Archive for August, 2009

Rams, Bengals, and Jags Fantasy Value Up

Friday, 28 August, 2009

By Zack Cimini

Scouring newspapers and the internet for fantasy newsworthy tidbits is what we do in this business. Usually it’s related specifically to players but occasionally we stumble across something story worthy. The Wall Street Journal came out with an interesting blurb on trends having to do with the drafting of offensive lineman. That trend is teams that selected an offensive lineman within the first twelve picks of the draft have seen their team’s yards per play increase immediately.

You instantly react to that by thinking, no way, as most of those teams are right back in the top of the draft the next season. Actually though eleven teams since 2001 that have selected a lineman within the first twelve picks have done just that. It’s an absolutely crazy statistic and some of the examples are noted below.

Dolphins, Jake Long, YPP Improvement: 1.1
Browns, Joe Thomas, YPP Improvement: 1.0
Raiders, Robert Gallery, YPP Improvement: .9
Broncos, Ryan Clady, YPP Improvement: .5

There are many variables to this fact but the key is the results. Having that staple on your offensive line is the key to success and always has been for an offense. Also usually when a team decides it’s time to draft a lineman they also look at signing free agents as well on the line. They’ll also maybe even switch offensive line coordinators to get things renewed and refocused. As a quarterback they need to develop that faith and trust in their lineman, which boosts their pocket presence. When he doesn’t have to be under duress that extra split second for the receiver to get open is crucial. The quarterback is allowed to go through his progressions properly and throughout the game will get into a rhythm. This also lets the offensive coordinator have more freedom with play call selection, which means bigger plays down the field.

From the running back perspective, once that elite young lineman is selected that’s where they’re going to turn to run between the tackles. This also helps with the effectiveness of play action. Based on the 2009 draft it’s going to be interesting to see if this plays out again. We’re almost certain all three should, especially the Rams and Bengals. Both teams last year’s normal starting quarterbacks were banged up and out the majority of the season. This led to drives that couldn’t be sustained and poor time of possession.

In Jacksonville, David Garrard really struggled after a solid 2007 season. With Eugene Monroe in there now he should feel a little more comfortable and utilize his newly acquired receiver in Torry Holt. All in all, it’s good to know this if you’re a MJD owner as his productivity should only go up based on the trends of the last eight years. Podcast 8/28/2009

Friday, 28 August, 2009

Tune in to our first podcast of the year. The first of many, email us your questions for next weeks episode. Email us at

Is Brandon Marshall Serious?

Friday, 28 August, 2009

By Zack Cimini

You can bank on Brandon Marshall’s ADP dropping even more after his latest antics during Wednesday’s Broncos practice. Yes Brandon we all know that you deserve more than your set to make this year, but is this really the way to go about it. Before we delve in and rant on Marshall take a look for yourself at what he was doing during Broncos practice drills.


Drawing attention to yourself this route is absolutely ridiculous. What could the end result possibly be, besides hurting his pockets even more? Then again could he be doing this because of how Jay Cutler got what he wanted after he pouted and was eventually traded?

For those of you that have had your drafts In June and July you’ll all be a part of the best case scenario for Marshall. The best case scenario is that Marshall either wakes up and realizes he’ll have to play his way out of Denver. That he has already showed though with back to back 100 catch seasons, so maybe Marshall will continue the route he is exhibiting. Josh McDaniels is fed up and with Marshall close to free agency anyways maybe they’ll cut their losses and grant him his wish.

This would be the ultimate best case scenario for fantasy owners. Especially for owners that have had their drafts within the last few weeks. Right now Marshall’s ADP according to is early to late fourth round depending on a ten or twelve team draft. That’s probably offset due to him going a lot higher a few months ago. We’d guess he’s probably going in the sixth rounds right now.

The upside to Marshall is what we know he can do. When he is on the field and wants to perform he has showcased being an elite wide receiver. You’d have to put him in the first tier wide receiver class even if Orton was throwing him the ball. The first tier class currently consists of Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, and Calvin Johnson.

We all knew about his off the field antics but now that we’re seeing his selfish attitude on the field, it’s almost comparable to being a GM ready for the NFL draft. The talent may be there but talent is easy to find. We’d pass on Marshall and let some other owner worry about knowing what they’re going to get from him on a week to week basis. He’s not worth the hassle until he shows he can mature and do his duty and obligations.

We’d also expect the Broncos organization to think hard about some sort of discipline to Marshall after his absolute mockery of the Broncos practice.

The Shut It Down Show

Thursday, 27 August, 2009

By Ted Cahill

The dog days of summer are nearly over and we can get down to deciding division battles and wild card spots.

But with little more than a month left in this year’s regular season, players with nagging injuries on teams out of contention may begin to start packing it in. Or probably more accurately, being told to pack it in.

Someone in the Mets’ organization finally woke up to the reality that a game pitched by Johan Santana means a lot more when the team isn’t already 10 games under .500 and he’s now done for the season. Really this should have been done earlier in the year if he’s been experiencing the elbow discomfort that is being reported.

So there’s a possibility that other teams will tell their ailing stars to start the offseason a bit earlier this year or to not bother trying to come back. If you have any of these players on your fantasy teams, watch closely for news and be ready to make a change if you’re still in contention.

•Grady Sizemore, Indians – Sizemore will likely have surgery on in the offseason on his left elbow. He can’t throw well, but his hitting seems to be largely unaffected. Sizemore wants to play through it and so far the Indians have let him, especially now that Trevor Crowe is hurt. If Crowe comes back or Michael Brantley is promoted in September, Sizemore may be finally told to just get the surgery done already.

•Jeff Francoeur, Mets – He’s going to need surgery after the season. Why are the Mets pressing their luck here? As their medical team is increasingly under scrutiny he may just get that done a few weeks early.

•Any Met – Carlos Beltran seems to still want to come back. David Wright really wants to play. Will they be allowed? Wright probably will be, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Beltran is shut down. As for the rest of the team, watch out – who knows what player falls victim next.

•Roy Halladay, Blue Jays – Entirely speculation, but he has struggled for the last month. He could be hurting, or he just might be disappointed he’s still in Toronto. I’d be slightly concerned.

•Rookie pitchers – The Indians have already said they intend to shut down David Huff when he reaches about 160 innings and Oakland has talked about a six-man rotation to ease the innings on their young starters. Other young pitchers around the majors may find that their teams will be cautious with them as well.

•Alfonso Soriano, Cubs – He has an injured left knee and is scheduled for an MRI on the next off day for Chicago. He wants to play, but if the Cubs haven’t improved their position by Sept. 10 they may just shut it down if the MRI isn’t clean.

•Joe Crede, Twins – It’s a little early to declare this team dead in the playoff chase, but things don’t look good. With Crede experiencing “post-surgical changes” in his back and with his past, Minnesota likely won’t be shy in putting him on the shelf.

•Johnny Cueto, Reds – He’s planning on returning Aug. 31. We’ll see how long this lasts. With Aaron Harang and Edinson Volquez already done for the year, Cincinnati might just add Cueto to the list too.

As the Curve Turns: Smoltz, Padilla give the senior circuit a shot

Wednesday, 26 August, 2009

By Ted Cahill

Maybe Dave Duncan is a genius. Maybe the Red Sox gave up on John Smoltz too early. Maybe the Green Monster scared him. Maybe Fenway Park was too small. Maybe pitching in the AL East was just too much for a 42-year old.

Whatever the reason, Smoltz didn’t work out in Boston. But he seems to be off to a good start in St. Louis. Clearly it’s a small sample size, as in one start. But if Smoltz had given the Red Sox five shutout innings every fifth day, he’d still be eating clam chowder.

It would be easy to write off Smoltz’s good debut for St. Louis as a testament to the horrific offense of San Diego, but Smoltz didn’t even pitch well against bad teams in Boston. Baltimore touched him up for 12 runs in 15 innings and Oakland plated five runs on 10 hits.

Smoltz struck out nine Padres, his most since last April. And he did all of this in just 75 pitches. Smoltz isn’t the dominant pitcher he was in the mid-‘90s, but he’s got to be better than what he was in Boston, which was awful.

The concept of picking up a 42-year old pitcher who’s had two and a half good outings all year concerns me. There are better options out there for most of you. I wouldn’t take Smoltz over any of the six pitchers I outlined last week, but he is intriguing.

Smoltz will get another chance against Washington on Saturday. In his Red Sox debut, Smoltz lost to the Nats, allowing five runs in five innings. This time around he might fare better. If he turns in another outing like Sunday’s people will really take notice. If you’re looking for starting pitching, Saturday’s start is an important one, because you might have to move quickly to put in your waiver claim on the former Cy Young winner.

Another debut: Speaking of pitchers getting another chance in the NL, Vicente Padilla makes his Dodgers’ debut Thursday at Colorado. Again I don’t advise you pick him up this week (pitching in Coors Field scares me), but it’s worth watching.

Padilla has eight wins this year and a not-so-great ERA of 4.92, but he’s a serviceable starter. With the Dodgers you can expect him to keep winning and maybe he’ll even behave himself under Joe Torre. In his warm up start in AAA Albuquerque, Padilla struck out five in five innings, allowing two runs.

Also escaping the horrible pitching conditions of Arlington should help lower his ERA. In his career, Padilla has fared better in the NL, cutting almost a full run off his ERA in the senior circuit.

Skidding aces: San Francisco is attempting to return to the playoffs for the first time since losing the World Series in 2002, but their twin aces of Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain are finding it tough going.

Neither Lincecum nor Cain has won in three weeks, a stat so unbelievable I had to double check it myself. Cain actually hasn’t won in the month of August and Lincecum has gone since August 1 without a victory. They aren’t pitching poorly, combined they are only 0-3 with a 3.31 ERA. Cain even threw nine shutout innings, but came away with a no decision.

For owners of either pitcher, this shouldn’t really be cause for concern. At the start of the season no one expected the Giants to actually support these guys, so it was assumed wins would be hard to come by. But all the San Francisco fans out there should probably be freaking out. There is no way this team makes it to October if Lincecum and Cain continue to go four or five starts between wins.

Pitcher Pickup of the Week: Jonathan Sanchez, Giants
Since announcing his return to the Giants’ starting rotation with a no-hitter, Sanchez has pitched very well. He’s 4-2 with a 2.90 ERA in eight starts. As always, Sanchez’s problems have come from poor command, but even that seems to be coming around. He’s probably going to walk three or four hitters a game, but manages to work around that by limiting opponents to a .161 average.

This week he’ll start against Arizona Wednesday at home. This season he has pitched excellently against the Diamondbacks, allowing just one run in 13 1/3 innings. He’s also struck out 10 hitters, but walked 11 (seven in one game). The start also comes in AT&T Park, where Sanchez has been great this year, posting a 3.63 ERA and 50 strikeouts to just 22 walks in 53 innings.

Hester Needs Help

Monday, 24 August, 2009

By Chris Burrows

Chicago has a sleeper of a fantasy WR but nobody knows who it is yet.

Power RB Matt Forte and TE Greg Olsen—central starting components of the Bears offense—sat out the first pre-season venture of the Cutler-dynasty and—in doing so—exposed a dizzying amalgam of issues. Namely, that Devin Hester needs help now.

In this ill-fated game of 225 offensive yards Hester stymied the offense by making two of six catches for a meager 22 yards against Buffalo. He was helped out by tight end Desmond Clark who came up with a 30 yard grab and untested TE Kellen Davis who grabbed two more passes to add 29 more yards of offense.

But the Cutler show used to be powered by the wieldy Marshall-Royal duo in the Rockies that combined for 2,245 yards last season. In the Windy City Cutler has Hester and—nobody else. If you can even count the over-priced and under-performing Hester (Chicago fans will tell you he’s the Milton Bradley of the Bears) as a Cutler-quality receiver.

The case can be made for a healthy Bills defense and an unsteady Cutler who threw one interception and one would-be interception to the chest of Bills cornerback Reggie Corner to thwart Hester in his first outing. But regardless of any excuses that can be made to cover the tracks of Hester’s hefty price tag—there’s still a glaring hole in the Bear’s depth chart that only exacerbates the Hester issue. There’s really no #2 WR—yet.

Just for comparison’s sake, last season Hester barely made the stat sheet with 665 yards and three TDs on 51 gloms. He’s not much of a first slot receiver and needs a convincing number two to either push him or take his place. This season things are different with a powerful air-driven QB in town. Luckily, the Bears have plenty of WRs to choose from.

Here are the top contenders that can win Cutler’s heart—or at least his tosses:

1. Earl Bennett – He’s currently slated to start at the number two spot but is completely unproven. If he takes the job—which seems likely—he’ll be garnering his very first playtime on the field. He’s been making impressive downfield catches in traffic during practice and Cutler has commented on his confidence and fluidity which would make him a worthy supplement to Hester (he’d even be a good #1 receiver if Lovie would let him) but Bennett is a serious gamble with some healthy competition.

2. Brandon Rideau – He was a surprise standout early in training camp but saw no tosses in the preseason opener. He’s currently listed as the second stringer behind Bennett and looks to be getting another shot this season—as last—to show his worth on the field but he’s been unreliable.

3. Joaquin Iglesias – Backup QB Brett Basanez found Iglesias in their pre-opener for a 10-yard touchdown. He’s one of the rookie receivers getting real attention. Expect him to be tried a few more times on-field before and after the start of the regular season. A couple of big plays and he may have the job—or if receivers coach Darryl Drake gives up on Brandon Rideau’s inconsistency over two seasons.

4. Devin Aromashodu – The only receiver with regular season experience, Aromashodu came to the Bears last year from Washington’s practice squad and previously saw play-time with the Colts where he contributed one start, 7 receptions and 96 yards. If nothing else he has more experience than the rest of the crew of receivers.

5. Johnny Knox – Knox is another signed rookie WR and was championed early in team organized activities for his speed and agility making grabs downfield. He has a good chance of being on the field in at least a few preseason games and may make an appearance in the regular season.

6. Derek Kinder – The last of the signed rookie receivers, he’s probably a best fit for the practice team right now.

Chicago is primping some prime receivers to take over when Hester finally gets booted, but in the meantime grab one of these guys for your fantasy roster and Cutler will be sure to get them some yards.