Each week, Ricky Valero will unleash his 5-pack of fantasy sleepers for the upcoming week. These players are going to make for great value plays while you construct your weekly DFS lineups.
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Jay Cutler: As bad a season as the Bears have had, Jay Cutler has actually been a top-ten fantasy option thus far. He has passed for 2+ touchdowns in 7 games and has actually has accounted for all but 3 of the Chicago’s offensive touchdowns. This week, the Bears have a home game against the Bucs who have allowed every quarterback they’ve faced to throw for 200+ yards and 5 to throw for 300+ yards. Another plus for Cutler is that his defense is absolutely terrible so there will never be a lack of opportunity to sling the ball around.
Joe Flacco: The Ravens are come out of their bye with a trip to New Orleans. Every quarterback that has traveled to New Orleans has thrown for at least 200 yards. The quarterbacks who have done this are Mike Glennon, Colin Kaepernick, Andy Dalton, Teddy Bridgewater and Aaron Rodgers. The only top-tier quarterback in this group, Rodgers, torched the Saints for 425 yards and 3 touchdowns. Expect the Saints and Ravens to have a good ol’ fashion shootout.
LeSean McCoy: The Titans have now allowed teams to rush for 220, 204, 200, 174 and 153 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. With McCoy having 20+ carries in 7 games this year, I see no reason why he can’t slice and dice the Titan’s for a big day.
Shane Vereen: Detroit has allowed 100 yards on the ground only once and only 4 rushing touchdowns all year. All terrible numbers for a running back, right? Good thing Shane Vereen does most of his damage in the passing game. The Lions are allowing 50 receiving yards per game to opposing running backs on average. In the 5 games when Vereen received 12 or more touches this year, he averages 85 yards and has 40 total touchdown. Look for Vereen to be the featured back in New England’s offense this week.
Denard Robinson: Since he has been named the starter, Robinson is averaging 97 yards on the ground and a touchdown per game. His opponent this week, the Colts, are coming off a game where they allowed a 200-yard rusher. Expect the Jags to take advantage of the Colts’ bottom-5 run defense that is allowing 4.6 yards a carry and 1+ touchdown a game.
Steve Smith: This game has all the makings for Steve Smith to show he still has something left in the tank. He is coming off a bye and 4 sub-par games. I don’t think Keenan Lewis will shadow Smith, which will greatly benefit him. The Saints have surrendered an average of 186 yards to receiving corps and a whopping 12.8 yards per catch. If Flacco has a big game, as I suspect he will, then Smith will too.
Roddy White: Wide receiver is a very quarterback dependent position. This week, the Falcons are at home, which bods well for White. Matt Ryan has thrown for 10 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in the Georgia Dome compared to 7 touchdowns and 6 interceptions on the road. Surprisingly, White has been very consistent over the last 4 games totaling 3 touchdowns and 312 yards. Expect Matty Ice to look Roddy’s way often with Julio Jones having Joe Hayden stuck to his hip all day.
Kenny Stills: With Brandin Cooks going on IR, opportunity has come a knockin on Stills’ door. Before Cooks got hurt, Stills was averaging 4 catches a game for 58 yards. Now that Stills has been thrust into the number 2 receiver position, he should be an even bigger contributor to the Saints pass-heavy offense. The Raven’s pass defense has been average this year and will have their hands full with Jimmy Graham, opening up some 1 on 1 opportunities for Kenny.
Larry Donnell: In his first meeting with Dallas, Donnell hauled in 7 balls for 90 yards. Look for an even better game against a Cowboy defense who has allowed 8 touchdowns and 4-100 yard games to tight ends this year.
Colts D/ST: Every defense that has gone against the Jagsuars has recorded at least an 8-point fantasy performance. Last time the Colts played the Jacksonville they put up great defensive numbers, recording 2 interceptions, 1 fumble, 4 sacks and a touchdown. Don’t be surprised if you see a repeat performance out of a reeling Colt defense.
Matthew Stafford: On the year, Stafford has 15 total touchdowns and 9 interceptions for an average of 12 to 16 fantasy points per game (depending on your settings). He has been consistently average, having only 2-300 yard games. He’s also yet to throw for more than 2 scores in a single game. I see the Patriots putting a beatdown on the Lions, so Stafford could get lucky with some garbage time points, but I wouldn’t count on it.
Mark Ingram: The Ravens are the league’s number-1 fantasy run defense, but they have the 26th ranked pass defense. I see Brees and Payton putting together a game plan that exploits the Raven’s weakness rather than trying to score against a defense that has only surrendered 3 rushing scores. With the Saints’ pass defense being just one spot behind Baltimore’s, I think we will be in for a Monday night shootout.
Golden Tate: With a healthy Calvin Johnson opposite of him in week 11, Tate only had 2 targets. This week, the Lions will head into New England to face the Patriots’ number-4 pass defense. Last week the Pats’ secondary decided to double-team the dynamic T.Y. Hilton while Darrelle Revis blanketed Reggie Wayne. I expect we will see the bigger Brandon Browner shadowing Johnson with safety help while Revis follows Tate around like a lost puppy. Belichick is known for making offenses beat him with their secondary weapons, which in the Lions’ case, is their run game.
DeAndre Hopkins: Lets not overreact to Ryan Mallet’s performance last week. Mallet is still an unproven, inexperienced quarterback. The Texans have a tough passing matchup against the Bengals’ 6th ranked pass defense in week 12. With a healthy Arian Foster and an emerging Alfred Blue, expect the Texans to try and pound the ball on the ground, which will limit Hopkins’ opportunities. Cincinnati has also only allowed 6 touchdowns to receivers and over 200 yards once all year.
Antonio Gates: Gates has been the definition of boom or bust this year. He has not gone over 61 yards since week 2 and has 3 or less receptions in 6 games. St. Louis has given up only 2 touchdowns to tight ends all year and hasn’t allowed any of them to break 70 yards. This week will be tough sledding for Gates and the struggling San Diego offense.
Jacob Tamme: If Julius Thomas misses any time Tamme will be the one to fill his place, but those of you who are expecting a Thomas-like performance out of him will be disappointed. In his last 2 games, Tamme has received 15 targets and has only been able to turn 5 of them into catches. Tamme’s workload will definitely increase, but his production won’t. The Dolphins haven’t let a tight end touch pay dirt in any of their last 5 games.
Lions D/ST: New England’s’ offense is red hot right now, which makes the Lions a very risky play. In their last 3 games the Pats have scored 136 points and are averaging 36 points a game at home on the year. I would hold onto the Lions for some upcoming matchups, but it would be wise to stream a defense this week so you don’t cost your team points.
Phil Taylor (CLE DL): Taylor has been placed on IR and is out for the year. He is safe to drop in DT-required leagues.
Ian Williams (SF DL): Williams has been placed on IR with a broken leg. Taking his place will be Glenn Dorsey, who has been activated from the PUP list after injuring his bicep in training camp. Dorsey is a nice speculative add in DT required leagues.
Chandler Jones (NE DL): Jones has been out for five weeks now. The original estimate was 4-6 weeks, so his return may be nearing. There’s nothing to do right now until there is new information. This is New England, so we may not get anything new. Hold tight for now.
Karlos Dansby (CLE LB): Dansby sprained his knee and is likely out about a month. This will be a blow to the Browns defense, but look to Christian Kirksey to get a boost in value.
Jabaal Sheard (CLE LB): Sheard was originally thought to have a serious foot injury that could require surgery. After further review, it looks a lot better than that and he may only miss a week or two.
Ahmad Brooks (SF LB): Brooks had his feelings injured since the coaching staff wasn’t using him as he thought they should. Because of his bruised pride (which can be debilitating) he missed the second half (self-imposed) when he took off his cleats and pouted on the sideline.
Trent Murphy (WAS LB): Murphy injured his knee and may have a slight tear of the PCL. It looks like he will try and play through it but he isn’t a tremendous talent so he is probably safe to drop.
NaVorro Bowman (SF LB): Bowman appears to have been cleared to return to practice. I wouldn’t hold out too much hope of an impact for your fantasy squad this year. Let someone else use the roster spot.
Keenan Lewis (NO DB): Lewis played last week but totaled only 11 snaps. He wasn’t himself and it showed. I would keep him on the bench a couple weeks until he is fully healthy. This probably hurts the NFL Saints more than any fantasy squads.
Jason Verrett (SD DB): Verrett sees his rookie season end with shoulder surgery. He was impressive early and is someone to look at for next year in leagues that require the use of a corner.
Leodis McKelvin (BUF DB): McKelvin broke his ankle and was placed on IR. He was good this year and should recover from the injury in time for the 2015 season.
Who to use (or not):
Clinton McDonald (TB DL): McDonald has been solid as an under the radar defensive tackle this year. If you are in a DT-required league, he is worth the pickup as he has continued his strong play all season. Obviously it helps when Gerald McCoy is getting all the attention, but putting up 3 sacks, 25 solos and an interception is solid regardless.
Mario Williams (BUF DL): Williams is coming off a huge 3.5 sack game last week and gets the Jets in week 12. The chances of another sack and continuing his string of at least a half sack in 7 straight games should continue. There’s only been one game this season where he didn’t put up at least a partial sack and in that game he had 4 solo tackles. Consistency is what we have here.
Rob Ninkovich (NE DL): Some leagues may have Ninkovich as a linebacker and some as a defensive end. Either way, I expect him to put some pressure on Stafford this week and pick up a sack.
Robert Quinn (STL DL): You are probably thinking, of course I should play Quinn, but I am saying he gets at least 2 sacks this week against a hobbled Philip Rivers.
Aldon Smith (SF LB): Last week I cautioned about using Smith in his first game back. It turned out to be a good suggestion as he put up goose eggs. Although, he was putting pressure on the quarterback and I expect him to get one or two sacks this week against RG3. Get him in your lineup.
Jamie Collins & Dont’eHightower (NE LB): I expect big things from the Patriot defense this week against the Lions. Both of these guys should be in your lineups.
Justin Houston (KC LB): The NFL’s sack leader hasn’t had a sack in two weeks. Surprisingly, the Raiders haven’t given up a ton of sacks this year (probably because their defense can’t get off the field) but I have a feeling Houston is going to beast in this game. His sacks come in bunches and I see 2+ on the horizon.
Reshad Jones (MIA DB): Jones will get a lot of opportunities going against the Broncos this week. He will be up to the task and should be fantasy gold in week 12.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (GB DB): Ha Ha has put up a solid floor due to high tackle numbers. He is locked into playing every down and I have a hunch he gets his first pick since week 3. He put up 5 solo tackles in his last game against the Vikings. He should do that again this week.
Michael Griffin (TEN DB): Griffin gets the safety dream matchup against the Eagles; big game coming.
We the fantasy hockey players have a thing called sin bin love. Pugilists are people too and some of them can actually play the game of hockey! Most, if not all, fantasy hockey leagues include penalty minutes to some degree. I’ve played in various league formats with regards to PIM’s, and they are a valuable part of any team’s success. Drafting a player who can pot 15-20 goals and register 100 or so penalty minutes is fantasy gold. In the 2013-14 season, of the 32 players with 100 penalty minutes, there were only three who scored 20 or more goals. Those players were David Backes, Wayne Simmonds and Scott Hartnell. So you drafted your team, and now you realize you need some heavy sandpaper to compliment your turtleneck wearing softies (here’s looking at you, Tomas Plekanec). Backes was drafted on average in Yahoo! Leagues at 50, Simmonds at 59, and Hartnell at 92. Now what? Let’s take a look at two players who could very well still be available in your league, and will certainly help you with your “sin bin love”:
Antoine Roussel, Dallas Stars: Roussel was third in the NHL last season with 209 PIM’s. Conversely, he chipped in offensively with 29 points. At present, Roussel is owned in just 24% of Y! leagues. He is on pace to not only best his PIM’s from last year, but with 5 goals and 5 assists, he’s looking at rarified air for fighters: 40 points! Watching some Dallas games this year, Roussel has seen some power play time (he currently has 2 assists on the man advantage), making him even more valuable. If you’ve got the room, add him now. If that’s not enough, here’s a scrap from Sunday, where Roussel and Chicago’s Andrew Shaw go at it. This may in fact be the scrap of the year so far.
Steve Downie, Pittsburgh Penguins: Downie is no stranger to this category, as we’ve seen flashes of fantasy brilliance from him for a few years with different teams. There are two factors that make him more valuable this year with his new team. First, the Pens have never really had a player like Downie, who can both protect the team’s stars and contribute offensively (Matt Cooke doesn’t count). The second biggest factor is Pittsburgh’s new assistant coach, Rick Tocchet (a fighting legend in his time). Tocchet was with a young Downie in Tampa Bay, and the two have a great connection. So what does this mean for fantasy owners? Tocchet is responsible for running the Penguins power play and Downie is averaging 1:35 minutes per game on the man advantage. Downie is presently the NHL’s leader in PIM’s with 60, and with 9 points in 17 games, he is on pace for 42 points and 288 minutes. Currently only owned in 29% of Y! Leagues, he makes for an even better add than Roussel. Grab him, quickly! Here’s a recent Downie fight. Would why anyone ever want this out of hockey?
Just for fun, I did a statistical breakdown of what my all-time favorite fighter Bob Probert’s 1987-88 season would have looked like from a fantasy perspective. Awesome is the only word to describe it!
74 GP, 29 goals, 33 assists, 15 power play goals, +16 and 398 PIM’s!
Using standard points league settings, he would have scored a ridiculous 306.5 points. He would have outscored Sidney Crosby (2013) by 148 fantasy points!
It’s hard to admit mistakes. I was confused when Oakland traded Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox for Jon Lester during last season’s trade deadline since it took their best right-handed power bat out of the lineup. Having great pitching in the post-season can be a weapon but if you do not get past the play-in game it does not matter. Cespedes is under contract through the end of 2015 for nine million dollars. Presently, Jon Lester is a free agent who has no intention of staying in Oakland.
Enter Billy Butler, a free agent after Kansas City’s great run to the World Series. Those same Royals had Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas start games in the Fall Classic, which sort of underscores the theme above about Lester. It is clear that Oakland miscalculated in their attempt to win the title. In an effort to provide more balance to their lineup, they have reportedly signed Billy Butler to a three-year, thirty million dollar contract. Butler is a year younger than Cespedes, though it may not feel that way. I was surprised to find out that Butler was only 28 years young. I think this signing may speak to clubhouse presence more than ability since there are already reports surfacing about Cespedes wearing out his welcome in Boston. As for Butler, is he a good fit in Oakland?
For an organization that has prided itself upon being ahead of the analytics game, this signing is a bit of a head scratcher. This is especially strange since Butler is coming off the worst season of his career. There are some disturbing trends over the last three years with Butler as well:
Each stat will be listed in order to reflect 2012, 2013, 2014
I cannot just throw a bunch of numbers at you without investigating their effects. Starting with ISO, this can be a tough statistic since many power hitters bat for low average, making their slugging minus average number appear larger. Butler has reversed the trend as he hit for his highest ISO during the 2012 season which coincided with his highest batting average. That is rare but can be seen in his HR/FB% drop which hit an all-time low in 2014. In fact, he swung at and missed more pitches but the result in his approach was fewer home runs, marking the first time since 2007 that he hit fewer than 10. Can this trend be reversed?
First I looked at his home run tracker stats from the same three seasons, focusing on his average standard distance for home runs and speed off the bat. The results were very interesting. Starting with how many home runs he hit and then the stats will follow:
Billy Butler Home Runs: 2012 – 29, 2013 – 15, 2014 – 9
Average Standard Distance: 2012 – 402.2 feet, 2013 – 394.5 feet, 2014 – 411.7 feet
Average Speed off the Bat: 2012 – 104.3 MPH, 2013 – 101.7 MPH, 2014 – 106.9 MPH
So here is the confusing part, Butler actually hit the ball further, on average, and faster in 2014 on his homers than in the two previous seasons. However, his line drive, ground ball and fly ball ratios have no crazy variances to explain what happened. I used Butler’s 2013 season and did an overlay to Oakland’s ball park to see how much of an effect the move may have on his power:
When he pulls the ball with power, he will have no problem. Butler would lose one in this chart to right center, but a fresh start may be what he needs. A look at his zone profile from last year suggests he was hitting the ball very well in the strike zone, especially on pitches that were middle in:
Butler can hit the ball to all fields and could bounce back this year. I would have to assume that even though Oakland loves to play matchups that Butler will be their full time designated hitter while seeing spot starts at first base. His career numbers do not suggest he needs a platoon split against left-handed pitching, so this provides Oakland with flexibility:
Billy Butler vs. LHP: .314/.393/.519 Billy Butler vs. RHP: .288/.347/.424
Yes there is a drop in slugging percentage, but he is more than capable of playing every day as either the designated hitter or first baseman for the Athletics. In fact, Oakland is depending on it. This move could be a stroke of genius, getting a professional hitter and good clubhouse guy to benefit the lineup or it will end badly as they overpaid for a designated hitter at a time when cheaper options are available. As for my fantasy thoughts, I say he can hit .290 in Oakland and bounce back to his 15 home run days, but let someone else chase his 2012 season. Solid, but not spectacular. Just like a country breakfast.
The Saint Louis Rams have beaten the Seahawks, 49ers and the Broncos. Jonas Gray had 199 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns on Sunday night. A guy named Bell on the Steelers followed that up the next evening with 203 rushing yards of his own. Odell Beckham showed us that he belongs in a circus with his amazing catches. Finally, the Arizona Cardinals continue to shock the world as they moved to 9-1 with their starting quarterback sitting on the bench. All these things happened in one weekend in the NFL. “Any Given Sunday” has never been more apparent in the NFL as it has this year and as we move to week 12, we have more story lines to follow. Will Josh Gordon help fantasy owners who have held on to him all year? Will Oakland ever win a game? These are a couple of the many questions that we have as we move to week 12, but there is one question we can answer right now.
Who are we going to stream for a defense this week!
Last Week’s Results:
In week 11 we decided to take a chance on teams that were coming off the bye. All three had favorable matchups and extra rest to prepare them for their opponent. The San Diego Chargers gave us double-digit fantasy points in by only allowing 6 points to the Oakland Raiders. They also got to David Carr twice. This week they face a Rams squad coming off a huge win but that should fall right back down to earth. I’m looking for a huge week out of the Chargers defense. The Houston Texans also provided good value if you streamed them off their bye. Allowing the Browns only 7 points and sacking Hoyer twice, the Texans gave owners 8 fantasy points in a crucial week before the regular season dwindles down. The huge disappointment of the week was my hometown Minnesota Vikings. While they did pick off Jay Cutler twice, they also allowed the Bears to score 21 points and didn’t record any sacks after recording 30 in the 4 weeks prior. Now they face a Green Bay Packer team that looks like one of the best in the NFL. The Vikings defense will take a rest on the waiver wire this week before a couple of good matchups in the fantasy playoffs.
Week 12 Targets:
Kansas City Chiefs: While Kansas City has to travel to the West Coast to play this game on Thursday night, I love the matchup. I had to double take when I saw that the Chiefs were only 60% owned in ESPN leagues. They are the 10th best fantasy defense and have not recorded a negative point total all season. If they are not owned in your league, you should plug and play them in week 12. This is my favorite matchup of the week!
Indianapolis Colts: Many owners saw that the Colts were playing the Patriots last week and clicked drop. Currently, the Colts defense is only owned in 25% of leagues. Let’s look at this matchup schedule the rest of the year: Jacksonville, Washington, Cleveland, Houston, Dallas. While I love the Chiefs matchup for week 12, you also have to love the matchup for Indianapolis against the Jaguars. The Jaguars give up the most points to fantasy defenses. If you are in playoff contention and need a defense to lead you the rest of the way, the Colts are your squad. While I believe the Chiefs might do better this week, the Colts will do owners better throughout the rest of the year. Go and get them!
Philadelphia Eagles: This seems like a weird sentence to type. The number one fantasy defense is available in 35% of fantasy leagues. Yes, the Eagles have been a season-changer for owners lucky enough to have them. Last week they faced the Packers and they struggled like many thought they would. Now, the Eagles get the opportunity to face the Titans, Dallas (twice), Seattle and Washington from now until week 16. While the Seattle matchup will be dangerous, the Eagles have done well against good teams this year and will be able to help you out as the playoffs begin in a couple of weeks.
I feel confident in my week 12 selections. The fact that some of the top defenses are sitting on the waiver wire as we head to the playoffs is an opportunity for owners to take advantage of their opponents. Play the matchups wisely and you’ll be the one holding the trophy at the end of the year.
Josh Gordon is coming back this week and all your fantasy troubles are going away. Or at least that is what many of you are thinking as you have held on to him for 11 weeks. Let’s step back for a moment and see what Gordon has actually done in the NFL:
His numbers for 2013 put him at the top of the wide receiver leaderboard and he carried many a team to a title considering that he did all that in only 14 games due to a two game suspension. He was a beast and it didn’t matter who was throwing to him. The question you must ask yourself though is this: can he still put up top-5 numbers at his position over the remaining games?
Last season, Gordon was part of the vaunted Norv Turner system and the Browns did not have much of a running game. In 2013 the Browns averaged 42.6 passes per game, completing almost 24 of them for 253 yards per game. This happened while only rushing the ball 21.8 times per game. This year, Cleveland has taken a different approach. The 2014 version of this club is averaging 10 less passing attempts per game.
You may be able to talk yourself into the reason they are throwing less is because they don’t have Gordon and that is probably partially correct. However, I don’t see the Browns going pass heavy moving forward. They have three-headed running back by committee and I don’t think this changes much. It’s unlikely that Gordon suddenly changes their entire gameplan.
On the plus side, when Hoyer was throwing to Gordon in the two-plus games before he tore his ACL, Gordon averaged 7 receptions for 110 yds and had one touchdown on 28 targets. Thise are all very good numbers and I do think that Hoyer will look for Gordon and they will get him involved. I am just not counting on him putting up elite numbers for the rest of the season. I believe he will be a weekly starter and should put up top-20 numbers over the season’s final six weeks but let’s temper our expectations. He may not be the savior.
Here is the point where you can get crafty. How many of you have seen a highly touted Minor League baseball player that every expert says is a can’t miss prospect? Everyone in your baseball league covets this guy and they are willing to trade proven commodities so they can get the next shiny new toy. How many times have you seen the value skyrocket right as the shiny new toy gets called up to the show? Then he plays and you realize he will be a good baseball player but right now he isn’t worth that perceived value he had last week.
This is why I think this is a great opportunity to sell high on Josh Gordon. I know you have sat on him for 11 weeks and now I am telling you to trade him away. It’s bold for sure. This is primarily for a team that is on the playoff bubble and could use multiple pieces due to injury or bad luck. I wouldn’t take just anything but if you can prey on a team that is looking for that Hail Mary because their season hasn’t been great, maybe you can move Gordon for DeAndre Hopkins and Lamar Miller or straight across for an underperforming LeSean McCoy.
The bottom line is that Josh Gordon is a talent but he is somewhat unproven. He has had one great year in a good system, but his value will unlikely ever be higher. With fantasy trade deadlines fast approaching, trading him at peak value is definitely something to think about.
With the American League East being wide open as the 2015 season approaches, the Blue Jays have fired the first salvo, signing free agent catcher Russell Martin to a reported five-year eighty-two million dollar contract. This is important for a variety of reasons but since Dioner Navarro was not a complete offensive black hole, it points to the fact that the Blue Jays are looking to not only upgrade with Martin’s defense, but they covet his ability to frame pitches and command a pitching staff. One of the overlooked nuances in baseball is the ability of a catcher to not only call a game, but work with his pitching staff and steal strikes. According to BrooksBaseball.net, in 2013 alone Russell Martin was able to catch 155 extra strikes for his staff which resulted in saving 16.6 runs for the season. As it stands now, three of the five probable Blue Jay starters (Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman, Drew Hutchison) are presently 22,23 and 24 years old. I understand that the Blue Jays may sign a front-line pitcher or at least one more starter to give them more experience and depth, but a veteran presence like Martin will have an impact on the young core of starting pitching that money cannot measure.
This move only enhances Martin’s fantasy value, just make sure not to overreact. The “never pay for a career year” phrase comes into play here. Thanks, Matthew Berry. Will he be moving to a better hitting environment? Yes. Are there going to be more opportunities to drive in runs and pad his counting stats? Yes. But there is a blueprint here, as Russell Martin did spend two years in the Bronx, another notorious hitter’s ballpark. As a starting point, here are the averages from his Yankee years (I did the slash lines myself for a point of reference):
Russell Martin Average Year in NY: 129 G, 54 R, 19 HR, 59 RBI, 7 SB .224/.317/.405
To be honest, Martin did struggle a bit in New York with his BABIP, so I am willing to boost his average in Toronto due to maturity as a hitter, but the other numbers above may represent his ceiling in Toronto. This is fine. Remember, this contract is as much about defense as it is offense. How good was Martin last year you ask?
Russell Martin 2014: 113 G, 45 R, 11 HR, 67 RBI, 4 SB .290/.402/.430
For his career, Martin has a slash line of .259/.354/.399. I am willing to pay for that entering 2015. Last year, Martin was able to draw more walks and cut down on the strikeout but his totally unsustainable BABIP of .336 is not coming back. The upgrade by hitting in Toronto will definitely boost his homer totals since his average standard distance in 2014 was 305.9 feet with his average speed off the bat 107.2 MPH. That is higher than Jason Heyward’s, who was profiled earlier today. Here are his home runs from last year with Toronto’s Roger Centre as an overlay:
There have been so many fluctuations to Martin’s batting averages throughout the years. To further underscore how well he hit last year, look at his zone profile:
Russell Martin hit balls in the strike zone at an unconscionable rate that he will be hard-pressed to replicate in 2015. Offense may be secondary for him this season, as he inherits a young pitching staff and will be looked at as a stabilizing force in that arena. In his first seasons with the Yankees and Pirates he batted .237 and .226 respectively. While this is not a guarantee, to invest in anything near .290 is fool’s money. I am comfortable projecting numbers very close to his Yankee days, if not a bit better due to his maturity and approach. During his two seasons with the Yankees, Martin had HR/FB% rates of 15.9 in 2011 and 19.8 in 2012. Since his career HR/FB% is 11.5, I agree that this number will progress back toward his Yankee day which should result in a boost in his power numbers to 15-19 home runs. It will be interesting to see if this move will spike his numbers in ADP or if he can remain a solid buy later in drafts. Last year, Martin was the 15th catcher drafted at pick 260 but finished as the 6th catcher on ESPN’s Player Rater. I honestly see him moving up to a point where I may wait on him but if I can get him at a solid price, I’m buying.