- Tim Haberin - Fantasy Focus
The Texas Rangers were dealt a significant blow with another shoulder injury to young infielder Jurickson Profar. He underwent surgery for a torn right labrum earlier this week ending all hopes of playing in 2015. The lost season is especially frustrating considering Profar missed all of 2014 with the same injured shoulder, but elected not to have surgery then.
Despite limited time on the field, Profar's name has remained prominent among lists of the game's future stars. In 2013, Baseball America selected the then 19-year-old switch-hitter as its number one prospect in baseball. He enjoyed a very modest first 94 games, batting .231 with 7 home runs and 26 RBI. Texas' hope (and that of fantasy owners) was that more experience would see Profar make good on the hype. A troublesome shoulder has made that experience difficult to come by.
Easily lost amid news of the disappointing setback is the fact that Profar is still only 22 years old. He certainly stands a good chance of getting healthy and making a big league impact worthy of his advance promotion. The Rangers caution, however, that he will likely not be able to resume baseball activities for at least a year. Along with the presumed necessity of an extended minor league stint, Profar may not be a factor at the major league level until the 2017 season, and then hopefully he stays off our injury updates list.
In the meantime, Texas will make do with Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor manning the middle of the infield. Odor, only 21 years old himself, might be a shrewd pickup for fantasy owners seeking infield depth. The second baseman did not look overmatched last year during his rookie season, hitting .259 with 9 home runs and 48 RBI over 114 games. Continued improvement could result in a solidly productive sophomore season.
Andrus is a 2-time All-Star shortstop and has long been valued for his glove more than his bat, but the Rangers held off on trading him this winter and expect big things from him in 2015. He did swipe 27 bags last year and is two seasons removed from stealing 42, so owners looking for stolen base numbers might consider him.
Fantasy players hoping to reap the benefits of Jurickson Profar's potential breakout season will have to wait a while longer, due to fantasy injury updates. When he does return and proves himself healthy, his talent and positional versatility around the infield can quickly lead to fantasy relevance.
Stay tuned for the latest MLB and NFL injury updates!
Newly acquired point guard Isaiah Thomas looked comfortable during his first two games with the Celtics scoring 21 points in back-to-back nights against the Lakers and his former team, the Phoenix Suns. Although he's been turning the ball over too much, he's already made a home in Boston and his role with the Celtics should continue to grow.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens seems more than happy to give the 26-year-old a full workload after Thomas played him 25 minutes on Sunday and 27 minutes on Monday. If he keeps up his current form, he will likely finish the season as a top 30 ranked fantasy NBA player and one of the top NBA players.
This season had been a rough ride for Thomas as he struggled to establish his role in a crowded Phoenix Suns backcourt with Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. Now he's out to prove that he can be a leader when given the opportunity. In 2013, the 5'9" guard broke out as the starter for the Sacramento Kings, averaging 20 points, 6 assists and 3 rebounds per contest. With the Celtics' roster being much less talented, specifically in the backcourt, Thomas should get the green light to take over the offense.
The Celtics hope that Thomas will give the organization a player to build around now that he's signed to a 3-year, $19.3 million dollar contract. Look for the undersized point guard to exceed 20 points per game, and reach 5-7 assists per game as his value is sure to increase. His fantasy basketball ceiling is very high, and he's certainly worth a look through trade in standard formats for points, threes and assists.
Keep reading ASL for the best basketball news around!
- Aneesh Ahuja - Fantasy Focus
Victor Martinez - Martinez is coming off an amazing 2014 season where he batted .335 with 32 HR and 103 RBIs. During the off-season, however, Martinez underwent surgery on his left knee to heal a torn meniscus. This is the same knee that he had surgery on to repair a torn ACL. At age 36, we can’t trust Martinez to return to his 2014 form. Look for Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler and J.D. Martinez to pick up the slack for Victor Martinez in 2015. Martinez represents a high risk in 2015 and is not worth taking in the early rounds of your draft.
Adam Wainwright - Similar to Martinez, Wainwright had an outstanding 2014 season with 227 innings and 2.38 ERA. In the off-season, Wainwright had a procedure to trim a piece of cartilage out of his throwing elbow immediately after the playoffs. The Cardinals have discussed lowering Wainwright’s workload this upcoming season to prevent further injury on his elbow. The Cardinals are poised to make another postseason run, but look for the team to control Wainwright during the season and save him for the postseason.
Nelson Cruz - Cruz had a stellar 2014 season with the Baltimore Orioles, but during the off-season he signed a four-year contract with the Seattle Mariners. Cruz crushed 40 dingers last year, but look for his numbers to decline during his first year in Seattle. Moving to Safeco field will have a big impact on Cruz’s numbers, as it is a difficult park for right-handed hitters. Also, last season was only the 2nd time that Cruz had not spent an extended period on the disabled list. Cruz has not been consistently healthy throughout his career and cannot be trusted this year. At the age 34, Cruz is more likely to get hurt and see his production dip. Look for cheaper options for power other than Cruz to fill your outfield positions.
- Greg Pokriki - Fantasy Focus
Fantasy Baseball News
Coming off a year-long suspension for steroid use, Alex Rodriguez reported to Yankees camp and even decided to show up a few days early. The controversial player took batting practice and although many believe he will now be a full time DH, he fielded some ground balls from the left side of the infield.
Despite the never-ending questions that surround Rodriguez, the biggest may be what value does he have for your MLB fantasy squad? Not so surprisingly, the answer is NONE. At this point, there's no reason for anyone to believe that his on-filed production will be anything more than a shadow of what he was capable of in the past.
During 44 games in 2013, A-Rod put up his lowest OPS (.771) since he was 20-years-old. Now he’s 39, hasn’t played in more than a year and the Yankees are stuck with him.
Unless a rash of injuries devastate the Yankees lineup, playing chances for Rodriguez at the DH position will likely be few and far between. New York manager Joe Girardi often uses the DH spot to give players a rest from playing their every day positions.
Catcher Brian McCann and outfielder Carlos Beltran will likely see a good amount of at-bats at the DH spot. So will Garrett Jones who the Yanks signed during the offseason. This crowded cast at DH will further diminish A-Rod’s possible role.
The ambiguities surrounding A-Rod’s role with the team are reason enough to avoid him. If he goes undrafted in your league, feel free to leave him on the wire. The Yankees seemingly wish that they didn’t have A-Rod on their team and you certainly shouldn’t be chomping at the bit to get him on your MLB fantasy squad either.
For the lastest MLB fantasy news, including fantasy baseball sleepers and advice, stay tuned to ASL!
The Portland Trail Blazers might be in better shape after acquiring SG Arron Afflalo from the Denver Nuggets, but his fantasy basketball value will almost certainly take a hit. Afflalo's played more than 30 minutes per game in Denver, but will be coming off the bench for the Blazers. Portland gave up 2 draft picks and three players to acquire Afflalo, Alonzo Gee and this roster move should pay dividends as the playoffs creep closer.
The 29-year-old posted solid numbers in Denver this season, but for Portland, his on-court value will far supersede his value in fantasy basketball leagues. Afflalo is averaging 14.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game and can use his scoring to make him an effective sixth man and a leader for the second unit.
His presence will also take some pressure off star NBA players PG Damian Lillard and PF LaMarcus Aldridge to get all of the scoring done. Aldridge will be the major benefactor, as he is dealing with a severe thumb injury that will require surgery at the end of the season.
Afflalo should fit in well, adding to the 3-point shooting culture. The Trail Blazers rank 3rd in the league, hitting 10 threes per game and Afflalo averages about 1.5 per game. Portland is currently 4th in the Western Conference and an offensive upgrade was necessary to have a chance at making it to the NBA Finals. It's difficult to predict how much of an impact the scoring guard will have, but it should be enough to at least secure a top 5 seed in the West.
When the injury updates news first broke that Angels outfielder, Josh Hamilton, needed surgery on the AC joint in his right shoulder, he was expected to miss around 6 to 8 weeks. Now Angels skipper Jerry Dipoto says that Hamilton could miss as many as 12 weeks after undergoing the surgery on February 4th. This is more bad news for Hamilton and his prospects for ever being fantasy relevant again.
Hamilton (no stranger to our fantasy injury updates) is just a few months away from his 34th birthday and hasn't had a decent year since year since he signed with Los Angeles at the end of 2012. He's been a complete bust for the organization ever since he signed a 5-year, $125 million contract. Since he left Texas, Hamilton has been nothing more than a shadow of his former self managing only 31 home runs while batting a pedestrian .254.
A healthy Hamilton was terrible in 2013 for the halos and played in only 89 games last season while struggling with shoulder issues. He's going to miss all of spring training and is projected to return to the field some time in May, but his fantasy baseball prospects are dismal at best.
At this point, Hamilton is not even worth a stash in any fantasy format.
Check back for the latest in MLB and NFL injury updates.
RB Fantasy Football News -
Fantasy RB CJ Spiller isn't getting much ink, but is one of the most talented free agents on the market. The Buffalo Bills are doing everything in their power (according to GM Doug Whaley) to keep Spiller in a Bills uniform and Rex Ryan has also stated publicly that he wants Spiller back as well.
Spiller had all the hype in the world coming out of college as a home run hitter with potential to score every time he touches the ball, but Spiller hasn't been lighting up the scoreboard and staying healthy enough to warrant being the 9th overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft. Spiller has only rushed for over 1,000 yards one of the five years he's been in the league but he has excelled in the return game for the Bills.
If the Bills can reach a deal with Spiller he will get plenty of opportunities out of the backfield and only time will tell if he can remain healthy in the likely ground and pound situation he will be in. Stay tuned to RB fantasy news for updates on the Spiller saga.
If the Bills can't reach a deal with Spiller there will be a long list of teams that express interest. A perfect fit for Spiller would be with the New York Jets who recently hired Chan Gailey to be their Offensive Coordinator. Spiller had some of his best years under Chan Gailey in Buffalo and Spiller has already expressed interest and thinks it makes a lot of sense to reunite with Gailey.
If Spiller gets to test the free agent market some lucky team will be all smiles when they land the speedster who, if healthy, can flip the field and light up the scoreboard.
Stay updated with ASL's RB news all offseason!
- Austin Becker - Fantasy Focus
RB Fantasy Football News -
There will be no shortage of uncertainty when training camp kicks off in Minnesota for next season. The Vikings faithful are clearly behind fantasy RB stalwart Adrian Peterson and would love it if the former NFL most valuable player would rejoin their squad.
The Vikings also have an emerging young back in their repertoire who can make RB news by the name of Jerick McKinnon. McKinnon is recovering from back surgery, but it sounds like he will be ready for the start of the season.
Scenario 1 – Vikes get AP back, McKinnon goes to backup
This scenario would be the best for Viking fans, and essentially best for anyone that loves watching a dominant powerful running back destroy and dismantle his opponents. If Adrian Peterson returns to the Vikings he will clearly regain his starting gig as the Vikings running back. If this were to happen, fellow running mate Jerick McKinnon would assume the backup role with the Vikings.
This would be a deadly one-two punch coming out of the backfield for the Vikings. Adrian Peterson has it all – he’s fast, powerful and can cut on a dime. While McKinnon, a college quarterback turned running back, was brought on with the thought that he could slowly learn the running back position. He quickly exceeded expectations and wound up averaging 4.8 yards a carry. With these two in the backfield for the Vikings, opposing defenses would have to prepare heavily for a vaunted running game that they would bring to the table.
Scenario 2 – AP out in Minnesota, McKinnon gets starting gig
This scenario, yet not as tasty as the first one, would still be okay for the Vikings. If Peterson was not able to come back to the Vikings, Jerick McKinnon would obtain the starting spot. It’s good to note that McKinnon has been going quite well thus far for the young running back. With Matt Asiata becoming a free agent and Adrian Peterson’s status still cloudy, McKinnon would likely cement the starting role in Minnesota.
It is crucial for McKinnon to get healthy with such a big role waiting at his doorstep. It is not certain that Adrian Peterson will be back with the Vikings next season so McKinnon must prepare himself like he is going to be the starting running back in Minnesota.
For the most up to date RB fantasy news, keep reading ASL!
Pacers PG George Hill should be avoided in standard fantasy basketball formats as his fantasy basketball upside is limited by his inability to stay on the court. Hill has played in just 15 games as he has battled injuries all season long and cannot be expected to stay healthy enough to produce consistently.
Hill has been plagued with a groin injury for most of the season and has recently been nursing a bum leg. Despite having his minutes limited, he's still not been able to battle back from his nagging injuries. The other problem is that the underwhelming Pacers roster cannot alleviate the pressure in order to ease him back into action.
One of the better NBA players in Indiana, PF David West, could be on the move before the trade deadline, leaving George Hill with even more of a workload to take on. The guard's scoring is up 3.8 PPG (from 10.3 to 14.1) from a season ago, but his sample size is too small to suggest he can put up decent numbers every game.
Hill is coming off a good performance against the Pelicans, putting up 17 points and 9 assists, so now might be the right time to convince another fantasy NBA owner to take the bait and strike a deal. It's only a matter of time before one of his injuries becomes re-aggravated and he misses time yet again.
Stay tuned to ASL for the most updated fantasy basketball news and advice!
- R.C. Fischer - Fantasy Football Metrics
QB Fantasy Football News -
There's so much news swirling around Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, it's almost impossible to keep it all straight. Seeing that I am the world’s foremost expert on all things Nick Foles, there's no doubt that you’d like my take on the almost-trade for Josh Gordon with Cleveland.
Add to that, Xavier Cromartie’s current prediction in his CFM Mock Draft 3.0 that the Titans will trade the pick to Philly in exchange for Nick Foles (and now other Mock Drafters are following suit)…and now we got a lot of Foles-based chatter to discuss.
I know, I write a lot about Foles, but is there any other player in the NFL who is such a lightning rod right now? The two main QB-based stories from the 2015 NFL Draft right now are: (1) Jameis Winston v. Marcus Mariota. (2) Will Philly move up for Mariota? If Philly is moving up after Mariota, then Foles is likely on the move—which sets off a whole chain of events in the NFL, and Dynasty-Fantasy Football 2015.
First, I want to tackle the Gordon for Foles info…
I have to start by saying Mike Lombardi is now my new favorite football mind in all the NFL. Lombardi came out of working on the media side of things after 5+ years to become the GM for Cleveland in 2013. He fought with Norv Turner over Brian Hoyer v. Brandon Weeden…and he was right (Hoyer). He fought with the owner (who is as bad as they get), and got fired—onus points in my book. He swindled Indy for a #1 pick in exchange for Trent Richardson (which everyone hated for the Browns at the time, except me and a few others, and now that trade is sheer genius). He jumped to the Patriots in early 2014, after his unceremonious firing by the Browns—and ‘ta da’, the Pats befuddle experts by taking Jimmy Garoppolo, who is a thousand-times better than the football media’s preferred QB prospects: Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles.
…and he almost dumped Josh Gordon in exchange for Nick Foles to begin 2013.
We have to analyze the timing here…
Before the 2013 season, no one in the football media really liked or cared about Nick Foles. He relieved the disaster that was Michael Vick (who helped get Andy Reid fired), and played well for a cold rookie to end the 2012 campaign. Despite the encouraging finish, Foles was mostly ignored—by the media and his own coaches (as Vick would earn the start for 2013…but not for long).
Before the 2013 season, Josh Gordon had not ‘broken out’ yet. He was flashing at year’s end 2012, but was going to begin the 2013 season suspended for a few games—he was a talented, troubled enigma at the time of the Foles-Gordon offer. It was about halfway into 2013, where Gordon exploded to a superstar status. Lombardi knew what most did not, and still do not want to face—Gordon was a pending train wreck. Lombardi was rumored to be in attempts to trade Gordon multiple times that season.
A very savvy personnel man (Lombardi) was trying to swipe Nick Foles, but Philly denied him. You might interpret that as “Ohhh, Philly really likes Foles then!” I’m not so sure. I think that was a low-point to nab Foles. Philly loved them some Michael Vick (which was brilliant), and they just draftedMatt Barkley (like I said then—disaster). If they loved Foles back then, they sure had a funny way of showing it.
The non-deal was more likely a fear of Josh Gordon, and the fact (as I have been railing), there are no trades made in the NFL…because most GMs are frightened creatures, if that were not so, there would be deals happening all over—like in all the other major sports. Lombardi tried to make it happen, but I’m sure Philly’s recently bounced GM, and his 2012 stated desire for Kirk Cousins overNick Foles, was not ‘confident’ enough to make a deal.
The fate of the Cleveland Browns under Lombardi, with the Gordon and Richardson trades, could have been special. Instead, the new Browns GM (Ray Farmer) is about to get harshly penalized for rules violations, and the genius owner is looking at mega-busts with his two first-round picks from 2014.
Which leads me to my next thought: Nick Foles will NOT be traded this year.
Again, go back to my rule of NFL GMs as ‘scared puppies’. No team is going to step up big for Nick Foles, because they all, by and large, follow the media–which controls the majority of vocal fans…and the media discounts Foles, thus so do the vocal fans…thus the majority of NFL GMs, with no conviction, will not buck the media—because if they are wrong, the media/fans will crucify them. It takes a bold GM to make a Foles deal, but bold, confident, ‘not afraid of being fired’ GMs are not likely needing to overtrade for a franchise QB…because they probably got one already. Mike Lombardi doesn’t need Nick Foles in New England. Only crappy franchises that keep striking out at the QB spot need Foles, but those junk teams with junk GMs wouldn’t know a real QB from a hole in the ground…thus they’ll keep chasing…or deferring to the Head Coach for picks like Blaine Gabbert, and Jake Locker, and Blake Bortles, and E.J. Manuel, etc. a.k.a. the media’s preferred fantasy QBs.
Even the places where a Foles fit is very logical, a trade at this time doesn’t make sense. Philly trading with St. Louis, doesn’t help them get high enough to take Mariota. If a team were going to make a big run at Foles, and if he were truly on the open market—a deal would have happened by now. A team desperately wanting Foles cannot wait—there is no real ‘plan-B’ franchise QB just sitting out there. If Philly wants to trade Foles in order to bring in Mariota…they cannot deal with most teams who would might want Foles (STL, BUF, NYJ)…it leaves them too short of where Mariota is likely being picked.
It would take brass balls mixed with desperation mixed with genius to make a Foles deal with Tampa or Tennessee…because those two franchises do not possess any of those three attributes. I just think Tennessee and Tampa are horribly run, and wouldn’t possibly see Foles as an answer at all.
Really, the only logical time for Philly to make a deal is when they know Marcus Mariota will be available…and he may not be at #2. So unless Tampa wants Foles, we won’t see a Foles deal (if it happens) until draft day. Tampa may want Jameis Winston, but one more character hit surfaces, and he’s falling out of the 1st-round. Tampa may be forced into taking Mariota because Winston’s draft his stock plummets (which I think might happen). If Philly preemptively traded up to #2 today, as Xavier Cromartie and others are speculating, only to see Mariota gone at #1…then what? Especially, if it took Foles being traded away to move up. Philly cannot wake up with Matt Barkley as their starter. Foles only goes in a deal if Mariota is absolutely in hand. It’s too early to figure that out yet—unless Tampa bites, and trades the #1 overall.
**Fantasy Football Metrics and College Football Metrics IDP Dynasty (three-year) projections now exist on the Fantasy Football Management technology: “The Machine.” See “The Machine” here (link): The Machine via FFM
Many have asked me: “What’s Foles’ Fantasy Football value on a deal to Tennessee (or wherever)?”
As a pro-Foles ‘in every way imaginable for Dynasty/Fantasy’ guy, I want Foles gone from Philly for three reasons:
1) I think if he stays in Philly, they will eat him (and Chip Kelly) alive. Philly’s vocal fans (a.k.a. the local media and conventional wisdom) want Pontius Pilate to free Barabbas, and to crucify Jesus. Unless, Foles stays, and wins a Super Bowl in the 2015-16 season, there will always be complaining…and it’s about to become deafening on Chip Kelly. If I were Nick Foles’ agent, I would take out a huge insurance policy, and play without the worry of a new contract in 2015 (whether as a starter or on the bench behind whomever for Philly).
I’d then have my client Foles become a coveted free agent in 2016. We would leave Philly no matter what. There is no joy to be found there.
So I hope for Foles sake he is traded…soon.
**See the 2015 NFL Draft and 2015 Dynasty Rookie Draft, like never before with our Moneyball-style scouting reports and rankings. Go to www.collegefootballmetrics.com **
2) I think if a team trades for Foles now, it’s an ‘all-in’ deal. They are banking their future on him. A commitment is being made…which is a much better work environment than being vilified at every turn by your home-town fans. I want Foles to go where he is wanted.
3) So much is made of Chip Kelly’s Offense ‘making QBs’, which is funny since Michael Vick, Matt Barkley, and Mark Sanchez have all pretty well sucked royally. Only one QB among them nearly broke NFL efficiency records, and has a huge winning percentage as a starter, along with a better thanAndrew Luck career TD-to-INT ratio (2.7-to-1 vs. 2.0-to-1)…and we hate that guy, apparently.
I think the Chip Kelly Offense is all wrong for Nick Foles. I mean, Foles is great so he can almost set NFL records in it and all, but I see him much better in a traditional down field passing game. Just let him sit back and pick apart the defense vs. all the trickeration screen passes, and fake hand-offs, etc.
Nick Foles was made for Bruce Arians’s passing game. He actually works in Norv Turner’s offense as well. There are many places Foles could flourish—I was long-shot hoping Peyton retired, and Foles would wind up in Denver.
The main point is: Foles is not a Chip Kelly story. We may even find out Chip Kelly was more aNick Foles story than anyone wanted to believe (a la Belichick-Brady).
15-4 record (78.9%) = Nick Foles as the starter (or main snap QB) for Chip Kelly in the NFL
5-8 record (38.4%) = NOT Nick Foles as the starter (or main snap QB) for Chip Kelly in the NFL
Mike Lombardi making a move for Nick Foles…it shows there was some general interest before Foles exploded in 2013. I don’t know why there would be less interest in Foles today after all he has accomplished under the circumstances the past two seasons. Foles is going to be fine whatever happens. Just sit back and enjoy the show.
For Fantasy Football QB news purposes, I think Foles works on any NFL team, obviously some teams have better weapons and lines than others, but by and large, I think Foles is one of the top NFL QB in-waiting and he’ll have Fantasy value wherever. He is an experienced, established, high-functioning passer…who will only get better. I’d love him on any team, with Philly becoming my least favorite option.
For more QB fantasy news, stay tuned to Fantasy Focus!
– R.C. Fischer is an NFL Draft analyst for College Football Metrics.com, and a football projections analyst and writer for Fantasy Football Metrics.com. He is also a lead writer for ‘Play The Draft.com’. His group also provides player projections for Advanced Sports Logic’s football software “The Machine.” See “The Machine” here: The Machine via FFM