Top DFS Plays for 08/23/14

*Top hitters and pitchers highlight exceptional matchups that may include stars, lesser-known players and those on your waiver wires.

When I put together my top hitters and pitchers I factor in several things. First, prior matchup history, whether the hitter is hot and the pitcher’s history against that type of batter. Also, these matchups are normally released in the morning so make sure that you double-check the weather leading up to games in case they were postponed or the player got the day off.

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Top DFS hitters for today:

Jose Bautista vs. Jeremy Hellickson – hitting .348 (8/23) with a 2B, a 3B, 3 HRs, 4 RBIs & 4 BBs
The perfect cure for Joey Bats slump.

Ian Desmond vs. Tim Lincecum – hitting .714 (10/14) with 2 2Bs, 2 HRs & 6 RBIs

Joe Mauer vs. Justin Verlander – hitting .371 (23/62) with 4 2Bs, 3 HRs, 9 RBIs & 12 BBs

 Justin Upton vs. Mike Leake – hitting .545 (6/11) with a 2B, a HR, a RBI & a BB
Upton is hot and should be in all lineups as we all know he is a streaky hitter

Garrett Jones vs. Jordan Lyles – hitting .563 (9/16) with 2 2Bs, 2 HRs, 9 RBIs & 2 BBs
Jones was 2/4 with a RBI in his last game against Lyles.

Ricky’s HR Guarantee: Joey Bats

Top DFS Pitcher for today:

Adam Wainwright vs. Philadelphia Phillies – In his last outing against the Phillies he went 8 innings, gave up only 1 run and struck out 7. Easiest decision you’ll make when setting the lineup today.

Movie of the Day: The Internship – This movie really got lost in the shuffle last summer. This is a really funny movie and Vaughn and Wilson together is money every time.

Follow me on Twitter @Rickygangster!


The Next Joique Bell?

Last season, Joique Bell came out of nowhere and was an absolute stud in PPR leagues. He finished 15th out of all RB, making him a high-end RB2. Considering he was drafted as the 53rd RB in PPR leagues last season, he was a difference maker. This year, as I stated in my 10 Bold Predictions piece (which you can read here), I believe Joique Bell will have a better year than the other multi-talented RB in Detroit, Reggie Bush. My goal in this article is to outline another player who could have a similar breakout to Bell’s 2013. Before I reveal his identity, let’s have a look at the similarities between the mystery player and Joique Bell.

  • He is the #2 tailback in a Scott Linehan-run offense.
  • He is an RB who has very good pass-catching abilities
  • He is playing behind an injury-prone starter
  • He is being drafted in the 50’s for RB (similar to Bell in 2013)

Who is it? Take a guess. No cheating!


Give up? The answer is Lance Dunbar. Like I pointed out above, Lance Dunbar is in a very similar situation this year as Bell was in last year. He is indeed the backup to DeMarco Murray, his offensive coordinator is Scott Linehan, and he has proven in his college and NFL career that he is a good pass-catching tailback. Last year, we saw Scott Linehan help Detroit become one of the best offensive teams in pro football. The Lions produced two top 15 options at running back as well.

As a three year starter at North Texas University, Dunbar made a name for himself in the Sun Belt Conference. He garnered over 5,000 all-purpose yards (including over 1,000 yards receiving), 49 combined TD, 97 catches (5.4 YPR) and 10.6 YPC. Dunbar has shown the ability to be a dual threat out of the backfield, albeit in limited touches.

Dunbar was held out of last week’s preseason opener because it has been rumored that his role will be larger this season and Dallas wanted to protect him from injury. Both Detroit running backs recorded more than 1,000 all-purpose yards in Scott Linehan’s system in 2013. While I don’t believe Murray and Dunbar will have that kind of split, I believe Dunbar could still manage 5 TD and 750 all-purpose yards. That would give him 180 points in PPR formats, which would make him a top 25 RB. That right there would be back-end RB2 points and could wind up doing even more if Murray goes down (which is completely possible considering his checkered injury history).

I don’t believe Joseph Randle will threaten Dunbar for touches in any meaningful way. He’s been unimpressive so far this preseason and didn’t do much to garner attention in 2013. Dunbar’s touches are in line to increase and given his skills, he should be one of the more ownable handcuffs entering the season. A breakout is possible, don’t forget him late in your draft or auction.

Statistical credit:,,
Photo cred:

Doug Moore is a fantasy football contributor at The Sports Script. Follow him on Twitter @DMM0822!

Going Crazy; Drafting A QB At #1 In Dynasty Rookie Draft

I have first pick in my dynasty league this year and I am thinking of doing something crazy. I am going to use that pick to take a quarterback.  Right now all of you dynasty players are thinking I am nuts. Most dynasty league rookie drafts have the first QB going around pick 15 and would never think of passing up on your RB or WR preference at the first overall pick.

Now this particular league has some quirks that increase QB value; you can read about the league setup here.

The league has 12 teams and we get to freeze 15 players every year This year a total of 27 quarterbacks were kept. Slim pickings in the draft, so in order to get a difference maker you have to take a chance on a rookie and hope he hits. So now are you starting to see why taking a QB at #1 overall isn’t such a farfetched idea?

Here is a list of the QB’s that led the last five league champions:

  • 2013 – Peyton Manning ($54)
  • 2012 – Tom Brady ($102)
  • 2011 – Drew Brees ($24)
  • 2010 – Drew Brees ($14)
  • 2009 – Drew Brees ($14)

You don’t see any mediocre guys on that list. As you can see having a marquee QB is essential to winning the title in this league. All the better if you can get one at a cheap salary so you can spend your cap space on studs elsewhere. The average price for the top five QB salaries is $56 out of a $250 cap. The salary of a first round pick is only $10. What a bargain if you can find the next stud.

So now the question becomes, which QB is the right one to take with this #1 overall pick? Obviously there are three choices:

  • Blake Bortles
  • Johnny Manziel
  • Teddy Bridgewater

Blake Bortles:

Bortles was the first QB drafted in the NFL draft. From all accounts he has the size (6 foot 5, 232 lbs) and tools to be a solid NFL quarterback.  He played at a smaller college and put up good stats:

  Passing Rushing
Season Team GP GS Att Comp Pct Yds TD INT Att Yds TD
2011 UCF 10 0 110 75 67.8 958 6 3 21 4 1
2012 UCF 14 14 399 251 62.9 3,059 25 7 87 285 8
2013 UCF 14 13 382 259 67.8 3,581 25 9 87 272 6
Totals 36 27 891 585 66.2 7,598 56 19 195 561 15

The knocks on him are that he didn’t play against top competition and when he did he struggled a bit. The offense they ran at UCF was also a quick-hitting one that didn’t require him to run through a progression. This can be worrisome at the pro-level.

Through two preseason games he has looked outstanding. He has gone through his progressions and made the proper reads and looks like he belongs in the NFL. He is passing the eye test but all of his work has come against 2nd and 3rd teamers so the hype should be tempered a bit. So far though (albeit in a small sample size) he looks like he belongs and with a two game total of 18-28, 277 yards (without throwing a pick or a TD) he has impressed.

The initial word out of Jaguars camp was that they were going to bring Bortles along slowly and start Chad Henne (who has also looked good thus far) so he can learn at the NFL level. Right now it appears he is ready and will probably get a shot at some point this season. The ceiling I see for Bortles is Roethlisberger. He is big and strong and can move well in the pocket. He can scramble when he needs to and has a strong enough arm to make all the throws, even while on the run.

Teddy Bridgewater:

Bridgewater was everyone’s first pick overall prior to the 2013 college season. He had received a lot of praise and was poised to be the first QB taken in the draft. Then the season and his pro-day happened and he fell in the draft. His career at Louisville was outstanding as you can see from his career stats:

  Passing Rushing
Season Team GP GS Att Comp Pct Yds TD INT Att Yds TD
2011 LOU 13 10 296 191 64.5 2,129 14 12 89 66 4
2012 LOU 13 12 419 287 68.5 3,718 27 8 74 26 1
2013 LOU 13 13 427 303 71.0 3,970 31 4 63 78 1
Totals 39 35 1,142 781 68.4 9,817 72 24 226 170 6

The major factor to his drop in the draft was a poor workout day where he was missing throws. However, the tape shows him make throws in games and he could very well end up being the best of this crop of QB’s due to his football intelligence and competitiveness. He landed in a great spot with Norv Turner molding him and getting him NFL ready. As a Viking fan I was extremely happy the they got Bridgewater as I see him as  a solid NFL QB that will make the right decisions and lead the team. I believe he will be a better NFL QB than fantasy QB. I think he has the highest floor but lowest ceiling of these three first round QB’s which generally doesn’t equate to a difference maker for your fantasy football team.

So far his NFL preseason results have been a mixed bag. His first game was average but the word out of camp is that he has struggled a bit with interceptions. This bit of adversity could be a blessing in disguise. It’s a good opportunity to see how much confidence he has and if he can turn things around. At the moment, Matt Cassel is in the driver’s seat for the starting job to begin the season but we all know what Cassel is about. This is Bridgewater’s job to take, now he just has to perform.

My comparison for Bridgewater is Russell Wilson. They are both very smart with the football can move in the pocket and make every throw while not having the cannon of an arm.

Johnny Manziel:

Johnny Football is the most polarizing player of these three.  People are either all in or all out.  There is no in between.  The detractors will point to him being undersized (6’-0”/210 lbs) and that he parties too much off the field.  His backers will say he is a fierce competitor and a winner on the field.  He is a mainstay of Sportscenter for all of his antics and off the field persona.  He is sensational in every aspect.  The question is whether or not that will translate on the field at the NFL level.

His college stats were the best of these three QB’s while he played against the toughest competition in the SEC:

  Passing Rushing
Season Team GP GS Att Comp Pct Yds TD INT Att Yds TD
2011 Manziel redshirted his freshman year and Texas A&M and did not play
2012 A&M 434 295 68.0 3,706 26 9 201 1410 21
2013 A&M 429 300 69.9 4,114 37 13 144 759 9
Totals 863 595 68.9 7820 63 12 345 2169 30

The biggest negatives on Manziel are his size and his dedication due to his off-field transgressions. His personality is not for the faint of heart and because people either love him or hate him there are a lot of people looking to bring him down with pictures or videos of his off the field exploits.

Make no mistake, when he is on the field he is electric. He can make people miss and extend plays. He has a strong enough arm to make all the throws. He is fearless and isn’t afraid of contact. There are some players that just suck you in when they are playing and he has this quality. You just have to see what happens – whether it’s good or bad – you have to watch.

Many have likened him to Brett Favre and I agree completely. I see a player that is a competitor willing his team to wins. I see him making electrifying scrambles to extend plays and incredible passes right on the money for game winning scores. I also see stupid forced throws into coverage for interceptions trying to make things happen. He will lose games and win games while running all over the field with an enthusiasm similar to Brett Favre.

My only concern is this competitiveness getting him in situations where he takes unnecessary hits and his body can’t withstand the punishment. If he learns to not take extra hits (like he did in the first preseason game with the slide after picking up a first down on a scramble) I believe he will reach his potential.

johnny_manziel_browns_jersey_switch_by_bucksfan5-d713ht3Who to take?

This is fantasy football. It’s supposed to be fun. Part of the fun is rooting and watching your players so that is a factor in this decision.  Another big factor is that I already have two quality QB so if this pick flops it won’t kill me but if it pans out I can trade one of those two expensive QB’s for other assets to help my team while I have a stud QB locked in at a low contract value.

For me, I am really choosing between Bridgewater and Johnny Football. I am removing Bortles from my decision because although he has the prototypical body and has shown well after two games in the NFL I just don’t think his upside is a difference maker. He has the potential to be a solid NFL quarterback and a 10-15th ranked fantasy QB; solid but obtainable almost every year.

So now do I go with the QB of the future of my favorite NFL team or the exciting Brett Favre clone to be?

I am a believer, I’m going Johnny Manziel. He’s exciting and dynamic. He could throw for 300+ yards or rush for 100 yards and 2 TD. He is a difference maker on the field.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a ton of risk that his off the field personality prohibits his on the field competitor from fulfilling his promise.  There is also a chance his body won’t be able to withstand the punishment his all-out style of play will take.

I choose to look to the positive. Fantasy football is a gamble. I am a gambler. I am all in on Johnny Football.

Photo cred:

Shane Gallimore is a fantasy football contributor for The Sports Script. Follow him on Twitter @Gally4!

Top DFS Plays for 08/22/14

*Top hitters and pitchers highlight exceptional matchups that may include stars, lesser-known players and those on your waiver wires.

When I put together my top hitters and pitchers I factor in several things. First, prior matchup history, whether the hitter is hot and the pitcher’s history against that type of batter. Also, these matchups are normally released in the morning so make sure that you double-check the weather leading up to games in case they were postponed or the player got the day off.

New to Daily Fantasy? Head over to and use Promo Code SCRIPT and get 100% match on your first deposit!

Top DFS hitters for today:

Mark Teixeria vs. John Danks – hitting .533 (8/15) with 2 2Bs, a HR, 5 RBIs & a BB

Jacoby Ellsbury vs. John Danks – hitting .429 (6/14) with a 2B & a RBI

Jayson Werth vs. Tim Hudson – hitting .366 (15/41) with 4 2Bs, 3 HRs, 11 RBIs & 5 BBs

David Ortiz vs. King Felix – hitting .324 (11/34) with a 2B, a HR, 6 RBIs & 6 BBs
Love this matchup

Freddie Freeman, Justin Upton & Chris Johnson vs. Mat Latos – All hitting above .400 against Latos as well as over .400 over the last week.

Ricky’s HR Guarantee: David Ortiz  

Top DFS Pitcher for today:

Robbie Ray vs. Minnesota Twins – In his only start against the Twins this season he went 6 innings, 4 hits, 0 runs and 2 Ks. The Twins aren’t much better than they were on 5/11 of this year and they might be worst. It’s not going to be the flashiest starts today but he will get the job done and afford you to put some big time hitters in the lineup today.

Drew Smyly vs. Toronto Blue Jays – Smyly has gone back to back games into the 7th inning as well as striking out 13 over the course of those two games. Toronto hasn’t been playing it’s best baseball and neither has the Rays but I really like Smyly and his value today.

TV Show of the Day – Modern Family – All the tops Fall Shows are just a few short weeks away from coming back and this is one of the my favorites to watch. I love catching the re-runs on the 80 millions channels they are on.

In The Crease: Varlamov Vs. Ben Bishop

In fantasy hockey, much like real life, goalies rule. Whether you do a points-based league or head to head category, having 2-3 superb goaltenders can be the difference between a league championship and a last place finish. Last season there were several surprises in between the pipes across the league, but two goalies, each on separate paths, rose to the top, and now the dilemma for the upcoming season begins: Semyon Varlamov or Ben Bishop?

While researching and crunching the numbers, I have come to the conclusion that it’s too darn close to call, but let’s delve into the stats a bit further, should you find yourself in this spot during draft day.

Tale of the tape:

Using the standard Yahoo! scoring system, both goalies were within nearly 22 points of one other. Not a significant difference, but there’s more to the stats than meets the eye:

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 1.16.58 PM
Those are the basic statistics. Once again, it’s a tight race between the enigmatic Russian (aren’t all Russian goalies enigmatic?), and the 6’ 8” former Maine Black Bear. Let’s compare!

Semyon Varlamov: As the undisputed starter in Colorado, Varlamov enjoyed by far his best statistical season in ’13-’14. If you watched the Avs on a consistent basis (a fun, speedy team), you’ll know that Varly’s Vezina Trophy runner-up and 4th place Hart Trophy finish were no fluke; he dominated more or less from start to finish (Olympics and Games 6 & 7 in the Cup Playoffs vs Minnesota notwithstanding). What you may/may not know is that, for Colorado to compete night in/night out, he had no choice.

While crunching the numbers, I utilized the latest in advanced statistic, the CORSI Rating. Named after longtime Buffalo Sabres’ goaltending coach Jim Corsi, it essentially breaks down a team’s 5 on 5 play with possession of the puck relative to offensive zone time. In 2013-’14, the Avalanche played at a CORSI rating of 47.4%, which was good for 25th in the NHL. What’s that mean for Varlamov? Lots of defensive zone time for the Avs, which leads to more scoring chances against, which then leads to more shots on goal. Lots more shots on goal!

Varlamov led all goaltenders with 2,013 shots faced, almost 200 more than the next tender (Kari Lehtonen). Varly was a busy, busy man, yet answered the bell with a .927 Saves %, ranking 3rd best in the league.

Ben BishopBen Bishop: The Denver, CO native enjoyed his breakout season in 2013-’14, as he finished 3rd in the Vezina Trophy voting, and set many franchise single-season records in the process. Bishop emerged as on the best netminders in the league, and showed just how valuable he was to the Lightning, as the team crumbled in the opening round of the playoffs when Bishop suffered a dislocated elbow. That injury coupled with offseason wrist surgery bears monitoring for the prudent fantasy owner.

The opposite of Varlamov, Bishop faced 1,758 shots (9th in the league), and was the benefactor of a much more sound defensive team in front of him. Tampa’s CORSI rating of 51.5% ranked 10th in the NHL, and with the offseason additions of Jason Garrison and Anton Stralman on defense in addition to a full season of Ryan Callahan’s strong two-way play, the Bolts’ team defense should be even stronger in 14-15. At 27, Bishop is truly entering his “prime” as a starting goalie.

Verdict: This is a tight, tight race, but I will give the slight edge to Bishop. Both goalies will be in the 2nd tier after Lundqvist, Quick, and Rask, but draft Bishop ahead of Varlamov; it seems a bit too unrealistic to expect Varlamov to repeat his 13-14 season and he does have a history of inconsistency. Having said all that, remember to monitor Bishop’s health going into camp.

Photo cred:

Derek Gibson is The Sports Script’s resident fantasy hockey guru. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @Extra_Attacker!

5 Burning Questions: Fantasy Wide Receivers

The fantasy football Season is upon us and our team here at The Sports Script wants to make sure you are completely prepared for your draft! Our football staff will be periodically releasing questions and answers to burning questions that the readers have at each position. Our talented team of writers  has you covered! Today we continue with our wide receivers installment.

5 questions about fantasy WR:

1. Which WR are 1st round worthy?

Gallimore: Calvin Johnson is a “no doubt about it” first round pick for me. After that, I wouldn’t have a problem with your choice of Demaryius Thomas or Dez Bryant towards the latter part of round 1 and depending on your thoughts of Jimmy Graham or Peyton I could see AJ Green or Brandon Marshall sneaking in as well in deeper leagues.

Moore: Megatron, Thomas, Bryant and Marshall. Those 4 receivers are as low-risk as they come. Megatron is Megatron, Thomas is Peyton’s #1 guy, Bryant is sleeper for #1 WR in PPR and in a very pass-friendly offense and Marshall is Cutler’s security blanket.

Hines: In the 1st round a majority of people look for that stud RB to help stabilize their team. I am in the minority in regards to this strategy. After the top RB are gone (and there aren’t many) I wouldn’t blame anyone for going after Calvin Johnson. In the 1st two rounds you are looking for consistency. You can’t tell me that Calvin isn’t more valuable than Doug Martin, who is currently going in front of Johnson in some mock drafts. Anywhere after pick 4 (AP, McCoy, Forte, Charles going in those top 4 we assume), I would be okay with someone taking Calvin. The only other non-RB I would take in the 1st round is someone we will talk about in a future column, stay tuned.

Valero: I am not fond of drafting a WR in the 1st round as I like my running backs. However, in the latter half of the 1st you strongly have to consider it. Calvin Johnson is a shoe-in for the 1st round and one could select A.J. Green near the end of the turn.

2. Which WR has the biggest sleeper appeal?

Gallimore: I look to Golden Tate (mid 30’s ranking) as a great candidate to move into the top 15 when all is said and done. He comes from a running heavy system to a pass happy one with a QB that will get him the ball. Megatron will dictate coverage and Tate will be the big benefactor.

Moore: Eric Decker. He is now in sole possession of being a #1 WR on a team that will want their young QB to throw. He could haul in 90 receptions. He could be a back-end WR1/top WR2 if he stays healthy. He will be force-fed the ball as he is the only WR on that team that has it all together.

Hines: Reuben Randle. Currently Randle goes after pick 100 in drafts and is someone that I am looking to have on my team this year. Last year Randle only started in three games but had 6 TD and 611 yards. Eli targets him in the red zone, and with Cruz being double covered, Randle should get a ton of looks. Randle isn’t going to be a top option by any means, but he has the potential to be a great flex play.

Valero: Hakeem Nicks. I think he is going to have a bigger impact than most people think. Nicks is a really good WR and is the type of player that will fit right in with Luck. I can see him ending the season as the Colts’ most valuable pass-catcher.

3. Who will be the biggest bust at the position?

Gallimore: I hate to say it because I have him in a dynasty league but Percy Harvin. He has never had a 1,000 yard season and his physical style of play leads to injuries every year. On a per game basis he is usually very good but over the course of the season he won’t warrant his top 20 price tag.

Moore: Pierre Garcon. No way he gets over 180 targets and 110 receptions again. Washington has a new HC who will implement a more balanced offense and rely less on the passing game. DeSean Jackson is in Washington now as well, and will definitely eat into targets. He could have 80-90 receptions, but that might even be too much. I see him as a high-end WR2 this year instead of a mid-tier WR1, which most people are drafting him as.

Hines: I love Keenan Allen! He came out in his rookie year and was an absolute stud for fantasy owners. Regardless of the relationship between he and Phillip Rivers, there are more mouths to feed in San Diego entering 2014. Based on ADP, Allen just will not provide the value that you will have to pay to get him.

Valero: A few names that come to mind are Keenan Allen, Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson. Randall Cobb represents the biggest bust value, I think he has all the talent in the world but dealt with injury a season ago and doesn’t warrant his draft position.

4. Mike Evans or Sammy Watkins?

Gallimore: I most likely won’t get either as they are going higher than I would spend but if I have to make a choice I go with…both. I know it’s cheating but I take Mike Evans for redrafts and Watkins in dynasty leagues. Each has value but I would go with Evans in the short term because I trust his QB a little bit more plus he has V-Jax taking away some attention.

Moore: Sammy Watkins. He’s a much more talented receiver. He may be over-drafted, but he will still have a better year than Evans. Evans is behind Vincent Jackson, who is the go-to guy in TB, while Watkins is clearly the #1 in Buffalo. He has been doing some amazing things in camp as well. Evans will be good no doubt, but Watkins will be better.

Hines: Josh McCown is the starting QB for the Bucs this year. Now, he isn’t the best option in the world, but under Marc Trestman and the new Bears offense, McCown had a great year filling in for Jay Cutler. Now the main man in Tampa, he has a new weapon in Mike Evans to throw to. Mike comes from Texas A&M where he was the guy you saw catching the balls that Manziel would just throw up for him to get. The kid is a play-maker, and although Watkins is a future stud, I think in 2014, Evans will is the one you want.

Valero: Their ADP are within a few spots of each other and honestly maybe a little too high for my taste but Mike Evans is going to win ROY this year, go ahead and book it. He may not kill it week to week but will have over 900 yards and 7 scores.

5. What’s the highest you would draft a WR?

Gallimore: I would look to take Calvin Johnson at pick 1.07. The top 4 RB (AP, Charles, McCoy, Forte) in some order, then I would also take Lacy and Jimmy Graham before pulling the trigger on a WR. I just think after those 6 players the next tier of RB has too much risk to pass on the consistency of Megatron.

Moore: 5th after AP, McCoy, Forte and Charles are gone (in no specific order). I’d rather have Megatron over Lacy personally. I can always spend the next two rounds on RB and have a little leeway with WR2. He has proven he can fight through injuries and will have Golden Tate to take some of the pressure off of him.

Hines: Again, going back to question #1, I am in the minority when it comes to this question but in standard leagues I think anywhere after 4 is fair game for a WR selection. That is assuming that AP, McCoy, Charles, and Forte are off the board. In PPR leagues I am in the same position. After those top guys, I would rather have Calvin than Lacy, Martin, or any of the other RB going in the first round. If I am 5th pick though, give me Calvin.

Valero: It depends on the draft, in PPR I would totally go around the 5th or 6th slot but in Standard leagues I would wait until probably the top half of round 2 in order to take one.

Make sure to follow Ricky, Jared, Shane and Doug on Twitter. The Sports Script is your one stop shop for fantasy football coverage in 2014.

Tom Brady; Top 5 Fantasy Option?

Many in the fantasy industry were willing to write Brady off after a disappointing 2013 campaign. Man crush bias aside, I disagree, even considering that last season was tough to stomach. There were many factors at play a year ago. Brady didn’t have his favorite target, Rob Gronkowski on the field until week 7. Gronk tore his ACL shortly after, ending his season and removing him from New England’s already shaky receiving core. Furthermore, Shane Vereen was in and out of the lineup, Brady had rookie wideouts dropping passes left and right and Danny Amendola had a very hard time staying on the field.

Even with all those issues, Brady still finished as the #13 QB via ESPN’s Player Rater system. As President of the Tom Brady fan club I’m here to tell you how Tom Brady will once again return to the top 5 at his position.

1. Gronk needs to stay on the field:

This is the most important factor. Gronk may be even more important the Patriots than Brady and that’s saying a lot. Brady is a different man when Gronkowski is healthy and on the field. Tom Terrific has 11 300+ yard performances with Gronk in the lineup and only 4 without him. Take a look:

Brady with Gronk (18 games): 5,047 passing yards (296 YPG), 64.2 CMP% and 36 TD
Brady without Gronk (14 games): 3,705 passing yards (264 YPG), 58.8 CMP% and 24 TD

The numbers don’t lie. The 6 foot 6 Gronkowski makes a world of difference, not only catching passes but opening up the perimeter of the field for the other receivers. Gronk had 10 20 yard catches in 2013, most on the team. The catch? He only played 6 games. Of course the biggest question with Gronk is whether or not he’ll be able to maintain health over the course of a full season. He has only played 18 games in two seasons and without him on the field, Brady just isn’t the same. I’m feeling lucky, I think it happens and the tandem will.

But I am in the positive thinking mood and expect us to get at least 16 (if he doesn’t miss week 1) of Gronk and that would further cement my Brady top 5 theory.

2. New England’s wide receivers need to you know, catch the ball

Julian Edelman really stepped up to the plate last season and had a year no one really expected. He caught 105 passes for 1,056 yards and 6 TD, which included 9 games of 7 or more receptions. He was a PPR machine and filled the role of Wes Welker quite well, the same role that Danny Amendola was signed on to do, yet failed to complete.

Speaking of Amendola, we all know he has all the tools to be a solid fit in this offense. He finished 2nd on the team with 54 catches even while he missed 4 games. He looks to be healthy heading into the season, and will be an important part of the offense. I remain optimistic that we see more out of the former Ram in 2014.

The Patriots also employ young pass-catchers Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins, who at various points in the season had a real impact in the offense. All signs point to Dobson being healthy after coming out of a boot and practicing, but it’s something to monitor. If healthy, he could be the deep threat that Brady has lacked over the last several seasons. The growth that both of these receivers show will be interesting to watch. Although Thompkins had his ups last season, he dropped a lot of passes and his role remains in flux given the off-season signing of Brandon Lafell.

Lafell has reportedly picked up the Patriots offense quickly. That is a positive sign, given how the coaching staff in New England handles their players. He may not be a big time fantasy contributor unless there are injuries or performance issues amongst some of the other players, however, he could see his fair share of red zone looks.

3.  The Running Game

LeGarrette Blount made a huge impact on this team in the 2nd half of the season and was vital in helping pick up the passing game. With Blount now smoking blunts in Pittsburgh, the Pats are left with a myriad of questions at running back. Stevan Ridley can’t hold on to the football, Shane Vereen has had trouble staying healthy and James White, albeit with tons of hype attached is a rookie playing in a complex offense.

Let’s start with Ridley, he has all the talent in the world but found himself in the doghouse too often as he just doesn’t know how to hang onto the football. He is a power back and should see a lot of carries this season but any more fumbles and we could see him buried somewhere inside Gillette Stadium.

When healthy, Shane Vereen provides a much needed pass-catching presence out of the backfield for Brady. He finished 3rd in receptions on the team and only played in 8 games last season. Of course like the rest of the questions I pose, if healthy for all 16, he should be a PPR machine and will help supplant Brady once again as an elite fantasy option.

James White seems poised to take some carries away from Ridley this year as he has impressed coaches during training camp and has been seen taking reps with Brady and the 1st team. White can be a 3-down back; he was the focal point in the Wisconsin offense last year coming out of the backfield catching 39 balls for 300 yards and a pair of TD. He also can make an impact with his pass blocking which is key in the Patriot’s offense. Lastly, he had great ball security in college as he fumbled only 2 times in 754 career touches.

Brady is the 10th QB and 73rd player coming off the board (according to Fantasy Pros). If Brady is available to you in the 7th round, scoop him up. There are question marks on this team, but with any luck Brady’s weapons will stay relatively healthy and this team will look like the New England teams of old.

Ricky Valero is a co-owner and fantasy sports writer at The Sports Script. Make sure to follow him on Twitter @rickygangster!

Sophomore Surgers: 2014 Fantasy Football

There were many rookies that exceeded expectations last year and can be considered obvious early round picks this year in fantasy. Don’t forget about these 2nd year players that are also poised to impress, my sophomore sellouts:


1. Andre Ellington (RB, Arizona Cardinals): With the recent retirement of injury prone Rashard Mendenhall, Ellington has a good shot at taking over as the lead back with promising upside. This versatile weapon learned all three receiver sets this offseason and is hopeful to play an even greater role in the passing game, one that he already flourishes in. Not to mention putting on 10 pounds of muscle this spring, the reward outweighs the risk for this speed demon. Ellington led his team with 5.5 yards per carry last season and is expected to work with more touches this season, despite the offseason signing of veteran bruiser Jonathon Dwyer who may vulture some goal line carries. Andre Ellington reminds me of a younger version of Jamaal Charles, he can score from anywhere on the field. It seems very likely that he will receive and should receive at least 18 total touches a game. With his versatility, he has the potential to put up stud RB2 numbers in any format. A mediocre offensive line should lead to lots of check downs. Having veteran and experienced Carson Palmer calling the shots, the reliable hands of Larry Fitzgerald and late season stud Michael Floyd will free up space for the ground game. There will be a plentiful supporting cast for Ellington. Last season against divisional opponents (STL, SF, & SEA) Ellington had 60 total touches for 295 total yards, that’s nearly 5 yards a pop against his toughest matchups! He averaged only 10 touches a game and those totes can easily double this season.

2. Cordarrelle Patterson (WR, Minnesota Vikings): Maybe trading Percy Harvin to the Seahawks won’t be so bad after all? With the 29th overall pick the Minnesota Vikings selected Cordarrelle Patterson. #84 matured throughout the course of last season and went on a run towards the end. He showed electrifying speed, quickness and big play ability especially in the return game; like a younger Percy Harvin. Although, he has been criticized for his messy routes, Minnesota brought in Norv Turner from Cleveland as their Offensive Coordinator who had recent success with WR Josh Gordon in a pitiful offense. The Vikings need to balance their run attack by having an aerial threat. Cordarrelle has the raw talent to take the pressure off of Adrian Peterson. I expect this guy to run a few back and get open down field a lot. Regardless of who earns the starting QB job in Minnesota, I am all in on this guy.

3. Giovanni Bernard (RB, Cincinnati Bengals): Gio is way too talented and can be as deadly as anybody in open space. The law firm’s days are diminishing and even though rookie Jeremy Hill may be in the mix, Gio is the guy to have in this running back committee. He fits in perfectly with this pass heavy offense. He could very well lead the league in receptions and yards amongst running backs. Look, if Marvin Lewis wants to win a damn playoff game he will have to, I repeat he will have to give this guy the ball!

4. Jordan Reed (TE, Washington Redskins): With Jay Gruden in town, look for the Redskins to take some shots with RG3 and the air attack. Even though the WR core has vastly improved by bringing on DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts, the middle of the field will be wide open for this young beast to roam. With a record 14 targets in one game last year, RG3 will look his way, especially in the red zone. Double-digit TD machine this year so save your TE pick and wait for him.

5. Terrance Williams (WR, Dallas Cowboys): 3rd in fantasy points for rookie WR last year and Miles Austin has moved on to Cleveland; Williams will take over as the number two wideout for Tony Romo. You already know Dez is going to draw double teams being one of the best in the league. Williams went on a little streak of his own last year grabbing 5 TD within a 6 game span during the middle of the season. Look for his stats to improve across the board.

6. Markus Wheaton (WR, Pittsburgh Steelers): They let Emmanuel Sanders walk for a reason. 2011 version of Jordy Nelson? Maybe to a lesser degree but  get this guy late. Big Ben throws it more then you think.

7. Monte Ball (RB, Denver Broncos): Manning has to hand it off to somebody. The former Badger has the talent to handle the load if he can solve his fumbling issue and stay on the field. Manning draws enough attention. Don’t be surprised if you see a lot of fantasy teams named Monte Ball so hard.

8. Le’Veon Bell (RB, Pittsburgh Steelers): He put up impressive numbers last year even though he missed some time due to injury. He is a great receiver and although Blount could vulture some touchdowns, Bell’s getting his. Strong RB2 candidate.

Photo cred:

Jack Ghizoni is a fantasy football contributor at The Sports Script. Follow him on Twitter @CapnJack2424!

Fantasy Forward: 3B In Transition

No Nolan, you are the man with 7 HR's and 20 RBI over the last 30 days. Do not sleep on him in 2015
No Nolan, you are the man! With 7 HR and 20 RBI over the last 30 days, do not sleep on him in 2015

“Times of transition are strenuous, but I love them. They are an opportunity to purge, rethink priorities and be intentional about new habits. We can make our new normal any way we want.”
Kristin Armstrong

After tracking the improvements of Nolan Arenado and Nick Castellanos recently, I decided to take a look at fantasy’s position in transition. While closers cause owners to chase saves, the dearth of solid third baseman left for fantasy purposes forced many tough decisions on draft and auction days in 2014. It pushed players like Evan Longoria and David Wright up in the rankings due to the “positional scarcity” that was projected at the position. While the scarcity argument may have had some basis for discussion, some players like Aramis Ramirez were overlooked. He did make a trip to the DL in 2014 but his production has not slipped. In fact, when I looked at the last 365 days, he is in the top two using advanced stats like wOBA (weighted on base average) and wRC+ (weighted runs created). Before delving into those stats, here are the top 12 third baseman according to Fantasy Pros aggregate ADP tracker:

Average ADP for 3B in 2014 Drafts:
1. Adrian Beltre (12)
2. Evan Longoria (19)
3. David Wright (21)
4. Matt Carpenter (56)
5. Josh Donaldson (65)
6. Ryan Zimmerman (67)
7. Carlos Santana (71)
8. Pedro Alvarez (76)
9. Kyle Seager (99)
10. Martin Prado (115)
11. Manny Machado (128)
12. Pablo Sandoval (131)

There are pretty standard decisions above and most of the picks will not cost in the pursuit of a fantasy title. However, the injury concerns that caused gamers to avoid Aramis Ramirez were ignored by the Ryan Zimmerman sympathizers. This will also call into question how to value Manny Machado going forward now that he has injured both of his knees. Due to the drop in power around the league, many reached for Pedro Alvarez regardless of his drain on batting average. Matt Carpenter was a great story and value in 2013, but that also swung his returns to pretty much nil in this year’s drafts. So as not to create a recent bias, I will look at the last 365 days (statistical year) for the third baseman next.

3B Ranks for the last 365 Days:
1. Aramis Ramirez: 132 G, 61 R, 20 HR, 80 RBI, 3 SB, 309/359/490, wOBA .374, wRC+ 135
2. Adrian Beltre: 50 G, 80 R, 22 HR, 81 RBI, 2 SB, 310/370/482, wOBA .368, wRC+ 129
3. Josh Donaldson: 159 G, 105 R, 32 HR, 109 RBI, 10 SB, 263/352/484, wOBA .365, wRC+ 137
4. Matt Carpenter: 163 G, 115 R, 9 HR, 65 RBI, 7 SB, 295/388/422, wOBA .361, wRC+ 132
5. Todd Frazier: 157 G, 84 R, 28 HR, 84 RBI, 18 SB, 272/329/462, wOBA .347, wRC+ 120
6. Pablo Sandoval: 157 G, 69 R, 19 HR, 75 RBI, 286/340/447, wOBA .343, wRC+ 125
7. Anthony Rendon: 150 G, 98 R, 17 HR, 78 RBI, 12 SB, 276/334/447, wOBA .341, wRC+ 117
8. Kyle Seager: 161 G, 63 R, 22 HR, 88 RBI, 8 SB, 253/330/427, wOBA .334, wRC+ 114
9. Chase Headley: 133 G, 49 R, 14 HR, 55 RBI, 8 SB, 248/353/391, wOBA .323, wRC+ 108
10. Evan Longoria: 166 G, 86 R, 23 HR, 90 RBI, 4 SB, 255/327/412, wOBA .322, wRC+ 108
11. Trevor Plouffe: 143 G, 63 R, 11 HR, 69 RBI, SB, 258/319/399, wOBA .317, wRC+ 100
12. David Wright: 126 G, 50 R, 10 HR, 60 RBI, 6 SB, 270/330/383, wOBA .315, wRC+ 104

Due to positional scarcity, David Wright and Evan Longoria were taken in very early in drafts earlier this year. Part name brand and part scarcity, but neither is justifying their draft price. The chart below, which highlights how qualified third basemen have performed over the last 30 days may be a great parameter on how to value players at the position entering 2015. A premium will be placed on third base prospects Kris Bryant (Cubs) and Joey Gallo (Rangers) as we await their debuts. Miguel Sano was drafted late this year with the hopes his power would be promoted by June but an injury took him out for the year. If the Phillies decide to rebuild next year, Maikel Franco should also benefit from a chance to play in the majors. All hope for the position has not been lost as young players like Nolan Arenado and Nick Castellanos are starting to show signs in the second half of breakout potential for next year. Todd Frazier is another player to watch moving ahead, he’s had an MVP-caliber season to date and it will be interesting to see if he can continue that into next season. Frazier, Josh Donaldson and Anthony Rendon are the only third baseman to have double-digit home runs and steals over the last statistical year, which bodes well for their production moving forward. Here are the rankings for the last thirty days:

3B Last 30 Days
1. Nolan Arenado: 20 R, 7 HR, 20 RBI, 333/410/618
2. Josh Harrison: 22 R, 5 HR, 9 RBI, 6 SB, 328/361/578
3. Josh Donaldson: 13 R, 4 HR, 14 RBI, 4 SB, 284/410/484
4. Matt Carpenter: 18 R, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 2 SB, 310/402/500
5. Aramis Ramirez: 9 R, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 337/356/480
6. Yangervis Solarte: 17 R, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 283/370/413
7. Adrian Beltre: 11 R, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 287/368/406
8. Nick Castellanos: 7 R, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 247/301/481
9. Kyle Seager: 12 R, 3 HR, 14 RBI, SB, 273/339/414
10. David Freese: 9 R, HR, 7 RBI, 286/340/417
11. Anthony Rendon: 19 R, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 4 SB, 269/326/420
12. Pablo Sandoval: 12 R, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 288/321/394

For next season, I’ll be avoiding Longoria and Wright while enjoying the safety of Adrian Beltre. I see myself heavily targeting Nolan Arenado, Anthony Rendon, Nick Castellanos and Kyle Seager in 2015. Getting an early look at how these players are trending is always interesting. I definitely predict seeing gamers continue to reach for third baseman next year thanks to the scarcity trend, but there are players to be had and help on the way in the minor leagues. Third base is in a down cycle, but that should be changing soon.

Statistical credits:
Photo cred:

Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!

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