Catching the Buzz

Change is one constant in fantasy sports. Players get hot and cool down, get hurt and get well, and move in and out of roles. Fantasy owners are constantly reacting to these changes (or at least they should be). Let's take a look at the Buzz Index from the past three days and see which players are currently causing the most change in fantasy baseball and fantasy football, and take a deeper look at what the fuss is all about.

Buzz Index (Baseball) – Adds
Cory Lidle (NYY – SP) 25,626 adds
Lidle was looking like a good fantasy option on his July splits alone – he went 4-1 in five starts, with a 3.74 ERA and 1.16 WHIP and 25 strikeouts in 33.2 innings. Of course, he became that much more popular when the Yankees acquired him at the trading deadline. In his first start in pinstripes on Thursday, Lidle allowed four hits and one run in six innings and recorded five strikeouts in an 8-1 win over the Blue Jays.

Josh Willingham (Fla – C, OF) 23,594 adds
In a span of five games from July 29 to August 1, Willingham had seven hits in 16 at bats (.438), including five homes runs, nine RBIs, and five runs scored. That hot stretch made him a popular choice for Jason Varitek owners who suddenly found themselves looking for help at the catcher position. His current total of 16 home runs has him tied with Mike Piazza for most among catcher-eligible players.

Francisco Cordero (Mil – RP) 20,525 adds
"Right now, Frankie is the best option to close games out." Brewers manager Ned Yost uttered those words this past Sunday night after Derrick Turnbow came into a 4-2 game with no outs in the ninth and proceeded to give up a solo home run and two walks on his way to getting two of the necessary three outs. Cordero came on to record the final out for the save, recorded another save on Tuesday, and appears to be locked in as closer unless he suffers a Turnbow-like meltdown of his own.

Mark Teahan (KC – 3B) 20,207 adds
Teahan was hitting just .195 in 77 at bats through May 4, so the Royals demoted him to Triple-A in hopes that he would find his swing. Well, find his swing he did – since being called back up on June 3, Teahan has hit .323 (60 for 186) in 54 games with 11 home runs, 41 runs batted in, and 39 runs scored.

Juan Rivera (LAA – OF) 19,824 adds
Rivera joins the Buzz Index leaders for the third consecutive week. Over the past seven days, Rivera has gone eight for 27 (.296) with three home runs, seven runs batted in, and six runs scored. He has hit .342 (26 for 76) with seven home runs, 21 runs batted in, and 15 runs scored in 20 games since the All-Star break, and his everyday spot in the lineup seems very, very safe at this point.

Adam LaRoche (Atl – 1B) 17,476 adds
LaRoche joins Rivera with back-to-back-to-back appearances on the Buzz Index leaderboard. He hit two home runs on Tuesday, his third multi-homer game in just under a three-week stretch, and has recorded nine homes runs in 17 games since the All-Star break.

Chien-Ming Wang (NYY – SP) 17,113 adds
Wang has a current 19-inning scoreless streak going back to the sixth inning of his July 22 start, and has also won five consecutive starts to push his current season record to 13-4. Since July 1, he's gone 5-1 in six starts with a 2.47 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP while walking more batters (12) than he has struck out (10).

Casey Blake (Cle – 3B, OF) 11,958 adds
Three home runs in two days tends to pique fantasy owners' interests, which is what Blake posted in games on July 31 and August 1 at Boston. In 17 games since returning from the DL, Blake has gone 21 for 66 (.318) with five home runs, 13 runs batted in, and 11 runs scored.

Buzz Index (Baseball) – Drops
Jason Varitek (Bos – C) 34,110 drops
Varitek's disappointing season got that much worse when he was placed on the DL by the Red Sox on Tuesday. He had arthroscopic surgery on Thursday to repair torn cartilage in his left knee and is expected to miss between four and six weeks while he recovers. Varitek is hitting just .243 in 85 games on the season. The Red Sox acquired Javy Lopez from the Orioles on Friday in an attempt to replace Varitek.

Chris Shelton (Det – 1B) 24,492 drops
Remember Shelton's huge April numbers? Don't worry – the specifics are pretty foggy for me, too. Let's take a look at his season line without his monstrous April included. In 77 games since May 1, Shelton has gone 68 for 262 (.260) with six home runs, 25 runs batted in, and 30 runs scored. That's Doug Mientkiewicz-level production, minus about 20 batting average points. It seems that the Tigers were no longer impressed, either, as they acquired Sean Casey at the trading deadline and optioned Shelton to Triple-A.

Fausto Carmona (Cle – SP, RP) 19,944 drops
"Fausto Fever" proved to be a short-term malady for many of those who became afflicted soon after the Indians dealt away Bob Wickman. Carmona has recorded losses in each of his past three appearances, giving up nine earned runs in two total innings of work in the process (that works out to a 40.50 ERA). He also allowed six hits and four walks in those appearances, good for a 5.00 WHIP.

Derrick Turnbow (Mil – RP) 18,121 drops
Brewers manager Ned Yost named Francisco Cordero the Brewers' closer after yet another poor outing in a save situation on July 30 for Turnbow. It seems that most fantasy owners do not find a 5.86 ERA and 1.56 WHIP appealing in a middle reliever, so he has hit waivers in a pretty substantial number of leagues.

Duaner Sanchez (NYM – RP) 10,163 drops
Talk about bad luck – Sanchez was riding in a cab in Florida on Sunday night when it was involved in an accident. He suffered a separated shoulder, underwent surgery, and now is out for the season. Sanchez had been one of the more effective middle relievers in the game, and was a fantasy asset in nearly any format.

Aubrey Huff (Hou – 1B, 3B, OF) 10,102 drops
Huff hasn't exactly shined since coming over from the Devil Rays. In 18 games, he's gone 15 for 66 (.227) with just one home run, four runs batted in, and eight runs scored. He had been playing third base exclusively, but with the Astros activating Morgan Ensberg from the DL on Tuesday, Huff will likely be spending most of his time in right field going forward. Of course, if he continues to hit .227, he could also be spending more of his time on the bench going forward.

Buzz Index (Football) – Adds
Cedric Benson (Chi – RB) 4,346 adds
Benson is still running with the first team in Bears camp, and Thomas Jones is still not practicing because of a hamstring injury. Benson's confidence that he is the team's starter is evident, as he told reporters on Wednesday, "It sure does seem it's my job to lose right now." He added, "I am getting a lot of work with the ones, and I'm taking advantage of it." That confidence appears to be spreading to fantasy owners, who are adding Benson to more and more rosters by the day.

Ron Dayne (Den – RB) 2,530 adds
The running back competition is wide open in Denver according to Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, but it's Dayne who is currently running with the first team offense in camp. Shanahan thinks Dayne is a good fit for the team's zone-blocking scheme, similar to the one he ran behind when he won the Heisman Trophy at Wisconsin. "The proof is in the pudding, obviously," said Shanahan, "… but we think he fits our system pretty good." Even if Dayne is simply "this season's Mike Anderson," fantasy owners will certainly take 1,000-plus yards and 12 touchdowns from a running back, particularly if he can be added as a free agent.

Michael Bennett (KC – RB) 1,665 adds
The Chiefs acquired Bennett from the Saints on Wednesday for an undisclosed draft pick, as the team appears to be shoring up depth behind Larry Johnson. Bennett rushed for 1,296 yards in 2002 as the starter for Minnesota, and figures to very quickly find himself ahead of Dee Brown and Quentin Griffin on the depth chart. With Priest Holmes' availability looking more and more uncertain, Bennett appears to be the new handcuff-of-choice for those who took LJ with their first round pick.

Buzz Index (Football) – Drops
Curtis Martin (NYJ – RB) 3,918 drops
Jets coach Eric Mangini is providing little to no information regarding Martin's status, on Tuesday making the following vague statement, "The timetable is as soon as he's physically able to, we'll get him out here." That's not the type of unknown that fantasy owners are looking for at the running back position, so Martin is comfortably ahead of the pack in the drops category in the Buzz Index. However, a source within Jets camp who wished to remain anonymous did tell the New York Newsday that Mangini is simply sparing the veteran Martin from a very demanding camp, saying, "He is beating the hell out of his players. Curtis is an elder statesman. He's leaving him out of it."

Priest Holmes (KC – RB) 2,679 drops
More and more fantasy owners are starting to think that it's the end of the line for Holmes. The Chiefs trade for Michael Bennett seems to be a fairly clear sign that the team does not expect Holmes back. That is despite lip service from Chiefs general manager Carl Peterson, who said after the Bennett trade, "This is not indicative that Priest in finished with the Kansas City Chiefs." Holmes was evaluated by a spinal specialist last week and was not cleared for contact, according to The Kansas City Star. Holmes' trainer, of all people, told The Star he hasn't seen Holmes in two weeks and added, "I've been trying to call him, but he hasn't called me back." Clearly, something is amiss.