Fantasy Waiver Wire Pickups -
John Axford - RP, Colorado Rockies
As any MLB fantasy owner knows, saves can be the trickiest category to nail down. When a closer situation changes somewhere in the league, the most prudent owners will be on top of it. Rockies closer Adam Ottavino was placed on the disabled list with an elbow injury and reports on Monday suggested that Tommy John surgery could be imminent. Veteran reliever John Axford is tending to closing duties in the meantime and doing well in the role, going three-for-three in save opportunities without surrendering a run. Of course, Axford is no stranger to closing, having led the National League with 46 saves for the Brewers in 2011. If you need saves, here's your chance to grab a closer with a reasonable handle on the job straight off of your fantasy waiver wire.
Trevor Plouffe - 3B, Minnesota Twins
The Minnesota third baseman has enjoyed a bit of a power surge recently is definitely on the list of viable fantasy pickups. Plouffe homered in two consecutive games over the weekend, the second being a grand slam that fueled a five RBI night. After 24 games, Plouffe finds himself sporting a .278 average with five homers and 15 runs batted in. Though his current numbers might be somewhat inflated by his recent hot streak, Plouffe has posted double-digit home run totals the last three seasons, including a career-high 24 in 2012. Still widely available in leagues, owners may consider adding him as 3B depth and to see how long he can swing his bat like this. He is definitely one of the better fantasy pickups around.
Freddy Galvis - SS/3B, Philadelphia Phillies
Galvis took on the unenviable task of replacing 15-year Phillies mainstay Jimmy Rollins at shortstop. So far he's proving more than equal to the task. In 24 games he's batting .341 with a .379 OBP. Toss in a home run and eight runs batted in, and you have a solid start for the 25-year-old. Galvis has not played more than 70 games in a season, so fantasy owners might take a chance that he comes into his own given a full-time opportunity. If you're looking for a batting average boost from a middle infielder, Galvis seems a promising proposition for the time being. Positional flexibility helps his cause, as well as increasing appearances near the top of the lineup.
Scott Feldman - SP, Houston Astros
The Astros are baseball's biggest surprise right now, and more than a few fantasy owners are probably scouring their roster for some hidden gems. One of those might be starting pitcher Scott Feldman. Though the big right-hander has just two wins to date, four of his five starts have been quality. His 4.31 ERA is bloated by a poor outing on April 13 when he allowed 10 hits and seven earned runs in five innings. Otherwise he's been quite reliable, and in his last start he held Seattle to two runs over seven frames. He'll allow hits and won't strike out too many batters, but if you want quality starts and a potential source of wins should the 'Stros keep playing well, Feldman could be a decent option.
The Dallas Cowboys elected not to draft a running back in this year's NFL Draft, failing to find a suitable replacement for DeMarco Murray who crossed divisional lines to play for the Eagles. Unless a late move for Adrian Peterson is made, it looks as though Dallas will stay put with Darren McFadden at the forefront, and with Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar handling backup duties.
McFadden is far from the the list of top fantasy football keepers and can't even be considered in the category of fantasy sleeper picks. His best days are long behind him and even in his prime, he was always terribly fragile. Despite all of this, McFadden sits atop the depth chart in Dallas and his numbers from 2014 prove he has no serious fantasy upside. McFadden rushed for a mediocre 534 yards last season with the Oakland Raiders, adding just 2 touchdowns, and failing to surpass 100 yards in any of his team's 16 games.
Some of these problems might be alleviated with Dallas's killer offensive line, as they heavily contributed to DeMarco Murray's career year comprised of 1,845 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 12 100+ yard games. Murray was very well-protected, which led to 2014 being the first year he was able to participate in all 16 games.
Despite the ability of the Cowboys' offensive line to increase running back production, I'm skeptical that they are done making moves to help improve their backfield situation. Adrian Peterson is currently still a member of the Vikings, and notably wants out of Minnesota, leaving a late offseason transaction a possibility that could help both sides.
Though the Vikings are currently in a state of commitment to their franchise RB, he has expressed his interest in a trade to the Cowboys, and they are making space for him. According to Yahoo! Sports, Dallas' QB Tony Romo has agreed to restructure his contract, clearing up nearly $13 million in cap space. Adrian Peterson's current contract is for 3 years, $46 million, and it would look very strange if Romo's restructuring was not done in order to free up room for a potential acquisition.
Regardless of whether a deal strikes between the Cowboys and Vikings, it looks very promising that Dallas will make another push for Adrian Peterson.
Keep reading ASL for the best NFL fantasy sleepers all season long!
Fantasy owners have know for years that owning Jose Reyes is a roll of the dice
Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes has been a frustrating player to his real-life clubs and MLB fantasy owners alike. Last week Toronto announced that the four-time All-Star would be placed on the 15-day DL with a cracked left rib he suffered on April 12. After trying to play through the injury it was back to a familiar place for Reyes, the disabled list and our fantasy injury updates list.
Any fantasy baseball player knows that Reyes has an extensive injury history and they have to constantly check injury updates before making decisions. He's averaged 115 games played over the past six seasons, due in large part to a torn calf muscle that limited him to just 36 games in 2009 and an ailing ankle that kept him out of 69 contests in 2013.
In spite of his unreliable health, Reyes has remained appealing to MLB fantasy owners due to his combination of speed and hitting prowess. He captured the National League batting title in 2011 with an average of .337. He led the NL in stolen bases from 2005-2007 with 60, 64, and 78 swipes, respectively. The latter two totals were enough to pace both leagues. Reyes has grown considerably more judicious on the base paths since then (natural with age and injury) but stole 30 bases as recently as last season.
When you draft a player like Reyes, it means that you have to stayed glued to the fantasy injury updates after every game he plays. As usual, the shortstop was a risk/reward proposition heading into the 2015 fantasy season. Many rankings placed him within the top 50 before the draft. If he could stay reasonably healthy as he did last year (143 games played), he seemed a good bet for a .280+ average and around 30 steals. Reyes rewarded that faith by getting off to good start in 2015. On April 16 he was batting to a .324/.350/.405 slash line. He began sliding from there and by the time he landed on the DL that line had slipped to .250/.266/.300.
Reyes owners will simply keep their fingers crossed, monitor his injury updates and hope that he'll be ready to return after 15 days. They will also hope that his recent slumping was chiefly due to this injury and that once healed he will reassume the form he showed in the first couple weeks. Seemingly minor injuries have snowballed for Reyes in the past, so he will look to avoid that kind of extended setback.
For the latest MLB and NFL injury updates, stay tuned!
College standout WRs Amari Cooper and Kevin White were both top ten picks in this year's NFL Draft, but which one has the potential to develop into one of the top fantasy football keepers for a dynasty leagues? Both receivers were outstanding in college, so you can't really call them fantasy sleepers picks, but both players are coming into very different team situations. If last year's NFL trends have any impact on the developments for this season, White should be very productive with the Chicago Bears offense, but Cooper's chance for instant success with the Raiders will be much more hard to come by.
Cooper had a stellar season with Alabama last year, coming up with 124 receptions for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns, but his experience as a professional will be a much taller order. Alabama is a college football powerhouse, whereas the Oakland Raiders have been one of the worst team's in the league for the past decade. The Raiders ranked dead last in offense last season, posting just 282.2 yards per game.
More specifically, Oakland's passing attack ranked 28th in passing yards with 3,456 total, and 216 receiving yards per game. Cooper will have to deal with the young and inexperienced QB Derek Carr throwing to him, which might not bode well for his success. Though his first season might be rough, hopefully Amari Cooper and Derek Carr can grow together, and make each other better moving forward. Thankfully for Kevin White, he won't have to wait to develop as a force in the NFL.
Like Amari Cooper, Kevin White also had an impressive 2014 season at West Virginia, as he racked up 1,447 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns on 109 receptions, and should be able to continue his success at the next level. The Bears did not have the greatest offensive season in 2014, but Kevin White should be able to help QB Jay Cutler get back to form. Chicago was a middle-of-the-pack passing team a season ago, as they ranked 14th in 4,035 total passing yards, at 252.2 yards per game. Kevin White will have big shoes to fill after the departure of Brandon Marshall, but he should not have too much trouble. White will find many open looks with WR Alshon Jeffery commanding the attention of opposing defenses.
Kevin White could certainly be in for a 1,000 yard rookie season, but Amari Cooper might not be so lucky. However, both have the potential to be NFL fantasy sleepers this season.
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!
- Start -
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.
- SIT -
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!
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!
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!