MLB Week 7 – Waiver Wire Report

Andre Ethier

Andre Ethier might be the spark your fantasy team is looking for

Andre Ethier – OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

2009 seems like a very long time ago for Andre Ethier. The Dodgers outfielder clubbed 31 homers that season and drove in 106 runs, finishing sixth in MVP voting. He’s declined considerably since then and has looked like the odd man out in the L.A. outfield for a while. Injuries to Yasiel Puig and Carl Crawford have led to a resurgence for Ethier in the early part of 2015. He currently sports a .316/.416/.558 slash line along with five home runs and 14 RBI. Even during his best days Ethier never posted a .974 OPS and there’s little reason to think that will happen now. But if you’re an MLB fantasy owner who could use a spark in one of your outfield or utility spots, you might try to ride the Andre Ethier revival for as long as it lasts.

Nathan Karns – SP, Tampa Bay Rays

Rookie starting pitcher Nathan Karns has quietly helped solidify a Rays rotation dealing with the losses of Alex Cobb and Drew Smyly. He is 3-1 with a 3.77 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. He’s fanned 44 batters in 45.1 innings of work. A major component of Karns’ success so far is a .196 BAA, the eighth-best such mark throughout MLB. It will be difficult for him to maintain that, but you can’t really argue with his results for the time being. Originally from the Nationals system, Karns’ prospects look good in a Rays organization that knows a thing or two about developing young pitching. Right now Karns is pitching his way to the forefront of the AL Rookie of the Year conversation, and he may be pitching his way onto your MLB fantasy squad as well.

Delino DeShields Jr. – 2B, Texas Rangers

The son of the longtime MLB vet was one of the candidates to fill in the gap left by the Texas Rangers’ demotion of Rougned Odor, and he has done surprisingly well in limited chances thus far. In 53 at-bats he is hitting a respectable .283. He’s made his presence known on the base paths as well, swiping 10 bags in 11 attempts. Perhaps most impressively, DeShields has shown some legitimate plate discipline for a young player, drawing 10 walks in 63 plate appearances. For MLB fantasy owners, this is more of a long-range toss of the dice. DeShields’ playing time will be erratic for now, but could increase if he keeps contributing. Still just 22 years old, he’s a wild card that could provide some upside to your fantasy lineup if you have a need at second base.

Kyle Gibson – SP, Minnesota Twins

As the Twins surprise the baseball world, so do several of their key contributors, pitcher Kyle Gibson among them. In this third big league season Gibson has been enjoying a breakthrough of sorts, putting up a 2.98 ERA over 48.1 innings of work. Gibson won’t help you much in terms of strikeouts (3.5 K/9) and the Twins offense hasn’t been the most supportive (3.38 runs/game), translating to an even 3-3 record. He’s shown a knack for keeping the ball in the park (0.6 HR/9), which has led to generally good outcomes in spacious Target Field. If you’re in the market for starting pitching depth, Gibson should be a name on your list.

Can E.J. Manuel Hang on in Buffalo?


E.J. Manuel is the odds on favorite to win the starting job for the Bills

With just two career seasons and 15 total games under his belt, E.J. Manuel is rumored to be on the outs in Buffalo. Talk about a short lease. However, this particular rumor is more likely to be a motivational ploy through the media. It would be rash of Buffalo to get rid of the team’s best quarterback on the roster.

The Bills just may have one of the worst quarterback-by-committee in the NFL. Atop the depth chart is the aforementioned E.J. Manuel, but the Bills traded for mediocre journeyman, Matt Cassel, to spark a quarterback competition. Next comes the practice squad made up of Jeff Tuel and Tyrod Taylor.

Disregarding the fact that Manuel is the best option the Bills have under center for this year, the franchise has another problem if he is not on the roster for 2015. If released, the Bills will hit the salary cap, limiting their flexibility in upcoming years.

First year offensive coordinator, Greg Roman, has made it clear that uprooting Manuel is not in the plans of the franchise. “Speculation is the key word and the rumors are the furthest thing from the truth,” Roman told reporters at One Bills Drive. “Honestly, it’s anybody’s job to take.”

Whoever wins the job will have a plethora of weapons at their disposal. In addition to the free agent signing of LeSean McCoy, the Bills also acquired wide receiver Percy Harvin and Tight End Charles Clay during this offseason.

Look for the quarterback competition to heat up and the roster rumors to cool down May 26th at the start of OTA’s.

Eli Manning Ready to Shine in 2015


Eli is ready to build off of a very respectable 2014 campaign

Eli Manning wants to limit his turnovers for the upcoming season and his goal is very much in reach. Manning isn’t among the top fantasy keepers, but he had a very successful season, posting a 2.14 to 1 TD/Int ratio and there’s no reason to doubt that can improve upon those numbers and put himself in the conversation for an MVP award.

The Giants offensive unit has been significantly upgraded and will alleviate some stress for QB Eli Manning. New York just recently added pass-catching RB Shane Vereen whose contributions helped the Patriots secure the team’s 4th Super Bowl title. Vereen’s presence in the backfield will provide a safety outlet for Manning to turn to in high-pressure situations.

In addition to adding Vereen, the Giants will also benefit from the return of WR Victor Cruz if he can get healthy. Cruz has proven his ability to create separation and make big plays, as he broke 1,000 receiving yards in 2011 and 2012 (and reached 998 in 2013 in 14 games) and registered 19 total touchdowns. Following surgery to repair a torn patellar tendon, his ability to once again play at an elite level is questionable, but with a strong recovery, he could blow up for another strong year.

Manning will also be able to turn to TE Larry Donnell who could be one of this year’s fantasy sleeper picks. Donnell is not afraid to catch the ball over the middle and can be decent target in the red zone. He flashed signs of that potential during his 3 touchdown performance Week 4 in New York’s road win against the Washington Redskins. With the WR corps calling for most of opposing defenses’ attention, Donnell should benefit from the lack of attention.

The last important piece to Eli Manning’s successful season is the most important player in this offensive unit. Odell Beckham. Beckham exploded for a rookie season campaign that earned him the 2014 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award. The 22-year-old freak athlete went for 1,305 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns on 91 receptions. The stats prove to be very impressive, and even more so since he only played in 12 games, and he broke 100 yards in 7 of them.

With Cruz and Beckham operating in the same system together for the first time, Eli Manning should have little trouble finding open receivers. It’s not out of the question for Manning to keep his interceptions in single digits as he has suggested he can do, so long as his targets stay healthy and focused.

Plenty of Work for Matt Jones in Washington

Matt Jones

Matt Jones will take a big bite out of the Alfred Morris fantasy value

Redskins running back Alfred Morris may see a serious dip in his carries this season with the arrival of Florida’s rookie tailback, Matt Jones. Morris has been on a steady decline since his NFL rookie season and the crowded Redskins backfield could force that trend to continue.

There was a time when Morris was close to being one of the top fantasy keepers in the game. He established himself as a fantasy powerhouse during his rookie season, rushing for 1,610 yards and 13 touchdowns on 4.8 yards per carry. However, he’s struggled to produce at the same rate since then.

Morris has seen his total yards and yards per carry decrease each year and his 265 carries are a far cry from the 335 attempts he had during his rookie season. His carries should continue to drop with the addition of Gators running back Matt Jones, who is quietly becoming one of this season’s fantasy sleeper picks.

Jones has shown the ability to be very effective in a change of pace role after rushing for 817 yards and 6 touchdowns for the Florida Gators. Jones can provide some much needed contrast at the running back position, as his size will challenge opposing defenses.

The rookie tailback out of Florida stands at 6’2”, 231 pounds, and could heavily cut into Alfred Morris’ carries. With this challenge ahead, and with no guarantee of the Redskins being a successful team, it’s possible that Morris fails to reach 1,000 rushing yards for the first time in his career.

Matt Forte: Still a Fantasy Powerhouse

Even in Forte ends up in Dallas, his fantasy star will continue to shine

Even if Forte ends up in Dallas, his fantasy stock will continue to shine

While Head Coach John Fox suggests he interested in a timeshare in the Chicago backfield, the reality is that barring some type of blockbuster trade to the Dallas Cowboys, Matt Forte is the only sane choice to be the sole feature back in the Windy City. Forte has gotten significant production as a tailback in both the running and passing games and will continue to shine as one of the game’s top fantasy keepers.

HC John Fox has exhibited his love for the split-carry system while coaching in the past at the Carolina Panthers (DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart), and the Denver Broncos (C.J. Anderson, Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman), but the situation in Chicago is much different. Forte has been able to contribute heavily as a versatile asset to both the running and passing games. Don’t expect to find any fantasy sleeper picks in the Bears backfield unless Forte goes down with an injury.

Forte is coming off yet another impressive season, as he picked up 1,846 all-purpose yards, and 10 total touchdowns. As a rusher alone, he broke 1,000 yards and 6 TDs in what was a disappointing 5-11 season for the Bears.

Chicago has 3 very mediocre running backs following Forte on the depth chart in second-year back Ka’Deem Carey, rookie Jeremy Langford, and former Falcons tailback Jacquizz Rodgers. None of these backs should receive more than 50 carries next season, leaving Forte with a ton of carries to deal with. More than just as a rusher, Forte could possibly even pick up more touches in the passing game in 2015 with the departure of Brandon Marshall.

Brandon Marshall, along with Matt Forte and Alshon Jeffery, was one of 3 major targets for QB Jay Cutler last season, and his targets will need to be picked up by the rest of the offensive unit. Matt Forte should capitalize on Marshall’s absence, and put together another successful season. Consider Forte a top-5 RB heading into 2015 in standard fantasy formats.

Noah Syndergaard Nails Down First Win

Noah Syndergaard

Noah Syndergaard nails down first win against the Brew Crew

Anytime young talent finally arrives at the big leagues, there’s a knee jerk reaction from fans of the game. We often put too much weight in their past success and far too much pressure on their present performance.

However, 22-year-old Noah Syndergaard seems to be the real deal after snagging his first major league win on Sunday against Milwaukee. He pounced on the Brewers early and held them down to just one run over six innings of work.

During his first MLB appearance last week, he took the loss, allowing three runs, walking four and striking out six. Those aren’t blindingly great statistics, but for a first start in the big leagues, it’ll do.

Syndergaard’s fastball averaged about 96 mph with his slider and curve registered in the low 80s. His ability to switch velocity that easily should me more than enough for Syndergaard to survive and likely thrive in the majors.

After just one start, you can’t really judge many of his fantasy statistics, but you can attempt to predict his future—which seems bright. Syndergaard is bound to be a fantastic pitcher in a great rotation. The wins will come, ERA and WHIP will lower, and the strikeouts will always be high with his velocity. Add Syndergaard to your team—if you still have the chance, that is.

Cowboys Backfield Running on Empty


Unless Dallas pulls off a blockbuster trade, they will struggle with Darren McFadden

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is under the impression that his team’s running game will be even better than it was last season. despite the departure of the league’s leading rusher, DeMarco Murray. It might be wishful thinking or something else, but the reality is that the Dallas rushing game is headed for disaster.

The Cowboys elected not to draft a running back in this year’s NFL Draft, failing to find a suitable replacement for DeMarco Murray who crossed divisional lines to play for the Eagles. Now it appears that Dallas will stick with Darren McFadden at the forefront, with Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar handling backup duties.

McFadden is far from the the list of top fantasy keepers and can’t even be considered in the category of fantasy sleeper picks. His best days are long behind him and even in his prime, he was always terribly fragile. Despite all of this, McFadden sits atop the depth chart in Dallas and his numbers from 2014 prove he has no serious fantasy upside. McFadden rushed for a mediocre 534 yards last season with the Oakland Raiders, adding just 2 touchdowns, and failing to surpass 100 yards in any of his team’s 16 games.

Some of these problems might be alleviated with Dallas’s killer offensive line, as they heavily contributed to DeMarco Murray’s career year comprised of 1,845 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 12 100+ yard games. Murray was very well-protected, which led to 2014 being the first year he was able to participate in all 16 games.

Despite the ability of the Cowboys’ offensive line to increase running back production, I’m skeptical that they are done making moves to help improve their backfield situation. Adrian Peterson is currently still a member of the Vikings, and notably wants out of Minnesota, leaving a late offseason transaction a possibility that could help both sides.

Though the Vikings are currently in a state of commitment to their franchise RB, he has expressed his interest in a trade to the Cowboys, and they are making space for him. According to Yahoo! Sports, Dallas’ QB Tony Romo has agreed to restructure his contract, clearing up nearly $13 million in cap space. Adrian Peterson’s current contract is for 3 years, $46 million, and it would look very strange if Romo’s restructuring was not done in order to free up room for a potential acquisition.

Regardless of whether a deal strikes between the Cowboys and Vikings, it looks very promising that Dallas will make another push for Adrian Peterson.

Jung Ho Kang Making a Splash in Pittsburgh


The Pittsburgh Pirates made a splash on the international market this offseason when they signed South Korean infielder Jung Ho Kang. Fresh off a 40 home run season in the KBO league, many (MLB fantasy owners included) wondered how Kang’s skills would translate to the American game. Though he almost assuredly will not match the power numbers he put up in Korea, Kang has enjoyed a nice start with the bat in Pittsburgh. In 22 game he is slashing .309/.361/.491 along with two homers and nine RBI.

Kang is currently available in most leagues, making now a good time for owners to decide if they want to take a shot on him. In an encouraging sign, the infielder has been heating up recently. After batting an unspectacular .269 in April, Kang has hit for .345 so far in May.

His main downside, particularly for fantasy purposes, has been inconsistent playing time. Kang’s appearances have been a bit erratic, but that may be remedied if he continues to swing a hot bat. Initially splitting time with Josh Harrison at third base, Kang has been getting the nod more often recently in light of Harrison’s struggles. An All-Star and breakout player in 2014, Harrison has been a major disappointment in the current campaign, batting a paltry .181.

Kang’s present opportunity also presents an opportunity to fantasy owners. He may possess both 3B and SS eligibility in your league, which would lend him additional appeal. Shortstop is, of course, one of the thinner positions in fantasy baseball, so unless you’re really happy with your starting shortstop or don’t have a roster spot to spare, you might consider taking a flyer on Kang.

Time Running Out on Fred Jackson in Buffalo

Father Time has apparently caught up with Fred Jackson

Father Time has apparently caught up with Fred Jackson

Buffalo’s Fred Jackson is the oldest running back in the NFL, but still insists he will be a productive member in the Bills backfield. The reality is, he will have a hard even making the starting roster of the team. The arrival of the 2013 rushing champion LeSean McCoy has left Jackson as the odd man out.

After McCoy, the Bills sport a trio of younger backs who have yet to prove themselves in the NFL. Anthony ‘Boobie’ Dixon was hardly productive as a runner last year, but he is seven years younger, a bigger bruiser and stole away 100+ carries from Jackson in 2014. Bryce Brown is ten years younger and immensely talented on his feet and could turn out to be one this year’s fantasy sleeper picks. Brown’s biggest problem is holding onto the rock. His best numbers were posted as a backup for the Eagles behind McCoy and he can now return to that role in a different uniform.

The Bills also used a fifth-round draft pick on Florida St. running back, Karlos Williams. Fifth-round picks aren’t dead-set locks, but typically their chances are very good. Bills offensive coordinator, Greg Roman, wants to keep just four running backs on the roster to make room for other skill positions. Cutting Jackson can save 2.5-million cap space for the Bills this season and give the franchise more flexibility in years to come. All signs point to the youth winning out, so what does that mean for Jackson?

A year after finishing as a top 10 back in fantasy, his production dropped more than two-fold and Jackson was the number 24 running back in 2014. Father Time has never lost a battle and it may be in Jackson’s best interest to retire as a Bill to a fan base that has cherished his efforts for the past seven years.

MLB Week 6 – Waiver Wire Report

Tim Lincecum is coming on strong for the Giants

Tim Lincecum is coming on strong for the Giants

Tim Lincecum – SP, San Francisco Giants 

Don’t look now, but Tim Lincecum is looking a lot closer to the pitcher who won consecutive Cy Young awards, which makes him one of the top fantasy waiver wire pickups. In his last two starts, he tossed 14 scoreless innings, allowing only six hits and fanning 12. Overall he’s sporting a 2.00 ERA over six starts, four of which have been quality. Lincecum has done some re-strategizing this season after three straight years with an ERA over 4.00. He’s using his ample repertoire to find new ways to get hitters out, throwing his changeup more and fastball less. MLB fantasy owners shouldn’t count on these kinds of performances all year, nor should they predict a full-time return to Cy Young level dominance. But if you need a starting pitcher (quite possible if you were among those banking on Alex Cobb and Drew Smyly to return) you could do worse than taking a chance on a former ace working to reinvent himself.

Torii Hunter – OF, Minnesota Twins

During the offseason, Torii Hunter returned to the franchise where he spent the first 12 seasons of his career. The Twins have been surprisingly competitive in the AL Central and so has the 39-year-old outfielder. Hunter enjoyed couple of big games last Friday and Saturday, going 7-for-9 with two home runs, five RBI and five runs scored. This red-hot stretch boosted Hunter’s overall numbers on the season to a .287/.331/.478 slash line with five homers and 19 RBI. Hunter has done a fair job fending off age-related decline and could make a decent pickup off of your fantasy waiver wire. He’s posted double-digit home run totals for 14 straight seasons and failed to drive in at least 75 runs just once over that span. In what could be his swan song, Hunter seems a sure bet to reach those benchmarks once again along with a .270+ batting average. MLB fantasy owners seeking outfield depth or simply wishing to ride a hot hand should give Hunter a look if still available.

Andrelton Simmons – SS, Atlanta Braves

Fantasy owners are often on the lookout for productive middle infielders, and if Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons is available in your league you might consider adding him to your squad. Before going hitless on Sunday, Simmons had strung together an eight-game hitting streak. He’s currently hitting .282 with three homers, 16 RBI and a .346 OBP. That is certainly solid production at the position, and at only 25 years of age he only stands to get better. If you’re not satisfied with what you’re getting out of your current shortstop, Simmons might be your guy.

Jonathon Niese – SP, New York Mets

Niese has been a fairly reliable member of the Mets rotation the past three seasons and he is off to a superb start in 2015. He’s thrown four quality starts in six outings and has allowed more than one run just once so far. Overall, he’s collected three wins and is working a 1.95 ERA. The ERA will undoubtedly rise (see 3.83 FIP and 1.43 WHIP) but it’s a decent bet it will remain below 4.00. With the Mets playing some much improved ball this year, Niese should benefit substantially in the win department as well, enhancing his appeal to the MLB fantasy crowd.