Weekend Update: Another #Football Monday

Bullet Points

1. Nice way to get your 400th TD

So that’s what a walk-off homerun looks like in the NFL…Overtime lasted only 13 seconds.  That is 1 second faster than the previous regular-season-record-holder, when Chad Morton returned a kick-off 96 yards for the Jets to beat Buffalo back in September 2002.  The fastest?  That was also from a saint – Saint Tebow, when he threw to Demariyus Thomas to beat Pittsburgh in the playoffs, in only 11 seconds.  It was the first overtime touchdown pass of Brees’s career, and only the second ever by a Saints quarterback. Back in 1998, Danny Wuerffel and Cameron Cleeland combined for a 33-yard overtime touchdown that beat Indianapolis, 19-13, leaving the Colts’ rookie quarterback Peyton Manning still looking for his first NFL victory. That made the Saints head coach very happy — a fellow named Mike Ditka.


Getty Images

2. Texas Strong

In the history of word association, no one has ever confused “delusional” with Texas Longhorn fans.  Yet, here they are again.  Longhorn fan forgets when Colorado and Nebraska saved them, when they included them into the Big 8.  Longhorn fan believed that they were the gift of college football and their arrogance alienated Texas A&M to move to a superior conference – taking with them the status of #1 program in the state – Baylor and TCU might disagree – but the point is, for years Texas bullied everyone and their arrogance has finally caught up to them.  Texas thought they would always get the top recruits, the top coach and when they actually have a coach that is willing to rebuild their burnt-orange luster in the correct way – they lose their minds


3. It’s still about Jimmy’s and Joe’s, not X’s and O’s

In the beginning, all we heard was how the Chipster was going to revolutionize the game with his offense.  It’s hard to argue against that it didn’t work.  Chip did win 10 games in his first two years as a head coach in the NFL.  But now Demarco Murray is unhappy with his role  and there is nothing that says to me that Chip lasts past this year, if things continue.  For a fanbase that booed Santa Claus and has never been known as rational, as it looks today, will not be able to tolerate Mr.Kelly any longer.


4. Stone Cold Dan Quinn

It is a dangerous thing for a Saints fan to witness the difference Dan Quinn has made.  He has the entire city and more importantly, the team believing in themselves.  The Falcons already had the best wide receiver in Julio Jones, but now they seem to be able to run the ball.  Watching Devonta Freeman under Mike Smith, is not the same kid you see now.  When Devonta Freeman scored three touchdowns for the second consecutive week – Freeman became the first player since LaDainian Tomlinson to score 3TD’s in two straight games – L.T. had a 3-game streak in 2006 – but, what says more about it is, Devonta became the 1st Falcon, ever, with consecutive 3-TD games of any kind.  the Falcons are 4-0 and have such an easy schedule that it might remind Atlanta fans of baseball, waiting for the post-season to start.


#ByeFelicia

5. Squished Fish?

It’s no secret, I think Joe’s gotta go, and as bad he has been as a leader, a coach…I say it’s not all his fault.  I lay at least half of the blame at Steve Ross.  You Steve hired Joe and retained him last year.  Remember when you said you really like the way this team plays and where they are headed – and we said this:

Huh? say that again? A close win against the Vikings gives you this feeling that, this team, this coach, is headed in the right direction?  Is mediocrity a direction, and do you travel thru Miami now(not Dallas this year) to get there?  Standards have been lowered or the owner is still intoxicated from that win early in the year – at home – against the Patriots.  Bet we still see Philbin fired before the end of the 2016.

So now, after OVER-spending for $uh and giving Tannehill a huge contract extension – you think that Sunday’s performance was the final straw?  Mr.Ross, you can and should fire Philbin – but it still doesn’t change the mediocre empire you’re in-charge of until you fire yourself! —(UPDATE: PHILBIN HAS BEEN FIRED)

  • Joe Philbin must show fire, better leadership to save job. – the Miami Dolphins are sinking fast after a 1-3 start.  They entered the season with playoff expectations, but nearly all of that optimism is gone after three straight losses by a combined score of 91-48.  Can the season be salvaged?……(continue reading)

6. Squidward’s Folly

Xerxes, Where have you gone?!  It didn’t seem that long ago that people like Trent Dilfer and Ron Jaworski were annointing Kaepernick the greatest QB of all time – a game changer at the position, blah blah blah.  Maybe there was more to Harbaugh than just wins – or maybe Xerxes just decided that he was as good as all that press and no longer needed to study or look for his 2nd and 3rd reads, etc…Either way, this top-to-bottom-organizational-implosion is entertaining to watch – from Tomsula letting one fly in a press conference to the constant dumpster-fire that is the 49ers right now.

Weekend Update: #SadFansAreSad

#1 with a Bullet…

 

Oh the humanity…Bert, you got waxed again – remember when you opened your mouth at a Texas football camp and said; if you didnt have a fullback you would get your ass kicked?  Well Pepperidge Farms remembers and apparently so did Kingsbury.  All the offseason hype, all the faux-swagger and next week is Texas A&M – you’ve got Hawg-Town losing their minds.  Bert, you know it’s bad when the people of Hawg-nation are calling for Greg Schiano, Lame Kitten, or just outright cheating.  It’s gotta sting the nostrils a bit.  Sure, fans will get over ranking 118th in 3rd-down conversion-defense, or ranking 84th in penalty yards and even 119th in RedZone efficiency – but having Kliff Kingsbury put you in your place?  These are Dark Days Bert, dark days…


Dark Days ahead for Auburn too.  This is who Auburn is.  They just don’t go quietly into the night, they fall off the cliff.  It’s in their DNA.  Their history proves it, and when a defensive back spouts off about how easy it will be to stop Leonard Fournette…well we all saw what happened.  Fournette had Auburn quitting before halftime, especially Mr. Ford – the mouthee.   But, to me, the issue is Jeremy Johnson.  He had a lot of hype coming in and the expectation was that he would do and be everything we’ve come to expect from the field-general of Auburn’s offense.  He has the talent, just not the heart or more importantly the head to get it done, because it is not translating to the field in real time.  Seriously though, it’s Auburn and it was a great weekend for those who dislike the entire state of Alabama.


More sad fans were found in SoCal.  Beyond Sark’s pre-game holla-ba-looza earlier in the year, the only thing people really had to say about him was – He’s a nice guy.  I’m sure he is a nice guy and that is honorable, but when it is attached to a football coach that is getting treatment for a drinking problem, he says he doesn’t have and then Stanford happens, you get flashbacks.  The kind of flashbacks that take you back to Seattle where Sark was 34-29 and the thought was, “it was hard to breakthrough in Washington, and wait and see what he can do with national-elite talent.”  Well we did. Talent is important, but it’s what you do with it, and so far and far too often, Sarkisian is outmatched by the other guy on the other side-line.  It’s going to get harder for “the Fans of Troy” to believe this is going to work as envisioned, because, as of right now –  it’s not the symbol of victory that fans are giving, it’s the number of losses every year.


But what about Ole Miss and Alabama? The Rebels caused five turnovers Saturday and also benefited from a once-in-a-lifetime—see Auburn in bamasad2013—miracle touchdown in a six-point win in Tuscaloosa.  Alabama is going too have to, again, win out.  But is it the same as last year? Last year, Alabama had a defined starting quarterback. Saturday, Nick Saban went with sophomore Cooper Bateman (who got blown up) before he was replaced by Jake Coker – who had started Alabama’s first two games. Coker almost led Alabama to it’s best come-from-behind victory at Bryant-Denny Stadium since the one Cam Newton led in 2010.  This is a fluke they say, the dynasty is still intact, the emperor’s new clothes are still made from the finest invisible silks…To quote our friend Lee Corso – NOT SO FAST…Alabama is 4-5 against top 15 teams since 2013.  That’s a trend, not a fluke, and what I’m saying is – gone are the days that Alabama beats teams with comparable talent more often than not.  Back in the day, Alabama fans would be upset if you beat someone by 10pts instead of 20 and after they’d come back down to earth, they’d be on to the next week.  Now the freakouts seem longer and that might cause Saban to see the writing on the wall and pack up.

For week 3 we were 72% SU and 64% ATS – that still crushes, but it is not what we are used to around here – our upsets did pretty well, but the ones we thought would be E-Z, hmmm not so much as we’d like.  If you haven’t seen it, take a look at how Memphis tied the game at 41 in the 4th qtr against Bowling Green – yeah a full-on double-reverse-flea flicker!!!

Other thoughts I cannot put anywhere else:

  • Notre Dame has lost a starting defensive tackle, a starting tailback, a starting tight end and a starting quarterback to season-ending injuries. Saturday, it may have lost a starting safety to a chest-bump-celebration
  • TCU lost their cornerback to a knee injury against SMU and also had 5 other defensive players sit out with injuries
  • Doing his best Johnny Manziel impression – OU quarterback Baker Mayfield, accounted for a school-record 572 yards of total offense and six touchdowns in the Sooners’ 52-38 win over Tulsa
  • Al Golden escaped with a much needed victory over Nebraska, but it still does not seem to haved cooled off his seat any.  During the game you could see a plane pulling a banner that read: C’MON #FIREGOLDEN. THESE BANNERS ARE EXPENSIVE – nevermind the Hurricanes were up 17 by halftime.  Maybe he felt vindicated after watching Miami choke away a 23pt lead, yet still won 36-33 in OT
  • For Nebraska, it could have been one of the great comebacks in their history – then Tommy Armstrong threw an interception on the 1st play of OT, and then a player gets flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct when he shoved the Miami guy who intercepted it – Miami, short field goal – ball game.  It’s a heart-breaking way to lose a game, and yet it has happened to Nebraska twice in three weeks.

It’s all about the Benjamin

Some headlines will highlight Johnny Manziel‘s role in the Browns’ 28-14 win over the Titans. But the star of the show was Travis Benjamin, who caught touchdown passes of 60 and 50 yards from Manziel and returned a punt 78 yards for a TD. The only other active players to have scored three TDs of 50 yards or longer in one game were Chris Johnson (2009) and Tavon Austin (2013). Benjamin was the first Browns player ever to do so – ever.

Benjamin also caught a 54-yard touchdown pass from Manziel in the Browns’ season opener. The only other player in NFL history with four touchdowns of 50 yards or longer in his team’s first two games of a season was Jim Brown for Cleveland in 1963 – 1963!

Manziel may have completed just 8-of-15 passes, but he was able to limit the turnovers and make plays when the Browns needed him the most.  In reality, there is absolutely no reason for Mike Pettine to go back to a lower-ceiling quarterback in Josh McCown.  As a result of Manziel replacing McCown, Cleveland extended its streak to 14 consecutive seasons in which at least two different players started a game at QB. That tied the longest such streak in the NFL since 1950, set by New England from 1980 to 1993. The Patriots drafted Drew Bledsoe with the first pick in the 1993 NFL Draft, and Bledsoe ended New England’s streak in 1994.


Are the Cardinals early Favorites?

Fresh off a solid win against the New Orleans Saints in Week 1, Bruce Arians and the Cardinals laid the smack down against an inferior Bears team in Chicago. While the game was relatively close about halfway through, anyone watching it knew full well that Arizona was going to end up pulling away.

For Carson Palmer, it was a continuation of what has been a stellar run for a USC quarterback. The veteran has posted a 15-2 record with 34 touchdowns compared to 12 interceptions. His four touchdowns on Sunday – including three to Larry Fitzgerald – represents the first time Palmer has matched that total since he was with the Oakland Raiders back in November of 2012.  That was the first regular-season game of Fitzgerald’s NFL career in which he scored more than two touchdowns; he came into the game with 89 TDs.

Only one player in league history with that many touchdowns never scored three in a game: Charley Taylor (90 TDs) – (Note that Fitzgerald caught three touchdowns in the NFC Championship Game following the 2008 season, but never before in a regular-season game.)


New Rams, same as the old Rams

All the good feelings the St. Louis Rams may have felt following their Week 1 win over the Seattle Seahawks came crashing down in D.C. on Sunday. Never really in control of the game against Washington, St. Louis dropped an ugly game by the score of 24-10. At this point, we have come to expect Fisher-led squads to lay eggs following good performances.

It happened in all three of the Rams big wins last year — against Seattle, San Francisco and Denver. In fact, the Rams lost the following week after beating those favored teams. This is one of the primary reasons I avoided to pick St. Louis on Sunday.

Kirk Cousins completed 23 of 27 passes (85%) and Matt Jones gained 123 yards on 19 carries in the Redskins’ 24-10 win over the Rams. Jones and Alfred Morris, who gained 121 yards on Week 1, are the first Redskins teammates to rush for at least 100 yards in the team’s first and second game of a season (one in each game, that is). The only other running backs to do that in this century were LaDainian Tomlinson and Michael Turner for San Diego in 2006.

For his part, Cousins posted the fourth-highest completion percentage in team history (minimum: 20 passes). The three higher marks were by Mark Brunell, 89 percent against Houston in 2006; Patrick Ramsey (Tulane), 86 percent against the Giants in 2004; and Sammy Baugh, 86 percent against the Steelers in 1945.


New England is putting the league on notice

Tom Brady passed for 466 yards and three touchdowns in the Patriots’ 40-32 win at Buffalo. Brady’s totals after two games-754 yards and 7 TDs without an INT-are rare even for a quarterback of his elite status. This is the second time he has passed for at least 700 yards and seven touchdowns in his first two games of season, the first being 2011. Only four other players did that even once: Jim Kelly (1991), Drew Bledsoe for the Patriots (1994), Peyton Manning (2013), and Aaron Rodgers (2013). Of those players, only Manning and Brady did so without throwing an interception.

Incidentally, Brady set a record for passing yards in one game against the Bills, breaking a mark that was set the same month that Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s single-season home-run record. On October 29, 1961, George Blanda of the Houston Oilers passed for 464 yards at War Memorial Stadium in Buffalo, and that mark remained the highest against the Bills until Sunday.

At some point, the Patriots will have to find a run/pass balance on offense – right?. They won’t be able to dominate like this through the air on a consistent basis – can they? The interesting dynamic here is that New England did average nearly four yards per rush. It’s not like the running game was completely ineffective.  Instead, Bill Belichick and Co. decided to make a statement, again, that the big boys of the East don’t reside in Western New York and play under Rex Ryan.  It could be a long year for anyone who gets in their way.


The Eagles are mess

About halfway through three quarters on Sunday against Dallas, the Eagles had racked up more penalty yards than total yards. Heck, the Cowboys domination could be summed up by the fact that they had run more plays (44) – at about the nine-minute mark in the third quarter – than the Eagles had total yards (34). It was that ugly.

The Cowboys defeated the Eagles, 20-10, in a game in which the story was Tony Romo‘s broken collarbone.  But storyline 1-A was the continued ineffectiveness of DeMarco Murray, who netted two yards on 13 carries one week after gaining nine yards on eight carries in Philadelphia’s season opener.  Over the last 30 seasons, there are only four games in which a defending rushing champion gained less than 10 yards on at least five carries. Christian Okoye did it in 1990, Chris Johnson in 2010, and Murray in each of his first two games with the Eagles.

Murray’s net of 2 yards was the third lowest in NFL history by a defending rushing champion in a game of at least 10 carries. Steve Van Buren of the Eagles was held to negative-2 yards on 10 carries by the Browns in 1950; and Clem Daniels, the 1963 AFL rushing leader, carried 14 times for negative-1 yard against the Boston Patriots in the Raiders’ opening game of the 1964 season.  But Murray’s performance on Sunday was extraordinary for any player, not just for a rushing champion. Over the last 37 seasons, only one other player finished a game with at least as many carries and as few rushing yards as Murray. Jonathan Wells of the Texans carried 13 times for 1 yard on Dec. 29, 2002 against the Titans.

It’s this type of offensive performance that will have many questioning Chip Kelly’s scheme moving forward. More than that, it will have skeptics on full alert when it comes to criticizing the team’s off-season moves. And now at 0-2 on the season, Philadelphia finds itself in a must-win situation against the New York Jets next week.


6 straight home losses?!

At 0-2 on the season (2nd straight year), Drew Brees and Co. are in a terrible position. Only 10 percent of teams that have started 0-2 since the 2007 season have earned a playoff spot. And while playing in the NFC South helps New Orleans early in the year, they just lost a home game against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers squad that won just two games last season.  Costing many people their survivor pool!!!

Jameis Winston led the Buccaneers to a 26-19 win at New Orleans. Winston became the first quarterback chosen first in the NFL Draft to get a September road win in his rookie season since John Elway did so in 1983.  Of course, Elway’s two road wins in September 1983 have a big fat asterisk, since Steve DeBerg was the QB who rallied the Broncos to both of those victories.

Since that time, #1 picks had lost 16 straight September starts in their rookie season, and it’s an impressive list of QBs: two losses each by Troy Aikman, Jeff George, Drew Bledsoe, Peyton Manning, Tim Couch, and David Carr, followed by single losses by Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford, Cam Newton, and Andrew Luck.

There isn’t much left up for interpretation here. New Orleans appears to be terrible.

Looking well past his prime, Brees was outplayed by Jameis.  Drew completed 24-of-38 passes for 255 yards with one touchdown and one interception. This came on the heels of Tampa Bay’s defense yielding FOUR touchdown passes to Marcus Mariota last week.

If the Saints can’t win a home game against a bottom-feeder, it pretty much tells us what we need to know about this team. Unfortunately for Brees, the twilight of his career is likely going to be spent with fans watching him thru paper-bags.

 

Bust a Move

Ever look at someone’s face when they found that sleeper that pays off?  It’s like the proud father watching his son hit the game-winning grand-slam – I’ve seen it a hundred times.  Everyone loves talking about sleepers and who they think are the bees’ knees.  But busts?  Busts are like a fungus – no one wants to talk about it – especially if you got that guy high in your draft or spent a lot of money to put him in your lineup.  It hurts.  Everybody hurts and everybody poops, so here is some guys you might want to target for breaking your heart in the 2015 campaign.

DeMarco Murray  RB, Philadelphia Eagles

2014 was the first year of his career that Murray was able to play in all 16 regular season games, and he did not disappoint. He put up 1,845 yards on the ground, went for another 416 yards receiving and touched pay dirt 13 times. The guy was an absolute beast, and even proved he’s tough enough to battle through injury when he played through a broken hand at the end of the season. That’s the best we’re ever going to see from Murray, though.  It’s all downhill from there, or is it?  DeMarco was running behind the best offensive line in the NFL last season, and despite the grit he displayed, he is still injury prone. Those 392 rushing attempts and 57 receptions from last season, have to catch up to him, that’s what history tells us. The Cowboys knew this, and made the right call to let him walk. Murray’s still going to be featured in Philly, but he’s not as talented or durable as LeSean McCoy. He’s not going to fall off the face of the fantasy earth, but there’s zero chance he gives us anything close to 2014.  I’d wager he plays in twelve games, and gets 1,100yds .

Arian Foster  RB, Houston Texans

Got hurt again and at best might miss the first few games, at worst the season.  Foster did have a nice season in just 13 games last year (1,573 combine yards/13 total TDs), much more productive than any other top RB was able to accomplish in 16 games, but he is always hurt. His 95.8 rushing YPG were the most since his absurd breakout season in 2010, but he’s still played in just 21 games over the last two seasons. With that said, Foster will turn 29-years old in August, and it appears the miles on his legs are starting to catchup quickly.  30 is the fine line for RBs, but something tells me the downward trend has already started for Foster.  Foster hasn’t given us a double digit rushing TD season since back in 2012, failing to do so in back-to-back seasons for the first time in his career (only 9 rushing TDs in the last two seasons combined).  Foster is more of a RB2 this season, even if plays. That’s much worse than his current price tag indicates. The defense is on the up in Houston, but Foster is the only thing they currently have going on offense right now. That may sound nice for fantasy purposes, but if Hoyer/Mallet can’t keep the offense on the field, there’s not a lot of value.

Calvin Johnson  WR, Detroit Lions

Megatron truly peaked in 2011 and 2012, (like the movie) when he put forward seasons of 1,681 yards/16 TDs, and then 1,964 yards/5 TDs (flukey). Nonetheless, he was dominant during that stretch. Since then, he’s been on the decline — at least for him. That all came to a head last season when Johnson was only able to accumulate 1,077 yards in 13 games.  Calvin’s 71 receptions in 2014 were the fewest since his down year in 2009 — not a good sign. Some of the problem is Matthew Stafford and his inconsistencies. Some is the Lion attempting to commit to running the ball more, and some of the blame goes to Johnson. The main difference between last season and the rest of his career, though, was the emergence of another legit WR — Golden Tate. Tate was a much better fantasy option than Johnson last season, and could be again this year.

Jimmy Graham  TE, Seattle Seahawks

Jimmy Graham got traded to the Seahawks! This obviously helps give the Seahawks more options in the red zone, but … it’s not good for Graham’s fantasy value. Russell Wilson really likes to spread the ball around, but he’s also never had a legitimate No. 1 option to throw to. It will be interesting to see how that works out, but I believe Wilson sticks to his old ways.  Don’t get me wrong, Graham could lead Seattle in all major receiving categories, but he won’t be dominant like he was with Drew Brees in New Orleans. Keep in mind that Graham averages just over 60 YPG for his career, and only 55.6 YPG last season. He’s very TD dependent on a team that never produces big time receiving numbers. The goal is still to pound the ball with Marshawn and get Wilson out of the pocket, and how does Jimmy produce if Jimmy is always blocking? Speaking of Beast Mode, he caught the most TD passes on the team last year with four. 900 yards and nine TDs for Graham sounds about right in 2015 … good, but not great.

Peyton Manning  QB, Denver Broncos

Ah, Peyton. I believe your time has finally come. The problem is, I don’t really have any great numbers to prove it, just that his cost will not justify his lowered stats. Manning’s three seasons in Denver have been his best in terms of TD production (aside from his then record breaking 49 TDs back in 2004). Manning’s going to have a good season, but he’ll be a bust in the sense that he won’t be even CLOSE to his season averages as a Bronco of 4,954 yards and 43.6 TDs.

Manning threw 15 INTs last season, not too alarming, but still his most since 2010. The eye test just tells you that he lost a step last season, at some point that has to count. If he loses another step, he’s still going to be a good QB, but he’s not going to be Peyton Manning. He lost his top red zone target to the Jags in Julius Thomas, and it will be his first season under head coach Gary Kubiak — something we still need to see how Manning adjusts to. Combine all those aspects with father time (he always wins) and Peyton might not be the lock most feel he is to remain an elite fantasy QB.  Besides, no QB has ever won a Superbowl older than 38, nor played in one.

Are You Ready 4some…

Hi, my name is still Logan Cartwright and I still drink rum with ER nurses at night – but in one particular way, I am a New Man, a different man, a more dangerous man than the last time we talked – and that was a few weeks ago, right?

It was sometime after midnight on the 4th, when we went outside the bunker to work on our own fireworks display, that could scare the snot out of the neighbors.  They all know us as gentle, fun-loving people with goofy timing, but would never in their wildest dreams expect to be blasted out of bed before sunrise for no good reason – maybe it was the Rum splashed with Jameson and ginger, maybe it was the idea that THIS is what John Adams meant by continuous celebration – they believed only a vicious idiot would do something like that – and they knew I was no idiot.

Summer is always a wild time for me and this summer has been and will be anything but calm and relaxing.  I’ll spending most of my time dealing with wild and interesting, but importantly huge things – and they will happen very soon – we are all in for an extremely fast season – Football is only 8 weeks away!

We all feel more comfortable in the fast lane and so today is no different – we are gonna break down some of the pre-season’s biggest off-season moves and what that might mean for your Fantasy Football team and what that might mean for your FD game.

SAINTS:

If you paid any attention to them last year you might have found yourself curiously confused as what you witnessed.  Was this the end of the Payton-Brees profilic offense?  Had time finally caught up?  Did they really just lose the division like that and lose to Atlanta twice?!  Yes!  It was painful – sure they scored points, gained yards like nothing was statistically different – but wins were choked away by unforced errors on offense.  The defense was horrible and it is hard to think it will improve more than 10 spots this year.  But the stunner was trading a basketball-playing-marshmallow, to gamble on a more dynamic running offense.  CJ Spiller, Max Unger should help Brees-us, but…

SEAHAWKS:

Yes the ‘Hawks get Jimmy Graham and already that is an upgrade at wide receiver – but it seems people are over-selling the importance a TE is going to bring.  Sure Jimmy can catch, but jimmy gets rubbed out often and no one confuses Jimmy with a real game-changing TE in Gronkowski.  If you keep drinking the kool-aid, you’ll find yourself going overboard thinking the Seahawks will resemble anything like the Patriots two TE sets.  Having said that, Russell Wilson was third overall in pts/game on FanDuel and adding Jimmy should help an offensive coordinator that has always wanted a tight end that can catch – now we wait and see.

Revis-Island pt.Deux:

The Jets’ issue was not defense and Revis decided that he could go home again – $$$ doesn’t hurt either.  Todd Bowles will be able to keep offenses guessing knowing that Cromartie and Revis can run with any WR – but time seems to against that idea in my opinion and didn’t Richardson get busted and miss 4 games?  To consider the Defense, you have to look at the other side of the ball and believe that it is in Geno’s hands.  If he plays well, so will the defense – if he has not evolved, then nothing changes for Jets fans.

RUNNING BACKS:

A lot of them moved around –

  • Shane Vereen to the Giants
  • CJ Spiller to the Saints
  • Lesean McCoy to the Bills
  • Demarco Murray and Ryan Mathews to the Eagles
  • Darren McFadden to the Cowboys

You know only a few of them are going to make any significant impact – the rest are just bargain-bin additions.  We know it was a foregone conclusion that Jerruh Jones was gonna sign a Razorback – and nothing in the past says that McFadden will be anything close to what DeMarco Murray was for Dallas – but I dare you to say that to a Cowboys fan – in fact do, just to see their face and listen to the logic that they won’t miss a beat.

SUH:

Is making a lot of scratch, so much that he might run the ball at the goal-line or throw a pass.  But if the Dolphins were 24th against the run and SUH is believed to be one of the best run-stoppers – then you have to believe that the Dolphins will finish higher.  I don’t see it.  You know my thoughts on SUH from the last article I wrote when he signed with Miami.  The Dolphins averaged 8.38pts/game last year – I see no change, ok, maybe Suh gets them another .5/game – is that worth 100+million?

 

 

We are all in for a wild ride the next few months – so good luck and drink all the cold beer you can get your hands on for as long as necessary to guarantee victory.  Send me your football questions and look for the new baseball DraftKings page on Tuesday in the RotoCanon tab – Shaka

DiRTy Plays – Tuesday’s NBA Breakdown

March 10th, 2015

 

Tuesday’s NBA Fantasy Breakdown

Each week we are going to provide you with a breakdown of each position based on Fan Duel and DraftKings scoring parameters to show you who has been producing and who you should consider over the next week.  These rankings are solely based on point production for each of these sites.  Since the PG position has been the most productive we have limited our results to publish to any player averaging above 30 fantasy points per game over their last 5 games played.  The remaining positions will display rankings for players who have averaged over 25 fantasy points per game over their last 5 games.


Fan Duel Point Guards

Ranking Player Fan Duel PPG
1 R. Westbrook 71.85
2 C. Paul 49.96
3 R. Rubio 40.04
4 J. Wall 39.04
5 D. Lillard 39.02
6 M. Williams 37.56
7 S. Curry 36.4
8 T. Evans 35.46
9 G. Hill 33.7
10 R. Jackson 32.82
11 J. Lin 32.7
12 K. Lowry 32.2
13 T. Lawson 31.46
14 T. Parker 30.32
15 G. Dragic 30

No surprise here, Westbrook leads this group but can you believe that is this overwhelming.  It is one thing for us to write it but now you can physically see how much better he has been than everyone else.  This is why he is a must play until Durant comes back, I should say, if Durant comes back.  Other notable players are Rubio coming in just over 40 fantasy points per game and Tony Parker just cracking the 30 point list.  Parker is still cheap considering this valuable position on Fan Duel and you should consider him as he just went for 40+ in his previous contest.

westbrook_mar10
DraftKings Point Guards

Ranking Player DraftKings PPG
1 R. Westbrook 75.45
2 C. Paul 51.5
3 R. Rubio 41.6
4 J. Wall 41.1
5 D. Lillard 40.9
6 M. Williams 38.75
7 S. Curry 38.6
8 T. Evans 37.8
9 G. Hill 34.7
10 R. Jackson 34.65
11 J. Lin 33.7
12 K. Lowry 32.875
13 T. Lawson 32.45
14 G. Dragic 31.7
15 E. Bledsoe 31.25
16 I. Thomas 31.15
17 T. Parker 30.75

Not much difference in rankings here across both sites but again you can see Westbrook averaging an unthinkable 75.45 fantasy points per game.  As we have noted for you, if you score 300+ on DraftKings you will cash over 90% of the time.  When Westbrook is playing he gets you 25% of this number lately so you only need to average 32 points for the remaining 7 players.  Rubio comes in 3rd and for most he is an unknown in fantasy as the T-Wolves are terrible in terms of their record and most of their game don’t make it to national TV.  That’s why you need to follow us on Twitter @TheDirtCanon and we will provide you all the information you need during each nights games so you can be in the know without having to purchase the NBA League Pass.  One other key notable here is Reggie Jackson.  Since coming to Detroit he has put up huge numbers and is free to score the ball given there isn’t really a backup for him and he has two monsters down low that rebound the basketball.  He will have a huge night tonight against the Lakers.


Fan Duel Shooting Guards

Rankings Player Fan Duel PPG
1 J. Harden 52.45
2 V. Oladipo 41.26
3 D. Wade 39.56
4 D. DeRozan 37.26
5 M. Ellis 28.86
6 R. Stuckey 27.86
7 G. Henderson 27.76
8 G. Antetokounmpo 26.94
9 K. Martin 26.1
10 G. Neal 25.66
11 J. Redick 25.24
12 K. Thompson 25.24

“The Beard” tops our list of SG’s bud did you know that Oladipo has been jumping up this list over the past couple of weeks.  He has now averaged over 40 fantasy points per game over his last five and is becoming a Must Have on our daily NBA fantasy DiRTy Plays.  We will continue to highlight these players and key notables in the future.  Gary Neal has been strong and he still doesn’t crack the $4,500 marker on Fan Duel so if you need to save some cap space and still need to get a solid 25 spot look for Neal to be your guy down the stretch to the NBA Playoffs.

 

DraftKings Shooting Guards

Rankings Player DraftKings PPG
1 J. Harden 55.2
2 V. Oladipo 42.85
3 D. Wade 41.425
4 D. DeRozan 38.25
5 M. Ellis 29.9
6 R. Stuckey 28.8
7 G. Henderson 28.65
8 K. Martin 26.7
9 J. Redick 26.55
10 G. Neal 26.15
11 K. Thompson 26.15
12 J. Smith 25.65
13 T. Johnson 25.5
14 B. Beal 25.25
15 B. Knight 25.05

Dwayne Wade and DeMar DeRozan have been on a nice run over the last two weeks of play and should be considered on nights where there aren’t too many PG’s and PF’s that are high caliber players.  It’s tough to spend on SG’s when you must have an Anthony Davis in your lineup and a Westbrook as your PG.  That said, Wade has put up 40+ fantasy points in 3 consecutive games and with Whiteside having maturity problems, causing fights in every contest, DWade will put up numbers for your lineup and let us help you find the others you need to win.

dwade_mar10

Fan Duel Small Forwards

Rankings Player Fan Duel PPG
1 L. James 45.66
2 K. Leonard 40.12
3 R. Gay 39.84
4 D. Green 39.54
5 K. Middleton 32.76
6 G. Hayward 32.48
7 A. Wiggins 30.2
8 N. Batum 29.46
9 T. Harris 28.88
10 D. Gallinari 28.14
11 P. Tucker 25.8
12 W. Chandler 25.14

King James tops this list with Durant out he will continue to do so.  It is important to note that quietly Leonard has put up some big numbers of late and the Spurs are fine tuning for their playoff run winning 5 straight.  Leonard has been a big part of that and will continue to do so.  PJ Tucker has been a Sleeper of late and now you can see why, this position doesn’t typically put up big numbers on your fantasy lineup unless you have James and Tucker has been less than $5,000 for most of February and March this year.

kingjames_mar10

DraftKings Small Forwards

Rankings Player DraftKings PPG
1 L. James 48.05
2 R. Gay 41.5
3 K. Leonard 40.8
4 K. Middleton 33.9
5 G. Hayward 33.75
6 A. Wiggins 30.9
7 N. Batum 30.8
8 T. Harris 29.65
9 G. Antetokounmpo 29.1
10 D. Gallinari 29
11 P. Tucker 27.35
12 W. Chandler 26.35
13 J. Green 25.6
14 D. Carroll 25.325
15 M. Kidd-Gilchrist 25.05

Rudy Gay and Chris Middleton have been strong producers on DraftKings for the SF position.  They are both producing 33+ points per game of late and affordable which has been the key to success for this position.  Don’t overspend here unless you go with King James and look for Sleepers on our daily DiRTy Plays so you can keep raking in the dollars.

Fan Duel Power Forwards

Rankings Player Fan Duel PPG
1 A. Davis 58.81
2 L. Aldridge 41.1
3 G. Monroe 39.88
4 P. Millsap 35.81
5 N. Noel 35.8
6 D. Favors 35.04
7 P. Gasol 34.78
8 S. Ibaka 33.32
9 T. Jones 31.92
10 N. Mirotic 31.84
11 K. Love 31.68
12 K. Faried 30.62
13 Z. Randolph 29.1
14 A. Bargnani 28.56
15 B. Bass 26.16
16 Josh Smith 26.1
17 E. Ilyasova 25.1

Anthony “The Brow” Davis is on a tear just like Westbrook almost averaging 60 fantasy points per game over his last 5.  The Pelicans and Thunder are going to give us all we can handle down the stretch as they both look to get into that 8th seed in the West.  That means that Davis will continue to be a Must Have and should be considered every night he plays.  Remember last week when Westbrook put up 82 and Davis put up 78.  They got you 160 fantasy points and produced over half of the points you needed to cash.


DraftKings Power Forwards

Rankings Player DraftKings PPG
1 A. Davis 60.425
2 L. Aldridge 42.2
3 G. Monroe 42.15
4 D. Green 40.5
5 N. Noel 37.8
6 P. Millsap 37.35
7 D. Favors 36.45
8 P. Gasol 36.3
9 S. Ibaka 34.3
10 N. Mirotic 33.4
11 T. Jones 32.95
12 K. Love 32.5
13 K. Faried 31.95
14 Z. Randolph 31.275
15 A. Bargnani 29.9
16 Josh Smith 27.65
17 B. Bass 27.5
18 D. West 26.1
19 E. Ilyasova 25.95
20 M. Morris 25.9
21 T. Young 25.25
22 D. Motiejunas 25.25

We can continue to praise Davis and tell you what you already know but instead why not look down the list and you will find some hidden gems of late.  Noel and Mirotic are scoring fantasy points at will and they do it in very different ways.  Noel is a very active player and will tend to get you steals and blocks that most don’t realize are the key elements when considering upside for your fantasy lineup.  When someone gets 2 steals and 2 blocks per game they are giving you an extra 8 points per night and you didn’t even know it.  Mirotic is logging some big minutes and has turned into the closer for the Bulls.  He scores most of his 18 points per game in the 4th quarter and he will continue to do so even when Gibson comes back because the Bulls need offense and he stretches the floor for Gasol to work inside with Noah at the high post.

 noel_mar10

Fan Duel Centers

Rankings Player Fan Duel PPG
1 A. Jefferson 43.62
2 D. Cousins 42.7
3 D. Jordan 38.46
4 A. Horford 37.36
5 H. Whiteside 36.96
6 M. Gasol 36.86
7 A. Drummond 36.62
8 R. Gobert 33.94
9 J. Noah 33.72
10 N. Vucevic 33.29
11 M. Gortat 33.26
12 E. Kanter 28.35
13 B. Lopez 26.88

A slight surprise for those of you who don’t get to watch the Hornets play often but Al Jefferson has been putting up some huge numbers of late and comes in at #1 with 43.62 fantasy points per game over the last 5 games.  Whiteside is creeping up the list quickly and his salary shows it but when you grab 20+ rebounds in consecutive games that will do it.  His problem is his attitude and if he doesn’t get it turned around quickly his limited funds will be sent off to charity and he will sit the bench with the Heat most likely not making the playoffs this year.


DraftKings Centers

Rankings Player DKPPG
1 D. Cousins 44.975
2 A. Jefferson 44.55
3 D. Jordan 40.25
4 A. Horford 38.8
5 H. Whiteside 38.625
6 M. Gasol 38.35
7 A. Drummond 38.2
8 R. Gobert 36
9 J. Noah 35.45
10 N. Vucevic 35.125
11 M. Gortat 34.55
12 E. Kanter 29.475
13 B. Lopez 28.05

I could sit here and tell you all about Cousins and Jordan and their ability to rebound and score inside, how Cousins has increased his assists to 4+ per game and Jordan recording 10 straight 15+ rebounds in a game but instead let’s talk about Gobert.  He has been a huge element to the Jazz since the trade deadline and Kanter was shipped to OKC.  Gobert shares in his Windex capabilities, averaging 16 rebounds per game over the last 5.  Once he establishes a 15 foot jump shot he might be unstoppable.   It’s also nice that he has 3+ blocks in a game 3 out of his last 5 contests.  That 6 points you can’t always count on, unless you have Gobert.

gobert_mar10

Monday’s Recap

In a night of only a few games there was a huge night put in by “The Brow”.  He posted an amazing 66 points last night on Fan Duel and a 70 spot on DraftKingsWe advised you yesterday that he would be the highest point scorer by far and he certainly was.  For more information on today’s games be sure you check out the DiRTy Plays – Week of March 9th to get all the Must Haves and Sleepers for today’s best players with their projections.  We have also put up some lineups to consider for tonight’s games.  You can click here to be taken directly to this information.

Fan Duel Earnings:

  • Started with $100deposit on January 16th, 2015.
  • Earnings through March 9th, 2015 are $2,199.50.
  • Profit for the week of March 9th is a total of $32.

How We Did

(4700 of 86206) Scored 297.7 – $1 Entry and won $3

(69 of 551) Scored 250 – $25 Entry and won $60

(50 of 909) Scored 297.5 – $5 Entry and won $25

***Entered with a total of $55 and won $87 for our profit of $32***

DraftKings Earnings:

  • Started with a $50deposit on February 15th, 2015.
  • Earnings through March 9th, 2015 are $480.40
  • Profit for the week of March 9th is a total of $16.25

How We Did:

(416 of 14100) Scored 288 – $0.25 Entry and won $1.25

(186 of 12206) Scored 293 – $4 Entry and won $20

***Entered with a total of $5 and won $21.25 for a profit of $16.25***

 Games to Play Tonight

Just click on the one of the links above and you will be directed to these contests and you can start making a profit.

 

Monday Dreg

On this day…

March 2nd, 1962

Today 53 years ago, Philadelphia Warriors center Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points against the Knicks. It was the first time that a professional basketball player had scored 100 points in a single contest; the previous record, 78, had been set by Chamberlain earlier in the season. During the game, Chamberlain sank 36 field goals and 28 foul shots, both league records. — courtesy of the History Channel

NBA DiRTy Plays 3-2-15

maninironmask


 

Today is Franchise Tag day and already we have learned that the Lions will not use the franchise tag on DT Ndamukong Suh, making him an unrestricted free agent.  That the Chiefs placed the franchise tag on OLB Justin Houston (league-leading 22 sacks) and the Broncos are expecting to tag Demaryius Thomas before the deadline expires at 4pm EST.  There are rumors that Lesean McCoy will be used as a bargaining chip to move up the draft to take Mariota and that Dallas is going to let Demarco Murray test free-agency, after using the franchise tag on Dez Bryant.

Both DeMarco(392) and LeSean(312) led the league in rushing attempts.  The danger for DeMarco and your fantasy team is the curse of 370.  The curse inflicts itself on RB’s who carry the ball 370+ times, and limiting their numbers from the previous year, due to injury or freak-o-nomics.  Considering the history DeMarco has staying healthy – you’d be wise to avoid him in 2015 regardless of where he goes.  I know of only 3 players in NFL history that equaled or outperformed their previous years stats and DeMarco is not LaDanian Tomlinson, Earl Campbell or WALTER PAYTON!.  As for the Eagles willing to part ways with LeSean, it signals louder that the position of running back is less relevant than it used to be.  More and more teams believe in divas like Dez, than guys who earn their yardage running the ball.

For those like Ndamukong Suh who are not tagged, the Lions (teams) have 7days to negotiate a contract or let them go via free agency.  There are several places that will bid heavy for a force like Suh.


 

Ty Lawson.  The only reason to watch the Nuggets.  Word is that now when breaking the huddle the Nuggets are counting down the end of the season – “1-2-3…6weeks!”  Good for them! When you look at what the front-office has done in just two short years – how do you blame the players for wanting this long-drawn-out-fiasco to last?  On Friday night, the Nuggets got blown-out by the Jazz 104-82.  The No-guts have not had a winning month since October when they were 1-0.

They sent Affalo to 1st place (in the division) Portland and Faried has done nothing offensively to earn his new contract.  So what’s the plan?  The No-guts have no off-the dribble threats nor do they have any reliable perimeter scorers.  So all that is left is Ty Lawson, the Todd Helton of the Nuggets during an extensive rebuilding project.  Do not expect him to be on the team next year, as Sacramento will do what they can to trade for him after the end of the season.

So with a top 10 pick looming in the June draft and cap space, do we really have faith in a front-office that blew up a team that won 57 games and was a number 3 seed two years ago?  As long as kroenke the younger continues to insert himself into the day to day, this franchise will never be good.  We’ve had past-glimpses, only to have us slapped awake by the reality of what it takes for championship basketball in Colorado.  First things first, maybe we get rid of the name Nuggets and go from there…


 

Considering the calendar has turned and conference tournaments are gearing up for their entrance to the Madness – we bring a few thoughts on recent games and what they might mean for our brackets – courtesy of Ryan Fagan

Resume potential

BYU 73, Gonzaga 70. This says more to me about Gonzaga than BYU but...the Cougars (23-8) knock off a potential No. 1 seed, and they did it on the road on Gonzaga’s senior night. BYU does have a couple of ugly losses on the season — swept by Pepperdine — and nothing is guaranteed, but an elite win like this one will go a long way with the selection committee.

St. John’s 81, Georgetown 70. This was a good win for the Red Storm, who lost to Georgetown by 22 the first time they met. Add to this a pair of season sweeps of Providence and Xavier — two at-large quality teams — and St. John’s should be OK when Selection Sunday rolls around.

Boise State 56, San Diego State 46. The Broncos already owned a record of 22-7 and had won 11 of their past 12 games. On Saturday, Boise State finished its sweep of the Aztecs and picked up what is easily its best win away from home. With other bubble teams struggling down the stretch, the red-hot Broncos offer the committee an alternate look.

Dayton 59, VCU 55. The Flyers (22-6) might have been OK, but beating a quality team like VCU on the road moves them toward the much more secure part of the bubble. At least, it helps make up for the loss at Duquesne last Saturday.

LSU 73, Ole Miss 63. Really, this one could go in the “Blowing Bubbles” category, too. It was a nice win for LSU (21-8), but it’s the second consecutive loss for Ole Miss (19-10). The Rebels can’t afford for this streak to get any longer.

Davidson 77, George Washington 66. Once upon a time, George Washington was in line to get an at-large bid. That’s no longer the case, but this is still a win that boost Davidson’s thin resume. And, it keeps the Wildcats (21-6) in a first-place tie atop the Atlantic 10 heading into Thursday’s game at home against VCU.

Blowing bubbles

Boston College 79, N.C. State 63. This was maybe the most confounding result of the day. Boston College was 1-14 in the ACC heading into this one, and the Eagles held at least a 20-point lead for much of the contest. The loss dropped N.C. State to 17-12. It doesn’t knock them out of contention — the committee will still love the Wolfpack’s wins at Louisville and at North Carolina — but it’s not a good look.

Villanova 78, Xavier 66. This isn’t a bad loss for Xavier (18-12) — Villanova is a potential No. 1 seed — but it was a missed opportunity for the Musketeers, who led by seven at halftime and could have used the boost that comes with beating an elite team.

Kansas 69, Texas 64. As with Xavier, this wasn’t a “bad loss” for Texas. But, unlike Xavier, the Longhorns really needed this victory to counteract a growing list of losses to solid teams. At some point, the resume needs a big win or two, and this is one that got away.

North Carolina 73, Miami 64. The Hurricanes really, really needed another win against an at-large caliber foe, and they let this one slip away. Now, they’re 18-11 and probably on the wrong side of the bubble, though they’ll have ACC Tournament opportunities.

Texas Tech 63, Oklahoma State 62. Oklahoma State, at this point, is in a bit of a free-fall. The Cowboys (17-11) have lost four in a row, and two of those losses (this one and at TCU) were to teams that aren’t making the NCAA Tournament. Travis Ford’s team is in big trouble right about now.

Taking care of business

Georgia 68, Missouri 44. The epitome of a don’t-screw-around game, and the Bulldogs (19-9) didn’t screw around with this one.

Rhode Island 59, La Salle 56. The Rams (20-7) led the host Explorers come back a bit but wound up holding on to keep hold of their share of first place in the Atlantic 10 at 12-4.

Cincinnati 63, Tulane 47. The Bearcats (20-9) lost their home game to Tulane, so there was zero chance they were taking this one for granted. They didn’t.

Iowa 81, Penn State 77 OT. The Hawkeyes have had an up-and-down season, and this was nearly one of those ugly downs. But Iowa (19-10) survived in overtime, which is what matters.

Illinois 86, Northwestern 60. The Illini (18-11) had lost three in a row, so this was key.


 

Rousey v Zingano Whole Fight GIF

This is Ronda Rousey and the fight took 14 seconds.  Here are a few things that take longer:

  1. NFL decision on Ray Rice
  2. Bathroom break
  3. Josh Hamilton relapse
  4. Derrick Rose comeback
  5. Nomar Garciaparra at bat
  6. Prius merging onto highway

 

It’s Spring Training and we already have freakish injuries and embarrassment.  The Phillies opened up Spring Training by losing to the number one team in Division II – the University of Tampa, 6-2!  It’s meaningless baseball but it sure doesn’t read well to begin this way if you’re a Phillies fan.  The Rockies play the University of Phoenix on Tuesday, so….lord help us all.

As for your typical ‘only in baseball‘ injuries we have a torn meniscus from stepping on a sprinkler head – Michael Saunders; a fractured shoulder from getting out of a swimming pool – Ronald Belisario; to Chris Sale fracturing his foot steeping off the back of his truck.  There needs to be a Federal inquiry into why baseball players seem to suffer, by order of magnitude, more freak injuries than other sports’ athletes.

Here are some ‘might take the next step’ guys: — Courtesy of Dave Tobener

Brandon Belt, Giants: His breakout likely would’ve happened last year if not for a broken hand followed by a concussion. Belt had 9 home runs in early May and looked like he could easily reach 30 at the rate he was going. An on base machine, Belt has the potential to hit for both power and average and is also a sneaky stolen base threat. He’ll likely bat third for the Giants and could be due for that monster season everyone has been expecting ever since he tore through the minor leagues in 2010.

Zack Wheeler, Mets: Wheeler showed signs of being an ace last year and is poised to take a big leap in 2015. If he can cut down on his walks, he has the potential to be special. He averaged more than a strikeout per inning last year and had games where he looked absolutely unhittable. It’s a shame he won’t get much support from his offense, but he should still post good numbers.

Joc Pederson, Dodgers: Pederson’s path to playing time was cleared when the Dodgers unloaded Matt Kemp, and the rookie will get his chance to make people believe the hype. There’s nothing left for him to prove in the minors, and Pederson presents real 20-20 (maybe even 30-30) potential with regular at bats. He’s the most exciting outfield prospect to come around in a while and it’d be no surprise to see him make an impact early.

SEATTLE, WA - MAY 25:  George Springer #4 of the Houston Astros hits a two-run home run in the sixth inning against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on May 25, 2014 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

George Springer, Astros: If he ever finds plate discipline, watch out. He may have struck out a ton, but Springer was still very impressive last year and could make a huge leap in 2015 if he can figure out the strike zone. He’s a big, strong guy with 30-plus home run potential who also possesses uncanny athleticism. He could easily lead the league in homers if he figures things out; on the flip side, he might strike out 220 times, too. But a big year awaits.

Oswaldo Arcia, Twins: He’s hit 34 home runs in parts of two big league seasons but doesn’t get a lot of press (or any press) for a variety of reasons. The Twins may have bigger prospects in the pipeline, but Arcia has shown he’s ready for an every day role and should finally get the chance in 2015. He has definite 30 homer potential and his minor league numbers suggest his OPS should rise, too. Arcia is the definition of a sleeper.

Marcell Ozuna, Marlins: He had an excellent 2014 and should be ready to take a huge leap forward this season. Ozuna basically skipped two levels of minor league ball and went straight to the majors, yet he’s performed so well it’s clear he wasn’t rushed prematurely. With a better lineup around him in Miami, the time seems right for Ozuna to reach the next level.

Aaron Sanchez, Blue Jays: Will he start? Will he close? No matter, since Sanchez has the pure stuff to succeed in either role. He was virtually untouchable in 33 innings last year, and if the Blue Jays don’t trade for a proven closer it’s easy to picture Sanchez putting up huge numbers there for an improved Jays team. He should have the same kind of success as a starter, but his innings will likely be limited if he’s in the rotation. Either way, he’s poised to make a lot of noise this season.

Gerrit Cole, Pirates: You can argue that he’s already broken out, but the potential is there for Cole to be a perennial Cy Young candidate. His third year should be the year he finally puts it all together and dominates for a Pirates team that expects to be in contention. He should get closer to 200 IP this year if he can stay healthy and it’ll be interesting to see how his numbers react. With as much talent as he has, those numbers should be big. This should be the year Cole proves everyone who named him one of the best pitching prospects in baseball right.

Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox: He didn’t live up to the hype in his rookie year, but asking any young guy to play shortstop in Boston and put up big numbers is a tall task. Now, removed from the hype and surrounded by a much better lineup, Bogaerts should be able to relax and let his natural ability shine through this year. He’s a shortstop with 20-plus home run potential, something that doesn’t come along every day. While the fans and media focus on all of Boston’s new acquisitions, Bogaerts can go about his business and show that everyone was right about his potential…just a year late.

Eric Hosmer, Royals: You’re forgiven if you feel like Hosmer has been around for 10 or so years, considering the immense hype and expectations that were pinned to him before he even debuted. But Hosmer is only 25, coming off a huge second half and postseason and poised to build on that success in 2015. He’s had a nice career up to this point, but nowhere near what many thought he was capable of when he debuted in Kansas City. This should finally be the year that Hosmer establishes himself as the dangerous middle-of-the-order hitter Royals fans have wanted him to be for years. A 25 home run season isn’t out of the question.


The DiRT-y (almost)Dozen

Remember when…

…teams used to sit/rest their starters the last few weeks of the season and we would get to watch and see who was on the practice squad?  Thanks to the prescience of the main office five years ago, we now witness division games at the end of the season – increasing the probability of meaningful games.  This year we have 3 division titles up in the air on the last week of the season – it’s working!  The AFC North – Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh has clinched a spot in the ‘offs for the first time in 2yrs.  The NFC North – Detroit @ Green Bay – Detroit has not won in Green Bay since ’91.  The NFC (went)South – Carolina @ Atlanta – Carolina could become first division repeat champ after realignment in 2002 – p.s. the NFC South is the only division in the NFL that each team has been in a conference championship game.

Speaking of titles, the bane of the NFC West, took it to the Cardinals last night – even with the kicker being a shank-a-potamus(missed 3 FG’s) – honorable mention to Marshawn Lynch, apparently hungry for his skittles 79 yards away, after suffering from the splats early on – or so it might have been reported.  Now Seattle is staring at a possible #1 seed, and if the road back to Glendale goes thru the Great Northwest – then we could have a repeat Superbowl champion – something we have not seen in 10 yrs (New England ’04,’05).

DeMarco Murray ran the ball for 58 yards on 20 carries after hand-surgery 6 days earlier – either that type of surgery is not a big deal or we could all use that kind of pain tolerance injected into our lives.  DeMarco only needed 29 more yards to break Emmitt Smith’s team record of 1,773 and instead the Cowboys blew out the Colts to clinch a playoff spot, and their first NFC East title since 2009.  Clearly a healthy Murray would have continuously been fed the rock to earn the team record at home and now must travel to Washington for the finale for the chance.  The game still is important to Jerry, who wants a HOME playoff game.

1st time in 12 years that a team has not gone from worst-to-first in the NFL.  Houston was the team that made it close, only to have Indy seal it last week.

Bye Felicia

Miami Dolphins – The Chargers came back to beat the ‘9ers and squash their hopes.  Apparently missing the playoffs again – 6 straight losing seasons – is not enough to fire Joe Philbin(3yrs on the job) who the owner Stephen Ross announced he was bringing back, (if that is the answer, what was the question again?).  Philbin is 23-24 and as Ross said “really likes the way this team plays and where they are headed.”  Huh? say that again? A close win against the Vikings gives you this feeling that, this team, this coach, is headed in the right direction?  Is mediocrity a direction, and do you travel thru Miami now(not Dallas this year) to get there?  Standards have been lowered or the owner is still intoxicated from that win early in the year – at home – against the Patriots.  Bet we still see Philbin fired before the end of the 2016 season, if not sooner.

Buffalo Bills – have the longest playoff drought – 1999 (thank you, Prince) – in the NFL, and yesterday swirled their chances away, losing to the Raiders.  The Defense played great all year and if Ol’man Orton(Uncle Rico) is still your starter next year you can count on extending this streak.  EJ Manuel may not be the answer, but if he fails to beat out the statuesque-Orton (screw you Kyle) next year, what hope do you have that it gets better for Buffalo.

Philadelphia Eagles – The dynamic fantasy offense lost to Washington and lost their chance to prove Mark Sanchez could play in this league – or has any trade-value.  Do they cruise to the division title if Foles does not get hurt?  Who knows, but few believe that Foles is any better than Sanchez in the grand scheme-over-talent.  The Eagles must find a way to be more consistent – one week, better than sliced-bread – the next, bread.

Kansas City Chiefs – KC was second in the league scoring TD’s in the redzone with 67.5% this year, only to struggle scoring with only 4 FG’s against Pittsburgh.  Alex Smith still has not thrown a touchdown to a receiver this year and if you watched him miss a wide open DeAnthony Thomas for a potential bomb – you understand why small-hands can never take you to the Superbowl.  KC now needs to beat San Diego – Cleveland to beat Baltimore – Jacksonville to beat Houston – to make the playoffs.  The Chiefs need more than Charles on offense, to have any shot.

New Orleans – ‘Tis the twilight of the golden age of Saints football.  To lose(like that) to the Falcons – at home – is evidence to the hallucination of hope that was/is the 2014 season.  With those home losses, we learned a lot about this team’s testicular fortitude and how often they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory to clinch the division.  Forget the last game against Tampa – play the practice squad, sit everbody – Let’s hurry up and bury this year, get a better draft pick – and get more players who do not let their alligator mouths overload their jaybird assess – or guys who are not softer than warm brie (that means you Jimmy).

Johnny Manziel – found out that the NFL is really hard and causes pain.  Manziel played 3 possessions and 1 play of the Browns fourth possession, before exiting with an injury – not sure if pride is acceptable on the injury report.  He was 3-for-8 for 32 yards and ran twice for 3 yards – Flacco was 3-for-20 at one point so…  It might be a short career if he doesn’t figure it out, regardless of how many practices Manziel thinks he was really good at.  Welcome to the Not For Long Johnny, at least you made that money brah.

Dominic Raiola – another fine is coming his way after (allegedly) stomping on the leg of Ego Ferguson.  Raiola was already fined $10,000 this year and this recent behavior is similar to Suh’s who received a 2-game suspension.  We’ll see if Hizzoner’s new conduct policy will be imposed in this case, because it would mean Raiola misses a playoff game.

Rex Ryan – from the Jets to….who knows exactly but there are several rumors – none being how great it would be to see Rex being the DC in Philly with Chip at the helm.  However one rumor seems to be heating up and it might be that Rex goes south.

Mike Smith – appears to be on the hot seat, regardless if they win the division.  Because it might be that he’s done enough to cost himself the job and too bring in Rex Ryan as his replacement.  The perfect scenario for Saints fans is; he wins the division, wins a playoff game, maybe go to the conference championship game and receives a new 5 year deal.  For Falcons fans, I’m sure they would rather see Arthur Blank give Jim Harbaugh a boat-load of Home Depot’s to coach them next year.

Jim Harbaugh – The forty-whiners stated they will be done with Harbaugh 48hrs after the season ends.  Why wait that long?  This might be the most entertaining free-agent drama in a looong time.  Does he go to Michigan? Oakland?  What does the bidding war look like?  To me, Harbaugh stays in the NFL and the Michigan talk is all a smoke screen to make more money and have more control, because several NFL teams will give him a ton to coach there.  Rumors are that the ‘9ers are seriously(?!) looking at Josh McDaniels – how awesome would that be ‘9er haters?!!