Week 16 NFL rewind:

Bringin' the Noise: Wedding Crasher

On Saturday, two of my closest friends will tie-the-knot in a celebration of nuptial bliss. And I, the fun-loving, outgoing friend with occasional jackass tendencies, will proudly don a penguin suit.

As I stand at the altar, will my imagination wax romantically about how beautiful the bride looks and how wonderful it is to see two lovers share their cherished moment with close relatives and a few semi-obnoxious friends?

Heck no.

Instead, my delirious mind will drift away with thoughts of the reception's open bar and, naturally, my slew of fantasy teams.

What whimsical daydreams will hijack the Noise's brain?

Here's a brief rundown:

About the reception:

  • My wife, semi-inebriated off two glasses of champagne, whispers into my ear, "It's your lucky day, Little Smokey."
  • I work up a lather gyrating to Billy Idol's "Mony, Mony!"
  • In an altered state, I grab the DJ mic and karaoke to Spandau Ballet's "True" – thus feeding my inner jackass.

About my fantasy team:

  • Richie Sexson grazes Ichiro's jockstrap and miraculously his BA climbs 50 points in two weeks.
  • Jonathan Broxton takes over as Dodger's closer after he smothers Takashi Saito with his enormous derrire.
  • Rich Hill throws a no-no against rival St. Louis, becoming the first Cub to log a no-hitter since Milt Pappas in 1972. My man-crush turns into man-passion.

About the reception and my fantasy team:

  • Alex Gordon – the Vince Vaughn of fantasy – makes an unannounced guest appearance and apologizes for the first two months of the season.
  • He then makes advances toward my wife, which, for some awkward reason, I'm totally fine with.

Man, I hope the last muse comes true – at least the first part.

You see, Gordon (13.9% owned) is fantasy's version of a wedding crasher. In other words, he's an irresistible, ultra-hyped preseason sleeper who shows up fashionably late to the party.

After an abysmal 31-for-168 (.184 BA) April/May, Gordon has kissed George Brett's ring and whacked a .302 BA, with six multi-hit games, two homers, nine RBI and two steals in 63 June at-bats.

Gordon's reversal can be attributed to a nosedive in K%, a stupendous LD% (21.1%) and his smooth, flat swing, which couldn't be suppressed forever.

With his confidence revitalized Gordon will launch into the 3B top-10 and tally a three-and-a-half month line in the ballpark of .290 BA, 14 HR, 50 RBI, 40 R, 12 SB.

If my prognostication comes "True," "Flash" will definitely receive a Spandau Ballet serenade come September. And maybe a smooch from the Misses.

Here are this week's flames, lames and stars of video games:

Fantasy Flames
Player Team Pos Y!RK Y!%
Scott Hatteberg
1B 303 0.66
'07 Stats: .297 BA, 7 HR, 23 RBI, 24 R, 19:24 K:BB
Market Value: Moderate Buy
Lowdown: When genius Jerry Narron shifted the molasses-moving first baseman into the leadoff spot I thought for sure he was sniffing the chili powder off a bowl of Skyline. To his credit, "The Mad Hatter" has gone Wonder-wild slapping 13 hits in 34 at-bats (.382 BA). Hatteberg has an excellent eye (11.7 BB%) and is one of the NL's preeminent line-drive hitters (23.3 LD%). On pace to establish new career highs in BA and homers, he will be a quality three-category contributor (BA, R, HR) in deeper formats as long as he remains atop the Reds lineup. But keep in mind he's one prolonged drought away from a Joey Votto (.317 BA, 9 HR, 41 RBI, 7 SB in 240 Triple-A at-bats) promotion. Fearless Forecast: .280 BA, 15 HR, 65 RBI, 68 R.
Jonny Gomes
OF 772 2.6
'07 Stats: .288 BA, 5 HR, 14 RBI, 12 R, SB, 22:7 K:BB
Market Value: Strong Buy
Lowdown: The garden Gomes has finally crawled out of his subterranean cave. Tuesday's news that Rocco Baldelli (surprise) re-injured his hamstring while on a rehab assignment suggests Gomes will remain an everyday player indefinitely. Since his promotion from Triple-A Durham on June 14, D-Ray destroyer has exploded, smacking 12 hits in 24 at-bats with four bleacher shots and nine RBI. His brute, natural strength helps the 26-year-old turn on pitches with ease, which explains his astronomical 62.7 FB%. Although his mammoth K rate (30.1 K%) likely means he's more of a .275 hitter rather than a .295 hitter, his career rate of 1 HR per every 18.1 at-bats points to 18-22 HR over the remainder of the season. For those in need of muscle in the outfield, Gomes is an inconspicuous waiver wire gem. Fearless Forecast: .271 BA, 23 HR, 65 RBI, 65 R, 5 SB.
Esteban German
2B, 3B, OF 713 0.64
'07 Stats: .253 BA, 2 HR, 21 RBI, 20 R, 5 SB, 30:25 K:BB
Market Value: Moderate Buy
Lowdown: Along with David Hasselhoff and the Milwaukee Brewers costumed Bratwurst, German would be huge in Deutschland – and huge for owners with a need for MI speed. With Mark Grudzielanek out a month after he had surgery in his left knee to repair a torn meniscus, German has thrived as the Royals everyday two-bagger, lacing eight hits while knocking in eight in 27 at-bats. Equipped with an eagle-eye (13.4 BB%), German can place the bat on the ball at will, generating many seeing-eye singles (56.9 GB%). He's swiped only one base since May 17, but he does possess enough wheels to notch 14-18 steals. Considering his flexibility, guaranteed at-bats over the next month and knack for getting on base, he could be a lucrative one-month BA, R, and SB commodity in deep-benched 12-team mixed formats.
Mike Lamb
1B, 3B 336 1.4
'07 Stats: .318 BA, 6 HR, 20 RBI, 23 R, 21:16 K:BB
Market Value: Moderate Buy
Lowdown: Many NL-only leaguers sent Lamb to the butchers after a .233 BA in May, but the lefty infielder has not fleeced those who remained loyal. Lamb has rammed AL pitching over the past week, tallying 12 hits, three homers and a ridiculous 13 RBI in his past 24 at-bats. Regular 'Stros third baseman Morgan Ensberg continues to do backstrokes in raw sewage (.214 BA/.314 OBP) and could have his cheeks firmly planted on the bench by Phil Garner due to Lamb's rocketing efforts. Lamb is hitting 120 points higher with RISP than the embarrassing Ensberg (.364 vs. .244). He's always drawn consistent contact (.343 BABIP) and his 15-20 homer upside labels him a flexible CI option in all NL-only formats and 14-team and deeper mixed leagues. With 350 at-bats: .285 BA, 16 HR, 68 RBI, 65 R.
Adam Wainwright
SP, RP 887 50.8
'07 Stats: 5 W, 84.1 IP, 4.70 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 50:31 K:BB
Market Value: Moderate Buy
Lowdown: With a 2.89 June ERA, the price could be 'Wright for those owners vying for the Showcase Showdown. After a strong spring, Wainwright struggled with his command in April and May notching a flaccid 3.7 BB/9. Since then, he's slowed down his mechanics and lowered his BB/9 to a more respectable 2.5 mark. When Wainwright is on, his mid-90s sinking heat, plus change, quality curve and slider are highly effective – especially versus righties. He's gone at least seven innings in five of his past six starts and appears to have overcome his inadequacies. With his BABIP sitting at .312, his ERA will fall into the low 4s soon. Much like Colorado's Jeff Francis, Wainwright won't wow you in Ks, but he'll be a sound source of ERA and WHIP as a back-of-the-rotation starter in 12-team leagues the rest of the way. Fearless Forecast: 13 W, 4.10 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 130 K.
Fantasy Lames
Player Team Pos Y!RK Y!%
Tim Lincecum
SP 748 62.2
'07 Stats: 2 W, 52 IP, 5.88 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 54:25 K:BB
Market Value: Strong Buy
Lowdown: The Yahoo! fantasy office beefcake has suddenly taken on the appearance of a topless David Wells. Tiny Tim was beaten over the head with his own crutch for the fourth straight outing Tuesday night in Milwaukee, allowing six earned on seven hits with a hideous 6:4 K:BB in four IP. After finishing May with four straight quality starts, he's been battered in June posting a horrific 10.61 ERA and 1.98 WHIP. Why buy? After his last meltdown, Lincecum blamed his deplorable efforts on a "lack of focus" and working "too fast." That's an obvious flaw Dave Righetti can repair. His electric fastball has touched the mid-90s consistently and once he throws his 12-to-6 hammer for strikes with regularity (4.33 BB/9), the sparkling starts we saw in May will resurface. By late July, the 3500 owners who hastily dropped him recently in Y! Plus leagues will feel salty. Fearless Forecast: 8 W, 3.98 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 130 K.
Vernon Wells
OF 196 99.2
'07 Stats: .254 BA, 6 HR, 34 RBI, 37 R, 5 SB, 41:20 K:BB
Market Value: Strong Buy
Lowdown: Mired in a two-month drought, contaminated Wells is on the verge of purification. The popular early-round draft choice has posted a paltry .221 BA with two homers, 17 RBI and two steals since May 1. It's apparent Wells has caught a severe case of "the dips" as his infield flyball percentage has skyrocketed to 20.0% (12.2% in '06) along with his FB% (45.9%, up from 39.5%) and K%. (16.0%, up from 14.2%). With six hits and four RBI in his past four games, it appears he's made the necessary adjustments and looks readied for a hot streak. Recently shipped in solo trades for Felix Hernandez, Erik Bedard and Jhonny Peralta in Y! Plus leagues, this might be your last chance to buy on a bear market. Wells will be one of fantasy's most celebrated second-half stars. Fearless Forecast: .283 BA, 26 HR, 98 RBI, 100 R, 12 SB.
Michael Barrett
C 296 86.9
'07 Stats: .256 BA, 9 HR, 29 RBI, 23 R, 2 SB, 36:17 K:BB
Market Value: Strong Sell
Lowdown: The former North-Side ball-botcher will never garner a roster spot on my fantasy egg-tossing team. On June 20, Barrett was traded to the Padres in exchange for backstop Robert Bowen (Why not bullpen help?) and minor league pitcher Kyler Burke. His insufficiencies on defense (eight passed balls) and the emergence of Koyie Hill as a viable signal caller made Barrett expendable. In San Diego, it seems plausible he'll split time behind the dish with switch-hitter Josh Bard, whose value in NL-only and deep mixed leagues drops significantly. Barrett, on pace for a career-high 24 homers and 76 RBI, is currently the ninth best backstop in Y! leagues, outperforming Draft Day darling Brian McCann. However, his .250 career BA (44 at-bats) at Petco and question marks surrounding his playing time are indications of a production slide. Fearless Forecast: .255 BA, 17 HR, 65 RBI.
Carlos Delgado
1B 200 99.2
'07 Stats: .226 BA, 11 HR, 41 RBI, 34 R, 2 SB, 61:22 K:BB
Market Value: Strong Buy
Lowdown: It's a good thing Paul Rudd's cynical character "Pete" in "Knocked Up" drafted Hideki Matsui and not Delgado. The newest member of the golden sombrero club (4 Ks on June 15) has collapsed in June, sporting a .214 BA and a putrid 16:2 K:BB. On pace for his lowest homer output since 1996 (26), Delgado's swoon can be blamed on poor pitch selection. This season, he's seen a whopping 38 percent decline in BB%, which explains the .226 BA. I would anticipate his BB% to creep back toward his career average of 13.6 after the break. Historically, he's been a strong second half player (Post ASB: .292 BA, Pre: .271 BA) and is bound to right the ship hitting fifth in the NL's most potent offense. Offer up a pack of Twizzlers. Fearless Forecast: .266 BA, 32 HR, 109 RBI, 85 R.
Chris B. Young
OF 208 16.6
'07 Stats: .252 BA, 10 HR, 27 RBI, 29 R, 7 SB, 39:8 K:BB
Market Value: Strong Buy
Lowdown: As another Young (MC) would say, the Arizona centerfielder has failed to "Bust a Move" in June. In 63 at-bats this month, Young has slapped a meager 12 hits and has posted an deplorable 14:0 K:BB mark. Signs of a turnaround are apparent. Against the D-Rays on June 19, Young tallied his first multi-hit game since May 27, including a walk-off two-run home run in the tenth. In his past 20 games, his BABIP has surged over .300 (.266 season), which shows improved contact. Unequivocally, the most gifted athlete among the baby D-Backs, Young will be the most unheralded 20/20 player this season. If you can stomach a mediocre BA, confide in him in all 12-team formats. Over the rest of the season, I'd take him over Bill Hall, Jermaine Dye or Barry Bonds. Fearless Forecast: .262 BA, 25 HR, 75 RBI, 77 R, 21 SB.

TRUE OR FALSE?
We've all seen these seemingly ambiguous statements on exams and quizzes since elementary school, now the classic test teaser gets a fantasy makeover. Each week, I'll tackle pressing diamond topics with a direct, succinct answer. Please, keep your eyes on your own paper.

Torii Hunter is finally going to play a full season and reach his 30/30 potential. – Duncan, Georgetown, ME

Answer: False. Money is a key motivator for Choo Freeman's cousin. On pace to establish new career benchmarks in all five rotisserie categories (Pace: 33 HR, 129 RBI, 95 R, 24 SB), the Twins smash-and-dash threat has shown increased flyball ferocity at the plate (40.9 FB%, up over 3% from last year) and has made consistent, fluid contact (.321 BABIP). In his career, he's hit 10 points higher after the break and given the Brewster's Millions that he could earn this offseason, his torrid production will likely continue, but expect his steals to plateau in the low 20s. Thankfully, Jeff Suppan's 82 mph curve that hit Hunter on June 17 inflicted only a minor bruise. Fearless Forecast: .288 BA, 32 HR, 115 RBI, 100 R, 21 SB

Andruw Jones will continue to bat under .230 the rest of the season, causing fantasy managers to go insane. – Casey, Waupun, WI

Answer: False. Just 10-for-76 in June (.132 BA) with a woeful 18 whiffs, Jones' BA has plummeted dangerously close to Mr. Mendoza's backside – let's hope he doesn't catch pink eye. The back strain he suffered in late May could be a lingering culprit, as his spike in K% and rise in FB% attests. With Chipper Jones healthy and wielding a hot bat (.444 BA in June) in front of him, the 30-year-old centerfielder should see more favorable pitches soon. Unless there is an undisclosed injury we're unaware of, he'll rebound in the second half and finish in the .260 BA, 35 HR, 110 RBI range. Hold off on the straight-jacket.

NOTABLE NOISE
Upset you don't have a forum to express your disdain for drafting Richie Sexson? Do you question why on earth you're not a fantasy expert? This is the place for you to vent your thoughts, tirades and frustrations. Can you bring the noise?

Do you have to be a sarcastic (expletive) in every single article? The Bill Simmons routine is so over.

Ron, Boston, MA

Noise: Well, if I wrote an 8,000 word diatribe on how the Boston Celtics were robbed of Greg Oden, then, yes, my "routine" would mimic Simmons. Sarcastic? How is a statement like, "Jason Schmidt is the most overpowering hurler in baseball," untrue? Look, without sarcasm the world would be a cold, dark and horribly mundane place. Maybe that's why I chuckle out loud at Paul Rudd's characters. That guy is the master of cynicism.


Good one about the Todd Van Poppel rookie cards. Sadly his rookie year coincided with my peak interest in collecting cards. Wanna buy some Van Poppels?

Dan, Amherst, Nova Scotia

Noise: If scientists could devise a plan where Van Poppel rookie cards could be used as an alternative energy resource, we would be modern day Beverley Hillbillies. Unfortunately, my Sears Tower-high stack of Jerome Walton '89 Upper Deck cards and abundant 1991 Stadium Club Brien Taylor's, along with my Van Pimples, were my "peak interest" collectibles. Today, they're not worth the price of one cancer-causing, rock-hard stick of Topps chewing gum. If only I had invested my lunch money in Phil Plantier …


Don't you think putting Kerry Wood in the loser category of Texas flamethrowers is a little bit harsh? His career numbers are solid across the board, despite the propensity to walk entirely too many people. He has a 3.68 career ERA, respectable WHIP, and phenomenal strikeout numbers when healthy. With the exception of Game 7 of the 2003 NLCS, Wood was filthy in the postseason, almost single-handedly winning the NLDS that year with his defense and hitting, let alone his pitching. Placing him with Swindell and Van Poppel is quite the stretch. I recommend creating a new category entitled "Couldn't quite put it all together and played on a lot of bad teams, which kept him from winning more than 14 games: Kerry Wood."

Ken, Chicago, IL

Noise: How about, "Couldn't quite put it all together because his ragged arm couldn't avoid the scalpel." Sure, classifying him alongside Van Poppel is extreme, but putting him in Swindell's company (also a career 3.68 ERA) is quite comparable. As you and I both know, once Wood sheds the Cubby blue, he'll regain his '03 form and have a Curt Schilling-like resurrection in his 30s. Of course, that's if he avoids drunken hot tub spills. For those interested about his current status, WGN cameras caught Wood throwing off flat ground prior to the Padres/Cubs clash on June 15. There is a reasonable chance he could suit up for bullpen duty by August. Keep close tabs on him in NL-only formats. I still think he has an outside shot to close at some point this year.


Is Dontrelle Willis going to get it together this season? His K/BB is disgusting!

Faraquat, New York, NY

Noise: Willis' fantasy value in drafts is more over-hyped than anything Beckham. Indicative of his career worst 3.83 BB/9 this season, Willis' command has again been elusive. His inability to harness his control has caused his ERA and WHIP numbers to soar to puke-inducing levels. Interestingly, he has performed significantly worse this year in the cavernous specs of Dolphin Stadium than on the road (5.47 ERA vs. 4.27 ERA). Positive signs for resurgence are sparse. His GB% has spilled over 50 percent and his FB% is under 30 percent for the first time in his career, which is encouraging. However, his forearm tightness, abundant free passes, homers allowed (1.20 HR/9) and poor approach to righties (.325 BA) are disconcerting. For your sake, you better hope he realizes that he's an ex-Cub soon. I'd stay the course for now. Willis has only attracted the likes of Ryan Dempster and Joe Borowski in one-for-one Y! Plus league trades. Fearless Forecast: 15 W, 3.96 ERA , 1.41 WHIP, 160 K


"… my nose is a big, big like a pickle …" Never expected a Digital Underground reference in a fantasy baseball column. Do the Humpty Hump!

Matt, Atlanta, GA

Noise: "… but I'm still getting paid." I must confess the "Humpty Dance" has one of my favorite rap lyrics of all time: "Samoans do the Humpty Hump!" Ya know the people of Polynesia just don't get enough love in modern Hip Hop songs. Young MC made the cut of one-hit rap wonders this week. Maybe next time a Jonathan Broxton "Baby Got Back" Sir Mix-a-Lot reference could find the Noise page …