- Andy Behrens at Roto Arcade17 hrs ago
This is one of those Juggernaut entries where it's important to point out, right here at the top, that we're having a fantasy discussion. No one is going to argue that Carolina can't deliver another 12-win season. This team has a stellar defense, plus a record-setting dual-threat quarterback. The Panthers will clearly be a dangerous team in 2014.
But, again, we're here to have a fantasy conversation. For all of this team's obvious real-life strengths, Carolina doesn't have a receiver or running back on the roster who will be started in standard fantasy leagues in Week 1. When that's the case, you're something less than a fantasy juggernaut. The Panthers ranked near the bottom of the NFL in passing last year, and — with apologies to Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant — it's not as if their receiving corps significantly improved during the offseason. The committee backfield is still in place, too, and it's just as uninspiring as it was in 2013.
- Scott Pianowski at Roto Arcade18 hrs ago
Kolten Wong is doing all he can to push his way into the fantasy conversation. Now we hope the Cardinals are paying attention as well.
Wong returned from his shoulder injury last weekend and he's been a smash since. He's on a 5-for-12 binge with three homers (one a walk-off job), two walks and a stolen base in that period. The frustrating thing for fantasy owners is that Wong's doing all this at the bottom of the lineup - he's batted seventh or eighth in every start this week. He was routinely hitting second for most of his time back in May.
Although Wong showed some pop in the minors (a .451 slugging percentage, 27 homers over a couple of seasons), his biggest fantasy appeal comes with batting average and stolen-base potential. He was a .305 hitter in the bush leagues (.367 OBP), and he swiped 20-of-21 bases in his 107 Triple-A games last year. He's 13-for-14 on steal attempts in the majors, over a modest 64 games. He knows what he's doing on the bases already, and he's still just 23.
- Dalton Del Don at Roto Arcade1 day ago
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.
- Brandon Funston at Roto Arcade1 day ago
The idea behind the "Last Year's Bum" theory of drafting is that you target guys that have proven themselves to be stalwarts of the fantasy game but are, for one reason or another, coming off disappointing seasons. When a high draft pick lets an owner down, that leaves an indelible impression upon that owner, and it's hard for that owner to look at that player in a positive light again, even if said player had valid reasons for the dropoff. Of course, the bi-product of this collective feeling of disappointment is that the player usually drops significantly in value on draft day compared to where he was a year earlier. The key then becomes to target those players that you think have everything in place to return to greatness, and enjoy a draft-day discount in the process. Myself, and the rest of the Yahoo experts, offer up five such comeback candidates:
- Scott Pianowski at Roto Arcade1 day ago
Everyone knows Jimmy Graham is the cream of the tight end crop, the man, the No. 1 target, Top Jimmy. But things really get interesting when you get to the No. 2 spot on this year's tight end board. We polled four Yahoo scribes and actually came up with four answers, which is what we'll discuss today. Who's Sundance to Graham's Cassidy? Help us figure it out.
Del Don stumps for Thomas : I’ll acknowledge Julius Thomas has an injury history and that Rob Gronkowski likely has more upside, but he’s safely the No. 2 tight end on my board regardless. This a raw player who has just 15 career starts in the NFL (14 coming last year) after never playing football until his fifth year in college. Despite that, he hauled in 12 TD catches last season over just 14 games, and again, there’s room for plenty of growth as Thomas continues to improve his route running.
- Scott Pianowski at Roto Arcade1 day ago
But maybe the Reds will be just fine. Time to watch Billy Hamilton run through that door, and around the bases as well.
Hamilton was a standout in Cincinnati's doubleheader sweep Tuesday, collecting four hits, two steals and one knock-off strike (lucky as it might have been). He went 2-for-4 with four RBIs in Monday's win. He's turning into a fantasy overlord right before our eyes.
To be completely fair to Hamilton, he's turned out to be a much better real-life player than most expected. Back in March, the consensus said Hamilton would be a speed demon but a poor ballplayer in real life; someone much more valuable to fake baseball than the Reds.
- Andy Behrens at Roto Arcade2 days ago
Coming off a Super Bowl season, Baltimore's offense was a cruel joke in 2013. The running game averaged just 3.1 yards per carry, ranking dead-last in the NFL. Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce had a combined 366 carries, only three of which gained 20-plus yards. Quarterback Joe Flacco threw 22 interceptions, the highest total in the AFC, and he passed for a career-low 6.4 yards per attempt. He was also sacked 48 times, the second-highest total in the league.
It was ugly, almost always. The nicest thing we can say about the Ravens last season from a fantasy perspective is that kicker Justin Tucker had a really, really good year — or at least it was going well until he posted a zero in Week 16, when you needed him most.
- Scott Pianowski at Roto Arcade2 days ago
If you like to take chances with your pitching plays, Monday was your kind of night. All sorts of long shots came in on this slate, from the mound anyway.
There was Daisuke Matsuzaka spinning seven scoreless innings, Ian Kennedy laughing in the thin Colorado air. Scott Carroll was next to untouchable at Fenway, recording 20 outs against one hit. Kevin Correia was sharp for seven innings in Seattle. Chase Anderson was terrific, too.
This isn't to suggest the name brands didn't uphold their end of the bargain. My two favorite pitchers to watch, Adam Wainwright and Hisashi Iwakuma, combined for 14 bagels. James Shields got off the skids, mowing down the Rays with ease (7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 10 K). Mike Leake keeps rolling along; he might be the most underrated pitcher around. Stephen Strasburg and Cole Hamels had the strong outings you'd expect. (Some of these guys got wins, some didn't. The balls roll funny for everybody, kid.)
- Brad Evans at Roto Arcade4 days ago
Every walk of 21 st century life is tracked, dissected and analyzed by computers. Weather observations banking transactions, twitter reactions, sporting events, tooth fairy payments, the alcohol content scrawled on your beer can – everything, everywhere has a number attached to it providing consumers with multiple angles on a particular subject.
This, after all, is the age of advanced understanding, though some Neanderthals, namely your antiquated mother-in-law and the backwards thinker who penned this column, fail to grasp the importance.
Naturally, fantasy sports, and those who feverishly play them, have certainly benefited.
- Scott Pianowski at Roto Arcade4 days ago
You need a plan for the upcoming week, so let's take a look at the double-dipping pitchers for the period Monday-Sunday. As always, consider everything on this list tentative: sometimes pitchers get scratched, sometimes plans change, sometimes it rains.
1. Masahiro Tanaka (at CLE, at BAL): Wipeout splitter, good luck. 2. Johnny Cueto (CHC, PIT): A classic exception to rules. 3. Adam Wainwright (PIT, at MIL): Is this his Cy season? 4. Stephen Strasburg (BAL, at PHI): Road issues, but it's just Philly. 5. Julio Teheran (at NYM, at CHC): Evan Salfino believes now. 6. Doug Fister (BAL, at PHI): Why did Tigers give him away? 7. Hisashi Iwakuma (MIN, OAK): Might be a tiny buy-low window. 8. Madison Bumgarner (at OAK, ARI): Home/road splits likely fluke. 9. Cole Hamels (at MIL, WAS): Terrific year on lousy team. 10. Sonny Gray (SF, at SEA): That curve should be illegal. 11. Jered Weaver (TOR, at TEX): Arlington not as fearsome anymore. 12. Hyun-Jin Ryu (at DET, SD): Oddly, the road numbers are the stingy ones. 13. Jesse Chavez (SF, at SEA): Keeps his spot, Milone to Triple-A. 14. Jake Odorizzi (KC, TOR)