Sell High on Tulo: Troy Tulowitzki’s 2014 Fantasy Value and Legacy

Troy Tulowitzki - SS - Rockies

Troy Tulowitzki – SS – Rockies

One of the most fascinating players in the game of baseball today, and one that can spark one of those five beer deep bar debates that we all love to have, I give you Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies. The shortstop, who will turn 30 this year, finds himself at one of those movie cliché road intersections in the middle of nowhere, and we just aren’t sure which road he will take for the second half of his career. His unmatchable ability pitted against his lengthy injury history and clear cut splits between home and away have made him impossible to identify in terms of his value and his potential legacy. I am first going to try and sell you on why you should sell high on Tulo in your fantasy leagues, and then take a look at his potential legacy when his career comes to an end.

2014 FANTASY TAKE

As you read this right now, Troy Tulowitzki is the best fantasy baseball player. He is batting over .400 with 34 runs scored, 31 RBI , and a scorching OPS of 1.271 after 113 at bats.  His walk rate is up (17.5%) and his line drive rate is stellar (30%). Add this to the fact that he is a shortstop and you are going to say I am insane when I give you this nutty piece of advice: SELL HIGH and SELL NOW, especially if you are in a head to head league.

It’s a bold move and I may end up being wrong, but one thing I do know is, he can’t play better than he is right now, and you always sell at peak value. In addition to that, here are my two major points as to why you should sell now, and go get yourself a Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera.
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2014 Fantasy Baseball: Stop the Madness! Ending Over-Reaction Transactions

in 2011 Sam Fuld had 17 runs, 10 stolen bases, and hit .289 in April  - photo by: Keith Allison -

in 2011 Sam Fuld had 17 runs, 10 stolen bases, and hit .289 in April
- photo by: Keith Allison -

Every year without fail, it seems as though there is a great deal of hysteria early in the fantasy baseball season that leads to mass amounts of knee jerk transactions being made.  There are those owners out there that will make over-reaction transactions that make for amazing message board fodder later in the season.  What you as a fantasy owner need to remember is that the season is not the Kentucky Derby, it’s the NYC marathon.  Do not over react and start add/dropping or making trades like a mad-man.  You need to trust your draft picks.  You chose those guys for a reason so if the only reason you are considering ditching a player is because they are not putting up the numbers yet, take a deep breath and relax.  Most of you know this, but sometimes people need a reminder.

NEWS FLASH: Emilio Bonifacio is not going to hit .392 this season, and Mark Buehrle is not going to win the AL Cy Young.  On the flip side, Miguel Cabrera is not going to hit .225 and Cliff Lee won’t have an ERA of 5.50.

In addition to realizing stars haven’t turned in to busts, and bad players haven’t turned into immortals, the third part of the equation to remember in the early going is that it is very rare to catch lightning in a bottle.  Yes a couple of years ago a lot of fantasy owners stumbled in to a mountain of gold on their free agent list by adding Mike Trout, but more often than not an unproven player will not become a mega-star worth dropping a drafted proven player for.

If you follow these tips you will get through the start of your fantasy baseball season while avoiding chaos, and knee-jerk bad decisions based on small samples:

TIPS ON HOW TO NOT OVER REACT EARLY IN THE SEASON

1 – Your star players haven’t forgotten how to play or lost their ability, the numbers will come.

2 – That shiny new prospect you want to add and stash will 95% of the time not do anything impactful for your fantasy team this season, if ever.

3 – An average to below-average veteran who is lighting up the stat boards didn’t all of a sudden “figure it out”, they will come crashing down to Earth.

4 – Don’t trade this early, anyone who is trying to trade for one of your guys is likely harping on your emotions over an under-performing player and trying to buy low from you.

The key is to remember how long the season is and to let your roster show you what it needs before you start tearing it apart.  It’s a long way to the playoffs, and there is no need to over react this early.

I will be writing weekly articles evaluating individual players based on their season performance to date and my estimation on their value going forward so keep checking in, and you can always find me on twitter @JohnnyCrashMLB, I’ll answer any and all fantasy baseball questions and I love a good debate. Let’s push the sun back up in to the sky once again for another great baseball season!

Why Brett Gardner’s Contract Extension is Deserved

Brett Gardner - New York Yankees - photo by: Keith Allison -

Brett Gardner – New York Yankees
- photo by: Keith Allison -

The New York Yankees have locked up Brett Gardner to a four year extension after the 2014 season.  The extension buys out his last two arbitration years and first two years of free agency.  The extension in total is worth $52 million over those four years.  There has been shock from some and approval from others, but the deal is ultimately fair for both sides for a variety of reasons that we will break down for you here.  Aside from his ability see a lot of pitches, steal bases,  and score runs, Gardner’s defensive metrics and WAR (Wins Above Replacement) should ease the hysteria and uproar about his 52 million dollar extension.  Also hop to the bottom if you want to look at Brett’s FANTASY VALUE for this season!

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The Tragedy of Alex Rodriguez

Sports fans instinctively seem to love to embrace the full story arc of an athlete’s career.  For a superstar, immortal player, there is nothing more dramatic than watching the rise, fall, and comeback redemption story play out.  But sometimes there is no coming back.  Sometimes the perfect storm of self-inflicted wounds, shattered second chances, and burnt bridges makes the comeback and redemption near impossible.  This is the tragedy of Alex Rodriguez.

-Alex Rodriguez- by: njnetsfan

-Alex Rodriguez-
by: njnetsfan

Alex Rodriguez’s baseball career was shot from a cannon after he was selected first overall in the 1993 draft by the Seattle Mariners.  By 1996 he was one of the top players in baseball and taking the league by storm.  He would go on to become a fan favorite not only in Seattle but across the country.  These were simple times for Rodriguez in regards to public perception.  The only thing people knew about ARod was that he was one of the best athletes on the planet.  He wasn’t making controversial statements, providing tabloid front page fodder, walking arm in arm with pop stars and actresses.  He was simply a phenomenal baseball player.  However his ceiling-less talent would lead him in a new direction. [Read more...]

2013 Fantasy Football: Week 16 Monday Night Football – Falcons at 49ers

Frank Gore - RB - 49ers photo by: Mike Morbeck

Frank Gore – RB – 49ers
photo by: Mike Morbeck

Fantasy Football finals have arrived.  Doesn’t it seem like the season just started? Monday Night Football this week will be the deciding factor in who takes home the trophy and who falls short.  There are a lot of fantasy players involved in this matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and defending NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers.  On paper we have two teams on opposite ends of the spectrum.  The Falcons season didn’t pan out the way most of us anticipated, mostly due to injuries.  Their four wins leave them playing meaningless football, unless you buy into the “pride” thing this late in a season.  The 49ers on the other hand are still playing for a first round bye if the Seahawks somehow lose their remaining games and the Niners win out.  Of course Seattle’s outcome will already be determined before this game is played, but even with that said, if the Cardinals win, the Niners need to win to remain a game ahead of them.  Long story short, the Niners are going to show up to play, so don’t worry about your San Fran players fantasy potential, they’ll be there, and against a defeated Falcons team, they should deliver for you.  Let’s take a look at the break down by positions.

QUARTERBACK: Colin Kaepernick can be started as a comfortable QB-1 this week against Atlanta at home.  Although San Fran has had a shaky and inconsistent passing attack this season, the Falcons shouldn’t pose as much of a threat.  The reemergence of Michael Crabtree will help as well.  Add to the fact that Kaepernick can snag you rushing yards and touchdowns of all varieties, I like him this week in your fantasy finals.  Matt Ryan on the other hand has found himself on a lot of benches this year mainly because of a week Falcons offensive line and injuries to his main receivers early.  Ryan rode the pine this year in lieu of guys like Nick Foles.  This doesn’t mean Ryan is a fantasy memory next season, because I still think when he has all of the right tools around him he is a top 5 quarterback, but not this year, and not this week.

RUNNING BACKS: Frank Gore is a must start Monday Night.  Ignore the talk about him being limited in practice.  He will play Sunday, and he will put up the points.  Not only is he facing a dismal Falcons rushing defense, but he is at home and may very well find himself in a situation where he is taking the rock more often than usual for the purpose of keeping the game clock ticking.  I think Gore will have a big game Monday Night and may be the key to take your fantasy team to trophy town.  Atlanta’s Steven Jackson has a tough task ahead of him. He had a good fantasy week last week, but that was against a pretty pathetic Redskins defense.  His offensive line will be bludgeoned by the physical Niners defense and he’ll have a difficult time finding holes to run through.  He can be placed in your FLEX if you don’t have a clear cut better option, but that’s about it.

WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT END: Long story short, I love both tight ends, and I am skeptical of all receivers.  As far as the receivers go, you can take your chances on Boldin (WR-3), and Crabtree (WR-2) but the San Francisco passing game has been shaky this year, and clearly their biggest weakness.  Atlanta receivers don’t give me any confidence at all considering they weren’t able to do much against Washington’s Pop Warner defense last week.  Does anyone really expect that to improve against the 49ers? I don’t think so. 

I do however think both tight ends are must starts.  Vernon Davis had a great fantasy week last week, that would have been even better if not for Kaepernick missing him for an easy second quarter touchdown.  He should have no problem being a target this week, and is a secure fantasy TE-1 Monday.  Tony Gonzalez needs to be started for two reasons.  First off, he is Matt Ryan’s best target.  The Falcon’s offensive line gives him little to no time to consistently hit deep receivers, so the tight end is a great target for that reason.  Secondly, Gonzalez is bringing a hall of fame career to an end in two weeks and there is no doubt he wants to go out with proud performances.  I think Gonzalez will deliver one more time for your squad before he rides off into the sunset.  

DEFENSE: The 49ers require no explanation.  They are a top 5 defense and should not have any problems at home against a banged up Atlanta offense that couldn’t do much against a terrible Redskins defense.  Atlanta’s is on the other end of the spectrum, as their defense is not a fantasy option against San Francisco on the road.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The bottom line is you are starting your Niners including their defense, starting Tony Gonzalez as a TE-1, and throwing  Steven Jackson in your FLEX if you don’t have clear cut better options, while shying away from the rest of your Falcons if possible.  The Niners are playing this game to win due to several possible playoff scenarios, and the Falcons are playing for nothing.  Add to the fact that the Niners are home, this one should not be a pretty game for Atlanta.  I see the Niners taking control of this game early, which means Frank Gore could be cleaning up if Harbaugh elects to kill the clock with a big lead in the second half.  Atlanta should come back strong in 2014 when healthy again, and I still think Matt Ryan is a top 5 quarterback when he has a strong offensive line and healthy targets, but it wasn’t to be this year.  The Niners still have the bitter taste of a Super Bowl defeat fresh in their minds, and they’re not going to forget it now as the temperatures drop and playoffs are around the corner.  Good luck in your matchups!

This was my final Monday Night Football piece of the year as fantasy playoffs are coming to an end.  Please follow me @JohnnyCrashMLB for your baseball articles and offseason tweets.  I look forward to bantering back and forth with you all baseball season.  Thanks!

2013 Fantasy Football: Week 15 Monday Night Football – Ravens at Lions

- Matthew Stafford - QB - Detroit Lions -  photo by: wilsonnfl22@yahoo.fr

– Matthew Stafford – QB – Detroit Lions -
photo by: wilsonnfl22@yahoo.fr

It’s Fantasy Playoffs! It’s Monday Night Football! The reigning Super Bowl winning Baltimore Ravens make their way to Detroit to take on the Lions.  Now most of you are probably in the midst of week 2 of your league’s playoffs.  Calvin Johnson owners will reap the benefits of their first round pick. He will have one of the biggest performances of the season this week.  Ravens safety Matt Elam made the mistake of insulting Megatron by referring to him as “old”.  The last thing the best receiver in football needs is added motivation.  The Lions are going to win this game, and the combination of Stafford and Johnson is primed to pummel the Ravens secondary in the process.  Dennis Pitta will be the stand out fantasy performer for Baltimore, so if you need a tight end, go see if he’s still out there. Let’s check out all of the fantasy players for this matchup by position.

QUARTERBACK: I like both quarterbacks this week.  I think Matthew Stafford is going to go off at home against a middle of the pack Ravens passing defense.  After Ravens’ safety Matt Elam’s comments about Megatron, you can put it in ink, Stafford is hitting the big man between the numbers often this week.  Joe Flacco is having a Super Bowl hangover season.  He is throwing as many picks as touchdowns and doesn’t look like the highest paid quarterback in the game (even though he is).  However, I was impressed with his comeback in the heavyweight boxing match in the snow against Minnesota on Sunday. He eventually won after two minutes of back and forth scoring that resembled an early 90s football video game (you know the one I’m talking about). I think this may have triggered some positive momentum for Flacco, and he will have a much easier time passing the ball inside the climate controlled dome of Ford Field. 

RUNNING BACKS: The Lions’ defense allows the 6th least rushing yards per game in the NFL.  Add that to the fact that Ray Rice has had a lackluster season and I am advising you to stay away from Ray this week.  I don’t like it.  Frankly, I’m done with Ray Rice this season. If you win your fantasy playoffs it will be in spite of owning Ray Rice.  Somebody had to say it.

The Lions have question marks in their running game.  Reggie Bush is not practicing and although he has the extra day to get ready, I am not reading or hearing anything positive in regards to him playing Monday Night.  If he is shut down, his replacement will be Joique Bell who earned a lot of respect after his gutty performance in the terrible snowy conditions in Philadelphia last week.  He proved his worth catching the ball as well, taking in four receptions for 58 yards.  If you’re a Bush owner, hopefully you’re also a Bell owner so that you’re ready either way.  But this must be monitored.  Unfortunately, a decision may not be made on this until Monday, in which you may need to play other running backs on Sunday to be safe.  Keep your ears to the ground, and by that I mean check twitter a lot.

WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT END: One word, three syllables: MEGATRON! Calvin Johnson is the best in the business and he now has added motivation.  The cardinal rule for football is to never give your opponent a reason to step up their game against you.  As I mentioned earlier, Elam broke that rule by calling out Johnson for being brittle and old.  I think Johnson is going to have a monster game this week.  I don’t think it’s going to be as epic has his performance against Dallas, but I am thinking at least 150 yards and several shots in the end zone. 

The only Ravens receiver you can start is Torrey Smith.  Smith will play as a fantasy WR-2 this week against a weak Lions secondary, but he is incredibly inconsistent and you should not expect him to help you advance to the next round in your league’s playoffs. 

As far as the tight ends go, Dennis Pitta is a must add/start.  He is only owned in 35% of Yahoo! Leagues.  If you’re a Gronk or Jordan Reed owner, hopefully you have grabbed this guy by now.  The combination of Flacco’s comfort level with him, a terrible Lions pass defense, and much better field conditions than last week is all the confidence I need to know that Pitta is primed for a big game.  Do it now, and thank me later.

DEFENSE: Neither defense is start-worthy in your matchup this week.  Stafford and Megatron will light up the Ravens, and Flacco’s momentum from last week has him set up to carve up the Lions secondary.  There are much better defense options for your matchup out there.  For example, I’d look at Buffalo this week in Jacksonville. 

THE BOTTOM LINE: If you need a tight end, hop into your league now and see if Pitta is still available then come back.

Ok good.  This has the makings of an offensively dominant game.  Ultimately, the Lions are not letting Baltimore march into their home and take this game from them.  Stafford and Johnson are going to do serious damage that the Ravens won’t be able to keep up with in the end.  Good luck in your playoffs!

2013 Fantasy Football: Week 14 Monday Night Football – Cowboys at Bears

 

Tony Romo - QB - Dallas Cowboys - photo by: illegalshift

Tony Romo – QB – Dallas Cowboys
- photo by: illegalshift

Fantasy Football playoffs have arrived! Week 14 Monday Night Football has a lot of fantasy players in the mix, and there is no doubt owners will be glued to the screen for this one to see if they live or die in their matchups.  The Windy City will host some Cowboys Monday Night as Dallas heads to Chicago to take on the Bears.  This game has the makings of a shootout, with both defenses leaving much to be desired, and both with several impressive offensive weapons.  Although the cold will be a factor, there are must starts for both teams at all positions in your lineups this week with the exception of the team defenses which should be avoided like the plague.  I think the Cowboys will walk away with a close victory in a high scoring game.  Let’s take a look at the players that will close out week 14 for your fantasy teams!  You can safely start all of the likely owned players for both teams.  This should be an offensive heavy game from all angles. 

The quarterbacks this week are both excellent matchups against the opposing defenses. However the forecast in Chicago is 22 degrees, which will certainly affect both passers no matter how you slice it.  With that said, I still would have no problem starting either quarterback this week if they are your guy.  Josh McCown is likely a backup on your roster but even he is matched up as a QB-1 this week against the depleted Dallas defense.  Tony Romo has cooled off in November, as we have seen his QB rating fall by month from 105 in September, to 98 in October, to 84 in November.  Obviously this is not a good trend.  However the Bears defense has been so terrible that you can start Romo Monday night without hesitation.  He should reach his projected totals. 

I think the running game on both ends will be big play makers in this one.  The below freezing temperatures could lead the offenses to a stronger push with the ground game which will be huge payouts for fantasy owners of Matt Forte and Demarco Murray. Yes, Matt Forte hasn’t had a rushing touchdown in 5 games but he is an elite runner and a must start.  Demarco Murray feasted on the Raiders in the red zone on Thanksgiving.  He only averaged 3.7 yards on 17 carries but he caught 5 passes for just under 40 yards receiving, and had 3 touchdowns.  He is a must start against arguably the worst rushing defense in the NFL.  The Bears give up the most rushing yards per game, and most average yards per carry.  The stars are aligned for Murray to have a huge game Monday night.

As I mentioned before, the cold weather could impact the passing game, which then of course affects your receivers targets.  We can talk about that all day but there is no way you are not starting any of the fantasy relevant receivers in this game.  Dez Bryant is one of the best receivers in football and is your WR-1.  Brandon Marshall has had quiet games in 2 of the Bears last 3 contests, but with nearly one thousand yards receiving and 9 touchdowns, he is a top 5 fantasy receiver.  Those two guys are obviously in your lineups this week, but then there is Alshon Jeffery who went on a tear last week for just under 250 yards and 2 touchdowns.  He is just as much of a WR-1 as Bryant and Marshall, and is also a must start against the beat up Dallas secondary. 

As far as tight ends go, Jason Witten is a tier-1 tight end, especially against the Bears’ defense.  Martellus Bennett has flashed some great fantasy weeks, and can be considered a top 10 tight end.  Dallas gives up the fourth most points to the tight end position according to “Yahoo! Sports”, so by all means plug him in your lineup.

 All of the hype I have been giving to the offenses for this game says all I need to say about the defenses.  Neither defense should be touched this week, or in any week for that matter.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The bottom line is that you can safely start Romo, McCown, Forte, Murray, Marshall, Jeffery, Bryant, Witten, and Bennett and expect to at the very least hit the projected points.  I think Murray is going to have a monster game.  You are staying away from both team defenses.  Ultimately, the Cowboys are going to win because they have the better quarterback, and overall better team, but it should be a high scoring game on a frigid Chicago night.  Good luck to your fantasy squad, I know you’ll be watching this game to close out the fantasy playoff week!

2013 Fantasy Football, Week 12 Monday Night Football: 49ers at Redskins

Colin Kaepernick - QB - 49ers - photo by: footballschedule -

Colin Kaepernick – QB – 49ers
- photo by: footballschedule -

Fantasy Football regular seasons are winding down and the final game of week 12 on Monday Night Football between the San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins may be the deciding factor as to whether or not your team makes the playoffs, stays alive in the hunt, or is put out to pasture.  The cocktail of questionable leadership, inconsistency, and injuries have marred the Redskins season. The defending NFC champion 49ers should beat them decisively. Unfortunately from a football perspective I don’t think this will be a fun one to watch, but from a fantasy perspective, here is the breakdown by position!

QUARTERBACK: Colin Kaepernick was the Cinderella story (thank you Bill Murray) of 2012, replacing Alex Smith and leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl.  He came into 2013 with a lot of buzz around his potential in a full season.  He was ranked inside the top 10 for fantasy quarterbacks but hasn’t met those expectations.  Kaepernick has only thrown for 1,800 yards with 11 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.  He fits in San Francisco which has an elite defense and strong running game but from a fantasy standpoint he is nestling around top 20 and is no longer a reliable starting fantasy quarterback. [Read more...]

2013 Fantasy Football, Week 11 Monday Night Football: Patriots at Panthers

Monday Night Football week 11 is upon us, and it’s a great matchup.  Tom Brady and the first place New England Patriots head down to Carolina to take on Cam Newton and the red hot Panthers.  I am picking Carolina to win.  They’re at home, with the second best defense in the NFL, against a Patriots team that I am not impressed with on the road.  If the Panthers can force the issue with Brady and make him uncomfortable in the pocket, they will take this one down for their sixth consecutive victory.  Here is your fantasy football breakdown for this matchup by position. [Read more...]

2013 Fantasy Football, Week 10 Monday Night Football: Dolphins at Buccaneers

Ryan Tannehill - QB - Dolphins photo by: lassenpkt

Ryan Tannehill – QB – Dolphins
photo by: lassenpkt

It’s week 10! It’s Monday Night Football! It’s the Sunshine State Showdown with the Miami Dolphins heading north to battle the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  The Dolphins have been the talk of the NFL this week, but not because of their play.  The Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin saga has taken over sports talk across the country, and has to have been a major distraction for the Miami football team.  But I’m not here to talk about locker room hazing, I’m here to talk about Fantasy Football Trophy raising! I think this distraction for Miami mixed with the Bucs playing at home and due for a win sets them up nicely this week.  The odds have the Dolphins, but I’m going against the grain.  I have the Bucs grabbing their first win Monday night.  Here is your fantasy football breakdown by position. [Read more...]