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Posted on: September 8, 2009 1:59 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2009 3:12 pm
 

Fantasy Draft: Round-by-round

Everyone should take advantage of mock drafts. They're what prepare a good fantasy player best for the real thing, whether you have ample rankings sitting in front of you or not.

So I'm here with a real draft, one that can serve as a mock for anyone else to see where players are landing. Is Brandon Marshall rising again? Is Derrick Ward falling? Well, here's an opportunity to take a gander.

I'll be updating during the draft as much as possible. 10-team league, 2 RB, 3 WR. I believe this means you need to grab wide receivers even higher than if your league uses 2 RB/2 WR/1 Flex, with a finite amount of top-tier receivers out there this year.

Enjoy.

Pre-Draft: I enter the draft room about 10 minutes early, and I've got the No. 6 overall pick. Not exactly where I want to be. Where's Al Davis to trade when I need him? If everyone takes guys according to my rankings, I land Steven Jackson there.

2:02, 1st Round: With the option of Chris Johnson or LT, I decide to Ride the Lightning and go with Tomlinson, who I have ranked No. 4 overall. A lot of Packers fans in this draft, and some cheesehead with the team name Rodgers Pack takes the Green Bay QB at the end of the first round. Hm.

2:05, 2nd Round:
Middle of the pack, I yank Megatron off the board with the 16th overall pick; he's the fourth overall receiver to go off the board. There's a few elite RB's still left, but you've gotta stick to your strategy at this point. Passing on the RB will pay off later.

2:14, 4th Round: A little delay, as I start scratching off guys on my rankings to keep better track. Going against my rankings, I take Marques Colston over Roddy White, who I have one spot higher. Hopefully not a regret I have later. In the fourth round, with the last of the No. 2 RB's that I want available, I go with Pierre Thomas over Kevin Smith, even with the knowledge he probably doesn't play in Week 1. With only two running back slots, you figure some good value will be available to plug in as a replacement.

2:18, 5th Round:
With no one left I really prefer on the board, I go with Braylon Edwards, with Berrian, Housh, and a few other guys out there. I have Edwards No. 15 overall at the position, but I worry about his production. Him holding onto balls is like Michael Jackson holding babies out a window. Sure, he probably won't drop them, but you can't help but wonder.

2:22, 6th Round: I make what might be my first mistake of the draft, going with Chris Cooley over Matt Schaub, who's promptly taken with the next pick. I was deciding between those two, and it always makes you second guess when that happens. Now my quarterback spot is a question mark, possibly.

2:26, 7th Round: Left out there in the rain like Owen Wilson in You, Me and Dupree is Donovan McNabb, who I thought was already picked. My QB problem is solved and my starting lineup almost totally filled out. Waiting on quarterback is always dicey. I'll probably pair him with a decent backup after about four more rounds, though.

2:37, 10th Round: Guys in the default rankings on this site are buried deeper than the national debt, leaving me to loose track of Devin Hester, although I pick the not-so-sexy Derrick Mason as my No. 5 WR. I grabbed Coles in the 8th Round, and Willie Parker in the 9th Round is a STEAL, 2 RB slots or not. The Matthew Barry man-crushes Visanthe Shancoe and Joe Flacco goe back-to-back in the 9th Round, earlier than I anticipated.

2:45, 13th Round:
Ray Rice, 11th Round. Steal of the draft. I pass up picking one of the better No. 1 D's left, or handcuff Sproles, to pick David Garrard. If anything happens to McNabb, he's an absolutely solid fill-in. With three picks to go, I select my first defense in the 13th, the Jets, who I've gotten now in nearly every draft. Rex Ryan, I'm a believer, baby.

2:55, 15th Round:
Draft is finished, and I close up shop with a Pats D and the ever-reliable Elam to seal the deal. Some quick notes otherwise:
  • Brandon Marshall - 39th overall
  • NYG Defense - 61st overall (First defense taken)
  • Eddie Royal - 65th overall
  • Marshawn Lynch - 79th overall
  • Willie Parker, Darren McFadden - 86th and 89th overall, respectively. Great value in 9th round.
  • Derrick Ward - 98th overall.
Picking Ward in one of my high-takes league with the 48th overall pick is making me queasy already, as he's been one of the biggest fallers. I'm counting on him in another league as a No. 2, if not a Flex-back.

A quick look at my team post-draft:

QB - Donovan McNabb
RB - LaDanian Tomlinson
RB - Pierre Thomas
WR - Calvin Johnson
WR - Marques Colston
WR - Braylon Edwards
TE - Chris Cooley
K - Jason Elam
DEF - New York Jets

Bench - QB - Garrard; RB - Rice, Parker; WR - Coles, Mason; Def. - New England

This is a team you put money on if you know you're going to come out of it looking like this. The only position I'm without a top option at is defense, but playing the matchups with 2 No. 1's is a good way to get good value in the earlier rounds. I have good depth or backups at every position in case of injuries as well.

Ideally, if you get to the point where you can nearly do a draft without your rankings, and it's all in your head, that's when you know you're a step ahead of the game. Provided those rankings you've lodged up there are superb like mine, that is.  Jokes aside, don't go into your draft looking like Lindsay Lohan at a movie shoot. Be prepared, through the myriad of avenues there is to do that. The information above can just be one of them.
Posted on: September 8, 2009 4:18 am
Edited on: September 8, 2009 4:21 am
 

2009 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterback

After a journalistic hiatus of sorts, I've returned for some fantasy goodness.

Part of the reason for that hiatus was hours and hours of pouring into preparation for fantasy football. I'll be covering one of my teams as an example of what to do, and not to do in the future, but I want to share the good of what got me there: these rankings. There are no complete projections for them, but they are the combination of reading numerous publications, constant updates of training camp and preseason situations, listening to hours upon hours of podcasts, and absorbing anything else I could into a meticulous ranking system.

Keep in the mind these are for a standard settings league (4 pts. for passing touchdowns, no PPR, etc.). You'll notice players that I prefer to own, or tend to be players with good value this year, are indidcated by a + sign. And with no further ado, the QB rankings:

Quarterback

  1. Drew Brees (+)
  2. Tom Brady (+)
  3. Peyton Manning
  4. Aaron Rodgers (+)
  5. Tony Romo
  6. Donovan McNabb
  7. Kurt Warner
  8. Matt Schaub (+)
  9. Philip Rivers
  10. Matt Ryan (+)
  11. Carson Palmer
  12. David Garrard (+)
  13. Ben Roethlisberger
  14. Jay Cutler
  15. Joe Flacco
  16. Matt Hasselback
  17. Matt Cassel
  18. Trent Edwards
  19. Brett Favre
  20. Shaun Hill
  21. Jason Campbell

Notes:

  • Why 21? Well first of all I'm assuming a size of 12 owners in a league (and have always felt 10 is too few). Personally, I feel like Trent Edwards is the end of the last tier of backup quarterbacks I would prefer to own, but anything after these 21 certainly I won't own on any team of that many owners or fewer.
  • You're not going to find me taking Drew Brees or Tom Brady until about 18-20 players go off the board, and I don't think you should either. The "Fantastic Four" at wide receiver this year and a group of about a dozen running backs should go first before you reach for either of the gunslingers. I landed Brady with the 25th overall pick, or the first pick of the third round in one of my leagues, and if you get him there it's great value.
  • I'd say the top nine on my rankings, and throw in Cutler or maybe Palmer, are going in the early-to-mid rounds, and then there's a pretty steep drop off while teams establish depth. Pairing a couple of the guys that come after Rivers, who I believe to be overrated by some rankings this year, isn't a bad idea either.

I'll be back with some draft results of a league tomorrow, as well as the next part of some rankings.
Posted on: August 14, 2009 6:09 pm
 

Staying hot in the heat

It's been a while, but a lot has been going on in the dog days of summer in my life, even though sports news is generally slow.

  • In MMA circles, UFC 101 was a generally lackluster showing, even overshadowed by the events of WEC 42, featuring a spectacular knockout of Miguel Torres by new WEC Bantamweight Champion Brian Bowles, ending Torres' 17-fight win streak and reign as king of the division. I anticipate that similar to Urijah Faber, Torres is back in contention for the title within the next 12 months.

More surprising was the news coming out recently that UFC welterweight Tamdan "The Barn Cat" McCrory and middleweight contender Thales Leites were cut following loses in UFC 101.

Dana White wasn't the only one surprised when it was announced that Tamdan McCrory and Thales Leites were cut. I think a whole lot of MMA fans, including myself, were also taken aback.

McCrory, who is 3-3 in his UFC matches, has looked much improved over his last several fights, and lost a tough split decision at UFC 101. I would have likely been surprised even had it been a unanimous decision. I believe that McCrory still has the potential to be more than just a gatekeeper in either the welterweight, or the middleweight division that he anticipates on moving up to.

Leites, on the other hand, has looked sketchy in his last two fights which resulted in losses, including the much-discussed defeat to Anderson Silva. Still, he sports a 5-3 UFC record, and deserves at least another match or two in my eyes.

I doubt either of these two ever hold any gold in the UFC in their careers, but they're at least worthy of billing in the promotion, if not at least as better than average fighters.

  • Meanwhile, onto some prep basketball. Why are sports fans coming down on Jeremy Tyler so hard?

    The 6'11" forward Tyler, who would be a senior in high school this year, made the decision to skip his final year in lieu of playing for a top flight Israeli team for $140,000. Is it because in this time of economic downturn we're envious of him making more than double what most Americans do in a year, in a position that most probably don't even enjoy?

    I'm not going to pretend to make judgments about Tyler's coaches or level of competition, because frankly I don't know too much about them. But I have seen elite talents come through Detroit, i.e. guys like Malik Hairston, who were overqualified playing city ball for their respective teams. How many high school teams have 6'9" or 6'10" centers that are worthy of competing at a high level of competition outside of teams like Oak Hill and the sort that travel and play the most competitive schedules? Would Tyler really gain that much if he's as good as rankings and the statistics say he is?

    Tyler is travelling to a situation that, suffice to say will give him a heavy dose of diversity, is also going to present him with an opportunity for better coaching, better competition, and a different style of play. AND he'll be making about two times the average college student's tuition over the course of four years. What is the argument here again?

    We've yet to see how the Brandon Jennings experiment turns out. Financially, if Jennings saved all he had, he'd be set. From a professional baskeball success standpoint, I think teams are going to be sorry that they let the former Arizona signee slip all the way down to the 10th overall pick in this year's draft.

    Call Jeremy Tyler one of the first to make this type of leap, one far less risky than most people are making it out to be. But I highly doubt it will be the last.
  • Lastly, I have to say that things are looking very interesting for baseball fans in the midwest, particularly in my AL Central.
White Sox fans have to be enamored with the wheeling and dealing of GM Kenny Williams. First they nabbed Jake Peavy, who Williams had been trying to acquire for nearly a year, no less without parting with major prospects like Gordon Beckham in the process. Then, they became buyers in the biggest salary dump in baseball history when they took Alex Rios off of Toronto's hands, likely preparing for cutting ties with outfielder Jermaine Dye next season.

Division leaders in Detroit have to be worrying about this, but secretly are envious. How could they not be? True, Rios contract is over market value by several million per year, but wouldn't Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski have claimed him with the money that they're paying to Magglio Ordonez right now? In what area would that not be an upgrade, hands down? It's tough times here in Detroit, but I've been saying all along that Chicago is the front-runner with a more reliable bullpen, and a deeper lineup. Now that Jarrod Washburn has turned back into a pumpkin and Chicago has added pieces, they become a vehemontly better representative of the division in the playoffs.

As for my lovable losers in Kansas City, help seems to be (eventually) on the way. The club agreed to terms with third round pick Wil Meyers for a hefty $2 million, more than five times the recommended money. Myers was considered by some teams worthy of a pick in the first round. Fourth-rounder Chris Dwyer is reportedly close to signing, and the pitcher may be awarded the biggest bonus for a fourth round pick ever at around $1.5 million. Big spending, but when first round pick Aaron Crow signs, the Royals may be looking at one of their best drafts in recent history.
Posted on: July 12, 2009 7:21 pm
 

UFC 100: The Ultimate Results + Reactions

Lesnar turns heel! USA over UK! Mark Coleman: It's alive!
For all the hype, UFC 100 performed respectably, and inside the MMA community, actually exceeded realistic expectations considering all the marketing that went into it. For the first time in the UFC in recent history, a title fight went five rounds and was entertaining (Note: Anderson Silva's recent bout clearly not included). George St. Pierre dominated Thiago Alves so efficiently that there is almost a lack of future contenders that viewers will see as legitimate to Pierre's welterweight throne. St. Pierre is to the welterweight division as is The Undertaker to Wrestlemania.

If you were out with friends or simply socializing somewhere across America as I was during the event, you know that emotions were riding as high as the Revolutionary War for the Dan Henderson/Michael Bisping clinic. I suspected Henderson might simply play Bisping's game better mixed in with superior wrestling en route to a unanimous decision, but ended up with a knockout that emphatically sent Bisping back down the ladder. I'm guessing that Dana White was rooting for Bisping to come out victorious in order to set up a huge UK-hosted title fight between he and Anderson Silva, but the former Pride champion ended any chance of that emphatically.

And in a main event where the post-fight dramatics nearly overshadowed the bout itself, Brock Lesnar cemented himself as a legitimate MMA heavyweight, unifying the UFC Heavyweight Title in his dominating victory over Frank Mir. Lesnar used good posturing along with an overwhelming strength advantage to turn Mir's face into silly putty, eventually forcing referee Herb Dean to stop the fight after Lesnar started going Donkey Kong on Mir in the second round. Lesnar followed up with a post-fight interview that interesting to say the least.

The more important ramifications are similar to St. Pierre's case: Who's next for Lesnar? The winner of the Cain Velasquez/Shane Carwin fight upcoming is sure to get a title shot, but Lesnar is bigger, has at least equal wrestling ability, and his striking game is more advanced than Velasquez standing or on the ground as far as I can see. Dana White claims that the UFC will make a strong push for Fedor when his contract expires after fighting Josh Barnett next month, so things may yet get interesting.

Here's a look at the results of my predictions, with correct winners in bold.

Brock Lesnar v. Frank Mir
Winner: Brock Lesnar

Dong Hyun Kim v. TJ Grant
Winner: Dong Hyun Kim

Mac Danzig v. Jim Miller
Winner: Jim Miller

Mark Coleman v. Stephan Bonnar
Winner: Stephan Bonnar

Jon Fitch v. Paulo Thiago
Winner: Jon Fitch

Georges St-Pierre v. Thiago Alves
Winner: Georges St-Pierre

Dan Henderson v. Michael Bisping
Winner: Dan Henderson

CB Dollaway v. Tom Lawlor
Winner: CB Dollaway

Jon Jones v. Jake O'Brien
Winner: Jon Jones

Matt Grice v. Shannon Gugerty
Winner: Matt Grice

Yoshihiro Akiyama v. Alan Belcher
Winner: Yoshihiro Akiyama

Most surprising was the undercard fight which saw Coleman defeat Bonner by unanimous decision. I've yet to watch some of the undercard fights, but will have more reactions to them when I view them. I've been hyping Jon Jones as an up-and-coming fighter too, so look for big things from him. I went 8-3 for UFC 100's predictions. Overall on the year, here's a look at where I stand with CBSSports.com's expert MMA writers:

Ben Fowlkes: 77-33 (70%) Gary Herman: 76-34 (69%) Denny Burkholder: 74-36 (67%) Todd Martin: 73-37 (66%) Sam Caplan: 10-5 (67%)
My picks: 67-30 (69%)

I'll be back later in the week with some fantasy baseball reactions after I get back from a short vacation, and later with more MMA. Enjoy the All-Star Break.
Posted on: July 11, 2009 7:18 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2009 7:24 pm
 

UFC 100: The Ultimate Predictions

Here's the picks for UFC 100:

Brock Lesnar v. Frank Mir
Winner: Brock Lesnar Technical Knock Out

Dong Hyun Kim v. TJ Grant
Winner: Dong Hyun Kim Unanimous Decision

Mac Danzig v. Jim Miller
Winner: Jim Miller Unanimous Decision

Mark Coleman v. Stephan Bonnar
Winner: Stephan Bonnar Submission (Other)

Jon Fitch v. Paulo Thiago
Winner: Jon Fitch Unanimous Decision

Georges St-Pierre v. Thiago Alves
Winner: Georges St-Pierre Technical Knock Out

Dan Henderson v. Michael Bisping
Winner: Dan Henderson Unanimous Decision

CB Dollaway v. Tom Lawlor
Winner: CB Dollaway Submission (Choke)

Jon Jones v. Jake O'Brien
Winner: Jon Jones Technical Knock Out

Matt Grice v. Shannon Gugerty
Winner: Matt Grice Technical Knock Out

Yoshihiro Akiyama v. Alan Belcher
Winner: Yoshihiro Akiyama Technical Knock Out

I'm utterly confident that Jones, GSP, Fitch and Henderson come out victorious. I'd then put Lesnar, Akiyama and Bonner on the next level as far as the bouts with meaning.

I would not be surprised at all to see Frank Mir come out of this as the UFC Undisputed Champion. It would answer a lot of questions about him, and if he can beat an improved Brock Lesnar, you have to think he can take on Cain Velasquez as well.

I think we're looking at a card with a mix of both very prestigious and exciting fights, which bodes pretty well for both the hardcore and the casual MMA fans that will have their eyes glued on this one. Enjoy the fights.
Posted on: July 4, 2009 8:17 pm
 

Liriano's Independence Day?

Happy Fourth of July sports fans. Unfortunately, the tragedy of Steve McNair's death looms over today's holiday in the sports world following a number of other well-publicized deaths. The real tragedy is that McNair was only 36.

It's going to be a quick one with a long day coming, and after a long night that concluded in a 16 inning victory for the Tigers over the Twins in Minnesota 11-9. The real fantasy issue has to be from today's game, however, after Fransisco Liriano's latest outing. No, Liriano didn't get the win, but he did limit the Tigers to just three runs (and two walks more importantly) over 7 IP to go along with eight strikeouts as well.

After a disasterous start, Liriano's numbers since the beginning of  June now look something like this over six starts:
38 IP, 2-1, 3.79 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 38 Ks

That's a strikeout per inning, and a WHIP that indicates that his control has improved with reduced walks. It was worth watching to see how he would face against stronger offenses over his last few starts, and strong performances against St. Louis and Detroit were the exams that Liriano needed to pass. He's still not as strong of a start in 4x4 leagues until he continues to show solid control over the long term, but his strikeouts in most leagues are too valuable to pass up. Either way, this start seems to be proof that it's time to put him back in for two or three consecutive starts at least and see. The potential is too great to pass up.

Some other quick hits:

  • It's becoming increasingly tough to admit, but Fernando Rodney could hold onto his job for a whole season. That was about as painful to type as passing a kidney stone after watching him here in Detroit, but it's materializing fast. He still hasn't blown a save yet in 17 chances, yet until this year his statistics were regressing over the past four years. Still, he strikes out less than a batter per inning, and holds a 1.31 WHIP. Manager Jim Leyland seems to be using him more effectively, but in non-save situations the guy just implodes. He's still no sure thing despite his counting numbers.
  • Where did Luke Hochevar come from? This guy destroyed me after I took a chance on him, and now he's 3-1 in his last five starts? If he ever puts it all together, no one will be surprised seeing how he was the No. 1 overall pick in 2006, but I'm still not convinced. His strikeout numbers will never be daunting even if he does, so he really has to pass the eye test one or two more times before I'd even use him in AL leagues.
  • I still don't advocate loading up on them, but Tommy Hanson is slowly making a case for being one of the best rookie pitchers of this year along with the Tiger's Rick Porcello. With a 4-0 record and a 2.25 ERA over six starts now, he's for real. His ERA would be Greinkesque if not for his Major League debut where he allowed six runs.
That's it for now. Again, Happy Independence Day.
Posted on: June 30, 2009 10:10 pm
 

Oh, Henry! Top recruit from KU to UK?

Being a fan of any high-major NCAA college basketball program these days, you are bound to be subject to a late recruiting tiff not so infrequently. It's time again for Kansas fans, but with the cupboard not so bare, does KU need Xavier Henry as bad as Henry needs KU?

This topic wouldn't even be up for debate if Henry simply skipped town before Lance Stephenson reportedly committed to the University of Cincinnati recently. Stephenson could have jumped in just as admirably and been another impact piece that would have kept the Jayhawks as the favorite to tear down the nets next year along with Collins, Aldrich and rising sophomore Tyshawn Taylor. But with Stephenson and top prospect John Wall already off the board, this is a hot topic.

Kansas, albeit a national title and plenty of recent success, has had their share of problem children over the past five years. J.R. Giddens, a tremendously talented swingman, had his exodus amongst off-campus scuffles. David Padgett, another top ten recruit, transferred to Louisville after problems with his father, also a coach, arose. Big man C.J. Giles was booted for "irresponsible behavior and disrespect for team rules." With what seems to be a good, talented core, Henry is starting to draw question marks for his flip-flopping.

On the other hand, Kentucky is no slouch either. They've acquired a number of talents, both existing but even more so incoming. Going to Kentucky may or may not be a more successful collegiate opportunity for Henry and his brother, but will it be a better showcase for his professional career? With a logjam of talent, Henry may not get a chance to put himself on the map the way he would be able to in Lawrence.

As a Jayhawk fan, I have become somewhat indifferent, but feel like the system that Bill Self runs (and no, I don't mean his programs being cleaner), is more opportunitstic for Henry than Coach Calipari's.

With Coach Self meeting with the Henry family tonight, we'll soon know the answer.
Posted on: June 25, 2009 8:34 pm
 

NBA Draft '09: Passing on Jennings trendy mistake

On the cusp of Ricky Rubio being picked, we're looking at one of the most talented passing-point guards of recent memory. We hear that a lot, but in watching what available footage of this guy there is, there doesn't seem to be a strong counter-argument to that statement.

The real news, however, is that Brandon Jennings is dropping faster than celebrities today. Why? Sure, his numbers weren't impressive, but we all know that numbers from Europe don't necessarily translate. Jennings was clearly the most talented to ever jump from high school to play in Europe, so how he produces in the NBA over the first several years of his career could be a trial run of sorts as to whether or not it pays off.

Regardless, you can't debate the fact that Jennings has all the talent in the world. Is he cocky, and still a bit inexperienced, well yes. But he has a solid jumper with a quick release, explosiveness, and good lateral movement and hands defensively. He doesn't deserve to fall out of the Top 10 prospects in this draft.

With that, here's my look at the Top 10:

1. Blake Griffin
2. Ricky Rubio
3. Jordan Hill
4. Hasheem Thabeet
5. Brandon Jennings
6. DeMar DeRozan
7. Stephen Curry
8. James Harden
9. Jonny Flynn
10. Earl Clark

I was a big fan of Harden early on last season, but I wonder about his ability to show up every night. I think he can be solid, but not spectacular, and when you're picking or projecting a guy that high, that's what you're expecting.

I think after Harden, though, the talent drops off.

Update: With DeRozan drafted 9th by the Toronto Raptors, I have Jennings, Clark, Evans, Holliday and Austin Daye as the five best players on the board. I feel like Evans is a system player who again, with the right team, can succeed in the NBA, but has come in a little overrated.

As a Pistons fan, who hold the 15th pick in the draft, I think I would be happy with Jennings, Clark, Evans or Daye.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com