5 Things You Need to Know To #Win Thursday

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and the National Fantasy Football Convention play to depose NFL commisioner Roger Goodell as part of their $1 million lawsuit against the league for last year’s failed event.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and his National Fantasy Football Convention have no plans to back down on their lawsuit against the NFL for tortious interference in the canceling of last year’s event.

Romo and his partners are asking for more than $1 million from the league.

Not only are the two sides heading to court in Dallas on Monday for a hearing on a summary judgment on the NFL’s motion to dismiss the suit, but the lawyers for the NFFC have filed paperwork to depose league commissioner Roger Goodell.

The NFL has filed a motion to block Goodell’s deposition.


MLB-Lineups-Divisions

The NHL had a novel idea this season: It broke up its All-Star Game into semifinals, with the individual stars from each division playing short exhibitions against each other in a tournament format. They played a 20-minute semifinal — giving fans an actual All-Star bracket — and then a championship between the winners. A clever idea, to be sure, and one that not only made the All-Star format itself more exciting, but also allowed more star players to be seen by their fans. (It also ended up leading to the John Scott story.)

I’m not sure baseball should do this — it already has the best All-Star Game and doesn’t need to radically reinvent it, though getting rid of the “Now It Counts” business is long overdue — but it is an enticing thought experiment. Imagine if the All-Stars from each division played, say, a series of three-inning games in a double-elimination format that ended up determining the best division in baseball over a three-day stretch. It’s probably too much, but it’s fun to think about: Now that the divisions are more geographically aligned, there’s as much division loyalty, pride and solidarity as there is with leagues, maybe more.

It’ll never happen — and again, it probably shouldn’t happen — but I’m gonna take part in the thought experiment anyway. Let’s come up with a preseason All-Star team for each of the six divisions and imagine who would win such a tournament. Rather than go through matchup-by-matchup, we’ll just rank them.

Here’s how the teams might look. I’ll be cheating a little bit by just allowing for three outfield spots rather than LF/CF/RF, but hey: This is an All-Star Game.

Read: If each MLB division had an All-Star lineup, what would it look like?


LarryBird

For several days in the summer of 2014, I debated a question whose answer seems obvious. Was Larry Bird a pure shooter? I kept this debate internal — I drafted emails for friends and basketball writers asking for their opinions, but never sent them, for fear of their reaction and eventual abandonment. Instead, I went back and forth with the question. Calling someone a pure shooter can be used as an insult, if pure becomes synonymous with “only” or is the first half of a compound sentence that begins “He’s a pure shooter,” and ends “but he can’t play any defense or put the ball on the floor.”

Bird belongs in the discussion for the greatest shooter of all time, but simply calling him a pure shooter might erase the way he controlled the game with his passing, rebounding, tenacity, team defense and floor game. Is calling Larry Bird a pure shooter the ultimate compliment or an underestimation? Praise or pejorative? But then if Bird isn’t a pure shooter, who the hell is?

Regardless of definitions and labels, Bird’s greatness as a shooter can get lost when discussing his career. His all-around brilliance separated him from everyone else. He could dominate without taking a shot, but it was still that shot that made everything else possible.

Read: How the jumper turned Bird into Larry Legend.


Andy Pettitte had six heavy-use postseasons in his career. (via Chris Ptacek)

At the end of my last article at THT, “The In-Season Aging Curve,” I indulged in some speculation about whether older pitchers’ skills eroded faster during the playing season than in the offseason. The data I used gave me no grounds for a conclusion either way. Were the erosion to happen faster in-season, though, it raised the unfortunate possibility that pitchers who had longer seasons—meaning those who pitched deep into the postseason—would be worn down by the grind and pitch worse the next season, and possibly beyond.

I teased that I might have more to say on the matter in months to come. Teasing isn’t really nice, so I got to work on the matter right away.

I wound up both narrowing and expanding the question I posed. I looked at just the following year after a heavy postseason workload, and I did not limit myself to older pitchers. This was probably a wise shift, since two of the biggest controversies surrounding pitcher workloads and the postseason in recent years have involved younger hurlers.

Read: Pitchers and the Seven-Month Season – The Hardball Times


New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul sued ESPN and NFL reporter Adam Schefter on Wednesday for tweeting his medical records over the summer.

The lawsuit, filed in Miami-Dade County in Florida, alleges that Pierre-Paul’s privacy was violated — as was the state’s medical records statute — by the report. The lawsuit claims Schefter “improperly obtained Plaintiff’s medical records from a hospital” and then tweeted them out, writing that “ESPN obtained medical charts that show that Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul had right index finger amputated today.”

Paul injured his right hand in a fireworks accident July 4. Schefter posted a photo of Pierre-Paul’s medical chart July 8

Read: Jason Pierre-Paul of New York Giants sues ESPN, Adam Schefter for posting medical records

What No One Tells You About #Winning Tuesday


All Aboard the S.S.TD:

The Gronk.  Lovable meathead, really good tight-end for the Patriots just disembarked from his “Party-Cruise”.  The debaucherous, drunken revellry seemed to be on par with another party that comes to mind in the Big Easy, and according to social media, it was.  However, while everyone was re-living the halcyon days of Sodom & Gamora and being tailed by “intrepid” journalists to “document” the event – we need to ask this question – How is Manziel any different?

Is it because Gronk is a Pro-Bowler, a Superbowl Champion and has never been accused of striking a woman?  Why do we treat Gronk as lovable meathead and Manziel a loser for being the same Teddy Bro-sevelt?  At some point we should stop demonizing notorious behavior while applauding another as we maintain our upright moral status with the rest of the swine.  Then again, how much could you have had on this hedonistic cruise?

+ Read: Let’s all have as much fun as Gronk’s Party Ship.

Then there’s the King of Berzerkers, the thorn in the SEC paw, the man in the khakis, hanging out at WWE Raw last night.  The most visible and entertaining coach in college football lately, is a self-avowed rasslin’ fan and was front and center at Joe Louis Arena.  How can you not love this guy’s headline making ways?

Welcome to @UMichFootball head coach @CoachJim4UM, ringside at @WWE#RAW in Detroit!! #Wolverinespic.twitter.com/II49BL7Cml

— WWE (@WWE) February 23, 2016


NBA

ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 22: Andrew Bogut #12 of the Golden State Warriors dunks against Al Horford #15 of the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on February 22, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

If you follow along with us, then you know Mondays are prettay prettaaay prettaaaay special when you read our 5pt plays and build your lineups with our LineupAnalyzer.  Or maybe you were too caught up in listening to another hit from the dark-side of the moon and the Apollo 10 astronauts…Either way, you can read The United Stats of #Murica #NBA edition for a review or read these 5 takeaways:

  • Warriors become the fastest team to 50 wins in NBA history by beating Hawks. It got interesting. Atlanta became the latest team to make a big run on Golden State and force a response. Portland did it most of the game, but the 13-turnover third quarter for the Warriors put that game out of reach. The Clippers game seemed to be in garbage time until a 13-0 run late gave Los Angeles a chance to tie (the shot fell short). Then Monday night the Warriors were in complete control up 23 in the third quarter, when the Hawks went on a 33-6 run and took the lead. These lapses are a combination of factors. The Warriors have some mental vacations, they get bored it seems, but also teams are not just rolling over for them. Good teams that have pride. The result is the Warriors having to work hard for games where it felt like they were in control.
  • Channing Frye makes his debut for Cavaliers but Pistons spoil the day. Cavaliers fans got to see the guy they gave up Anderson Varejao for Monday night (not that much was expected of Channing Frye in his debut, he’s had basically no practice time with the team). Frye played nine minutes for the Cavaliers, missed both his threes, and looked like the new kid trying to fit in. He’ll find a more comfortable groove.
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo finishes the off-the-backboard alley-oop. Yes, it still counts if you do it against the Lakers’ defense. The Bucks picked up a win and the Greek Freak had maybe the highlight of the night.
  • Pistons void Donatas Motiejunas trade with Rockets over concerns about his back.Stan Van Gundy has coveted Motiejunas for years — a true 7-footer who can bang inside and is shooting 41.2 percent from three this season. He’s a perfect fit on paper for the inside-out offense Van Guyndy is trying to set up in Detroit.
  • Kyle Lowry puts up triple-double. Does it still count if Jose Calderon is guarding him? Kyle Lowry and the Raptors went into Madison Square Garden on Monday night and looked every bit the second best team in the East, with an unstoppable backcourt led by Kyle Lowry. Going up against the porus defense of Jose Calderon, Lowry did what he wanted on the way to 22 points, 11 assists, and 11 rebounds, and the Raptors picked up a comfortable win 122-95.

Source: Five Takeaways from NBA Monday: Warriors become fastest team ever to 50 wins – ProBasketballTalk

Big man Hassan Whiteside continues to confound the Miami Heat by mixing in dominant performances with head-scratching mistakes that cloud his future with the team.

+ Read: Whiteside remains an enigma for Miami – Yahoo News

+ Read: NBA’s ‘haunted hotel’ strikes again — this time with bed bugs | New York Post


NFL

The NFL withheld a big chunk of money from the NFLPA. (USATSI)

The NFL Player’s Association (NFLPA) was on the winning side of an arbitration that’s expected to cost the NFL more than $100 million.

Arbitrator Stephen Burbank sided with the NFLPA over an issue that had to do with the pool of revenue (or shared revenue pool) that the NFL splits with its players. According to the Wall Street Journal, the league is going to have to return about $120 million in revenues that it wrongly collected over the past three years.

+ Read: Report: NFL withheld more than $120 million from players over 3 years – CBSSports.com

Let’s face it: All 32 NFL teams have plenty to do before the start of the new fiscal year, as well as the beginning of free agency on March 9.There are just some that have more to do than others.

+ Read: NFL Teams That Have the Most Work to Do Before Free Agency | Bleacher Report


MLB

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke talks to the media during a press conference, Friday, Dec. 11, 2015, in Phoenix. Greinke could have stayed with the Los Angeles Dodgers or gone up the coast to the San Francisco Giants. Instead, he signed a massive contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks, dramatically shifting the landscape in the NL West.   (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The phrase “play the game the right way” is vague, so it’s usually tough to know exactly what someone means when they use the phrase. Hitting batters as revenge, for example, could be “right” if you’re an old-school baseball type, or it may be wrong to someone else. NL West managers say the Diamondbacks “play the game the right way,” Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports.

+ Read: NL West managers say the Diamondbacks “play the game the right way” – HardballTalk


Overtime

+ Read: Nation’s fastest football player? LSU’s Donte’ Jackson can make that claim – CollegeFootballTalk

On Sunday, a relieved Bubba Watson interrupted his post-tournament press conference at the Northern Trust Open in Pacific Palisades, Calif., as the gleaming prize was placed beside him on the table. Though he had to pass a kidney stone earlier in the week, he still managed to rally back on the final day of action to win the tournament for the second time in three years.

In a thrilling final round packed with twists and turns, Watson closed out a one-shot victory over leader Jason Kokrak and 2013 Masters winner Adam Scott at Riviera Country Club. Bubba finished with a 15-under 269 total.

+ Read: Bubba Watson won the Northern Trust Open.

A Quick Guide To: #SpringTraining

mlb.team_.logos_.version.3.small_-672x372

Spring Questions For All 30 Teams:

Will the Cubs live up to the rampant World Series expectations? Are the D-backs for real? Can David Price make his contract worth it? Are the Royals a dynasty in the making? Do the Blue Jays, Astros and Mets have staying power?

Spring Training preview materials will be loaded with these questions and more, but the obvious truth is that Spring Training itself can’t answer those questions. So the goal in this particular preview, mere days away from pitchers and catchers report dates, is to pose an actual, spring-specific question each Major League club is facing on the cusp of camp.

I’m dedicating this column to the memory of my friend and teammate Tom Singer, who suddenly passed away earlier this week. Tom was one of the more inquisitive and creative minds in the business, and I know he was looking forward to showing up at Spring Training camps and asking unique questions of his own.

Here we go….

NL East

Mets: How carefully should the young starters be eased into the season?

For the Mets, it will be a delicate balance between overworking and underworking Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard after they all saw significant innings increases due to the postseason run. Syndergaard jumped 65 2/3 innings from his 2014 total in the Minors, while deGrom and Harvey jumped 37 2/3 apiece. Because of injury, Steven Matz (15 2/3) didn’t see quite as big an increase, though he, like Syndergaard, is entering his first full Major League season, an adjustment in and of itself. These guys need to be properly prepared for the every-five-day grind, but they should also probably see a less rigorous spring workload than the typical big league starter.

Nationals: Is Trea Turner ready for the big leagues?

The Grapefruit League will be a great test of the Nats’ new-look infield. Anthony Rendon is moving back to his natural position at third base — a fine move in isolation (he grades out better defensively there than at second base). But some scouts believe Daniel Murphy would be far better suited at third than at second base and that Rendon is the better defensive option at second. And then, of course, there’s the big question at short, where the Nats’ options come down to a utility guy (Danny Espinosa) who has spent far more of his career at second, a light-hitting free-agent signee (Stephen Drew) and the top prospect (Turner), who has only played 212 games in what has already been a whirlwind pro career (including 27 with the Nats down the stretch in 2015). Lots of questions in this infield.

Marlins: Can Barry Bonds help Marcell Ozuna’s swing?

New manager Don Mattingly and new hitting coach Bonds pleaded with the front office to keep Ozuna despite the rampant trade rumblings and the disconnect between player and organization last season. Ozuna was one of eight players identified as above-average in each of the five-tool categories by Statcast™, so the potential is off the charts. But his decline in production last season — leading to a controversial stay in Triple-A — was as swift as it was stunning, and spring is an important time for Ozuna and Bonds to develop a positive working relationship.

Braves: Will Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn open any eyes with their spring at-bats?

It’s no secret the Braves would love to move one or both of these guys. So they are destined to receive a steady dose of Grapefruit League at-bats as the Braves try to garner enough interest for a salary dump swap. With Freddie Freeman working his way back from a wrist injury, perhaps Swisher will see some time at first base.

Phillies: Is Tyler Goeddel the next Odubel Herrera?

Last year, Herrera arrived as a Rule 5 Draft pickup and wound up leading the Phillies in WAR (and yes, that says as much about the Phils as it does Herrera). Now, Goeddel is the marquee Rule 5 Draft addition (the first overall pick). That he’ll make the big league club is a foregone conclusion, because the Phillies have nothing to lose by keeping him. The question is how much the athletic but unpolished Goeddel will separate himself from Aaron Altherr, Peter Bourjos and Cody Asche in the battle for playing time in Pete Mackanin’s lineup.

AL East

Blue Jays: Will Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion agree to extensions?

In the lead-up to Opening Day, the new-look front office will have to weigh the attraction of satiating the fan base and ensuring stability in the long-term lineup against the obvious risks that come with power hitters in their mid-to-late-30s. These discussions will take place when all parties arrive in Dunedin, Fla., later this month.

Yankees: CC Sabathia or Ivan Nova?

The last rotation spot is the lone source of genuine positional intrigue in Yankees camp. (That said, Starlin Castro’s continued immersion at second base and first-ever trial at third base, where the Yanks might need him as a Chase Headley backup, is interesting). Sabathia is the former Cy Young Award winner coming off a homer-prone year that ended in alcohol rehab. Nova is the Tommy John alum the Yanks tried to trade. General manager Brian Cashman has said Sabathia’s $25 million salary wouldn’t preclude the Yanks from sticking CC in the bullpen if somebody else (Nova is the obvious candidate, though Bryan Mitchell is another) wins the job outright.

Orioles: What’s the outlook for the outfield?

They’re reportedly making progress with Yovani Gallardo to fill a big hole in the rotation, so let’s focus on the outfield here. Big-bodied Hyun-soo Kim, fresh off signing a two-year contract with the O’s, will arrive from South Korea and try to prove he has the range and athleticism to handle the everyday left-field assignment. Adam Jones was tasked with covering a ton of outfield ground last year, and his performance tailed off in the last two months of the season. At the moment, right field likely belongs to Nolan Reimold, though an O’s team familiar with in-spring splashes could still sign somebody to support or replace him.

Rays: Will James Loney, Desmond Jennings or Brandon Guyer be moved?

It’s a question that presumes a healthy camp, of course, but it would solve a logjam. Dealing Loney would allow Logan Morrison and Steve Pearce to share first, Corey Dickerson to spend the bulk of his time at DH and Jennings, Kevin Kiermaier and Steven Souza Jr. to provide dependable defense in the outfield, with Guyer as a bench option vs. lefties. Or the Rays could move Jennings or Guyer and open up more at-bats for Pearce and Morrison. Whatever the case, one presumes the Rays would be seeking relief help in any deal involving their position player depth.

Red Sox: Can Hanley Ramirez handle first base?

The Red Sox don’t have any position battles, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have position issues. Hanley’s position switch last year — from shortstop to left field — wasn’t subjected to any truly challenging plays during the spring schedule, but obviously the ball is going to find him at first. Because they’re paying Ramirez a ton of money, the Red Sox have no choice but to hope this works — and the same goes for Pablo Sandoval at third. The Panda’s physical condition will, naturally, be a spring storyline all its own.

NL Central

Cardinals: What is Yadier Molina’s timetable?

Molina will spend camp’s early days not swinging the bat or catching bullpen sessions, but building strength back up in his left thumb after having a second surgery this winter. Because there’s no telling how long that process will take and how much it will affect his season preparation, it’s hard to know if Molina will be ready by Opening Day. To say getting him back in a timely matter is important for the Cards is, of course, an understatement.

Pirates: How well is Jung Ho Kang progressing?

Because of the division’s demands, the decisions to deal Neil Walker and non-tender Pedro Alvarez, and the lack of additions of bankable depth options, the Pirates can ill-afford any medical setbacks for Kang, who suffered a fractured tibial plateau and torn lateral meniscus on an ugly takeout slide by Chris Coghlan last September. The move to third base (with Jordy Mercer at short and Josh Harrison replacing Walker at second) will limit Kang’s lateral movement when he returns. As of now, the Pirates are expecting him back in April, with Sean Rodriguez (last seen assaulting a water cooler) filling in and Minor League free agent Cole Figueroa competing for a bench job.

Cubs: Can Kyle Schwarber improve in left field?

As much as we love this Cubs lineup, there’s no denying there are defensive concerns in the outfield, where Jorge Soler had some surprising struggles in ’15, Jason Heyward is moving from right to center and, most importantly, Schwarber was a mess during the NLCS. Schwarber has been working on his first step and flexibility this winter, and that work will be put to the test in Arizona. But his efforts in left coincide with his work behind the plate, where he still hopes to remain an option long-term. Combine all of this with Schwarber’s bid for more at-bats against left-handed pitching, and the kid’s got a lot on his plate.

Brewers: How’s Ryan Braun feeling?

Not that the Brewers are making an earnest effort to contend in 2016, but Braun could stillpotentially play himself into a viable trade chip (provided the Brew Crew is willing to eat some cash, of course) if he’s healthy and producing the way he did for much of ’15. Braun had surgery for a herniated disc in the offseason, but he won’t have a clear idea of how well his back is responding until the regular swings that come in the Cactus League.

Reds: Will a market develop for Jay Bruce?

He only remains in Cincinnati as a function of the unusually deep and late-developing free-agent outfield market this winter, because the Reds, now in full-on rebuild mode, were motivated to move him. Most likely, Bruce will start the season with the Reds and try to piece together enough of a bounce-back campaign to become July trade bait. But all it takes is one spring injury elsewhere to suddenly make the idea of dealing for Bruce more palatable for a contending club. The Reds also have to hope Zack Cozart’s grisly knee injury last year hasn’t affected his defense at short, because he, too, could play himself into trade-chip status.

AL Central

Royals: Can Christian Colon steal playing time from Omar Infante?

In the third year of a four-year deal, Infante will make $7.75 million, and there was a time when that fact alone would settle him into a starting spot for this small-market club. But you might have noticed things are a little different in the realm of the Royals these days, and they’re calling this a legitimate position battle between Infante and Colon, who drove in the winning run in the World Series Game 5 clincher. (Top prospect Raul A. Mondesi will also get consideration but is far more likely to start the season in the Minors). Sure, the Royals are paying Infante a good amount of money, but, hey, they took Colon ahead of Matt Harvey in the 2010 Draft! One way or another, they’ll look for better returns on both of these investments.

Twins: Will Miguel Sano stick in right?

Byung Ho Park’s transition to the bigs is also a major matter in Minnesota, but Sano’s defensive work — directly related to Park’s arrival — will be a more pressing spring concern. Torii Hunter will be in camp as a special assistant to work with the 6-foot-4 Sano in the outfield, and the Twins’ lineup alignment demands that this experiment be successful. Sano was tasked with dropping 20 pounds this winter. Citing a desire to maintain his power, he dropped just five. He’s agile for his size, but this is undoubtedly a big test for him.

Indians: Will Michael Brantley continue his rapid recovery?

He’s the key to the whole darn thing for an Indians team projected by FanGraphs to have the best record in the division despite a less-than-dynamic winter. Brantley didn’t have surgery on his lead shoulder until early November, which means you can count him out for Opening Day and likely all or most of April. But because his recovery has progressed so well so far, Brantley must avoid the temptation to do too much too soon, lest he suffer a setback that crushes a Tribe club already prone toward slow starts.

White Sox: What’s up at short?

Tyler Saladino played terrific defense at third base for the Sox down the stretch last season, but his 68 OPS+ detracted from his value. So it’s an open question whether he’s ready for prime time at a prime spot, and he could be pushed in camp by top prospect Tim Anderson. The other, still-lingering question here is whether the Sox will wind up too tempted by Ian Desmond’s reduced price tag to pass him up. With a protected top-10 Draft pick, the White Sox are better positioned to sign Desmond than many others in the market.

Tigers: Can Bruce Rondon work his way into the bullpen plans?

Well, obviously we’ll be playing close attention to the statuses of Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. But they’ve both had a healthy offseason, so, at this point, there’s little reason to doubt they’ll be in the Opening Day lineup and, hopefully, ready to produce. But Rondon’s dismissal from the club due to a lack of effort makes him an interesting figure in camp. The Tigers’ bullpen has a new closer in Francisco Rodriguez and better balance overall, but there’s always room for a motivated flamethrower. We’ll soon learn for sure if Rondon is committed to winning the respect of his teammates.

NL West

Dodgers: Will Hyun-Jin Ryu be ready by Opening Day?

And if so, what does that mean for fellow lefty Alex Wood? The Dodgers have assembled rotation depth to allow Ryu to ease into action, rather than rush back from labrum surgery. So the most likely outcome is that he starts the season in extended Spring Training or on a rehab assignment. But the Dodgers could also be tempted to take advantage of Wood’s ability to be optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Giants: How is Joe Panik’s back?

He’s 25 years old and coming off an All-Star season. But that season was cut short by back woes. Doctors have not discovered any structural damage, so Panik did not have surgery. But only time and performance will dictate whether this will be a persistent problem for a club all too familiar with back issues involving their second basemen (see: Sanchez, Freddy and Scutaro, Marco).

D-backs: Can Yasmany Tomas acquit himself in the outfield?

In their bold bid to take a major competitive step forward, there’s no denying the D-backs sacrificed defense by involving Ender Inciarte in the Shelby Miller swap. The question is how much. Tomas enters the year as an everyday corner outfielder (Arizona is still unsure whether he’ll remain in right or swap spots with left fielder David Peralta) after proving he can’t handle the hot corner. Tomas has indicated he’s more comfortable in right field, though the D-backs might prefer to have the better defender there and use this spring to get Tomas acclimated to left. And oh by the way, Tomas, who had a .707 OPS last season, needs to hit, too.

Padres: Can Andrew Cashner limit walks and neutralize lefties?

Yeah, yeah, the spring results don’t matter. But scouts are in the stands for a reason. Cashner is a guy with ace-quality potential when he’s right — and that’s a big deal for a Padres team either hoping to surprise some people in the NL West or use Cashner as a valuable trade piece midseason (or even sooner). Last year, Cashner’s effectiveness against left-handed hitters spiraled (.383 wOBA vs. a .294 mark a year earlier), and his overall walk rate jumped to 8.2 percent.

Rockies: What will Jose Reyes’ punishment be?

In invoking punishments under the sports’ domestic violence policy for the first time, Commissioner Rob Manfred has big decisions to make with Reyes, Yasiel Puig and Aroldis Chapman. But Reyes is the only member of that group who is facing a criminal procedure. He has pleaded not guilty to domestic abuse charges, and his trial is slated to begin April 4 (Opening Day, of course). Manfred can make his decision independent of those proceedings, and there’s no telling how stiff the penalty will be. Reyes is the Rockies’ highest-paid player and a guy they hoped would rebuild his offensive value (and, ergo, his trade value) at Coors Field. Right now, there’s no way of knowing when or if he’ll be on the field in 2016.

AL West

Rangers: Can Jurickson Profar get back in baseball shape?

We’ll venture away from the obvious intrigue surrounding Yu Darvish’s timetable, because, by all accounts, he’s still on track for a May return. Profar provides intrigue of his own. This is a guy who was once considered the top prospect in the game, but hasn’t played a single inning in the field the last two years because of shoulder issues that eventually required surgery. Profar’s bat action as a designated hitter in the Arizona Fall League caught the attention of scouts, and several teams contacted the Rangers in an attempt to buy low on the middle infielder. The Rangers wisely held onto him, and they’ll ease him back into action in the field this spring. His odds of making the big league club are slim to none, barring injury to somebody else. But the Rangers are about to see if Profar can emerge as an important depth piece in their bid to win the AL West again.

Astros: Will Evan Gattis be ready for Opening Day?

It was revealed this week that Gattis required surgery for a sports hernia, sidelining him for four to six weeks. That’s going to hurt his ability to get his timing back before the end of Grapefruit League play, so the Astros will dole out more playing time to Jon Singleton, Matt Duffy, A.J. Reed, Tyler White and Preston Tucker. While the Astros, in letting Chris Carter walk, might generally be trying to get away from the all-or-nothing approach that was one of their calling cards in ’15, Gattis is still clearly a key cog in this offense. He was also hopeful of increasing his value to the team beyond his DH duties, losing weight and doing catching drills in the offseason.

Angels: What’s Albert Pujols’ timetable?

The Angels are getting crushed in many corners for not doing more to improve their production potential around Mike Trout, opting instead for a more contact-heavy approach. Maybe the Halos have it right, but there’s little denying that their lineup look demands healthy and productivity from Pujols, who is working his way back from November surgery on the plantar plate of his right foot. Pujols is already hitting off a tee but is not expected to resume full baseball activities until March, putting Opening Day in jeopardy. Pujols rushed back to action too quickly in 2013, to the point that it affected his performance, and the Angels don’t want that to happen again.

Mariners: Can James Paxton win a rotation spot?

Technically, it’s Taijuan Walker, Nate Karns and Paxton for two spots, though you’d have to imagine the 29 starts and the progress Walker made as ’15 evolved give him the inside edge on one of those. Karns was Dipoto’s first addition in a busy offseason, but Paxton is the guy who was long lauded as one of the M’s prominent prospects. Injury issues have limited Paxton to 30 career starts over parts of three Major League seasons, but the left-hander has dropped some pounds and will come to camp intent on proving he’s ready to turn his potential into production. Other guys potentially in the mix for that last spot are Mike Montgomery, Joe Wieland and Vidal Nuno. Paxton seemingly has the most upside of those options, but he’s got to earn it.

Athletics: What is the rotation beyond Sonny Gray?

Oakland has probably one of the most — if not the most — unsettled rotation situations in the big leagues. The A’s signed Rich Hill with the intent of inserting him into the rotation, though he hasn’t been a regular starter at this level since 2009. After Gray and Hill, it’s a wide-open competition involving Kendall Graveman, Jesse Hahn, Chris Bassitt, Sean Nolin and possibly even Jarrod Parker (who is attempting to come back from two elbow surgeries) and Sean Manaea (a promising trade acquisition who hasn’t pitched above Double-A but who manager Bob Melvin has called a “wild card” in the rotation battle). Should be fun to watch this evolve.

Source: A Spring Training question for all 30 MLB teams.

Power Ranking All 30 MLB Starting Rotations Entering 2016 Spring Training:

SchwarberPanikRamirez

 

Rejoice! Spring training is almost upon us, bringing to an end what has been a hectic offseason, one that saw a slew of starting pitchers change uniforms, whether via free agency or trade. Keeping up with what your favorite team’s rotation looks like, much less the competition’s, has been challenging at times.

Read: Power Ranking All 30 MLB Starting Rotations Entering 2016 Spring Training

73 Seconds…

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1.

Drop In The Bucket…

Did we forget about Klay?  As Draymond rises and Steph improves beyond icons, we seem to have forgotten about Klay.  Thompson dropped 45 on the Mavericks last night, getting payback for one of their losses, by 20pts – Is Carlyle now on Hot-Seat?  ESPN’s Ethan Sherwood Strauss expands on Kerr’s thoughts on Klay: “…he’s fine taking a back seat to Steph. It works well. They obviously play well together, but I think there always has to be a little bit of a pecking order in the NBA. Klay’s personality suits that second option perfectly.”  Thompson is a quiet all-star that fits perfectly with Golden State.

2.

Spurred On…

What did we think they were gonna do?  Quit?  Lose by 30 and announce the season was over?  So while Golden State came back down to earth and beat the Mavs by twenty, The Spurs treated Houston like a birthday party and blew them out by 31.  So you can say the Spurs bounced back and showed Houston how far away from contending they still are, plus 5 more things.  You think that at some point, while Aldridge is getting better and showing chemistry, he’ll have to be less passive.  If Aldridge can be more like young Dirk and drive to the basket, the way the Spurs play would make more noise in the playoffs.

3.

Started From the Bottom, Now We Here…

The 65th NBA All-Star Game will be the first All-Star Game held outside of the U.S. The game will be seen by fans in more than 200 countries and territories and will be heard in more than 40 languages. TNT will televise the All-Star Game in the U.S. for the 14th consecutive year, marking Turner Sports’ 31st year of NBA All-Star coverage.

…And all of that is nice.  The Game is even on Valentine’s Day, awwww.  So who will be coaching the Eastern Conference All-Stars?  The answer is a guy who just started, Tyronn Lue – because he deserves the honor.  So tune in to TNT at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday, Feb. 14 from Air Canada Centre in Toronto, and watch history in the making – just make sure you take the over.

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4.

Under-rated…

The winter that was — and, in some cases, still is — defined by the nine-figure notables (David Price, Zack Greinke, Jason Heyward, Chris Davis, Justin Upton and Jordan Zimmermann), some blockbuster swaps (Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel, Todd Frazier, Shelby Miller and Andrelton Simmons, to name a few), some international intrigue (Kenta Maeda and Byung Ho Park), the rewarded hand-wringing of the Mets faithful (welcome back, Yo), the limits-testing patience required of the likes of Dexter Fowler, Ian Desmond, Howie Kendrick, etc., and, as usual, the art of surprise.

Lost in all that discussion, though, are the people on the periphery. So let’s round up some of them here with the best acquisitions nobody’s talking about (until now)……

+ Keep Reading: The 10 best MLB pickups nobody is talking about.

5.

Might As Well Jump…

From Deadspin: The second period of the Predators’ 2-1 win over the Flames featured a strange moment, as Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman absolutely leveled linesman Don Henderson on his way back to the bench. The hit sure looks intentional, but Wideman had just been checked hard into the boards, and looked pretty woozy sitting on the bench.

Wideman wasn’t penalized, and both he and Henderson stayed in the game. Afterwards he told reporters that he apologized to Henderson on the ice, and that the hit was entirely accidental.

Thankfully Wideman recieved treatment for a concussion before returning to the ice, as per NHL protocol. Of course that protocol is to pop 2 Percocets and wash them down with a can of LaBatts, but still.

6.

If a Tree Falls…

Further proof that the NFL tries too hard to make you care about a game that the players don’t care about, unless your these guys in the picture…I give you the 2016 NFL ProBowl Draft – Are You Not Entertained?!!  Is there some possibility of interest?  Sure, I’m curious about Julio Jones and Russell Wilson on the same team.  But more to the point, are you gonna play it on DraftKings, or bet the Under?  Before you do read more about the drafting of Team Rice and Team Irvin here, from ABC News:

+ Keep Reading: Russell Wilson, Eli Manning top picks in 2016 Pro Bowl draft

7.

A Man Named $uh…

We’ve talked a lot about this guy and how he was not worth the scratch Miami paid him.  Word is, Suh’s monster deal is already causing cap issues for the Dolphins.  

8.

Aloha…

Hawaii’s attorney general has issued an opinion that says daily fantasy is illegal gambling under state law, becoming the umpteenth state attorney general to do so. [Honolulu Star-Advertiser]


73 seconds.

30 years ago today, that was all we saw of the Space Shuttle Challenger.  I remember exactly where I was and still I am reminded by the thoughts that went thru my head of disbelief.  Being at school, being told over the speaker system what happened, hoping the falling cabin contained life…still is hard to believe that 7 people lost their lives because of an O-ring.  18 years and 6 days later there was the second shuttle disaster, when Endeavour disintegrated in re-entry over Texas and Louisiana.  Now, no more shuttles…Prometheus stole fire to provide us a spark, to generate creativity and explore – what shall we do if we never venture out into the unknown?  Bless those that took the chance to peel back the curtain of the great beyond.

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United Stats of America #NBA Edition + 6 Other Things

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Steph Curry and the dominant Warriors aren’t just beating teams anymore, they’re throwing staggering knockout punches against the NBA’s best – make that second-best.

In a span of eight days, Golden State have 30-point wins over Cleveland, Chicago and San Antonio. Curry scored 37 points and hit six three-pointers in three scintillating quarters Monday night, and the reigning champions showed they still rule the West by routing the Spurs 120-90.

“No moment’s too big, obviously,” Curry said. “We know this is just another regular-season game, but there was some hype around it. Every time we have an opportunity to prove who we are and take another step in the journey, we’re ready for it. It wasn’t always that way. This core has been together for a while and understands how to mentally prepare for nights like this.”……(Continue Reading: Gregg Popovich: Warriors’ slaughter of Spurs was ‘like men and boys’ | The Guardian)

+ Warriors win the first round of 2015-16 duel with Spurs

In a highly anticipated matchup, Stephen Curry (37 points) and the Warriors coasted by the Spurs, 120-90, in what was the first matchup in NBA history between two teams with winning percentages of .830 or higher (minimum 40 games played for each team). Golden State’s 30-point victory soundly ended the Spurs’ 13-game winning streak. That’s the third largest margin of victory against an opponent with a winning streak of at least 13 games entering the matchup. The Knicks defeated the Mavs, 128-94, in March 2010, ending a 13-game streak, and the Magic routed the Rockets, 114-82, in March 1991, stopping a Houston winning streak at 13.

+ Cousins with another huge game

DeMarcus Cousins scored 56 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the Kings’ double-overtime loss to the Hornets on Monday. Cousins, who totaled 48 points and 13 rebounds in his last game on January 23, is the fourth player with at least 100 points and 25 rebounds in consecutive games over the last 40 years. Michael Jordan did so in March 1990 (118 points and 30 rebounds; the first of the two games was his 69-point performance against the Cavaliers), David Robinson in April 1994 (100 points and 30 rebounds; he scored 71 points in the second of the two games), and Antawn Jamison accomplished this feat in December 2000 as a member of the Warriors (102 points and 27 rebounds).

Cousins’ 104 points over his last two games are the most for any player in Kings history; the previous high was 92 points by Oscar Robertson in February 1965 (when the franchise was known as the Cincinnati Royals). The last player with 100 points over a two-game span wasKobe Bryant in March 2007, netting 110 points.

+ A rare 50-point and 20-assist pairing

As though DeMarcus Cousins‘ 56-point performance was not enough, his Kings teammate Rajon Rondo dished out 20 assists in Sacramento’s overtime loss to the Hornets. It’s just the fourth game in NBA history in which one player scored at least 50 points and his teammate had at least 20 assists. The first such game was on March 2, 1962, in Wilt Chamberlain‘s 100-point game for the Warriors versus the Knicks; his teammate Guy Rodgers had 20 assists. And just under a year later, Chamberlain and Rodgers were at it again; Chamberlain scored 54 points and Rodgers totaled 20 assists for the Warriors against the Royals on March 1, 1963. The third instance was on February 10, 1998, when the Wizards’ Tracy Murray (50 points) and Rod Strickland (20 assists) did so versus the Warriors. In all three of those prior instances, the 50-point/20-assist team won the game.

+ A first for three young players

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 26 points, Zach LaVine added 21 points, and Andrew Wiggins had 20 of his own in the Timberwolves’ loss to the Cavaliers on Monday night. Towns, LaVine, and Wiggins, all 20 years old, are the first trio of teammates under 21 years old to put up at least 20 points in the same game in NBA history. Only one other trio did so at 21 years or younger: Kevin Durant (21 years old), Russell Westbrook (21), and James Harden (20) for the Thunder against the Wizards on November 20, 2009.

Towns also grabbed 11 rebounds, becoming the first rookie with at least 25 points and 10 rebounds in a game against LeBron James.


1.

Wait A Second…

MLBPipeline.com will unveil its 2016 Top 100 Prospects list on Friday on MLB.com. The Top 50 will be revealed during a one-hour show on MLB Network at 9 p.m. ET. Leading up to the release, we look at baseball’s Top 10 prospects at each position. There has been quite a bit of turnover from last year to the 2016 edition of the Top 10 second-base prospects, with six new names joining the list, thanks to two graduations and four who dropped off the list. Scouting reports, grades, stats and video on Prospect Watch……(Continue Reading: Prospect Watch: Top 10 second basemen for 2016 | MLB.com)


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2.

Helping The Homeless…

With the Mets bringing back Yoenis Cespedes, most of baseball’s big-name free agents are off the board.

That doesn’t mean the cupboard is bare, however. There are many players left who could help plenty of teams.

Still, finding a spot at this point in the game of musical chairs is a challenge. Many clubs have filled their vacancies and/or reached their budgetary limits.

Pitchers and catchers are now less than a month from reporting, which means time is running out for the stragglers to sign before their unemployment lags into Spring Training. With that in mind, let’s spend other people’s money and see if we can find a home for 10 of the top players remaining on the market……(Continue Reading: Let’s play matchmaker for MLB players still unsigned.)


3.

Where There’s A Will There’s An Elway…

If Peyton Manning soon has the option to pull a John Elway and end a Hall of Fame-bound quarterbacking career in the glorious aftermath of a Super Bowl triumph, it will be because Elway provided him with a team capable of making it happen.

But few people in the room deserved more credit than the quarterback already enshrined in Canton who…...(Continue Reading: John Elway has put Peyton Manning in position to follow in his footsteps – The Washington Post)


4.

Get Over Yourself…

Seattle fans are still upset about something the Carolina Panthers QB did to the 12th man flag. Nevermind the crouch-grabber on your own team Seattle Fan.  Cam Newton has long moved on from thinking about the Seattle Seahawks, the team his Carolina Panthers beat two playoff rounds ago before beating the Arizona Cardinals last weekend to reach the Super Bowl.

Angry Seahawks fans have not forgot about Cam, though. #Stalker #StayClassy

Continue Reading: Bitter Seahawks fan starts petition to ban Cam Newton from CenturyLink | FOX Sports


5.

A Look Back…

Even though the Bears were 10-point favorites, the New England Patriots approached Super Bowl XX in New Orleans with confidence.

“We’ve been underdogs all year,” cornerback Raymond Clayborn said a few days before the game. “I accept it. We’ll go out and beat the Bears just like we beat everybody else. Do football players pay attention to the spread? We notice it. But we have confidence in ourselves.”……(Continue Reading: Pats thought they’d win Super Bowl XX)


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6.

#FanDuel Ultimate Value Lineup

Giving you the Perfect Lineup is easy and we tweet it, post it on Facebook and create an entire post about it in our RESULTS, so……What about if you had the greatest value lineup of all time?  A Lineup that every player chosen had low ownership, way less, and never cost you more than $6,500 – well my friends this is the #NBA Ultimate Value Lineup – culled directly from the numbers and our reports – Check Back Before 4:30p MST everyday and see who we like, and let us Teach You How To #Win!!!

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All’s Fair In Love And #NFL

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1.

Count de Mone:

Well, well, well…First, the 6 man-NFL-Relocation committee said they approved the Carson project.  Carson, the place that makes East Rutherford look like a vacation destination, is the project that was proposed by the Raiders and Chargers.  Now, the man who has a caterpillar on hgh on the top of his head, just gave St. Louis the double-bird salute, after Hizzoner said the Rams were the team that is moving, and will be moving to Inglewood-up-to-know-good.

Hey Rams fan, he’s just being philanthropic.  Afterall, 20 years ago someone else ripped the team from LA – consider it righting a wrong.  Or don’t.

Kroenke called the city of St.Louis a struggling market – after the city was willing to give Powerball scratch to build him a new stadium.  But really, who needs an NFL Team nowadays.  With the RedZone, and fantasy football, loyalty erodes with every week.  Actually going to a NFL game anymore – meh.

Ram fan, now you can tell your civic leaders to use that scratch earmarked for a new stadium on social issues and maybe stem the tide of migration out of St.Louis.  Think of all the good, a billion dollars could do for the community if you yelled as loud about social problems as you do about losing a team that doesn’t care about you…you’re better off St.Louis, just ask the Wall Street Journal.

Read: You don’t need the Rams or the NFL to be great, St. Louis | FOX Sports

Read: FuQ You, Stan Kroenke, and the Toupee You Rode in Under | Riverfront Times

2.

…And Twiiiins

ANTONIO Cromartie makes a living playing in the NFL for the New York Jets, and while he is an exceptionally talented defensive player, his greatest talent appears to lie outside the world of football.

The 31-year-old has an incredible knack for fathering children, with the announcement on Wednesday that his wife is expecting twins, which would make the new additions his 11th and 12th offspring.

Twelve is a lot of kids, enough in fact to field a full football team plus a kicker, but it’s nothing the world of reality television hasn’t seen before. Alas, the plot thickens.

The real shock comes in the knowledge that Cromartie had a vasectomy prior to his wife Terricka falling pregnant, clearly to stem the reproduction of genetics that has already seen the cornerback father 10 children, including eight from previous relationships. Now that is extraordinary……

Continue Reading: New York Jets’ Antonio Cromartie expecting 11th and 12th children

3.

America’s Most Watched Network, We get It…

HOUSTON, TX- AUGUST 16: A camera man films the Atlanta Falcons in warm up before playing against the Houston Texans in a pre-season NFL game on August 16, 2014 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas

The Super Bowl is turning 50, although the game played next month on America’s informal national holiday will hardly be showing its age because of new gadgetry CBS Sports is debuting.

A replay system will give viewers a 360-degree perspective and higher resolution than previously ever seen for the game. Thirty-six cameras strung around the upper deck of Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, can freeze the moment and revolve around the play before continuing to show the scene. Viewers on Feb. 7 will be able to check out the quarterback’s view from the pocket to other players’ perspectives on the field, and it can be animated, too.

“We tried it on a couple regular-season games and it looks remarkable,” CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus said Tuesday at a gathering of TV critics.

For the first time in a Super Bowl, CBS will use eight custom-molded pylons that house 16 cameras to film the goal lines and sidelines of both teams. The cameras also will have microphones embedded in them to enhance the game’s natural sound. They were used in the College Football Playoff championship Monday……

Continue Reading: CBS To Unveil New Technology For Super Bowl 50 Broadcast

4.

Anticipation…

National Championship: Alabama 45, Clemson 40

This game was better than good, and it will feed an offseason of unmatched anticipation. Here’s why:

Nowhere to hide: The College Football Playoff selection committee has made it clear that schedule strength is vital. There will be a day when a two-loss conference champion makes the playoffs.

To that end, schools are scheduling tougher, benefiting the fans. These glossy matchups will be played in the first two weeks of the 2016 season: Alabama-USC (AT&T Stadium), Clemson-Auburn, Oklahoma-Houston (NRG Stadium), LSU-Wisconsin (Lambeau Field), Arkansas-TCU, Notre Dame-Texas, Ole Miss-Florida State (Citrus Bowl) and North Carolina-Georgia (Georgia Dome)……

Continue Reading: 2016 college football season could be the most anticipated ever

5.

Market Shift

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Given that the American League features both the DH and the Yankees, it makes sense that the AL tends to outspend the National League in free agency. But recently Andrew Beaton noted in the Wall Street Journal something peculiar. For the first time in years, the NL has been outspending the AL in free agency. This made us wonder if NL teams were actually getting more player value for doling out all that cash.

When Beaton looked into this topic a few weeks ago, the NL was outspending the AL by $254 million. Since then, the NL surplus in total spending has grown to $335.2 million, according to FanGraphs’ data. On a per-year basis, NL ballclubs will pay their new free agents about $50 million more next season, as it stands now. Most of the NL’s splurge comes in later years, as huge contracts like Jason Heyward’s are paid out over several seasons.

To see if this spending relates to actual production, we looked at data using FanGraphs’ free agent tracker to determine which league is signing the better players. We grouped players according to the league of their new team, and we looked at 2015 WAR, 2016 projected WAR, current salaries and projected salaries……

Continue Reading: NL teams outspending AL in free agency.

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#Epiphany, the #HOF2016 vote, and Other Dregs

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1.

Like Drunken Sailors in Hong Kong:

Sunday, at the DiRT Canon Safehouse was filled with football junkies and whorish people from Texas who were eager to gamble feverishly on every game being played anywhere, including whatever came up on replays. “I came here to get it on,” said a cranked-up lawyer from Houston. “This party starts now!” It was 2 o’clock on a Sunday afternoon, and these rubes were already acting like drunken sailors in Hong Kong.

I was not prepared for this kind of situation, but I found it hard to resist. Impossible, in fact, so I quickly caved in and went back to put on my traditional gambling suit — a blue silk blazer with Arabian pajama pants and a woolly pig-tail wig of unborn dog skin.

By the time I returned to the kitchen, the Seattle-Arizona game was under way, and green money was already changing hands. It was like walking into a cockfight. People were screaming at each other and waving fistfuls of sweaty American dollars. A rich smell of fireball-whiskey and peppermint schnapps hung in the air, and even women were smoking cigars. Yes sir, I said to myself, this is my kind of room.

And you too can have that kind of experience…Soon, as Mark Cuban believes, because Fantasy Sports, e-sports, virtual reality and gambling are inevitable, as well as soon-to-be-legalized – in an interview he did for Fortune magazine.


2.

Follow The Trail…

There still seem to be more questions than answers when it comes to Charles Sly admitting he made everything up, to a journalistic question of ethics of a story that on the surface seems fabricated.  Unless you look deeper. Michael Powell of the New York Times attempts to do that in this article.  Ryan Zimmerman is considering a lawsuit, as is rumor of others that were named – but until that actually happens….The point is, we have seen enough smoke signals from our professional athletes over the years that turned into Forest-Fires.  Guess we’ll see.

+ Also, ESPN writer Rambles About Peyton Manning

3.

 What #NBA Teams Should Start Tanking

As Michael Pina explains from Sports On Earth: We’re over two months into the NBA season, and in some ways the league’s landscape is very different from what most of us envisioned back in October. But, big picture, all the relevant cement is nearly dry: Four (maaaybe five) teams can win the championship, three teams definitely won’t survive beyond the mandated 82 games and everyone else dances in a relatively hopeful purgatory.

There’s nothing wrong with a postseason appearance being enough to satiate ambition; for the most part, playoff berths are at worst a face-saving gesture and at best a symbolic step in the right direction for several middle-class organizations that badly need to display some linear progress. But foresight is crucial for every franchise, and the draft makes them all (outside Brooklyn) come to terms with who, where and what they are in 2016.

Self-evaluation can be hard, but it’s never not important. Here are seven teams that should/will/did throw in the towel.

Continue Reading: Which NBA teams should start tanking this season?


4.

#MLB #HOF2016 Ballot

I’m sure after tonight, there will be someone that gets into the HOF that will chap my a$$.  For now, let’s just hold our collective-breaths and hope the wet-heads in charge get it right. Until then let’s read some pontification from other guys and their ballot thoughts.

+ Kevin Davidoff: My MLB Hall of Fame ballot: Ignore the rumors and whispers

+ Brian Kenny: First-ballot HOF candidates stack up well.


5.

Embrace the Disgrace

If you just bought a Major League Baseball team and you had to start your team with the remaining free-agents – How many would you sign?  That’s the question Anthony McCarron wants to know as he breaks down the 12 best remaining free-agents in baseball.  Alex Gordon has just resigned with the Royals for somewhere near $72m – for me I’m taking a serious look at Cespedes in my outfield.  What say you?


 

Winner – winner chicken dinner – by 18!

 

5 Things To Know: #NFL Tuesday Morning Quarterback

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1.

It’s A Clown-Show Bro!

If you want to hoot with the owls, you have to be able to soar with the eagles – the problem for Manziel is, he’s a turkey.  Allegedly, he was spotted in Vegas.  Allegedly Johnny was wearing a Ric Flair-wig and a Bobby Valentine-mustache and went by the name Billy.  Allegedly he showed up drunk to the Browns facility.  We say allegedly because there is an Instagram of him on Sat.Night with his dogs.  Documenting, that Johnny-Boozeball was home.

We know better.  We are watching the vortex of dumb that is Manziel play out like he is Charlie Sheen and we all get to witness the Adonis DNA, mixed with tiger blood that still cannot read a defense and no one believes that Johnny even cares.  But hey, the Browns have the 2nd pick – ain’t that right Jimmah?!


2.

FanDuel – 2×4’s and Milk

Source: NFL Week 17 Retrospectacle: Peyton Manning’s Return Makes Things Interesting

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QB Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (32.72 FanDuel points)—He finished as the No. 1 fantasy quarterback with his 293-2 passing and 6-10-2 rushing. Now, he will get WR Kelvin Benjamin (knee) back next season and has turned WR Devin Funchess (7-120-1 Sunday) into a strong sidekick. It is tough to be better than Newton was this season, but his arrow is still pointing way up, even if his price will make him tough to afford this postseason and in 2016.

WR Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers (29.2)—Usually, a strong supporting receiving corps cuts a No. 1’s production from elite to very good or even merely good. The Steelers’ weaponry hardly dents Brown’s status. He is the clear No. 1 fantasy wideout and legitimately in the conversation for the No. 1 overall player in fantasy for 2016. He’s already certain to be the priciest player in FanDuel’s postseason contests after his 13-187-1 monster finish to the regular season.

Houston Texans Defense (29.0)—That was some performance against a red-hot Jacksonville Jaguars offense: eight sacks, four turnovers and a touchdown. This will be an interesting Wild Card Weekend FanDuel play at home against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Seattle Seahawks or Chiefs might be the only others in the conversation for your defensive play.

QB Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (25.76)—If he could stay upright and healthy for a full season, he might have a chance to average the near 350-3 he put up Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. A healthy Big Ben, Le’Veon Bell (knee), Brown, Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton is a scary proposition. The Cincinnati Bengals better be ready for a shootout, especially since Big Ben hasn’t played well against them this season. Payback might be coming in spades.

QB Kellen Moore, Dallas Cowboys (25.4)—His 435-3 is as surprising as it is worthless for fantasy owners. There is no way he’s a starter in the NFL, but he might have earned himself a solid backup role for 2016.

QB Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (24.92)—Something really started clicking for Stafford and the Lions offensively after the coordinator change. There is likely an offseason of turnover coming, but Stafford (298-3) is smack dab in his prime with his arrow is still pointing up in fantasy for 2016.

WR Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions (24.7)—He is no longer a first- or second-round draft pick, but his 10-137-1 caps a strong finish and makes him a steady 80-1,100-10 candidate at age 31 next season.

RB Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (24.6)—The Giants saved the veteran’s legs in the early season, but his 27-170-1 came too late to help most fantasy owners. The fact he will be 31 next season should preclude him from being slotted as a feature back or even a starter ever again, either.

QB Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins (23.7)—As much as you might not be impressed with Tannehill yet, he is going to be due for a 4,500-30 breakthrough next season with a burgeoning star in WR Jarvis Landry (111-1,159-4) and 2016 breakout threat WR DeVante Parker (5-106-1 Sunday). Here’s to hoping the Dolphins get a gunslinging play-caller as offensive coordinator with their new regime.

WR Brandon Marshall, New York Jets (22.6)—Whether or not you care for the Jets or Marshall, FanDuel players are going to miss having him as an option in postseason contests. The 31-year-old finished 8-126-1 and posted arguably the best season of his strong, but controversial career at 109-1,502-14. You have to crop his 2016 projections down to 80-1,000-10, but he should still outproduce expectations that are set low by the game-manager at quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick.

WR Terrance Williams, Dallas Cowboys (21.3)—He saved his best for last with 8-173-0 and should be a sleeper to go 80-1,000-10 next season at age 27 if the Cowboys can find more health and consistency at quarterback.

QB Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (21.18)—His monster second half, capped by his 197-3 Sunday, puts him in the conversation for one of the top five fantasy quarterbacks for 2016. You might not love his matchup at the Minnesota Vikings next Sunday, but that matchup returned monster production in Week 13. We will be curious to see how the return of Marshawn Lynch (hernia) might affect the Seahawks’ offensive approach, because it took the Lynch injury for Wilson to take off this season.

WR Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles (20.9)—There is change coming in Philly, but Matthews proved with his strong finish (7-54-2) and season (85-997-8) that he is a No. 1 fantasy wideout no matter who the quarterback is or whom is calling the plays.

QB Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (20.36)—He has proven he is no longer a star fantasy quarterback, but he will lead the pack of the drafted backups. There are going to be 350-3 performances, but the Falcons need someone to play off WR Julio Jones (136-1,871-8).

WR Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos (20.2)—His 5-117-1 was highlighted by his long catch and run with QB Brock Osweiler in the game, but he is far more intriguing for the second week of the postseason with a healthy Manning under center. We cannot wait to see what his price and matchup are, because there should be some FanDuel value coming our way here.

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QB Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars (5.56)—Despite the 35-touchdown Year 2 breakthrough, he choked in his fantasy finale with two interceptions, a fumble and no touchdowns. This performance proved he’s not ready to be an elite fantasy quarterback. Those are guys immune to tough matchups, which Bortles clearly wasn’t here. It’s a shame after all he has done for us in FanDuel action this season.

QB Tom Brady, New England Patriots (5.26)—Our bitter FanDuel selves might be seeking retribution from Brady and the Pats by watching them regret not putting away the AFC home-field advantage against the lame-duck Dolphins. Just 134 yards and no touchdowns? We haven’t seen a performance like that from Brady since Week 17 of 2014. On second thought, perhaps we should have known better.

RB DeAngelo Williams, Pittsburgh Steelers (3.1)—The matchup against the Browns should have revealed a stud, not a dud. He rushed just five times for eight yards, ruining what was a fantasy MVP-like second half.

WR Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh Steelers (0.5)—One catch for no yards? Come on, dude. This was the Browns, not the ’85 Bears. The only good thing to say about this is Bryant will be a cheap option if he can avoid the injury report this week.

TE Julius Thomas, Jacksonville Jaguars (2.2)—He had some moments with Bortles this season, but his 2015 finished the way it started…in the toilet. Just two catches for 12 yards and another Jags player who proved he is not elite because he is not immune to tough matchups.


3.

Cam Newton And Antonio Brown Co-#DFS-MVP’s

It was good year in Daily Fantasy Football and it is made even better when several people #win big using your reports, along with the Lineup-Analyzer – Straight-Ca$h-Homey!  With that, let’s took a look back with performances from “Eli Manning’s and Drew Brees’s shootout to David Johnson’s clutch performance in the fantasy playoffs,” Michael Beller presents the 12 best performances of the 2015 fantasy football season.


4.

These Times They Are A Changin’

Television is going to change.  It already has for most of us, and just like newspapers, if the cable/satellite companies continue to fail in understanding how people are consuming media – they will find a similar fate.  The first battle is being fought with Major League Baseball and as outlined in the Hollywood Reporter, MLB, its 30 teams, DirecTV and Comcast will have to defend the status quo in a class-action lawsuit that will change how games are distributed.  This could mean that small-market clubs and TV revenues are in danger by cord-cutters.


5.

Ultimate Value Lineup – Week 17

All we want to do is provide you valuable information at a great price.  We’ve already helped hundreds of people learn how to make some extra lettuce playing fantasy sports; so let us Teach You How to #win!

Giving you the Perfect Lineup is easy and we tweet it, post it on Facebook and create an entire post about our RESULTS, so……What about if you had the greatest value lineup of all time?  A Lineup that every player chosen had low ownership, way less, and never cost you more than $6k – well my friends this is the Ultimate Value Lineup – culled directly from the numbers and our reports – look for us on twitter when we post the less than 12% lineup and follow along with the value-madness!!!

draftkings

wk17_DK_LT10%_UltimateVL

 

5 Things To Know: Tuesday Morning Quarterback

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1. That’s How You Lose?

From almost disaster to celebration for the Broncos last night.  That kick though, by Mcmanus at the end of regulation – Cripes!  It almost cost them, but hey at least Denver figured out how to play in the 2nd half – problem is, it seems they haven’t played a full game since the Packers.

For me, the issue becomes less about Osweiler or Manning – it’s Denver’s line play.  The playoffs are a different animal and the inability to protect the QB, or run the ball consistently, or consistently generate a pass rush could lead the Broncos chances in the playoffs as a little more than Fool’s Gold.

Yes we have seen flashes of the line holding up, running the ball and sacks.  But look back at the playoff game against the Colts last year in Denver.  Ware and Miller never touched Luck and if you’re gonna play that much man-to-man coverage you need pressure on the other-team’s QB, if you can’t run the ball.  This team has something going for it, it’ll just depend if they can put it all together long enough to make it to Superbowl L.  It could be worse, you could be the Bengals and just keep watching guys go down like the Edmund Fitzgerald – if McCarron is hurt they’ll have to start what’s-his-name – here are some more thoughts about the game, with help from Elias Sports Bureau.

Broncos are the comeback kings of 2015

The Bengals led 14-0 late in the second quarter, but the Broncos came back to win 20-17 in overtime. It was Denver’s third win this season in a game in which it trailed by at least 14 points. No other team has won more than one such game in 2015.

Cincinnati had won its previous 29 contests in which it led by at least eight points since losing to Chicago in the first week of the 2013 season. That had been the longest active streak in the NFL.

+ Another long go-ahead TD run by Anderson

C.J. Anderson’s 39-yard touchdown run gave the Broncos a fourth-quarter lead in their overtime win over the Bengals. There have been three go-ahead rushing touchdowns of 30-plus yards in the fourth quarter or overtime this season, and Anderson has been responsible for two of them; he scampered 48 yards for the winning score in overtime against the Patriots in Week 12. The other run of that type in 2015 belongs to Marcus Mariota, who ran 87 yards against the Jaguars in Week 13.

Dunlap sets Bengals sack record

Carlos Dunlap sacked Brock Osweiler three times Monday, bringing his career total of quarterback takedowns to 49. Dunlap, who has spent his entire career with the Bengals, passed Eddie Edwards (47½) for the most sacks in team history (the NFL has recorded this statistic for individual players since 1982). Cincinnati is the only current franchise for which no player has produced 50 sacks.

2. FanDuel – 2×4’s and Milk

Source: NFL Week 16 Retrospectacle: Making Sense of Topsy Turvy Fantasy Action

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Arizona Cardinals Defense (33.0)—Nine sacks, four turnovers and two touchdowns in a rout of Rodgers, of all quarterbacks. You cannot love this play on FanDuel against the Seattle Seahawks next Sunday, but wouldn’t most have thought the same thing against Rodgers?

QB Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars (31.22)—He still turns the ball over way too much for the Jags to be an elite contender or to be immune to the matchups, but you have to love the way he came through in the dream matchup against the New Orleans Saints defense. Bortles posted his sixth 300-yard game and his fifth game of three-plus touchdowns. We cannot recommend him against the Houston Texans defense in Week 17, but he is going to be a top-eight fantasy starter for 2016.

RB Tim Hightower, New Orleans Saints (30.4)—A long-time fantasy goner making countless fantasy owners champions, posting 169 combined yards with three receptions and two touchdowns. Who’da thunk this one? He’s even more surprising from August to December than Bortles. Hightower looks like a solid FanDuel play against the Atlanta Falcons run defense that has given up a league-high 19 rushing touchdowns.

RB DeAngelo Williams, Pittsburgh Steelers (30.3)—In an offense that is counted on for huge fantasy passing numbers, the ageless Williams continues to deliver for FanDuel owners even in losses and tough statistical matchups. The Baltimore Ravens had only given up five rushing touchdowns to fantasy backs before Williams posted two, 153 combined yards and six receptions Sunday. The Steelers need a victory and help, so D-Will will be a huge FanDuel play in NFL Week 17 against the Cleveland Browns, the NFL’s worst run defense.

WR Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons (28.3)—The mark of a true fantasy star—one worth his salt on the FanDuel price list and a first-round candidate in season-long formats—is being immune to the matchups. Mark Jones down in the category after he torched Josh Norman’s Carolina Panthers for 9-178-1. He is 243 yards from breaking Calvin Johnson’s single-season receiving yards record. Chalk that up as a distinct possibility with that Saints defense on tap.

QB Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (28.18)—He went from game-time decision to game-time fantasy monster. We don’t love him against the Falcons secondary next week, but clearly he is not done being an impact fantasy player, passing for 412 yards and three touchdowns in a shootout victory over Bortles’ Jags. You have to love great fantasy quarterbacks with bad defenses in favorable matchups.

WR Brandon Marshall, New York Jets (27.5)—Usually a move to the Jets turns fantasy wideouts into wastes. It has given Marshall the best season of his career with a career-high 13 touchdowns. His 8-115-2 from Sunday should have a solid encore next week against the Buffalo Bills.

WR Allen Hurns, Jacksonville Jaguars (26.6)—He turned out to be an outstanding pivot play in that Jags stack with Bortles and WR Allen Robinson, as we wrote Sunday morning the NFL Week 16 Tipsheet. Hurns’ 8-106-2 put him over the fantasy receiver holy grail of 60-1,000-10.

WR Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars (24.1)—Many were all over the Robinson breakout this season, but no one could have imagined this. He went 6-151-1 and moved into the elite with his 75-1,292-14 season totals. The Jags have an exciting set of Year 3 fantasy picks for 2016.

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets (23.14)—The Jets QB-WR stack has made FanDuel players a lot of prize money this season, something that won’t be forgotten in a must-win game against the New England Patriots. Fitzpatrick posted 296-3 and has averaged just a cut below that the past five games. Marshall and WR Eric Decker have helped Fitz to a career year, and a clear-cut starting role for 2016.

K Blair Walsh, Minnesota Vikings (23.0)—We have always loved a fantasy kicker backed by a great running game to get the ball into scoring position and a quarterback who struggles to stick the ball into the end zone. The Vikings with RB Adrian Peterson and QB Teddy Bridgewater are precisely that.

Houston Texas Defense (22.0)—This unit is rolling and is just a home victory over the Jags away from the AFC South title, something few could have expected this summer. Like the Cards above, it is not the most favorable of final matchups for the Texans, but they are the hot hands on FanDuel.

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QB Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (5.8)—Just 215 yards, two interceptions and no passing touchdowns is not what we’re used to seeing from Big Ben. This was a Baltimore Ravens defense that came into the game with a league-worst four interceptions all season and just one since Week 3. D’oh!

WR Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh Steelers (1.5)—His appearance here goes down as a first in his Year 2 breakthrough. He hadn’t had a week this bad: Just one catch for six yards. The good news is we should jump back on the Big Ben stack against the Browns in Week 17.

WR Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers (3.2)WR Jordy Nelson’s (knee) loss for the season was supposed to be a catalyst for Cobb’s best season of his career. Instead of bringing him fantasy production, it brought him extra attention and frequently to our bums list. You cannot play him against the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday.

TE Richard Rodgers, Green Packers (0.7)—Did he make a deal with the devil before that Week 13 Hail Mary touchdown? In the three games since, he has caught just three passes for 12 yards. Thwadt!

TE Ben Watson, New Orleans Saints (1.0)—Now, this one just isn’t fair. We get the matchup right against the Jags because Brees goes off for 400-plus yards and three touchdowns; yet, Watson manages just one catch for five yards. That’s not just elementary, Watson. You simply stunk.

K Jason Myers, Jacksonville Jaguars (1.0)—His team scores 27 points in a shootout and all he can muster is one measly PAT. Fantasy football fate is just so unforgiving.

CoachingHotSeat3. TRYING TO PREDICT ‘BLACK MONDAY’:

In one week, the complexion of numerous NFL coaching staffs will change following the annual round of “Black Monday” firings. Besides affecting the lives of the coaches and their families, these decisions dramatically alter the NFL landscape, setting up some teams for future success while crippling others.

However, just as important as the firings are the teams that instead choose to retain their current coach. For one reason or another, some good coaches struggle to obtain success early. In those instances, patience from the front office and ownership can lead to reward later on. The past decade certainly would have played out much differently had the Giants parted ways with Tom Coughlin before 2007 or 2011, as they reportedly considered.

Let’s take a look at the current landscape via Magic 8 Ball-like predictions……(continue reading)

Source: A look at which NFL coaches will be fired next week.

DesmondCespedes4. MLB HOT STOVE UPDATE: BUYER BEWARE

For those among us who yearn for baseball season and all the happiness that comes with it, good news: We are closer to the first day of pitchers and catchers reporting (54 days until Feb. 19) than we are the last day of the World Series (56 days since the Royals beat the Mets).

The not-so-good news for a bunch of players out there is that they are about to start a new year without new jobs. That’s normal, of course, with free agency’s biggest names (the David Prices and Zack Greinkes and Ben Zobrists of the world) highlighting November and December and the next tier (the Justin Uptons and Alex Gordons) seeing action any day now.

So with a couple of dozen quality, established big league free agents still to be had, a reminder: They come with tremendous risk, and some more than others. Here’s a bit of a closer look at a handful of those seemingly brand-name free agents and why they might not be as attractive as one might assume, in the hopes of explaining why the market isn’t moving very fast.

Source: Some MLB free agents are riskier than others.

5. Ultimate Value Lineup – Week 16

All we want to do is provide you valuable information at a great price.  We’ve already helped hundreds of people learn how to make some extra lettuce playing fantasy sports; so let us Teach You How to #win!

Giving you the Perfect Lineup is easy and we tweet it, post it on Facebook and create an entire post about our RESULTS, so……What about if you had the greatest value lineup of all time?  A Lineup that every player chosen had low ownership, way less, and never cost you more than $6k – well my friends this is the Ultimate Value Lineup – culled directly from the numbers and our reports – look for us on twitter when we post the less than 12% lineup and follow along with the value-madness!!!

draftkings

wk16_DK_LT10%_UltimateVL

 

What You Need To Know For Wednesday, Dec. 16 2015

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1.

Degenerate Pete

Speculating is a vice, millions are hooked and many will suffer grievously before this holiday season is over, because of their desires of the heart – not the head. The traditional “Christmas spirit” runs completely against the grain of the natural laws of Speculating, which have nothing to do with silly human weaknesses like Generosity or Kindness or Carelessness.

If Santa Claus had a speculating habit, he would have been dead a long time ago. There are a lot of Criminal Psychos between here & the North Pole, and they would show no mercy on a goofy old man who gets loaded one night a year and drives around through strange neighborhoods with a truckload of jewelry & furs & gold Rolexes. What if ISIS got their hands on him? They would set him on fire & stuff him head-first down a smoking chimney.

Which is not much different from how Professional speculators treat their victims at Xmas time, which also happens to be the end of the football season & the start of Playoff frenzy that will build & grow & throb like a Shark’s heart for 33 more days until Super Bowl Sunday.

Just like Pete the Penultimate.  He was denied again reinstatement by Commish Manfred.  As Ed Graney notes in his article for the Las Vegas Review-Journal: After MLB’s latest hypocritical ruling, Pete Rose doesn’t get it.”

Pete is a shady, classless, swarmy, dirty, clueless, unpenatent-hit king.  The debate may never be over, because however you may moralize the crimes of Clueless Pete – you will see on your tour of the museum of baseball, that he is only one of many deplorable characters that played the game.  For Pete, just shut up, tell your lawyers to shut up, stop making money on autographs and other mementos in Cooperstown, and be the ambassador you think you actually are, and never show – be more than about Pete Rose – if you can.  Kneel before the Gods of Baseball and beg forgiveness and walk the valley as the shepherd – then maybe….until then you might just have to be satisfied as the second best baseball player in hell, because Ty Cobb leads that team.

2.

Tell the Truth

As Danny Kanell avenges the war on football, Bob Costas believes football’s biggest problem can not be fixed.  Is Football headed to a Running Man scenario where football players are fielded by inmates and the shouts from the Colosseum grow louder for the lions?  Everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.  Who will deny the public what it wants?!

read more here:

3.

Missouri Compromise

It’s usually adorable when politicians try to venture into college sports. Combine grandstanding with a distinct lack of understanding of the system upon which an elected official is attempting to impose rules, and you have a recipe for comedy. Today’s example comes from Missouri state representative Rick Brattin, who has introduced a bill that would revoke the scholarships of athletes who refuse to play for any reason other than injury.

This is obviously a response to the Missouri football team’s threat in November to sit out a game against BYU. That move by the players turned a local story into a national one and basically got Missouri’s system president and chancellor fired. And while there is a robust argument to be had about whether that was the appropriate result, this isn’t the site for that. Today, as the Internet commenters always command, we’ll stick to sports.

Source: Analyzing the dumbest piece of college athletics legislation imaginable

4.

Way to Early Heisman Race 2016

NEW YORK—As Derrick Henry walked out of the Heisman Trophy winners’ press conference Saturday night, the next item on his to-do list was to text his grandmother Gladys. The woman who gave Henry his nickname (Shocka) couldn’t make it to the Big Apple to celebrate with the Alabama junior tailback. She was in a Florida hospital, but that hospital hosted one heck of a party.

Meanwhile, Stanford do-everything back Christian McCaffrey and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson left the ceremony already planning a return visit. They’re sophomores, and it’s quite possible they’ll be back here next year. It’s also quite possible one of them will hoist the trophy. But don’t just picture those two with the Heisman. Take a look at the top eight vote-getters from this season.

1. Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama (1,832 points)
2. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford (1,539)
3. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson (1,165)
4. Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma (334)
5. Keenan Reynolds, QB, Navy (180)
6. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU (110)
7. Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State (79)
8. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State (57)

Besides McCaffrey and Watson, Mayfield, Fournette and Cook will return next year. So will Oregon tailback Royce Freeman, who led the Pac-12 in rushing (1,706 yards). So will Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, who looked like a Heisman candidate as a redshirt freshman and should own the Buckeyes’ starting job free and clear as a redshirt junior. So will UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen, who looked like a budding superstar in his first few college games and should enjoy the fruits of a year-one-to-year-two improvement.

Source: Early look at 2016 Heisman race: Who follows Derrick Henry?

5.

Out of Chaos Comes Order

Every season, hundreds of college football teams line up for a three-month, 12-game haul in the hopes of gaining a spot in the College Football Playoff.

This year, it was an easy selection. Clemson, Alabama, Michigan State, and Oklahoma were the right picks. It was a relatively easy night for Jeff Long and his committee.

However, looking back at the regular season, six critical plays were needed to make this year’s selection such a simple one. Had these plays not happened, controversy would’ve reigned supreme over the college football world.

Here are the six plays that defined the 2015 college football season.

Source: Sports Central / Sports Articles and Columns / College Football / Six Plays that Defined the 2015 Season

Kane's point streak ends at 26, Avs blank Blackhawks

6.

You Play to #Win the Game

”We didn’t focus on (Kane’s streak), we focused on winning the hockey game,” Colorado coach Patrick Roy said. ”I thought we did a good job offensively, defensively. in the neutral zone.

”I liked our game tonight, and our goalie was really solid in key moments in the game.”

Source: Kane’s point streak ends at 26, Avs blank Blackhawks