Dalton Del Don
- Dalton Del Don at Roto Arcade2 days ago
There’s an obvious top-five when it comes to running backs, and because there are so many question marks at the position afterward, I want an early pick this year. I’m fine with using the “zero RB” strategy if you get a later first round pick, assuming that still means waiting on quarterbacks, because of this. I’d actually put Montee Ball right behind the “big five” (LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles, Eddie Lacy, Adrian Peterson and Matt Forte, in case that wasn’t obvious) and in Tier Two all by himself, but I’m crazy like that. After him though, I have an agnostic opinion among the next dozen or so backs, similar to how I feel about quarterbacks in the Nos. 4-14 range. Marshawn Lynch and DeMarco Murray are the two likeliest to go next, which is a seemingly floor versus ceiling argument (although actually, some may say Lynch’s floor is also low since he’s a candidate to breakdown). I recently moved Andre Ellington up into my top 10 RBs, but I don’t exactly feel confident about ranking a 5-9, 199 back with 118 career rushing attempts so high. But based on personnel, it sure seems like Arizona’s rhetoric about giving him more touches is legit. Ellington’s 3.2 YPC after contact led all backs last season (minimum 115 carries).
- Dalton Del Don at Roto Arcade9 days ago
Eddie Lacy didn’t become Green Bay’s full-time back until Week 4 last season, and over the final 13 games, he totaled 1,382 yards and scored 10 touchdowns. That’s a season’s pace of 1,701 yards and 12 scores. Aaron Rodgers missed more than half of those 13 games (essentially eight), so it’s safe to assume Lacy’s scoring opportunities will be greater with a healthy Rodgers in 2014. Lacy’s 4.1 YPC doesn’t standout, but his 56 broken tackles were the fourth-most in the NFL (one behind LeSean McCoy), leading to a healthy 2.3 YPC after contact. According to Pro Football Focus, Lacy was the fourth-best blocking back in the NFL, so there’s no reason to ever take him off the field, and the Packers plan on running a more uptempo offense this season. Defenses can dramatically change from year-to-year, but on paper, it sure looks beneficial to play the Bears, Lions and Vikings during 37.5 percent of the schedule. If Lacy were to suffer an injury, it’s also nice to have a clear cut backup in James Starks, who’s good in his own right (when not hurt) and is routinely available late in drafts. Lacy now gets a full offseason to grasp the pro system and better prepare himself for the rigors of the NFL (unlike last year), as he did all that damage as a rookie and often playing beat up. Lacy is a beast who will benefit from playing in one of the league’s best offenses and is a serious threat to lead the league in touchdowns. I have him ranked as the No. 3 overall player on my board, ahead of Adrian Peterson.
- Dalton Del Don at Roto Arcade13 days ago
Since 2003, only five rookie wide receivers have recorded 1,000-yard seasons (and one of them was Michael Clayton, who went down as such a big outlier, they made a movie about him), so the safe bet is to temper expectations for all rookie wideouts. But that doesn’t necessarily mean one won’t make an impact in 2014. Dalton Del Don and Brad Evans are arguing Sammy Watkins versus Mike Evans in the following debate .
Del Don Opens: There’s no question the Bills are run-heavy (they had 37 more rushing attempts than any other team last season and a whopping 225 more carries than the Falcons, who ranked last in the category), but Buffalo traded its No. 9 pick in 2014 and its first and fourth round picks in 2015 to move up five spots to secure Watkins. So this team isn’t going to baby him from the start.
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- Dalton Del Don at Roto Arcade16 days ago
Matt Kemp has five homers (and a steal) over his past seven games and has raised his OPS 65 points over the past two weeks, a span in which he’s been a top-10 fantasy player. It’s taken longer than expected, but it looks like he’s back to being fully healthy and again a major fantasy asset (albeit one unlikely to ever approach a 40/40 season like he did in 2011 again). Kemp’s 27.1 LD% is the fourth-highest in MLB, and he’s yet to hit a popup this season while having to face the highest average fastball velocity (92.4 mph) by opposing pitchers among all hitters. Still just 29 years old, Kemp looks poised to pay major dividends down the stretch to fantasy owners who gambled on him.
Albert Pujols, who was once one of the best base runners in the game, now moves like me, but this throw by Manny Machado was still about as good as it gets.
- Dalton Del Don at Roto Arcade23 days ago
I drafted Corey Dickerson in multiple leagues and stupidly dropped him in all after he totaled 30 at bats through April (the lesson, as always, is I’m an idiot). Since May 31 (this isn’t so much an arbitrary endpoint as it is when Dickerson finally became a full time player), he’s been a top-25 fantasy asset, one spot ahead of Miguel Cabrera (despite playing in six fewer games). If you prorate his numbers during that timeframe over a full season, you’d get this line: .319-96-29-96-22. If he qualified, Dickerson’s .978 OPS would rank third best in all of baseball. His .292/.361/.500 line away from Coors Field is also strong. There’s no timetable for Michael Cuddyer’s return, but it’s hard to see Dickerson not remaining an everyday player either way. Coors Field helps of course (and benefits fantasy owners immensely), but even if you want to strip that out, Dickerson’s 155 wRC+ would rank in the top-10, so he sure looks legit. I’ll be drafting him aggressively next year (and hopefully won’t prematurely drop him).
It’s easy to forget now, but Jay Bruce was once THE No. 1 prospect in baseball, and while he’s certainly not been a bust, it’s safe to say he hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations. Still, he averaged 32 homers, 102 RBI, 87 runs scored and 8 steals over the past three seasons, so he’s certainly been a valuable fantasy asset. But this is someone with a career .802 OPS despite playing in a home park that’s increased home runs for left-handed batters by 23 percent over the past three seasons (only Coors Field and Yankee Stadium have been higher). Entering his age-27 season this year, Bruce currently sports a .221/.302/.393 line, which represents career lows in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. He has helped fantasy owners by already matching his career high with nine steals, but Bruce’s K% has risen in each of the past five seasons. He owns a career 0.91 GB/FB ratio yet has posted a 1.34 mark in 2014. As if his season wasn’t weird enough, six of Bruce’s 15 hits against lefties this season have gone for homers over just 75 at bats. He has four long balls over 215 ABs against righties. He has a .353 slugging percentage on the road, which would rank as No. 142 in baseball overall, behind the likes of sluggers such as Brian Roberts, Jordy Mercer and Gerardo Parra. Bruce has scored one run over his last 10 games, despite hitting cleanup. It’s probably safe to say he’s going to be much better from here on out, and assuming there’s no underlying injury here, I’d recommend buying low just blindly banking on track record, but there’s no doubt Bruce has been one of the bigger busts so far this season. He’s currently the No. 194 ranked fantasy player.
During his rookie season in 2012, Anthony “sizzle chest” Rizzo hit .208/.243/.356 against southpaws. Last year he hit .189/.282/.342. In 2014, he’s hit .300/.396/.533. All are small samples, but this sure looks like it might be a nice payoff for a rebuilding team that chose not to platoon, rather hoping some struggles would later turn beneficial. While keeping SSS in mind, it sure doesn’t seem like this season has been a huge fluke, as Rizzo’s K% vs. lefthanders is actually lower than versus righties, while his LD% is significantly higher as well (27.1 compared to 20.8). His 27.3 HR/FB% against southpaws has probably been lucky, but he’s hit few popups, and it’s hard to argue there hasn’t been major progress here. Moreover, despite hitting four more homers on the road, Rizzo’s OPS is .943 at Wrigley Field compared to .829 away from there, and the good news for fantasy owners is the Cubs have played 10 more games on the road than at home so far this season. Rizzo is just 24 years old, and his 142 wRC+ ranks No. 21 in all of baseball, tied with Miguel Cabrera. Chicago’s lineup sure looks like it will be stacked in the future as well. Rizzo will likely cost a top-three round fantasy pick in 2015.
With LeBron James “coming home” and rejoining the Cavaliers, ramifications will be felt throughout the league. While more of the fallout will happen in the coming days, there are a handful of repercussions we can reasonably decipher right now. The first being King James himself, whose fantasy value likely stays mostly the same with the move to Cleveland. He’s played a ton of minutes throughout his career, including four straight deep postseason runs including reaching the Finals, so it’s possible the Cavs rest him a bit more during the regular season, especially with them now being the heavy favorites to win the East. According to Basketball Monster, James finished as the No. 5 ranked fantasy player last season, his lowest mark since 2007/08 (when he finished No. 6), so he’ll safely be drafted second in almost every fantasy league this year.
Yordano Ventura just turned 23 years old last month and currently sports a 3.28 ERA, so he’s been highly impressive. But something weird has been going on with his strikeout rate, as he’s fanned more than four batters in just two of his last nine outings (with six being the high). Put differently, Ventura posted a 9.8 K/9 rate over his first 48.2 innings this season compared to a 5.5 K/9 rate over 53.0 innings since. Ventura missed a start with an elbow injury, always a concern for any pitcher, let alone such a young one who throws so hard, but he’s responded with a 3.05 ERA over 44.1 innings since then despite the decreased strikeouts. And it’s not like Ventura’s velocity has been down during this stretch, as if anything, it’s actually been up. It’s an odd combination for which I have no explanation, and his 10.3 SwStr% is encouraging. Despite the recent inability to K batters with such incredible stuff, I think it’s safe to say Ventura’s future looks awfully bright, although it’s tougher to stay healthy when throwing so hard – the average velocity of his fastball (96.7 mph), cutter (94.6) and curveball (82.7) lead all starters this season, which is pretty amazing.
Jose Altuve has stolen a whopping 11 bases over the past nine games and leads the A.L. with a .343 batting average while also recording the second most doubles in the league (when talking about leaders in doubles in the AL, here’s something that shocked me: Eduardo Escobar is tied for the fourth most. What?!). Altuve has the second most steals in MLB, but his success rate (92.5%) is well above the stolen base leader (Dee Gordon at 81.6%). He also recently became the first player to steal multiple bases in four consecutive games since Ray Chapman in 1917, including this steal of home. His 6.3 K% is the lowest among all qualified batters in 2014, which doesn’t appear to be much of a fluke considering his 4.3 SwStr%. Altuve is currently the No. 13 ranked player in fantasy baseball, which is hard to do with two home runs and 26 RBI. He’s been successful on each of his past 24 stolen base attempts, and it’s increasingly difficult not to argue he’s the No. 1 fantasy second baseman moving forward.