recently added pass-catching RB Shane Vereen whose contributions helped the Patriots secure the team's 4th Super Bowl title. Vereen's presence in the backfield will provide a safety outlet for Manning to turn to in high-pressure situations.
In addition to adding Vereen, the Giants will also benefit from the return of WR Victor Cruz if he can get healthy. Cruz has proven his ability to create separation and make big plays, as he broke 1,000 receiving yards in 2011 and 2012 (and reached 998 in 2013 in 14 games) and registered 19 total touchdowns. Following surgery to repair a torn patellar tendon, his ability to once again play at an elite level is questionable, but with a strong recovery, he could blow up for another strong year.
Manning will also be able to turn to TE Larry Donnell who could be one of this year's fantasy sleeper picks. Donnell is not afraid to catch the ball over the middle and can be decent target in the red zone. He flashed signs of that potential during his 3 touchdown performance Week 4 in New York's road win against the Washington Redskins. With the WR corps calling for most of opposing defenses' attention, Donnell should benefit from the lack of attention.
The last important piece to Eli Manning's successful season is the most important player in this offensive unit. Odell Beckham. Beckham exploded for a rookie season campaign that earned him the 2014 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award. The 22-year-old freak athlete went for 1,305 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns on 91 receptions. The stats prove to be very impressive, and even more so since he only played in 12 games, and he broke 100 yards in 7 of them.
With Cruz and Beckham operating in the same system together for the first time, Eli Manning should have little trouble finding open receivers. It's not out of the question for Manning to keep his interceptions in single digits as he has suggested he can do, so long as his targets stay healthy and focused.
For the best NFL fantasy sleepers, keep reading ASL all season long!
NFL Fantasy QB Philip Rivers faces a very murky future in San Diego as rumors swirl about a possible trade to another team. The 33 year-old QB cut off contract extension negotiations in March and reports are coming out that the Chargers may try to acquire the #2 overall pick in the draft to get Oregon QB Marcus Mariota.
The writing on the wall is clear, and 2015 will be Rivers last season in San Diego, unless of course he ends up somewhere else this season. The Chargers don't want to pay the former fantasy football stud and feel that his long-term health is an issue.
Many people feel that a trade with the Titans for the #2 overall pick makes a lot of sense because Rivers would be playing with his ex-Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.
Trading Rivers to the Titans seems like a no-brainer for the Chargers organization since they will be getting rid of a disgruntled QB who only has a few decent years left in the tank.
The reason this trade is not inevitable is because the Titans may see more long-term success drafting Mariota, Leonard Williams or maybe even Amari Cooper.
It will be interesting to see what happens during the next few weeks and if no trade occurs by the start of the NFL draft, the #2 overall pick will be the pick that everyone is talking about and has the most speculation.
The Union-Tribune San Diego suggests Philip Rivers will likely retire after this season.
Stay tuned for the latest in NFL player news!