Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Week 3 Rookie Report: Cooper explodes and former FSU stars make big impact for Bills

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Just a week after Jameis Winston had the best game of his young career, two of his former Florida State teammates played key roles in a big win for their current team. The highest-drafted receiver in the 2015 class showed why he was so highly regarded, while a first-year linebacker got a shot to play significant snaps in a win. Chris Tripodi breaks down Week 3’s impact rookies, all of whom helped their teams to victory. 

Karlos Williams (RB-Buf)

Hyped by some as a potential first-round pick heading into his senior year thanks to elite size (6-0, 230) and speed (4.45), Karlos Williams fell to the middle of the fifth round before the Buffalo Bills snatched him up. A former safety at Florida State, Williams moved to running back before his junior season but found himself leapfrogged on the depth chart by Dalvin Cook towards the end of his final year. Williams is making teams pay for passing on him so far in his rookie season, as his 12-carry, 110-yard performance Sunday has him up to 186 rushing yards in three games on just 24 carries, and he’s scored a touchdown in each contest.

Williams didn’t touch the ball until Buffalo’s fourth possession Sunday, but made a quick impact with an 18-yard run. On a toss left, Williams patiently followed his blockers before showing a nice burst through the opening on the outside to get the first down. On the next play, he showed his ability to find the cutback lane nicely on a five-yard run. Williams stayed tight to his linemen waiting for their blocks, drawing the linebacker towards him before quickly cutting into the vacated hole for five yards. The rookie then busted a 12-yard run up the middle by running through multiple arm tackles around the line of scrimmage.

Read the rest at Draft Insider

Monday, September 28, 2015

GEICO Week in New York: Sept. 28-Oct. 4

Oh the difference a week can make in sports.

Last week around this time, Mets fans were panicking after a 2-4 week against the Marlins and Yankees. The Nationals had won six of seven and were lurking six games back in the NL East. Two weeks is rarely enough to make up that kind of ground, but Mets fans had seen this script before.

Fast forward a week later, and New York is coming off a four-game sweep of the Reds which saw their bats wake up to the tune of 36 runs in four games. The hitter-friendly environment of Great American Ballpark and the hitter-friendly quality of the Reds' pitching staff didn't hurt matters, but the Mets have their swagger back after clinching the NL East with a 10-2 win Saturday. Even with most of their regulars resting Sunday, the Mets completed the sweep with an 8-1 victory, all while the Nationals won just once and watched Jonathan Papelbon attack Bryce Harper in the dugout.

The Mets weren't the only New York team to watch their fortunes flip in the span of just seven days. The Giants sat in an 0-2 hole after blowing their second consecutive fourth-quarter lead with a key division game against the Redskins on Thursday night. In a typical Thursday Night Football slopfest, the Giants built an early lead on their way to a 32-21 victory. Just a week after sitting two games back of Dallas in the NFC East with fans wondering if they could avoid an 0-3 start, New York is just a game back of the division lead with the division's best quarterback.

The Jets were riding high after a big Monday night win over the Colts, but came back to Earth in a big way Sunday against the wounded Eagles. Philadelphia had struggled to run the ball through two games, but DeMarco's Murray injury opened the door for Ryan Mathews to shine. The Eagles gashed the perimeter of the Jets' defense on the ground and found themselves with a 24-0 lead late in the second quarter. Ryan Fitzpatrick couldn't lead the Jets to a comeback, and a team that had high aspirations after two weeks was sent back to the drawing board.

Read the rest at

Friday, September 25, 2015

2015 Week 3: New York Jets Fantasy Preview vs. Philadelphia Eagles

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The Jets are off to a 2-0 start this season, and while their league-leading 10 takeovers have a lot to do with it, their offense has been extremely competent as well. For fantasy purposes, Ryan Fitzpatrick has been a mid-range QB2, Chris Ivory has been a low-end RB1 and both Brandon Marshall (WR1) and Eric Decker (WR2) are outplaying their ADPs.

This week, the reeling Eagles come to MetLife Stadium looking to get their running game going and pull their offense out of reverse. Unfortunately for Philadelphia, the Jets’ defense isn’t exact the cure for what ails a struggling offense. Add in the fact that the Eagles are a bit banged up on both sides off the ball, and there should be more fantasy goodness than usual on the Jets’ side.

Using the follow grading system, let’s take a look at how New York stacks up in fantasy football this week against Philadelphia. 

- A: Must start
- B: Recommended start
- C: Start if necessary
- D: Don’t start
- F: Why do you own this player?

Quarterback - Ryan Fitzpatrick: C

Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown for just 423 yards this season, which ranks him just inside the NFL’s top 25. Even with two multi-touchdown performances, he still hasn’t put up a top-15 scoring week. Last week’s matchup with the Colts was as juicy as it got, with three of their top four cornerbacks out and Vontae Davis leaving with a concussion. Still, Fitzpatrick ended up as QB19 for the week. He’s just not being asked to do much.

Read the rest at Pro Football Spot

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Dissecting DraftKings - NFL Week 3

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Week 2 was wild, and nothing went as planned, particularly the "shootout" between the Cowboys and the Eagles. It's a wonder I still managed to cash in almost half my games and tread water with such a heavy dose of Sam Bradford, but playing Allen Robinson when few others did certainly helped. Anyway, on we go to Week 3.

With two weeks of data, we have a general idea of which defenses to target and which to avoid, although it will be fluid for another few weeks. For more on what criteria I look for when choosing players, hit this link. And remember, these lists usually don't include the top players at each position. It's a way to build a team so you can afford those high-priced studs.


1. Nick Foles ($5,200) vs. PIT
2. Cam Newton ($6,800) vs. NO
3. Carson Palmer ($6,600) vs. SF
4. Russell Wilson ($7,000) vs. CHI
5. Aaron Rodgers ($8,000) vs. KC

Nick Foles as the No. 1 quarterback? Am I positively crazy? Nope, and let's not forget that these rankings take price into account. With that being said, Foles gets a brutal Pittsburgh secondary at home in a game with a 47.5 over/under, and Todd Gurley will be back to take some pressure off the passing game. At near-minimum salary, he's a very interesting tournament option, although not one to trust in cash.

Cam Newton, Carson Palmer and Russell Wilson are excellent cash options, although paying up for Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady isn't something I'll dissuade anybody from doing against the Chiefs and Jaguars, respectively. Newton and Wilson both have great matchups, and their rushing stats give them a solid fantasy floor even if they don't top 200 passing yards or throw for multiple scores. Palmer gets a 49ers defense that finally took their expected step back against the Steelers last week, and it's tough to see them slowing down the Cardinals' potent passing game. If you want to spend a little more at RB and WR, these guys are nice alternatives to Rodgers and Brady.

Rodgers, on the other hand, is rarely a bad play in DFS, especially at home. The Chiefs' secondary isn't anywhere near as bad as some in the NFL, but they aren't one to be feared against a player of Rodgers' caliber either. He's probably the chalk play at QB this week, although Brady is a close second for $300 less.

Running Back

1. Justin Forsett ($6,000) vs. CIN
2. Dion Lewis ($4,200) vs. JAX
3. David Johnson ($4,000) vs. SF
4. Jonathan Stewart ($4,900) vs. NO
5. Danny Woodhead ($4,400) at MIN
6. Latavius Murray ($5,800) at CLE
7. LeGarrette Blount ($4,000) vs. JAX
8. Isaiah Crowell ($4,500) vs. OAK
9. Matt Jones ($4,000) at NYG
10. James Starks ($3,000) vs. KC

To address the elephant in the rankings room, yes, both Dion Lewis and LeGarrette Blount are on this list. No, they are not both top-seven plays this week. But, someone is going to eat in the New England backfield. I've long been a fan of Lewis' talent since his days at Pitt, but I'm loathe to trust Bill Belichick. The script sets up perfectly for LeGarrette Blount, but after playing just seven snaps in his return from suspension, it's hard to tell if he's in the doghouse. Both are tournament plays and untrustworthy in cash, but if you pick the right one, you could find yourself with an RB1 game for an RB3 price.

Justin Forsett is another back with some risk, as Lorenzo Taliaferro played just seven fewer snaps than Forsett last week. Working in Forsett's favor, however, is that the Bengals defense has allowed 21 receptions to opposing running backs this season, including seven to Latavius Murray and six to Danny Woodhead. With few options in the passing game and an offense led by Marc Trestman, Forsett feels like a lock for five or six receptions, which would pay off more than half of his price assuming even five yards per catch. He's not the safest cash play, but those are tough to find outside of the top few backs this week.

David Johnson is another tournament play, as the running back position has been shaky this season in terms of reliability. The best move this week might be to pay up at QB and WR and hope you can hit a couple cheap RBs. If they miss, you didn't spend much, and your passing game can carry you. Johnson is set to receive more work, according to Bruce Arians, and he's much more talented than the current version of Chris Johnson. The chance for a return touchdown doesn't hurt, either.

Jonathan Stewart gets a juicy matchup with the Saints this week and has been handling the majority of work in the Carolina backfield. Cam Newton can always steal a TD, but that's priced into Stewart's salary, which is just 24th-highest among RBs this week. Danny Woodhead is a matchup nightmare against Minnesota's poor linebackers and with at least 16.4 fantasy points in both of his game so far this season, even a performance half as good would not qualify as a cash-game disaster.

Latavius Murray's involvement in the passing game has eliminated any game-script concerns he may have had, and he's still somewhat cheap for an RB whose proven to be one of the most reliable in the early weeks. James Starks will be a no-brainer chalk play if Eddie Lacy is ruled out before Sunday, but with the Packers playing on Monday night, there's some risk to the pick, even at minimum salary. He would be worth a shot in tournaments even if Lacy plays, however, as he'll still likely see 10-15 carries. If Lacy is out, it might be tough to build a winning tournament lineup without Starks.

Matt Jones is an option for anybody playing Thursday tournaments, although he'll likely be high-owned with high bust potential if the Redskins don't run the ball 40 times again. Against the Giants, though, they may be in position to do just that. Isaiah Crowell may be pulling away from Duke Johnson in Cleveland, and is worth a cheap tournament shot against the Raiders.

Wide Receiver

1. Allen Robinson ($5,200) at NE
2. Larry Fitzgerald ($5,800) vs. SF
3. Randall Cobb ($7,300) vs. KC
4. Brandon Marshall ($6,200) vs. PHI
5. Jarvis Landry ($6,400) vs. BUF
6. Davante Adams ($5,000) vs. KC
7. Kendall Wright ($5,000) vs. IND
8. James Jones ($4,800) vs. KC
9. John Brown ($5,100) vs. SF
10. Allen Hurns ($3,700) vs. JAX

Seven of these 10 receivers play for just three teams, but that's sometimes how the cookie crumbles in great matchups. The Packers have three on the list against the Chiefs, which tells you a lot about how that game is likely to go. Cobb is a chalky cash play, while Adams and Jones are tournament shots, as both have low floors. Adams' ceiling is probably higher, which is why he's listed first, but Jones likely has a better shot at exceeding value, but by less. Lower ceiling, but more likely to hit it. Make sense? Good.

The Jacksonville Allens are good options this week, even with Blake Bortles at the helm against a Bill Belichick-led defense. Robinson has a high target floor and big-play potential, and New England's secondary has struggled early. Both Robinson and Hurns could be garbage-time gold if the Jags fall behind early, and if they somehow stay close, both will be involved in keeping it that way. Matchup and game flow give both players high upside and a solid floor for their costs this week.

Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown are the final pair of teammates on this list, with Fitzgerald representing the safer cash-game option and Brown serving as the high-upside tournament play. Brown's field-stretching presence has opened up the middle of the field for Fitzgerald, but it just takes one 60-yard touchdown for Brown himself to hit value. A big game is coming, and it wouldn't be shocking to see it come against the 49ers (see: Pittsburgh last week).

Brandon Marshall and Jarvis Landry are also excellent cash plays this week, as Marshall gets his easiest matchup of the season after exceeding value twice already. If Eric Decker sits out Sunday, Marshall should have even more targets funneled his way, and the extra defensive attention shouldn't matter much. Landry has caught eight passes in each game so far this season, and that feels like his floor again this week. The Bills' defense is good, but Landry is still very safe until his price jumps into the high $6000s. Even then, he's still safe.

Kendall Wright will get a bump if Vontae Davis can't play due to a concussion suffered against the Jets, but it's hard to discern whether he's a better cash or tournament play. Marcus Mariota looks like he'll be a QB who spreads the ball around, but also one who can unlock Wright's playmaking potential after the catch with his impressive short and intermediate accuracy, a la Kurt Warner. Wright is probably best suited as a tournament shot, but there are higher-upside options available in that price range like Robinson and Brown.

Tight End

1. Jordan Reed ($3,800) at NYG
2. Jared Cook ($2,800) vs. PIT
3. Heath Miller ($3,500) at STL
4. Jordan Cameron ($3,800) vs. BUF
5. Travis Kelce ($5,800) at GB

Reed is my top play of the week at tight end even with Jon Beason returning to the field Thursday night. He's the only Redskins player I truly trust in my lineup in a game I will be otherwise avoiding for DFS purposes, as Thursdays tend to be disasters. He has six receptions in both games so far this season and possesses legitimate playmaking ability on top of his high target floor.

Jared Cook leads the Rams in receiving through two weeks and if you have the stones to play Nick Foles in a tournament, Cooks is a very cheap way to sneak in some correlation points if he catches a touchdown. Even if he doesn't, it shouldn't take more than three or four catches for him to at least meet value.

Heath Miller has hit double digits in both games so far, although he needed a touchdown to get there on just two targets last week. The weekly floor is somewhat high for Miller but, like many tight ends, he's not 100 percent reliable. Just imagine if he didn't catch a TD last week. He's a decent cash game play this week as he's slightly underpriced and the Rams haven't defended tight ends well this season, but I prefer higher upside for tournaments. Miller is a guy you plug in this week if you choose your tight end last, and he fits under cap, which is likely.

Jordan Cameron has to check out health-wise to be a good play this week and even then, he's more of an upside shot in tournaments. His injury status is a big part of that, and an in-game re-aggravation wouldn't be shocking, but his upside is always high and he could be a quick-hitting option down the seam if Rex Ryan and the Bills bring heavy blitzes.

Travis Kelce will be a good option as long as his price remains around $5,000, and a matchup with Green Bay's injury-ravaged linebacking corps is salivation-worthy. Andy Reid's ever-changing weekly gameplans keep him from being a truly trustworthy option in cash games just yet, but his tournament upside is just as high as Rob Gronkowski's for two-thirds the price.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Week 2 Rookie Report: Winston bounces back as Jones breaks out

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Week 2 of the NFL season was one of the weirdest weeks in recent memory, but one thing wasn’t strange about it: Rookies stepping up and making a big impact in wins for their team, including many who had poor or quiet Week 1 performances. Three of the four rookies Chris Tripodi breaks down today played instrumental roles in their team’s victories, including a top pick who was a big reason for his team’s loss in Week 1. 

Jameis Winston (QB-TB)

To say Winston had a rough Week 1 would be doing the word “rough” a huge disservice. Winston’s first career touchdown pass actually went the other way, as Coty Sensabaugh picked him off on the rookie’s first possession. While he threw two touchdowns, the Florida State product completed just 16 of 33 passes for 210 yards in a 28-point loss. He was much more efficient against the Saints in Week 2, completing 14 of 21 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown and adding 23 yards and a score on the ground.

Winston’s first pass of the game came on an early third-down play, as he rifled a 21-yard completion to Austin Seferian-Jenkins for a first down. The rookie quarterback stood tall in the pocket despite some pressure and put the pass high enough to prevent the trailing defensive back from making a play on the ball and allow his 6-6 tight end to go up and get the ball. Winston almost had another big completion to Seferian-Jenkins in the second quarter, but underthrew the wide-open tight end deep down the field on a play-action pass, leading to a drop. If Winston had driven the ball further, the play had an outside chance to be a touchdown despite safety Kenny Phillips bearing down on Seferian-Jenkins.

Read the rest at Draft Insider

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Dissecting DraftKings Deals for NFL Week 2

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Week 1 of the NFL season brought plenty of upsets (oh those sneaky Bills) and breakout performances (hello Carlos Hyde!). Week 2 should be fun too, with only one game projected to be a blowout, when the Saints and Bucs do battle in New Orleans.

There's still a lot to be told about the NFL season, and now is a great time to get in on the Daily Fantasy Sports action at DraftKings before prices level out to match performance. Here are a few value plays at each position that could pay off big. With a few potential exceptions, this list usually won't include the higher-priced studs, but taking a few of these players should give you a chance to fit those stars in your lineups.


I tend to target quarterbacks playing in high-scoring games with prices that don't reflect their weekly projections. This week, there are two options that really stand out for both reasons, as well as a few others who look good as well.

Sam Bradford ($6,900) vs. DAL

Cowboys-Eagles is the lone game on the NFL schedule with an over/under of 55 points or more, and it's difficult to project anything less than an old-fashioned shootout. Bradford is priced outside of the top 12 quarterbacks, yet seems very likely to post mid-level QB1 numbers. The risk of in-game injury is always there with Bradford, but he's still a great play in Chip Kelly's offense.

Tony Romo ($7,100) at PHI

Romo faces off with the aforementioned Bradford on the road without his best receiver, which is why he's listed second here. That, and if you can find a way to use the extra $200 you save with Bradford, it can't hurt. They're very close at the top, but I broke the tie in favor of Bradford since he's cheaper, playing at home and has his full complement of skill players. It's hard to go wrong with either.

Andy Dalton ($5,800) vs. SD

This is a price play more than an endorsement of Dalton, but everybody's favorite punching-bag quarterback deserves better. He showed what he can do last week with a healthy Tyler Eifert, and while Chargers cornerbacks Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett are talented players, they're also short. A.J. Green isn't, and there's a great chance he finds the end zone after a bad touchdown drop last week. Dalton is in play for tournaments, although I wouldn't trust him in cash games.

Other options: Drew Brees ($7,800) vs. TB, Carson Palmer ($6,700) at CHI, Matt Ryan ($7,400) at NYG

Running Back

The criteria I used for quarterbacks still applies to running backs, but I also try to lean towards runners playing at home with a favorable game script. Early-down backs should be used in games where their team is favored, while third-down and pass-catching backs are better plays when their team projects to be trailing.

Mark Ingram ($5,900) vs. TB

Speaking of game script, Ingram has a great one this week even if C.J. Spiller returns from injury. With the Saints playing at home as a double-digit favorite and Ingram's price remaining a bit low, now is a great time to pounce before he rises into the low-to-mid $6000 range where he belongs.

Darren Sproles ($3,500) vs. DAL

It's true that Sproles had a huge Week 1 last season before disappearing from the Eagles' gameplan. It's that volatility and his position on the depth chart that make Sproles more of a tournament play on a weekly basis, but his price makes him a cheap cash option as well, especially in smaller contests based around the late-afternoon games. All he needs is a few receptions to pay off his price, but don't expect performances like last week's too often.

Danny Woodhead ($4,000) at CIN

San Diego doesn't seem to have full confidence in first-round pick Melvin Gordon just yet, which makes Woodhead a potential top-15 back in a game the Chargers should be trailing in. Unlike Sproles, however, Woodhead sees action around the goal line and his role in the offense appears steady. Take advantage of his price now before it rises, and before the team becomes more comfortable with Gordon.

Frank Gore ($4,800) vs. NYJ

Why am I suggesting Gore against the Jets' run defense? Because he's $4,800, the Colts are playing at home, could be looking to salt away a late lead and are likely to be without T.Y. Hilton. After he had just eight carries in Week 1, Indianapolis will want to feed Gore at least twice as often, and the Jets will likely be more focused on stopping Andrew Luck. This play isn't for the faint of heart, and should be reserved for tournaments, but a 15-20 point outing isn't outside the realm of possibilities and returns nice value on his price.

DeMarco Murray ($7,000) vs. DAL

I'm certainly not saying to play both Sproles and Murray in a lineup, but it doesn't mean both aren't good options. Even in a game where he struggled last week, Murray still scored twice on the back of the Eagles' productive and high-paced offense. Dallas isn't exactly a stalwart against the run, and Murray may be out for revenge.

Other Options: Ameer Abdullah ($4,500) at MIN, Shane Vereen ($4,200) vs. ATL, Chris Ivory ($4,700) at IND, Justin Forsett ($6,200) at OAK

Wide Receiver

Generally, I like to tout wide receivers in high-scoring games, ones that are playing at home and also look to be underpriced. Game script matters here as well, but not nearly as much as at running back. Teams that build a big lead could easily do it on the back of their receivers, and teams playing from behind will be throwing more.

Jordan Matthews ($7,100) vs. DAL

Matthews put up 23.2 fantasy points and caught 10 passes last week after a dud of a first half against the Falcons, and with another shootout on the horizon, you can expect Bradford to feed Matthews relentlessly as his top target. Matthews isn't priced with the elite or even the second-tier receivers, but he likely will be soon.

Cole Beasley ($3,300) at PHI

More Cowboys and Eagles. That's what happens when a game has a 55-point line. Beasley also has an increased opportunity ahead of him with Dez Bryant's injury, and a near-minimum price tag. Beasley returned value in his slot role last week and while he won't be moving outside anytime soon, there are extra targets to be had. Double-digit points is a reasonable expectation.

Brandon Coleman ($3,300) vs. TB

I'll cop to being a big Coleman fan since he was at Rutgers, and the 2014 UDFA is finally finding his place in the NFL. Somebody has to replace the loss of Graham in the red zone, and it's unlikely to be the diminutive Brandin Cooks or the aging Marques Colston. That leaves the 6-6 Coleman and Benjamin Watson, and I know who I'd rather give a shot in the end zone if I were Drew Brees. He's a better tournament play than cash, simply because a dud is possible if he doesn't score.

Allen Robinson ($4,900) vs MIA

This is a very risky pick. With that out of the way, there are reasons for optimism on Robinson. He's not priced within the top-40 receivers and while a matchup with Brent Grimes and the inconsistency of Blake Bortles give him a scary floor, he's also the top target on a team that is likely to be losing and therefore, passing. I wouldn't touch him in cash games, but Robinson can bust a big play at any time and is a viable option under $5,000 with some upside.

Terrance Williams ($4,200) at PHI

Williams is another player that looks likely to benefit from Bryant's absence and remains very cheap. He's not really built to be a No. 1 receiver, however, which means the extra attention could nullify the increased role. Another risk-reward tournament play, but people will use him in cash too.

Other options: Eddie Royal ($3,700) vs. ARI, A.J. Green ($7,100) vs. SD, Markus Wheaton ($3,800) vs. SF, Jarvis Landry ($5,900) at JAX, Stevie Johnson ($4,200) at CIN

Tight End

I look at tight ends the same way I do at quarterback, but I lean towards players playing on teams that are favored when possible. Teams that are far behind, unless they have a stud tight end who can stretch the field, are more likely to push the ball downfield to their receivers.

Heath Miller ($3,500) vs. SF

Pittsburgh meets a lot of my tight end criteria this week as a six-point home favorite in a game with a decent over/under of 45.5 points. Miller is priced as the 14th-best tight end this week, but has a legitimate chance at the top 10. His eight-catch, 84-yard performance last week could repeat itself.

Travis Kelce ($5,100) vs. DEN

Most of the Thursday night players are good fades this week in what projects to be more of a defensive-minded game, but Kelce is an exception. After entering "matchup-proof" territory in Week 1 by demolishing the Texans, he's still priced at essentially the same level he was last week. He'll likely be around $6,000 soon, so take advantage while you can.

Jason Witten ($4,300) at PHI

Apparently I like all the Cowboys this week, but at the intersection of increased opportunity and a high-scoring game, DFS value is found. Witten had a huge opener with Bryant hobbled and while the Eagles are a team that has the personnel to stop tight ends, Witten put up seven catches for 69 yards on nine targets in their meeting in Philadelphia last October. Similar volume should be expected Sunday.

Other options: Zach Ertz ($3,600) vs. DAL, Larry Donnell ($3,100) vs. ATL, Dwayne Allen ($3,300) vs. NYJ

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Chris' Cash Crusaders - DraftKings MLB

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With the NFL season underway, many people are forgetting about the final two weeks of the long, grueling MLB campaign. With new players entering the fray for football and possibly trying their hand at baseball, there is money to be made in cash games. I've yet to put my DFS thoughts down on paper, but now seems like as good a time as any. Without further ado, let's take a look at some of the top plays at each position.


Basic cash-game strategy says to always pay up for pitching, and my rankings are no different. Even with a good matchup, cheap pitchers are cheap for a reason. They usually don't go deep into games or strike out a ton of batters. The ones that have 20-point potential are generally boom/bust players best reserved for tournaments. In cash, reliable pitching is always king and provides a much higher floor than high-priced hitting.

David Price ($12,500) at ATL

While Jake Arrieta is the best pitcher taking the mound tonight, his price is up to $14,000 and the Pirates are no slouch. The slumping Braves, on the other hand, are one of MLB's worst-hitting teams, particularly against left-handed pitching. Price has exceeded 21 fantasy points in each of his last five starts and has a chance to push for 30 on Wednesday night.

Jaime Garcia ($9,100) at MIL

Wednesday is apparently the night of the left-handed pitcher. Garcia's price dropped $800 after a tough start against the Reds, but Cincinnati hits lefties well and was playing at Great American Ballpark, a noted bandbox. Miller Park isn't exactly a pitcher's haven itself, but the Brewers don't hit lefties well and Garcia racked up 26.2 fantasy points in a start there just over a month ago.

Luis Severino ($8,400) at TB

Severino is another pitcher whose price has dropped after a tough outing, but anybody facing the Blue Jays in Yankee Stadium gets a pass in my book. In his short New York career, Severino has pitched better on the road, which is the case for most of the Yankees' staff as a whole, and he faces a weak-hitting Rays team at Tropicana Field on Wednesday. Going against Chris Archer isn't ideal for picking up a win, but Severino had four straight 20-point starts before his last outing and should hit that plateau again, even if he's stuck with a loss or no-decision.

Others to consider: Bartolo Colon ($8,100) vs. MIA, Gio Gonzalez ($8,000) at PHI, Alex Wood ($6,600) vs. COL, Erik Johnson ($4,400) vs. OAK


When it comes to hitters in cash games, I focus on per-dollar value over potential upside. If you want to roster hitters that can post 30-point nights, that's what tournaments as for, and frankly how tournaments are won. That being said, sometimes a big-time hitter finds his way into the top 10 price-point plays, which is a great sign he'll have a game that meets value.

1B/OF Clint Robinson ($2,500) at PHI

It may be strange to see a cheap, non-everyday player at the top of this list, but it only takes approximately one extra-base hit or an RBI single for a player this cheap to hit value. The first-base position is extremely top-heavy, so finding cheap production isn't easy. Robinson gets to face off against overmatched Phillies youngster Alec Asher and has hit righties as well as most $4,000 players do this season. Just make sure he's in the lineup.

OF David Peralta ($3,300) vs. SD
OF Ender Inciarte ($3,400) vs. SD

Diamondbacks left-handers are in a great spot tonight, facing off against Andrew Cashner at Chase Field. Hitters in a game with an over/under of 9 runs that bat at the top of a productive lineup against a pitcher that struggles against batters from their side of the plate shouldn't be this cheap. Both hit right-handers well and excel at home, and should be staples in any cash lineup.

OF Jason Heyward ($3,500) at MIL

Heyward has been priced around $4,000 over the past few weeks and was $4,300 yesterday. So why the drop? Facing Wily Peralta at Miller Park doesn't exactly instill fear in a hitter, especially one as hot as Heyward, who has 66 fantasy points in his past five games. He's another great left-handed outfield value Wednesday night, as there's no real reason he shouldn't cost at least $500 more.

1B Brandon Belt ($4,300) vs. CIN

You can't play Belt if you roster the four bats mentioned above, but he's a great play if you have some money left to pay up a little bit. He has 65 fantasy points in his last five games and faces Michael Lorenzen, who has been crushed by left-handed hitters this season. Belt had been batting fifth in the order until getting dropped to sixth last night, and is a much better play if he gets back into the five-hole Wednesday.

1B Chris Davis ($5,100) vs. BOS

See, I told you I'm not allergic to big bats. They just need to be scorching hot and in a good situation. Davis is both, despite facing left-hander Henry Owens. He's hit southpaws well this season (.382 wOBA) and rakes at Camden Yards (.408 wOBA), while Owens has struggled in a small sample against lefties and was stronger against right-handers in the minors, too. Few will be on him, making him a great contrarian play in tournaments, but he's usable in cash for me as well.

2B/3B Anthony Rendon ($4,000) at PHI

The Nationals have a few top plays tonight, thanks to a great matchup against Asher. Rendon has been hot of late and finally looks to be putting his injury-plagued season behind him as he finishes strong. He's not unbelievably cheap, but is a nice alternative at the keystone compared to Jose Altuve's $5,400 price tag, which is likely only worth it in tournaments or turbo games.

3B Juan Uribe ($3,100) vs. MIA

Uribe should find his way into the top five spots in the Mets' lineup tonight against left-hander Adam Conley, and he's been an excellent option against lefties all season, not just since joining the Mets. New York's winning streak was snapped last night with Jacob DeGrom on the mound, and you can bet they don't want to drop two in a row and lose a series to Miami. Uribe is a great cheap play tonight and while David Wright is a better play on the same team at the same positions, he's $1,300 more.

OF Bryce Harper ($5,900) at PHI

I hadn't played Harper in a cash game in weeks before Tuesday's matchup with David Buchanan, but I decided he was worth the money. All Harper did was crush two home runs and score 37 fantasy points. He's on the radar again tonight and if you can build a lineup you like around him, Price and Garcia, you'll be in good shape. The excess of outfield value near the top of this list, however, makes him less of a priority than he was Tuesday.

C Travis d'Arnaud ($5,000) vs. MIA

With the exception of Kyle Schwarber, catchers usually don't make my top 10. d'Arnaud has been crushing the ball lately, however, and his season OPS is up to .929 with a .566 wOBA against left-handers. It's tough to spend this kind of money at catcher when you can throw it at a hitter like Harper, but the lower-range plays at the position don't compare to the ones in the outfield and d'Arnaud is not hitting like a catcher. Like with Belt, though, just make sure d'Arnaud is batting in the top five spots in the order for the potential for that extra at-bat.

Week 1 Rookie Report: Was Mariota really perfect?

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Rarely does the first week of the NFL season give us a matchup between the top two picks in the NFL Draft, but the 2015 schedulemakers did just that, pitting No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against No. 2 pick Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans. To the winner go the spoils, they say, and the winner is one of four rookies Chris Tripodi takes a look at in 2015’s inaugural Rookie Report, along with the league’s newest electric running back and two Pac-12 defenders who made an impact for their new teams.

Marcus Mariota (QB-Ten)

A Heisman Trophy, gaudy statistics and a clean off-the-field resume weren’t enough to get Marcus Mariota drafted over Jameis Winston, but if Sunday was any indication, that could prove to be a mistake by the Bucs. Draft Insider was one of the few places you could find Mariota rated ahead of Winston in pre-draft rankings, with the former Oregon quarterback sitting one spot ahead of the Florida State star at No. 3. Mariota’s debut was a smashing success, as he went 13-for-16 for 209 yards and four touchdowns and became the first rookie since Fran Tarkenton in 1961 to toss at least four scores.

After consecutive incompletions to start the game, Mariota threaded the needle between two Bucs to Delanie Walker over the middle for a 22-yard gain before hitting Kendall Wright with a 52-yard catch-and-run touchdown strike. While Mariota had Walker eyed from the moment he received the shotgun snap, he put enough velocity on his pass and threw high so Walker could grab it without either defender having much chance to make a play on the ball. The score to Wright came on a play-action pass from the shotgun, which froze the linebacker and gave Mariota an immediate window to hit Wright in stride and create the opportunity for yards after the catch.

Read the rest at Draft Insider

Monday, September 14, 2015

New York Jets Cornerback Antonio Cromartie Escapes Injury Scare with Sprained Knee

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Most fans and analysts feared the worst when it came to Antonio Cromartie’s injury during Sunday’s win over the Browns. Any non-contact knee injury that requires a player to be carted off the field is scary, and the immediate assumption was that it was likely the Jets’ second-best offseason acquisition at the position tore his ACL.

Fortunately for the Jets, an MRI revealed that Cromartie escaped with a sprained knee. The team has listed him as “week-to-week” and he has not been ruled out for Monday’s night matchup with the Colts, who are facing a similar situation with wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. If Hilton can’t go and Cromartie can, the Jets’ triumvirate of Darrelle Revis, Cromartie and Buster Skrine will have a decided advantage over an aging Andre Johnson and youngsters Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett.

Read the rest at Pro Football Spot

Sunday, September 13, 2015

2015 Week 1: New York Jets Fantasy Preview vs. Cleveland Browns

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It’s been years since the Jets were a team with multiple options that astute fantasy football players would target to be part of their starting lineups. This year, however, looks to be a bit different.

Last year, Eric Decker was the Jets’ best fantasy player, and he was nothing more than a fantasy WR3. Some leagues don’t even start three wide receivers. If your league doesn’t, I’d suggest changing it. Or finding another league.

This year, Decker is set to be the team’s third best fantasy player, which is a good sign for New York’s real-life offense in addition to its fantasy potential. Brandon Marshall carries WR2 expectations after coming over from the Bears in an offseason trade, and Chris Ivory is finally set for a featured workload heading into a contract year. Coincidence? I think not.

Using the following grading system, let’s take a look at how the Jets stack up in fantasy football this week against the Cleveland Browns.

- A: Must start
- B: Recommended start
- C: Start if necessary
- D: Don’t start
- F: Why do you own this player?

Read the rest at Pro Football Spot