Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fantasy Baseball Roundtable: Looking Back at The Morgan-Hanrahan Trade

On June 30th, the Bucs sent outfielder Nyjer Morgan and reliever Sean Burnett to the Nats in exchange for outfielder Lastings Milledge and reliever Joel Hanrahan.

Nearly one month later, the guys at Front Row Fantasy Sports (myself, Dalton Scantling, and Christian Karcole) look back at this deal (mainly because we have all have a man-crush on Nyjer Morgan) and briefly analyze the winner, and each player involved.

Nick Allen:

Well, the one player that really sticks out in this trade is Nyjer Morgan. Since getting traded to the Nationals, Morgan is batting .394 with one home run, and 13 stolen bases. He is now batting .304 on the season with 56 runs, three home runs, 34 RBI, and 31 stolen bases.

Morgan has been solid all year, and is on a tear with the Nationals, right now he is the most productive player in this deal.

Fantasy Spin: Morgan is a great addition to any fantasy team especially roto. He can hit for average and has very good speed. Morgan should be owned in all leagues while he is producing like this.

The other player that came to the Nationals, Sean Burnett, has been pretty impressive in his minor role with the club. In his first game with the team he allowed a home run, since then he has not allowed a single run. His stat line with the Nats looks like this: 10.1 innings pitched, with nine strikeouts, and an ERA of 0.87.

Fantasy Spin: Burnett has extremely small fantasy relevance, but could be worth a pick-up in a very deep NL only league.

Lastings Milledge has yet to make his Pirates debut, and is currently playing in Triple-A where he is 19 for 56 with a .339 batting clip, three stolen bases, and six RBI, in 16 games.

Whenever called up, Milledge could be a nice addition to the Pirates outfield, but I'm going to have to see him perform highly at the major league level before I'm buying into anything.

Fantasy Spin: Milledge has no fantasy value while playing in the minors, obviously, but if he keeps playing the way he is down their, it will be hard for the Bucs to not call him up. Keep an eye on his status.

Joel Hanrahan is in a similar position as Sean Burnett, they both encompass minor roles within their respective teams. Hanrahan has more upside though, if anything happens to Matt Capps, he has a good shot at taking over the closers role.

Fantasy Spin: Hanrahan should be owned in deep leagues at this point, but if Matt Capps struggles, gets injured, or even traded, Hanrahan has a good shot at taking over the closers role.

I think the Nationals got the better end of this deal for now, everything could change based solely on how Lastings Milledge performs in the MLB when given the opportunity.

Dalton Scantling:

The Pirates got Lastings Milledge and Joel Hanrahan from the Nationals.

Milledge started off the year terribly with the Nats and was sent down to Triple-A to try to fix his swing. Since being traded he seems to have found his stroke.

He’s hitting .339 for Indianapolis and it’s only a matter of time before he gets called up. His power numbers are down, but he’s making up for that with the very high average.

Whenever he gets called up he should make an impact for the Pirates.

The second player the Pirates got, Joel Hanrahan, is a good relief pitcher that’s a little inconsistent at times. He has an ERA of 6.70, but since coming over to Pittsburgh he has an ERA of just 3.00.

On the other side of the trade the Nationals got Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett.

Nyjer has been the best player in the deal so far. He is second in the NL with 31 stolen bases and is hitting over .300. Since coming over to Washington he is hitting an outstanding .394. He has also been caught stealing 31% of the time compared to 56% of the time while with the Pirates.

The other player the Nationals received in the deal was Sean Burnett. He has been great since coming over. He has given up just one run and sports a 0.87 ERA with the Nationals.

That one run he gave up did give him a blown save, but he has been rock solid since then. In his last nine innings pitched, he’s given up just three hits and no runs.

I think the Washington Nationals were the winners of this deal. Both Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett are doing more than what was expected of them. If Lastings Milledge doesn’t come up to the big leagues and produce the Pirates ownership will take a hit for this trade.

Christian Karcole:

Nearly one month ago, when Nyjer Morgan was traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Washington Nationals in a four-player deal, nobody expected him to produce like he has. After moving from a last place team (the Pirates), to the worst place team (the Nationals), Morgan has actually seen an upturn in production. A huge upturn, that is.

His .394 batting average with the lowly Nationals ranks fourth in the majors for the month of July, while his 13 stolen bases in the month ranks first. Also, Morgan's 35 hits this month rank sixth in the majors.

As a lead off hitter for the worst team in baseball, you can't expect much else from Morgan. His stellar average, stolen bases, and hits should be enough to prove how well the 29-year old is playing.

Along with Morgan, the Pirates sent left-handed reliever Sean Burnett to the Nats. With his new club, Burnett has posted a 0.87 ERA with nine strikeouts in 10.1 innings. He could eventually make a case as the Nationals' future closer if Mike MacDougal proves himself unfit for the role.

In return, the Nationals sent troubled outfielder Lastings Milledge and inconsistent reliever Joel Hanrahan. Milledge, who has been up-and-down between the majors and the minors over the course of his career, has yet to appear in a game for the Pirates. Hanrahan has made a slight impact with the Pirates, as he has gone nine innings so far while striking out 10 batters. His ERA with the Pirates stands at a solid 3.00.

Overall, who ends up as the winner of the deal? Obviously, it has to be the Washington Nationals. They received a stud outfielder and a young, extremely solid reliever, and only gave up an above average reliever and an outfielder who has yet to make his mark on the field wherever he has played.

When this deal was completed, most questioned its intent and whether there was a point in either team trading who they did. Both teams exchanged an outfielder and a reliever. At the time, it appeared to be a toss-up who the winner would end up as. Now, just a month after the exchange took place, the Nationals are the clear winners (for a change).

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Karcole's Top Ten: Wide Receivers

Within the next week, the Front Row Fantasy Sports team will be releasing a much more expansive and organized player rankings list. Some might call it a draft kit. Until then, I will be previewing my own personal rankings, most of which will be filled with my unlimited supply of wisdom.

1. Larry Fitzgerald-Arizona Cardinals
This is basically a no-doubter pick. We finally see a year when the no. 1 players for QB's, RB's, and WR's are almost unanimous. Andre Johnson could make a run for the top spot, but his injuries, along with his QB's injuries, could harm those chances. Fitzgerald is consistent, and flat out talented.

2. Andre Johnson-Houston Texans
Even after he brought in just two and three receptions in weeks three and four, Johnson finished second in fantasy scoring for wide receivers. Add to that the fact that Matt Schaub, his quarterback, missed five games, and it's simply mind boggling to think how Johnson was able to put together such a strong season. Too bad it'll all likely happen again this year.

3. Roddy White-Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan is another year older, and Roddy White has another year of experience. The only problem? Defenses will have more knowledge on Ryan when they defend against him, and the same goes for White. The ultimate factor is whether Ryan is able to repeat his rookie season. I believe he can, but it's very possibly that defenses use their experience against him to their advantage.

4. Calvin Johnson-Detroit Lions
On a horrendous team, possibly the worst in history, Calvin was fantastic. He was their only receiving option, and had a few different quarterbacks throwing his way, none of which played all that well. Somehow, some way, Calvin Johnson was consistent and one of the most reliable receivers in the league. Matthew Stafford, if he plays, likely won't be extremely effective this year, so expect more of the same from Calvin.

5. Steve Smith-Carolina Panthers
Jake Delhomme is pretty lousy, but like both Johnson's (Andre and Calvin), he doesn't let that hold him back. He was able to finish 5th for receivers in 2008, even after missing the first two weeks due to a suspension. The running game may begin to take over in Carolina. Even so, Smith is not in jeopardy of losing all that much production.

6. Randy Moss-New England Patriots
Tom Brady is back, and Moss is certainly happy about that. Even with Matt Cassel, Moss posted top-ten numbers last season. With Tom Brady, he hopes to return to his record-breaking form from 2007. He shouldn't expected to produce in such enormous amounts like '07, but a more consistent season should be expected. Yet, if an injury to Tom Brady presents itself again, Moss' value drops a considerable amount due to the lack of a reliable back-up.

7. Greg Jennings-Green Bay Packers
Jennings has shown he can play over the past few seasons. He has been inconsistent at times, yet he flourished with Aaron Rodgers last year. He was much more consistent last season, and even when he began to see a decrease in numbers as the end of the season approached, Jennings was still bringing in touchdowns. He'll get you points one way or another.

Marques Colston-New Orleans Saints
Colston's missed time last season overshadowed his impressive return. After his injury, Colston had less than 10 points just twice (not including his first game back when he caught 2 passes). Although he didn't bring in many touchdown's in his first weeks after his injury, Colston caught four TD's in his last three games. Plus, having Drew Brees helps.

9. Reggie Wayne-Indianapolis Colts
With Marvin Harrison gone, Wayne should see more looks in 2009. The only downside for Wayne is that Anthony Gonzalez will be have a more important role in the offense this season than last. But I wouldn't be too worried about Gonzalez stealing too many passes. They have different roles, so his production should stay the same, at the least.

10. Dwayne Bowe-Kansas City Chiefs
Dwayne Bowe is my super-sleeper pick for 2009. He has Matt Cassel throwing to him, Todd Haley (the Offensive Coordinator for the Cardinals last season) as his head coach, and is Cassel's only option. The latter of the three is a positive point because Bowe has the talent to get away from double teams and into open space. He found a way to have a successful season in 2008 with Tyler Thigpen. He should only do better with Cassel.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Karcole's Top Ten: Runningbacks

Within the next week, the Front Row Fantasy Sports team will be releasing a much more expansive and organized player rankings list. Some might call it a draft kit. Until then, I will be previewing my own personal rankings, most of which will be filled with my unlimited supply of wisdom.

1. Adrian Peterson-Minnesota Vikings
I know, I know...what am I thinking? Adrian Peterson...he's horrible. But don't worry, he'll be a stud. Oh, what? Not that AP? Phew.

2. Michael Turner-Atlanta Falcons
He's apart of a talented offense, so he won't be the main focus for the defense. He doesn't have a ton of mileage on him, so you can expect him to still have his legs. He had a terrific season last year in his first year as a starter. There's not much you can't like about Burner Turner.

3. Matt Forte-Chicago Bears

Fantasy analysts argue that Forte benefited from being the focal point of the Bears' offense last season, and showed his low YPC as a sign that he isn't all that great. If anyone can put up a top-five fantasy season with a sub-four YPC in his rookie year, then when he is able to up that YPC, he can only improve. Additionally, Jay Cutler is now behind center, throwing more focus off Forte.

4. Chris Johnson-Tennessee Titans
LenDale White faded from the offense late in the season, but even when his presence was felt in the early weeks, Johnson played well. He showed his big-play ability, which is key in the fantasy world, and proved he can get into the end zone just as efficient as LenDale. I'm not what you call a believer in the "Sophomore Slump", so I expect an almost identical season from CJ.

5. Maurice Jones-Drew-Jacksonville Jaguars
Fred Taylor is no longer sharing the load, David Garrard has Torry Holt, and Jones-Drew bulked up to around 210 pounds. So how in the world is MJD not higher than no. 5? It's simple. A wise man once advised me not to draft Joseph Addai last season. Thank you very much, sir. That same man hinted at his dislike of MJD this year. Is that enough of an explanation?

6. Steve Slaton-Houston Texans
Three sophomore running backs in the same top six, along with a back in his second season as a starter. This must be a record, and is likely too good to be true. Yet somehow, Turner, Johnson, Forte, and Slaton take up 66% of the top six. So why Slaton so high on my rankings? He isn't even the best player on his offense (which is a good thing), so defenses won't be stacking the box, and while he doesn't receive too many goal-line opportunities, he is able to prance into the end zone in other ways. There isn't much downside to his potential.

7. Steven Jackson-St. Louis Rams
Jackson has been poised to finally become the stud in the fantasy football world for two seasons now. Injuries and a horrible -- no, disastrous -- offense along with an even worse quarterback slowed him down. He bounced back decently the last five weeks of the season, but with the same terrible team surrounding him, can Jackson keep himself healthy and be productive? Well, yes. But health is the key.

8. Clinton Portis-Washington Redskins
My skepticism of Portis was at an all-time high earlier in the offseason, but I've eased up on him. He is reaching the age and years of experience that most running backs begin to see their play suffer, so Clinton does have that to worry about. But besides the age factor, he is still due for one or two more consistent seasons.

9. LaDanian Tomlinson-San Diego Chargers
I'm not too fond of LT these days. Injuries, a less important role in the offense, a contract dispute, and a threatening back-up all contributes to my dislike of the former guaranteed no. 1 pick. Philip Rivers is the new sheriff in town, so LT's work will decrease, and Darren Sproles should have his share of carries and receptions. Add to that a healthy Antonio Gates, and you've got yourself a crowded offense. A 30-year old running back with health issues doesn't have a lot of chances to rush with a whole lot of success. But since he's LT, he remains among the top ten.

10. DeAngelo Williams-Carolina Panthers
Rounding out the top ten is DeAngelo Williams, who finished 2008 in dramatic fashion. He achieved over 20 points in six of his last 12 games, didn't have less than 12 runs over his last ten games, and had over 30 points in three of his last six games, all three coming in a span of four weeks. But, Jonathan Stewart somehow managed to keep himself in the mix, as he also improved as the season went on. Stewart's best weeks also came when Williams' came. The talent he brings to the table is too impressive, so the coaching staff in Carolina cannot resist giving him an even bigger role in the offense. That, my friends, is why Williams is as low as ten in my rankings, and most other rankings.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Diggin' Deep: Fantasy Baseball Deep League Pick-Ups, Pitchers Edition

Are you in a 14, 16, or even a 20 team league and need some good pitching options? Well I've put together a list of a couple of guys owned in less than two percent of ESPN Fantasy Baseball leagues that can help out your team.

They're all young, and can turn out to be very good pick-ups especially in deep dynasty leagues.

Craig Stammen

Yesterday, in 7.1 innings, Stammen held the Mets to one run and four hits, while striking out five, and walking four. He is now 3-5 on the season with 34 strikeouts, 15 walks, a 4.14 ERA, and 1.18 WHIP.

In his last four games he is 2-2, with 24 hits allowed, seven earned runs, and 12 strikeouts. One of his two wins included a complete game where he gave up two runs and struck out two.

Stammen doesn't strikeout a lot of batters, and he plays for the Nationals. Yet, he has an ERA slightly below league average, and he's young.

Stammen is worth a pick-up in deep leagues, he is only owned in 0.3 percent of ESPN Fantasy Baseball leagues.

Mat Latos

Latos pitched Sunday against the Rockies on a 75 pitch limit in his debut. He tossed four innings, and gave up three hits, two earned runs, while striking out four, and walking two.

In Double-A he had a 1.19 ERA, a 0.51 WHIP, and an impressive 9.00 K/BB.

Latos can provide you with strikeouts, ERA, and WHIP, as his pitch count increases.

His next start is the 24th against the Nationals, pick him up and start him in this favorable match-up. He is only owned in one percent of ESPN Fantasy Baseball leagues.

Tim Stauffer

In six innings of work Monday, Stauffer allowed one run, and three hits, while striking out four, although he got the no decision.

Both of his starts this season have been good, but he is still 0-1 on the season. In his first start he threw seven innings, allowed four hits, two earned runs, one walk, while striking out seven.

He has a 2.08 ERA, and a 0.77 WHIP on the season. Stauffer can be a decent source of strikeouts, and a good source of ERA, and WHIP.

His next start is the 25th against the Nationals, which I would consider a favorable match-up. He is only owned in 0.6 percent of ESPN Fantasy Baseball leagues and is worth a pick-up in deeper leagues.

Luke French

Today, against Seattle, French lasted 5.1 innings, giving up eight hits, and only two runs, while striking out six. He was awarded the loss after only getting one run of run support.

On the season he is 1-1 with a 2.63 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, and 17 strikeouts.

French is a cheap source of strikeouts, and a good source of ERA, he is worth a pick-up in deep leagues.

He is owned in 1.1 percent of ESPN Fantasy Baseball leagues.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Karcole's Top Ten: Quarterbacks

Within the next week, the Front Row Fantasy Sports team will be releasing a much more expansive and organized player rankings list. Some might call it a draft kit. Until then, I will be previewing my own personal rankings, most of which will be filled with my unlimited supply of wisdom.

1. Drew Brees-New Orleans Saints
Not much to be made out of this pick. He's Drew Brees, the Tom Brady of 2008. Will he be able to construct another standout season like he put together in '08? Barring major injury in the offense, yes. Even with injuries to Maques Colston and Reggie Bush last year, Brees was able to roll through the season like a freight train with no intentions of letting up. The fantasy dominance shouldn't be expected to be as large as it was last season, but still expect great numbers.

2. Tom Brady-New England Patriots
I feel like I'm contradicting myself by saying this based on his ranking, but I wouldn't draft Brady if presented with the opportunity. I would feel more secure with Peyton Manning, simply because there isn't the slightest chance of a setback with an injury already in place. My thoughts with QB's is always too make a safe pick, because they often turn out to be your most important player. While I expect a very productive season from Brady, there's a voice in my head urging me not to go near him...

3. Peyton Manning-Indianapolis Colts
Marvin Harrison's absence shouldn't harm Manning's value at all. If anything, I find it more likely that his production increases now that Anthony Gonzalez will see more throws his way. A more consistently healthy Dallas Clark this season should help if that is to happen, but there are a few questions lingering around Manning. With all of the coaching changes, we will have to see what sort of effect it will have on his fantasy production. I don't seeing it making too big of a toll, but I could be wrong.

4. Philip Rivers-San Diego Chargers
Rivers finally made himself a force to be reckoned with on the fantasy scene in 2008, finishing in the top five in nearly all leagues. His weaponry appears to be healthier and more experienced this season, and his late connection with Vincent Jackson should prove to help his game. With an offense composed with LT, Darren Sproles, Gates, Jackson, and Chris Chambers, you can't not expect great numbers.

5. Aaron Rodgers-Green Bay Packers
My faith in Rodgers going into last season was mocked in my league. I had traded for him after Brett Favre, previously my quarterback who I had traded for the day before he unexpectedly retired, decided to bail on me. Rodgers was my guy, and I stuck with him. Eventually, I ended up trading Rodgers in a deadline deal that gave me depth I badly needed. But I still love Rodgers and his ability. Expect the same sort of production as last season from him in '09.

6. Kurt Warner-Arizona Cardinals
If you had Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and Steve Breaston on the receiving end of your passes you'd be at #6, too. Adding Chris "Beanie" Wells to the equation at RB doesn't hurt, either. Warner is another year older, but his loss in the Super Bowl should provide some motivation to repeat his 2008 statistics. Arizona's offense has been potent for a few years now, so it's no surprise that Warner's production rose when he became the full-time starter. As long as that remains to be true, Warner can be relied on for another better-than-solid campaign.

7. Matt Ryan-Atlanta Falcons
I absolutely love Ryan's ability this season. Last year was great for Ryan, who was a rookie, and '09 should only be better. Roddy White became a star because of Ryan, and Tony Gonzalez will be huge because he adds something Ryan didn't have last year. With White, Gonzalez, and Michael Turner, who wouldn't have a great year?

8. Jay Cutler-Chicago Bears
He goes from Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal to Devin Hester and...well, er, Juaqin Iglesias. It certainly is a big downgrade, but the improved running game with Matt Forte should help Cutler. Plus, Cutler has too much raw talent to be a disappointment. I rank him high here because I have faith that even though he won't put up huge numbers, he should be more consistent and shouldn't see a huge downturn in points.

9. Tony Romo-Dallas Cowboys
From September until November, Romo is gold. After that, you can expect him to be terrible. He is honestly horrible in the month of December, so if you plan on winning your league, don't have him as your playoff QB. Trade him at the deadline or as last in the season as possible when his value is high. T.O.'s departure shouldn't be too harsh on Romo's production. It's just that when the fantasy playoffs come, Romo implodes.

10. Donovan McNabb-Philadelphia Eagles
McNabb could honestly end up as the no. 1 fantasy QB by the end of the year, but that's asking for a lot. A healthy Brian Westbrook would have to be the case, along with the rookies, Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy, having the seasons they are expected to. Most importantly, McNabb would have to be healthy as well. It's all very possible, but unlikely as well.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ranking The Rookies Part 1: The Quarterbacks

Over the next few days I will be ranking the 2009 NFL rookies by their respective position for fantasy purposes. I figured there's no better way to start it than with the field general's.

This year's class is a rather weak one, but it has the potential to produce five or six QB's to keep on your fantasy radar.

My number one rookie QB is Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets. He will have a shot at starting from day one, especially since his head coach, Rex Ryan, watched a rookie QB excel last year while with the Ravens. He also doesn't have any really strong competition.

Kellen Clemens has been less than stellar when he sees the field. So far in his career he's played in fourteen games and has a fifty-two percent completion percentage to go with five touchdowns, eleven interceptions, and a QB rating of 59.3.

That's enough of bashing Clemens, now it's time to talk about what makes Sanchez have the potential to be a star.

He has proven he can play in a pro-style offense while at USC and should have no trouble with it in the NFL. He also will have a chance to put up big numbers due to the big men up front.

The Jets offensive line gave up thirty sacks last year which was good for fourteenth fewest in the league. He'll be able to sit in the pocket and find his receivers without worrying about getting sacked too much.

He will also have pressure taken off of him by the running game. The Jets rushed for the ninth most yards last year and will look to run the ball again this season. Running the ball early and often will open up the passing game and take tons of pressure off of Sanchez.

The final thing that will help him be successful is his skill set. He has all of the intangibles it takes to be a great QB in the NFL.

I'm not saying he's the next Tom Brady, but expect him to be a top-20 QB this season and continue to get better for the next couple of years.

With no true veteran QB in front of him, a great offensive line, and some experience in a pro-style offense I expect Mark Sanchez to easily lead the rookie QB's this season.

My number two rookie QB is Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions. I don't expect him to start week one, but I do expect him to see the field a decent amount in his rookie season.

Stafford has the physical tools to be a great NFL QB, but he doesn't have much around him in Detroit. Other than Calvin Johnson he has no other sure-thing WR's.

His only other weapon is Kevin Smith. He will be a nice option for Stafford to dump the ball to, and will be able to help open up the passing game by running the ball.

Not only does he have a lack of weapons, but he also has a lack of protection. The Lions gave up 52 sacks last season, which was good enough for second most in the NFL.

With a below average line and limited weapons, it will be difficult for Stafford to succeed in his first year with the Lions. Since he has the tools to be a great QB, and will get some playing time, he comes in at number two on my list.

My number three QB is Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Freeman has arguably the best tools out of any of the rookie QB's.

His big problem is playing time. Unlike the two guys ahead of him on the list, Freeman's not guaranteed any playing time. The front office has even said they'd prefer him to sit and learn in his first season.

If the Bucs struggle early on, he'll get a shot to show what he has. If he can be consistent he could end up being the best QB out of this class.

He will have plenty of weapons around which makes him a great late round pick, especially in dynasty leagues. He has two talented RB's in the backfield that will help take the pressure off of him.

He also has Antonio Bryant(finished seventh among WR's last year) and Michael Clayton leading the WR's and a very solid group of TE's led by Kellen Winslow.

To go along with the weapons, he also has a pretty solid offensive line. They aren't the best, but they are far from the worst. They gave up the 16th fewest sacks last season.

The big difference between Freeman and Sanchez is the fact that Freeman has real competition. Byron Leftwich and Luke McCown will battle it out to be the starter, and either one could do good enough to hold off Freeman until next season.

Due to talent, plenty of weapons, and a solid offensive line Josh Freeman comes in at number three. If he was guaranteed playing time this year he would be atleast number two, but he still makes a great late round pick to stash away and wait it out.

Number four on my list of rookie QB's is Patrick White of the Miami Dolphins. He won't really be much of a QB, but he'll probably score some fantasy points this season.

He will be a perfect fit in the Dolphins "Wildcat" offense. Having a guy with his arm strength and accuracy leading the "Wildcat" will bring a new aspect to it.

Being a specialist will hurt his value, but he should be able to help you out. Especially the first couple of weeks they run the new and improved "Wildcat".

His main value could be a bye-week fill-in in a deeper league where you can't get a QB off of waivers.

With Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams possibly in the backfield with White, they could really do some damage. The main question is will any defensive coordinators be able to draw something up to slow it down.

While he'll hardly be a "real" QB, he will produce some fantasy points out of the unpredictable "Wildcat" offense.

The fifth, and most underrated rookie QB, is Nate Davis of the San Francisco 49ers. The only thing that held him back from being a highly drafted QB was a learning disability.

The biggest concern for him is whether or not he can learn an NFL offense. He has the athletic ability and playmaking abilities to put up some great fantasy numbers.

He could be in a great situation with the Niners if they struggle early on. If they're struggling, there's no reason to keep Davis on the bench.

Another way he could get on the field early is injuries. San Francisco gave up 55 sacks last season, good enough for most in the league. Any QB can only take so many hits and with that many someone is bound to get hurt.

One thing that makes Nate Davis an interesting pick is the fact that he learned from a very good offensive coordinator in college. Ball State's offensive coordinator was the same one that was at Michigan when Tom Brady, Drew Henson, and Brian Griese each played there.

He will get his chance at some point, and expect him to make the most out of his opportunities.

The sixth and final candidate on my list is Tom Brandstater of the Denver Broncos. Most of the guys are on this list because I like their ability or they will get playing time.

Brandstater on the other hand doesn't fit into that at all. I know he has a strong arm, but that's about it.

The reason he's on the list is because of his head coach, Josh McDaniels. We all witnessed what he did with practically unknown Matt Cassell.

If McDaniels makes Brandstater into half of what he did with Cassell, he'll have some solid fantasy value. He does have one really big obstacle though.

It will take a huge collapse out of Kyle Orton for Brandstater to get a chance in the NFL. Unless of an injury, he will most likely be on the bench the entire season.

He's definitely a guy to keep an eye out for, as he could put up some serious numbers with Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal. In dynasty leagues he might be worth a later pick.

That wraps up my top rookie QB's to look out for. Some of these guys have value this year, others will have to wait until next year or even longer. Next up I'll look at the rookie RB's.

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Pitchers Edition

Need some pitching?

This list consists of five pitchers with favorable match ups and/or guys that have just been tearing it up lately, most of which can be found on the waiver wire.

Joel Pineiro

Pineiro has been excellent in his last two performances. One of which he lasted nine innings giving up three hits, one earned run, while striking out five. In his other start, he tossed seven innings surrendering five hits, and one earned run, while striking out three.

Pineiro is now 8-9 on the season with a 3.09 ERA, 51 strikeouts, and 12 walks, in 122.1 innings, his 12 walks are lowest in the Majors among qualifiers. In his last seven starts he has an ERA below 2.00 and a WHIP below 1.00.

Did I mention he's in a contract year?

Although Pineiro won't provide your team with much strikeouts, he can help you out with his low ERA, and WHIP.

He is owned in 14.9 percent of ESPN Fantasy Baseball leagues, take a look at him if he's available in your league.

J.A. Happ

Happ added another win to his perfect 7-0 record on Sunday, after shutting out the Marlins in seven innings of work. That outing brings his season totals to 94 innings pitched, with 65 strikeouts, 33 walks, with an ERA of 2.68 and a WHIP of 1.15.

In his last six games, he has only allowed three runs once, in the rest he allowed two or fewer.

Happ is not a huge strikeout guy either, but he has a low ERA, WHIP, and he is undefeated on the season.

Happ is only owned in 30.9 percent of ESPN Fantasy Baseball leagues, if he continues to pitch like this, he should be owned in most formats.

Scott Baker

After starting off the season horribly, and disapointing fantasy owners that picked him as their third or fourth starter, it seems Baker has turned it around.

He is 4-1 in his last five starts, with his best of those performances being Friday against the Rangers. He pitched eight innings, gave up one run, and struck out eight, en route to his eigtht win of the season.

Baker is now 8-7 on the season, with 90 strikeouts, 23 walks, an ERA of 5.10 and a WHIP of 1.20.

Baker is starting to look like the guy we thought he would be this season, he can provide your team with strikeouts, WHIP, and his ERA will be down soon.

As a result of his early season struggles, Baker is available in around 15 percent of ESPN Fantasy Baseball leagues, pick him up now.

Ervin Santana

Coming off a breakout year, Santana has been plagued with injuries all season, and when he wasn't injured he was struggling on the mound.

Well, in his last start he lasted eight innings, gave up three hits, one earned run, he walked 2, and struck out four.

His season totals still aren't that great, 2-5, with a 6.70 ERA, 34 strikeouts, and 19 walks. He has only pitched 48.1 innings though.

He has a favorable start today against the Blue Jays, and he is available in 21 percent of ESPN Fantasy Baseball leagues, if you don't already own him, pick him up and start him.

I believe in Santana the rest of the way if he can stay healty and if he does, look out for an increase in his strikeouts, and decrease in his ERA.

Randy Wolf

Wolf has had some pretty solid numbers recently, in his last three starts he is 1-1 in 18.1 innings, in that span he has allowed 16 hits, six earned runs, and three walks, while striking out 17 batters. All three performances were quality starts, but he got the loss, and no decision due to poor run support.

Wolf has pretty solid seasonal statistics too, he is 4-4 with a 3.51 ERA, he has struck out 91 batters, and has walked 34, in 120.2 innings of work.

He has a favorable matchup in his start today against the Reds, he faces Homer Bailey who struggled in his last start.

Wolf is owned in 43.1 percent of ESPN Fantasy Baseball leagues, pick him up if you don't already have him, and get his start for today in.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Keys To Draft Success: The Auction

Rapidly growing in popularity, the auction draft is the most difficult, and possibly the most confusing type of draft out there. Beginners throw themselves to the wolves with their eagerness to bet all their marbles on the top players, leaving them with zero depth. Veterans eventually learn better, but sometimes become too tentative, leaving them with a bench-heavy team without any proven fantasy contributors.

With this in mind, I decided to take action. Witnessing the countless suckers in the fantasy world spend $100 on their first two picks was eating me up inside. I threw out my fantasy values and created an extra account on in order to draft in as many live auction drafts as possible without having the responsibility of keeping up with the team (honestly, those leagues are ghost towns anyway).

While conducting these teams, I took mental notes, keeping track of who picked who and what they payed. After each draft, I congratulated myself for a job well done, waving my ultra-deep team in front of every owner's face.

Now that I've O.D.'d on auction drafts, it's time to reveal my Keys To Auction Draft Success.

Please, if you happen to be one of the owners willing to sell their house for Adrian Peterson, read the following tips. I beg you.

1. Bring a pillow for the first 30 picks and take a nap.
While the rest of your counterparts spend all of their riches on Adrian Peterson and Michael Turner, relax and watch out for Pierre Thomas, Ryan Grant, Dwayne Bowe, and others. The average price for Adrian Peterson in my drafts were $65, while Turner was going for just as much. Thomas, Grant, and Bowe? Each went for around $25. Who would you rather have, Peterson alone or Thomas/Grant/Bowe for just ten dollars more? The trio for me, please.

2. Make a list of players you want.
This is an auction draft, where you can have whoever you want as long as you are willing to pay. You don't have to work around other owners. You have a shot at everyone. So take a fantasy draft kit, pick 15 names from the list who aren't in the top ten at their respective position that you want on your team, and write them down. There are going to be those spenders who want their guy for any price, so you won't be able to get all 15. It's more likely that you are able to draft five of your players. But just make sure that you buy players on your list. The happier you are with your team the more successful you will be.

3. Don't spend more than $35 on a player, and spend more than $30 just once.
Keep money for your bench! It is pivotal that you keep enough around so you have the ability to overpay for your sleeper picks. Personally, my huge sleeper was Zach Miller, the tight end for the Oakland Raiders. In one draft, another owner wanted him just as much as I did. Who had the money to overpay? I did, due to my early round savings. Because of that pick, I was happier and more satisfied with my team.

4. Don't put a player you want up for bidding.
Quick, if you could have Jay Cutler for $23 or $10, which would you take? The latter of the two amounts, of course. Why do I ask such an obvious question? Well, in one draft Cutler was put up for bid as one of the first QB's off the board. As a result, he went for $23. In another draft, he was nearly the last of the top 15 QB's to go, and instead went for $10. The reason for this is owners feel more confident and free-spending when they have more money. If you wait for Matt Cassel or Jay Cutler for $10-15, instead of buying Drew Brees for $35, you'll be in much better shape. This leads me to why you shall never nominate any favorite of yours for bidding. Just pray that he goes unnoticed and snatch him later when he is finally put up. The longer a player stays in the pool, the smaller his value becomes. If another owner decides to nominate him, get into the bidding only if his price is in a worthy range.

5. Stay out of the bidding until the final ten seconds, and don't raise by more than a dollar.
There is nothing I despise more than the owner who feels the need to up the ante by five, 10, or maybe even 15 dollars. While the player might be headed for that price anyway, don't increase his value so quickly. The player will inevitably sell for more if this is done, because owners feel like they didn't bid as much money due to their lack of actual times pressing the bid button. That's why I continuously remained dormant until the final ten seconds before entering the action. This way, I'm not involved the entire time the player is on the clock, and it doesn't appear that I really want this guy. If I give the impression that I am absolutely in love with this player, other owners are going to push the price knowing that I'll overpay. You don't want to fall into those traps.

6. Only raise the price three times, at maximum.
Now that it's the final ten seconds and you are in on the bidding, remember to keep yourself on a leash. Don't raise by more than a dollar per bid, and only raise three times. This way, the most money you end up adding on from when you started is $6, which will not kill your bank, especially if you saved early. Don't become too hesitant though. Just remember that if you were willing to spend $20 on a player, than you should be willing to spend $22 on that same player. It's only $2 more. But if you were willing to spend $20, you shouldn't be willing to spend more than $26. Three raises seems like a small amount, but in the end, anything more can deplete your cash amount.

So whether you plan on drafting in an auction style or not, I hope you found this helpful and informative. If you are a rookie at these drafts, sticking to these tips will prove to be beneficial to the outcome of your team.

The main point to remember is to save your money until players begin selling for under $30. You would be surprised how much value can come out of the middle of the draft. But please don't wait too long. You don't want to end up with Ahmad Bradshaw as your #2 RB, that's for sure.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fantasy Spin: Felipe Lopez To The Brewers

With the trade deadline quickly approaching, the Brewers and Diamondbacks reached a deal today. The Brewers acquired second baseman Felipe Lopez from Arizona for minor-leaguers Cole Gillespie and Roque Mercedes.

Felipe will most likely bat lead off for the Brewers. So far this season he has .355 batting average and four home runs from the lead off spot. He is sporting a .372 OBP from the lead off position and a .364 OBP overall. This should allow him to score tons of runs with Hardy, Braun, and Fielder hitting behind him.

So far this season Felipe is hitting .412 with one home run at Miller Park.The entire Brewers offense should see an improvement now that they have a true lead off man getting them started.

On the other side of the trade the Diamonbacks received two solid minor leaguers. Mercedes is just twenty-two years old and has a 1-1 record with a minuscule 1.08 ERA in twenty-nine relief appearances.

Gillespie is hitting .242 with seven home runs and twenty-seven runs batted in for the Brewers Triple-A team. While his numbers are a little lower than expected, he is ranked as the Brewers ninth best prospect.

While these two will be irrelevant for the Diamondbacks, this trade does boost Ryan Roberts and Augie Ojeda's fantasy relevance. The D-Backs official site reports that they are expected to call up Roberts.

The playing time at second will be split between Roberts and Ojeda, but it's unclear right now who will see the majority of the playing time. Neither one of them has great numbers, Roberts is hitting .257 with zero home runs and Ojeda is hitting .221 with one home run.

With consistent playing time those numbers could increase drastically giving either one of them fantasy relevance

As a second basemen Roberts is hitting .318, but has only twenty-two at-bats. His competitor, Ojeda, is hitting .250 while playing second base in just twenty-eight at-bats.

While Roberts has the second most at-bats from the lead off position on the team, it's unlikely he'll have a shot at that job since he's hitting just .212 from there. Augie is also not a strong option with a .243 average when leading off.

The most likely candidate to take over the lead off duties would be Stephen Drew. He's hitting .283 with one home run when leading off. If he does take over the job, expect him to continue to produce as a very solid fantasy contributor. A second candidate could be Chris Young.

While Young's hitting a very unimpressive .199 overall, he's hitting a very respectable .327 with three home runs when he leads off. This could be the resurgence of Chris Young that we have all been waiting for.

The third and final candidate to bat lead off would be twenty-two year old Gerardo Parra. He's hitting .292 with two home runs when leading off this season. Giving a twenty-two year old lead off duties in the MLB could do one of three things.

1. It could cause him to decline if he can't handle the pressure

2. It could lead to a huge increase by boosting his confidence or

3. It could not effect him at all, and he could continue to be a solid fantasy fill-in

The most likely to take the job is Stephen Drew since he is already contributing at the top of the lineup .

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Week 16

Franklin Gutierrez

Gutierrez's fantasy value is continuously increasing as his 2009 season is much better than expected. His 2009 stat line thus far looks like this: .294 AVG (86 for 293) with 12 home runs, 40 RBI, 44 runs, and six stolen bases. He will easily surpass his career high in home runs (13), RBI (41), and runs (54).

He recently had a 13 game hitting streak snapped, over the span of that streak he was hitting .365 (24-52) with three home runs. Since his streak was snapped he is hitting .321 (5 for 16) with two home runs.

Today, he faces Aaron Laffey and the Cleveland Indians, this will be his first time facing Laffey, but so far this season against the Indians he is 2 for 9 with a home run, and against LHP's this season he is batting .324 (22 for 68) with five home runs.

Gutierrez is a decent source of power with a good average, he can get an occasional stolen base, but he's been caught stealing as many times as he's actually stolen a base (5).

Gutierrez is only owned in 22.5 percent of ESPN Fantasy Baseball leagues, if he's available in your league, I would recommend picking him up.

Martin Prado

The 25 year old righty from the Atlanta Braves kept his nine game hit streak alive yesterday against the Mets going 1 for 5 against Johan Santana. During his streak he is batting .358 (14 for 39) with one home run, four RBI, and six runs. He now is batting .330 (65 for 197) with five home runs, 19 RBI, and 29 runs.

Prado can help your team out at first base, second base, or third base, as he is eligible at each of those positions.

Today he faces Fernando Nieve and the Mets. This season against the Mets he is batting .350 (7 for 20) with two home runs, and against LHP's he is batting .372 (29 for 78) with three home runs.

Prado is a cheap source of power with a very good batting average, don't expect any speed from him though, he only has three in his short career.

If your in need of a 1B, 2B, or 3B, it would be wise to take a look at Prado, especially in deep keeper or dynasty leagues. He is only owned in 11.8 percent of ESPN Fantasy Baseball leagues.

Erick Aybar

Aybar has hit in each of his last eight games, during that streak he is batting .567 (17 for 30) and in seven of those eight games he has recorded more than one hit. He is now batting .304 on the season with three home runs, 32 RBI, 32 runs, and seven stolen bases.

Today, Aybar faces Brett Anderson and the Athletics. This season against the A's he's batting .409 (9 for 22), Aybar hasn't faced Anderson yet this season but against LHP's he is batting .284 (21 for 74) with two home runs.

Aybar isn't much for power and is only a cheap source of speed, for that reason I'd say he should be owned in mostly deeper leagues.

Aybar is owned in 3.5 percent of ESPN Fantasy Baseball leagues, give him a look if you're in a deep league.

Nyjer Morgan

Since joining the Nationals, Morgan is hitting .333 (17 for 51) with 8 stolen bases. He has collected a hit in each of his last six games mixed in with three three hit performances. On the season he is batting .290 (97 for 334) with two home runs, 30 RBI, 48 runs, and 26 stolen bases.

Today, Morgan faces Kevin Hart and the Cubs, against the Cubs this season he is batting .433 (13 for 30), and against RHP's he is batting .332 (83 for 250) with a home run.

Morgan is a very good source of stolen bases, he has a chance to reach 60 on the season. He also has a good average, don't expect much power though, he's never been much of a power hitter with only three home runs in his career.

If Morgan is available in your league pick him up, especially if you need steals. He is only owned in 48.7 percent of ESPN Fantasy Baseball leagues.

Mark Rzepczynski

Rzepczynski picked up his first win of the season yesterday against the Red Sox. He lasted six innings, struck out four, allowed four hits, and one run. He is now 1-1 on the season in 18 innings of work with 16 strikeouts, and a 2.50 ERA.

Rzepczynski's next scheduled start is Thursday against the Indians, he has yet to face them. Although, against LHB's he has a 1.93 ERA with four strikeouts, and against RHB's he has a 2.70 ERA with 12 strikeouts. The Indians' top hitters are left handed.

He is worth a pick up in deep leagues at this point, if he continues his success then he should be worth a pick up in most formats. Rzepczynski is owned in 0.9 percent of ESPN Fantasy Baseball leagues.

Potential Sleeper: Pierre Thomas

In New Orleans, the backfield continues to boggle the minds of everyone. Reggie Bush has yet to impress fantasy owners, proving the naysayers right with his inability to rush between the tackles and make it in the NFL. Duece McAllister quickly faded into the abyss in 2008 and, after his release from the Saints a few months ago, is no longer a factor. Aaron Stecker caused some excitement out of owners in 2007, but '08 was just another less-than-average year for the back.

This leaves us with Pierre Thomas. In each of the last six weeks last season (did not play week 17), Thomas rushed the ball 11 times or more, gaining less than 77 yards just once, while scoring six touchdowns. He averaged 18.8 points per game during those six weeks, nearly two points higher than what overall RB leader DeAngelo Williams of the Carolina Panthers averaged over the entire season.

To say that Pierre Thomas is absolutely going to be a hit this season is a stretch. Frankly, it's a hit or miss. If the Saints are ready to give Reggie Bush a smaller role, Thomas has the ability to step up and produce big time.

He is entering his third season in the league, which means that he has a future. How successful he will be remains to be seen.

Where To Draft
On your fantasy roster, drafting Thomas as a #2 RB would be an ideal fit, but if you can snag him in the middle rounds for your bench, then go ahead and do it.

(Rankings and averages based on ESPN standard scoring)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Welcome To FRFS

Let me be the first to introduce you readers to Front Row Fantasy Sports. On this brand new, exclusive blog, Nick Allen and I will be your main contributors of fantasy sports knowledge. For the Fantasy Basketball and Fantasy Hockey enthusiasts, FRFS is not for you. We will mainly be sharing our thoughts on football and baseball.

Nick Allen, an up-and-coming Bleacher Report writer, will be delivering both football and baseball posts, while I, Christian Karcole, will mainly focus on football. As you can see in the sidebar, Nick is a syndicated writer on B/R. At one point, Nick was ranked among the top five writers for the Fantasy Baseball section. Go check out his profile and his work, you will find it very informative.

As for myself, I am the Community Leader for the Philadelphia Phillies on B/R, and am ranked around 20th in the MLB Writer rankings (changes day-to-day). You can take a peek at my work from the link to my profile above.

If you have any inquiries, leave them as a comment. An email will be set up in the coming days.

Nick and I look forward to this opportunity and hope to make the most if it.

Our first official post will come Saturday, July 18th (today). Until then, stay classy.