Fake Sports Grudge Match: Football vs. Baseball

The Beginning:

I started playing fantasy baseball 6 years ago. The first league I played in was crazy, 16 different categories in a head-to-head format with 11 other guys. I was in over my head. I wound up finishing in the middle of the pack, but decided that if I wanted to continue to play that I would have to tone it back and learn the basics. I felt like I was trying to jump off the high dive before I even knew how to swim. Over the next couple of years I played in more simplified leagues, which included 10 categories (hits, HR, stolen bases, batting average, RBI, wins, strikeouts, saves, ERA, WHIP). We had 10 different guys in that league and it was a blast. I finally got the concept of how the game was played. The format was weekly, so you set your lineup on Monday and not again until the following week. This is nice for people who work full time, and while at the time I was in high school, many of the other people I played with did not have as much time to spend on it daily. The other interesting thing about that league was that it was an auction league. For those who do not know, auction leagues are set up in such a way that each player is bid on during the draft, and the players are auctioned off. Some owners are aggressive and bid right away, others sit back and grab a ton of above average guys and maybe only have one superstar on their team. Auction leagues give owners a lot of say in who is on their team unlike snake drafts where you might not have the chance at specific players based on your draft order.

For me, the first few years of fantasy baseball were just something to do while I waited for fantasy football to start back up again. I set my lineup on Monday and would check it daily but couldn’t make any changes. I liked the idea of being able to make daily changes and so I asked some buddies who I played fantasy football with if they would want to play fantasy baseball. 10 guys were in and we started creating what the league should look like. We came up with our categories and decided that we all had time to look enough to make daily changes. Once I started playing in leagues where you could make those daily changes, I was hooked.

Fantasy Football:

For those who know me or have read anything I have written since I started at The Sports Script, you know how much I love  fantasy football. I watch every Thursday night game unless something more important keeps me away. Sundays afternoons are usually spent in my basement (I wrote about my sweet setup here). Sunday nights are spent on the treadmill at the gym, where I strategize about what I need to have happen in the Sunday night and Monday night games. On Monday nights I am usually back on the bike to watch the first half before rushing home to catch the second half at my house. While I realized this year that maybe 7 leagues is a few too many, I still had a blast not only writing about fantasy football, but playing it as well. I love the rivalries with friends, I love the trophies and stories you hear on about on Twitter and I love the fact that millions from age 8 to 80 play the game. There are hundreds of different formats and everyone has a favorite player (or least favorite player) based on how they won (or lost) you a fantasy championship over the years. Mine is Matthew Stafford, if you want the story you will have to ask me about it on Twitter. It is one of my favorite stories to tell, even though it ended in tears of sadness and happiness all at the same time. So after all this, how can I tell you that while I like fantasy football, I love fantasy baseball?

Fantasy Baseball:

simpsons-sabermetricsBaseball is truly amazing, and I think that is why the fantasy game is so great. Football gets the ratings, football gets the hype, football rules all other sports when it comes to North American popularity, but football still doesn’t have that simple feel that baseball fans have come to love. Football has so many rules and penalties and changing of players between offense and defense. Have you ever tried to explain football to someone who has never seen the game before? I would rather take Organic Chemistry. Baseball is as simple as you want it to be. 9 positions and 9 hitters per team. The majority of the batters also play out in the field and when they get three outs they get to come to bat. Explaining baseball to someone who hasn’t seen it before is easier than grabbing a second plate of food at a buffet. For those who do not want simplicity, baseball has some of the most advanced stats in any sport that can have you wandering around Baseball Reference for hours. They have stats for a batter’s average when they hit the ball hard. They have a rate to see how often pitchers give up groundballs relative to fly balls. How many times did the pitcher throw a change up on a 0-2 count in the last 30 days? I am sure all you have to do is a little research and you can find pretty much any stat you want on any player. The game can be simple, but it can be advanced and that brings in an audience that is very diverse.

Fantasy baseball reaches those same people by how advanced leagues are. Your league can have 5 categories or 20. Your league can have 4 teams or 25. You can hold a classic snake draft or an auction. You can use keepers from year to year, or you can make each season a new adventure. While you might look at this list and say that fantasy football provides the same array of differences, the best thing about baseball is how many games there are.

162 Games:

The baseball season is long. Longer than most of Kim Kardashian’s marriages, longer than a foot-long hotdog at the ballpark and longer than any other major professional sport. The NHL and NBA each play 82 games and the NFL plays 16 games during their respective regular seasons. For many, 162 games is the reason they don’t play fantasy baseball. Too many games or too long of a season are excuses I have heard for many who have denied my invitations over the years. For some, their love of baseball is trumped by the commitment needed over the course of an entire season. Those individuals may like the weekly game I mentioned earlier. Owners can check it once a day or once a week and the outcome won’t be different because changes cannot be made once the lineup is locked.

For me, the reason I love fantasy baseball is because there are so many games. There are few days between April and August where you will not find live baseball on your television. There are games on when you are at work and days on when you get back home. Your home team might play on a Thursday afternoon and then again Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. Sometimes if you are lucky, your favorite team or players might play twice in one day! You might come home and see that David Wright just hit for the cycle or that Phil Hughes just threw a gem while you were finishing up at the office. Baseball doesn’t take breaks and either do daily fake baseball leagues. Every day you can make moves whether you want to add a hot bat off the waiver wire or pick up a pitcher who is starting.

Skill or (Andrew) Luck:

Take this quick example about fantasy football and how great teams might not make the playoffs. I know you probably don’t care about my team, but hear me out. Week 16 concluded one of my leagues and so I went and looked at the team that I thought was best. My team (at least to me) was stacked. It was headlined by Russell Wilson (QB3), DeMarco Murray (RB1), Le’Veon Bell (RB2), AJ Green (WR21), Julian Edelman (WR17) and Martellus Bennett (TE5). Keep in mind, this is a 10 team league. My final record? 4-9. 4 and 9!

Many times in fantasy football, the team with the best roster does not win. Sometimes they don’t even make the playoffs. Maybe your quarterback has just one bad game in the playoffs and your undefeated team might be out of the running for the championship. I see this a lot less in fantasy baseball, regardless on if you play in weekly leagues or daily leagues. The best overall team over the course of the season usually finds themselves in the playoffs and fighting for a championship (Editor’s note: It’s the sample size, man!). You can build your team around pitching or you can build your team around hitting or you can try to balance them out. Roto has been around forever though, which allows all the teams in the league to compete against one another over the course of the entire season, thus eliminating much of the luck. There’s a good chance some football leagues begin to move this way in the very near future.

fantasy-football-team-embarassesmentFor those who read this article and have read my Weekly Stream column every week, thank you for your continued devotion to my writing. Do not look at this article as a bash on fantasy football because obviously I still have a love for it. What readers should take away from this article is that there are other fantasy sports out there and baseball is one that can not only keep you occupied during the football offseason but also give you a completely different outlook at how you can play fantasy sports. Playing fantasy baseball and playing football are completely different but both provide entertainment, which is the main reason that we play fantasy in the first place.

For newcomers to the game of fantasy baseball, look for an article from me in the next couple of weeks about websites to help you get started with your league. I will also include some stud Twitter follows, and maybe a couple of basic vocabulary words to get you going. Look for continued articles from all of us at TSS. We had some great articles covering the Winter Meetings and will be providing more content as we move on from football. As always thanks for continuing to read and for the good words on social media.

Happy New Year! We’ll see you in 2015.

Photo cred: http://goo.gl/g2byu1, http://goo.gl/PTSPTz

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content.

Jared “Minnesota Nice” Hines is a fantasy football contributor at The Sports Script. Follow him on Twitter @Jared_Hines27!


Transaction Scripts: Yankees in Transition

Headley enjoyed his stint in NY so much he took less to stay. Let that marinate with his 4 year 52 million dollar deal.
Headley enjoyed his stint in NY so much he took less to stay.

It seems strange to be breaking down New York’s offseason moves to this point without commenting on a free agent that they overspent on. Well, with the exception of Chase Headley. However, he may have left money on the table to sign with New York. Wait, what? In flurry of moves during the Winter Meetings, teams like San Diego, Los Angeles and Miami were wheeling and dealing. Within the division, Toronto has strengthened their team defense and lineup by signing Russell Martin and trading for Josh Donaldson. The Red Sox have been busy hoarding number three starters to go along with the signings of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval. Tampa is being Tampa and making under the radar deals and stockpiling arms. The biggest news in Baltimore is that Chris Davis can (legally) take Adderall this year. Phew!

Oh yeah, one last thing. The black cloud that is Alex Rodriguez is hanging over the 2015 Yankees.

Brian Cashman is trying to look to the future and shed some of the mistakes of contract’s past. Now that the Derek Jeter retirement tour has ended and the “Core Four” have all retired, the time has come to try and rebuild on the fly. A total reclamation project is not in the offing for a franchise that prides itself with headlines, winning and most importantly, championships. But one of the reasons they have been quiet this winter is because the cupboard is kind of bare on the farm. Because the Yankees are devoid of the prospects that other teams desire, they have taken a new course. I was surprised about the backlash on Twitter from Yankee fans after they traded Martin Prado and David Phelps to Miami for Nathan Eovaldi, Garrett Jones and prospect Domingo German. Prado is nice and all but his ceiling is limited and pitchers who repeatedly throw 95 MPH do not fall off trees. Adding the Marlins number 8 prospect in German was great as well. He is not overpowering but throws strikes.

So what have the Yankees done this winter?

Yankee Acquisitions: Andrew Miller, Didi Gregorius, Nathan Eovaldi, Garrett Jones, Domingo German, Gonzalez Germen, Chase Headley, Chris Young
Yankee Losses: David Robertson, Shane Greene, Martin Prado, David Phelps, Brandon McCarthy

Starting with the infield, it appears for now that the Yankees are going to bring in Didi Gregorius and his strong defense to platoon with Brendan Ryan at shortstop. While it makes sense to be strong up the middle, what does Sir Didi offer as he tries to replace a Yankee Legend? According to ESPN Statistical Analysis, Gregorius made 41 good plays at shortstop in 2014 in 580 innings while the best total at the position was 71 good plays per 1,000 innings. I am not a math wizard but this implies that Gregorius was on pace to make more good plays per 1,000 innings than the leader in baseball. While this will not mean anything to Gregorius’ production on offense, if he helps save runs that may have more worth than anything he would do offensively. On a positive note, here is another list, courtesy of Mark Simon, noting the players with the highest hard hit rate in 2014:

Hard Hit Rate Mark Simon

It is only one statistic, but Gregorius is nestled in between Giancarlo Stanton and Mike Trout. I’m not sure how this happened but Didi is a candidate for a platoon. His career slash lines against left-handed pitching are a paltry .184/.257/.233 while his numbers improve against righties to the tune of .262/.332/.411. It is hard to say that a move to Yankee stadium will improve his numbers since Arizona is a hitter’s ballpark as well but the short porch in right is enticing to lefties. Gregorius has hit all 13 of his career homers off of right-handed pitchers so it really makes sense to platoon him with Brendan Ryan not only to shield him from the New York fans and writers but to allow him to gain confidence. This is could be a tough sell as Bob McManaman wrote about for the Arizona Republic:

“…this was a scout’s take on Gregorius in a text message to the New York Daily News: He’s OK. Solid defender, bat is light-long swing. Good athlete. Nervous type, not sure he can handle NY. If Gregorius is batting around .220 in May, Yankees fans and the New York tabloids alike will be screaming at Cashman for not trading for Troy Tulowitzki or Elvis Andrus or making a run at Hanley Ramirez before he bolted to the rival Red Sox.”

This will be Didi’s third team in the last three years. Replacing Derek Jeter is a tall order on its own, starting in New York as a platoon player at best whose best quality is defense, may be too tough for Gregorius to handle. In the 81 games Steamer projects out of him, he’ll produce 34 runs, 6 home runs, 32 RBI and 2 stolen bases while hitting .248/.310/.366. That does not look great but in comparison to Derek Jeter’s 2014 of 145 games, 47 runs, 4 home runs, 50 RBI, 10 stolen bases and .256/.304/.313 it doesn’t look so bad. I think Yankee fans are smarter than people give them credit for (Editor’s note: Greg is a Yankees fan). Gregorius may not light it up in fantasy, but if he saves runs for their patchwork pitching staff then he will be worth his spot in the platoon.

When the Yankees traded for Chase Headley in 2014 it seemed like a reach for a team that could not realistically make the playoffs. I remember watching a game near the end of the year and hearing that Headley was surprised about how much he enjoyed being a Yankee and that playing there may have changed his mind about his pending free agency. It really did not register with me at the time but while I am reading reports that his 4 year 52-million dollar contract was below other offers, I was surprised. Taking out his outlier 2012, his high in home runs for a season is 13 (which he has done each of the last two years). If the Yankees had any plans to give Alex Rodriguez playing time at third base would they have given Headley a four year contract? As congruent as Headley’s statistics have been over the last two years in which he has averaged 138 games, 57 runs, 13 home runs, 50 RBI, 8 SB and a .246/.338/.387 slash line, his power peripherals are very intriguing. First, here are Headley’s home runs from 2014 with an overlay of Yankee Stadium. Now he did hit 6 of his 13 homers with the Yankees, but notice the distances in comparison to the overlay:

Chase Headley Yankee Overaly 2014

What makes even less sense is how his supporting statistics match up over the last three years. I charted them below and you may find it as perplexing as I did:

Headley HR Chart

It would appear that Headley is regaining strength in his thumb with the increased bat velocities the last two seasons and while a return to his 31 home run spike from 2012 is very unlikely, I am willing to buy into Headley increasing his home run totals in 2015. Ballpark, plus increased HR/FB%, plus increased ball speed off the bat could translate into a bump in not only Headley’s home run totals, but his fantasy stats overall. Steamer seems to agree:

Chase Headley 2015: 138 G, 69 R, 17 HR, 68 RBI, 8 SB, .259/.343/.413

That is a solid portrayal for Headley going forward and although I was not enamored with his contract for the Yankees, it is a boon for his fantasy value. By no means does this propel him to the top of any 3B rankings but it makes him relevant again. If he can hold on to the distances that he exhibited in 2014, I could see him hitting 20 – 23 long balls next year:

2014 Longest HR by AVG Distance

Although it seems that the Yankees are stockpiling designated hitters with Carlos Beltran and Alex Rodriguez already on the roster, they picked up Garrett Jones from the Marlins. Jones is not a particularly strong fielder in right or at first base so if he plays it will be for his bat. But if Jones is going to be a part of a platoon at DH, the Yankees may be on to something. Similar to Gregorius, Jones does his best work against right-handed pitchers, hitting 101 of his 117 career home runs off of them. His career slash lines against right-handers is .267/.333/.479, which, in New York is something to take note of. Once again, just like Headley, Jones’ power spike in 2012 has been followed up by back to back 15 homer campaigns. Unlike Headley, Jones’ peripheral numbers do not portend a serious jump in power due to his arrival in New York. First here is his home run overlay with Yankee stadium using his 2014 home runs:

Garrett Jones Yankee Overlay 2014

While Headley had supporting stats to say an increase in power is due to happen, Jones will have to rely on the short porch in right field for a power jump. But Jones averages a home run every 21.9 at bats against right-handed pitching for his career so if he can garner 450 at bats with the Yankees his career numbers dictate that he could hit 21 home runs at his peak. Using Jones’ Steamer projection of 81 games, he’s due to produce 41 runs, 14 home runs, 45 RBI and a .250/.311/.448 slash line. Jones’ value will be determined not only by how he is used but by how many at bats he gets. He is a sneaky cheap power play in AL-only leagues.

Finishing up the infield preview, it appears that a spring training battle at second base is brewing between Robert Refsnyder and Jose Pirela. At a time when Yankee fans are looking for a prospect to break through and contribute to this team, Refsnyder has been growing in the minor leagues. Their numbers in the minors last year are strikingly familiar:

Robert Refsnyder AA/AAA: 137 G, 82 R, 14 HR, 63 RBI, 9 SB, .318/.387/.497
Jose Pirela AAA: 130 G, 87 R, 10 HR, 60 RBI, 15 SB, .305/.351/.441

Pirela is on the active 40-man roster and would appear to have the inside track as the season opens, but a strong spring could push Refsnyder into the position earlier than anticipated. Defense could be the deciding factor, as Refsnyder is still a work in progress at second base and could use a bit more seasoning at AAA. Steamer seems to think that the Yankees will start with Pirela at the position:

Jose Pirela Steamer: 57 G, 24 R, 4 HR, 23 RBI, 5 SB, .259/.307/.381
Robert Refsnyder Steamer: 97 G, 45 R, 8 HR, 41 RBI, 9 SB, .262/.328/.390

Even though I think Refsnyder is the best for second base in the long run it may take him until June to win the job. But once he is there it may be his for some time which would make Yankee fans happy to see players come through the system again.
As to the pitching pieces in this deal, it starts with Nathan Eovaldi coming over from the Marlins. Like Chase Headley, he is a tough player to project for 2015 as he has enticing positives like his live arm and improving FIP but he has his warts. Courtesy of BrooksBaseball.net, here is repertoire:

Eovaldi MPH and Movement 2014

Fangraphs.com’s Eno Sarris has a couple of interesting tweets regarding Eovaldi:

To say that Eovaldi could be the next Garrett Richards is high praise indeed, but may be a work in progress. His pitches with batting averages against show the problems that Eovaldi has with his changeup:

Eovaldi 2014 Results against

There are reports that Eovaldi is working on a split finger fastball this offseason, so it will remain to be seen what he can do in a ballpark like Yankee Stadium. But with his velocity and youth, it is a risk worth taking for the Yankees.

The other piece in the Marlins trade was pitcher Domingo German who was the eighth rated Marlins prospect and immediately jumped one spot in the Yankee ranking to number 7 after the trade. German is a very good young pitcher who struck out 113 in 2014 against only 25 walks. His fastball is reported to be in the low 90’s with an average changeup and a developing slider. In his first full season in class A, German had a tidy 2.48 ERA. His fastball does have sink which is a plus as teams are looking for power pitchers who generate groundballs.

I have already written up Andrew Miller here and how he provides insurance in the bullpen as the Dellin Betances era may begin in New York. Having been fortunate enough to get him in the reserve draft in my AL-only league next year I look forward to Betances transitioning in to take over at closer for his mentor and hero Mariano Rivera. It will be interesting to see if the Yankees can stay the course and hold on to their prospects like Luis Severino, a live-armed righty who throws an easy fastball and allow AFL star Aaron Judge to develop instead of flipping him for an aging veteran. The times are changing in New York and I am curious to see how Brian Cashman sheds contracts before trying to make a splash in the 2016 free agent class. These are not the Yankees of years past, at least at the moment.

Statistical credits: Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs.com, BrooksBaseball.net, ESPN.com, MiLB.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/mGs6bU

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content.

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

The Weekly Stream: Defense; Week 15

Ravens Defense
The Ravens are a lock for double-digit fantasy points in week 15

Tuesday morning I was strolling (Editor’s note: I think he means *trolling*) through my Twitter feed and noticed a trend. There were a lot more pictures then there usually are. Not because the Victoria Secret Fashion Show was the other night, but because a ton of fantasy gamers were posting photos of their playoff matchups. Teams were winning by small margins and bragging about their lineups, or they were showing how close they were to advancing, only to have Aaron Rodgers kneel down on the last play of Monday’s game to cost them a spot in the next round. I looked through my fair share of matchups and noticed that they all had a common theme. One of the teams had a defense that went absolutely crazy.

There were a couple of teams I saw that streamed the Giants defense against Tennessee. An opponent of mine did the same thing, and while it wasn’t the deciding factor in my match, it was hilarious to watch the Giants lead fantasy in defensive scoring in week 14.

Last Week’s Results:

Last week I recommended 3 teams. They included the Texans, Rams and my hometown Vikings. If you decided to trust your playoff matchup with one of these defensive units, you were rewarded with great production. The Rams posted their 2nd-straight shutout while adding in 2 picks, a touchdown and 7 sacks en route to 24 fantasy points. Another team with a great matchup was the Houston Texans. They recorded 4 sacks on their way to a solid 11 fantasy points. The last team I recommended was the Minnesota Vikings. I thought the they had a good chance at keeping Geno and the Jets (you read that line and felt like Elton John, admit it) to a low point total. While they allowed 24 points and had to take the game into OT, the Vikings did pick off Geno once in Sunday’s chilly affair at TCF Bank Stadium. They also recovered a fumble and oh yeah, that interception was returned for  touchdown. Toss in 3 sacks and you have yourself a solid showing; 10 points for the purple people eaters.

Week 15 Targets:

Week 15 will bring along more pictures on social media of fantasy matchups that will end up coming down to the wire. If you survived last week, week 15 is all about putting yourself in the best position to win and get into your championship. Taking chances would not be my advice to you. Play your studs, and look for defenses with good matchups. Let’s not try to get too cute here with the season on the line.

  • Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs defense has not been playing as well as many expected them to coming into this season. A couple of heartbreaking losses have left them befuddled but this is their week to shine. The last time they met Oakland, the Raiders won their first game of the season. An embarrassing loss for the Chiefs to be sure. I look for Kansas City to have a big day in a revenge game.
  • Baltimore Ravens: The season is winding down which means so is my weekly segment of “stream whoever plays Jacksonville.” Let’s not look to the future though, instead, let’s get ready to celebrate a great matchup for week 15. Baltimore’s unit generates the majoroty of points from sacking the opposing quarterback. The Jaguars give up sack after sack on a weekly basis, something that should once again happen on Sunday. Put the two together and you’ve got yourself double-digit fantasy points for the Ravens. Book it!

So where do we go from here? I decided that while most fantasy playoffs end in week 16, I would continue to write this article through the end of the regular season. For the few people who have week 17 matchups, I didn’t want to leave you out in the dust. That leaves us two columns left after this one before I move onto playoff football, as well as some baseball content as well. Good luck to you as you continue your playoff push.

As always, happy streaming!

Photo cred: http://goo.gl/zsRKJa

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content.

Jared “Minnesota Nice” Hines is a fantasy football contributor at The Sports Script. Follow him on Twitter @Jared_Hines27!

The Weekly Stream: Defense; Week 13

Josh Huff Kickoff Return
Different week, same result. Yet another touchdown for the Eagles D/ST. Is this unit matchup proof?

The best catch of the week, the year, and maybe the decade (depending who you ask) came in week 12 . Odell Beckham went up and somehow came down with the football, even after being grabbed by the Dallas defender. I have watched the catch on Vine over and over and I still cannot figure out how he caught that ball. After watching him play at LSU and seeing some of his warmup catches before last Sunday’s game, I am not surprised that he would be the one to do such a thing. I was watching the game with my brother and the catch actually made him yell out loud. He stood there in disbelief as we watched the replay over and over and over. Speaking of over and over and over, I have been the advocate for streaming any defense against Jacksonville this year. I have told you over and over and (for the most part) it has worked out in your favor. As we move to week 13, Odell’s New York Giants get to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars. While I do think that the fighting Giants will win this game, I do not believe that the Giants are a good streaming option this year. They are the 30th ranked defense in fantasy and haven’t proven that they can succeed, even when given great opportunity. Before I tell you who I do think will succeed, let’s take a look at how we did last week.

Last Week’s Results:

The Eagles have been the fantasy game’s best defense this year. It’s that simple, and while I am all for streaming a defense, the Eagles have been pretty matchup proof. You can use them on a weekly basis and expect great results. I recommended them last week, and the game started with Philly returning the opening kickoff 109 yards for a touchdown. They also tacked on an interception, two fumble recoveries and five sacks. This performance was good for 16 standard fantasy points. Money. My other recommendation was the Colts. Obviously we’re going to want to use them, they faced Jacksonville! 4 sacks, a fumble recovery and a pick later, the Colts defense did their job. They only gave up a field goal to the lowly Jacksonville offense. Oh, and the Colts get the Redskins at home this week.

Week 13 Targets:

  • Saint Louis Rams: The Rams are not having a very good season. The loss of quarterback Sam Bradford and other injuries on their line have left them struggling to win games. Currently 4-7, the Rams play their best when they play really good teams. 3 of their wins have come against the Broncos, Seahawks and 49ers. This week they get the Oakland Raiders, and while the Chiefs could not get it done against them, the Rams will be ready to play. Oakland is coming off their first win of the year and might not win another game for the rest of the year. The Rams have 4 interceptions in their last 3 games and have averaged 10 fantasy points in the past 4 weeks (41 to be exact). Only 24% owned, the Rams are a great streaming option in week 13.
  • Houston Texans: The Texans have been interesting all year. Their offense has struggled to keep it together, which has caused their defense to have to spend extra time on the field. They have one of, if not the best defensive line in football, and they have risen to the challenge. This week, the Texans have a date with the Tennessee Titans who just allowed 5 sacks in their last game. I expect at least that many for JJ Watt and the Houston defense. I’m not worried about the Titans putting up some points, as the Texans defense has proven valuable even while allowing some touchdowns. Houston is my play of the week, and the defense that I will look to stream going into the most important week of the year before the fantasy playoffs.
  • Indianapolis Colts: I love the Colts this year. Their defense is good, their quarterback is a rising star (maybe you’ve heard of him) and they just play great football. Earlier in this article I showed you how I used the Colts defense last week against the Jaguars and was rewarded for doing so. This week as I mentioned, Washington comes into Indianapolis and I expect much of the same. The Colts have had 5 double-digit fantasy weeks, 4 of them coming at home. Their ownership totals jumped up last week as many streamed them against the Jags but at just over 50% owned, it is worth a shot to see if you can snag them up in your league for the upcoming tilt.

In most leagues this is the final week before the playoffs and many teams need a win. If your defense has a bad matchup or a bad schedule for the playoffs now is the time to kick them to the curb. Allow the other teams in the league to pick up those defenses. Now is the time to play matchups and give yourself the best chance to win before it is too late and you are not even playing next week.

Good luck and happy streaming!

Photo cred: http://goo.gl/SloHxJ

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content.

Jared “Minnesota Nice” Hines is a fantasy football contributor at The Sports Script. Follow him on Twitter @Jared_Hines27!

Fantasy Football Boom or Bust: Week 12

Shady McCoy
Fantasy owners will need a big day out of Shady McCoy and he has the matchup to do it


Jay Cutler: As bad a season as the Bears have had, Jay Cutler has actually been a top-ten fantasy option. He has passed for 2+ touchdowns in 7 games and has accounted for all but 3 of 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 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 just 4 rushing touchdowns all year. These are all terrible numbers for a running back, right? Good thing Shane Vereen does most of his damage via 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 4 total touchdowns. 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 more than a touchdown a game to opposing run games.

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 should 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 quarterback dependent position. This week, the Falcons are at home, which bodes well for Roddy. Matt Ryan has thrown for 10 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in the Georgia Dome compared to 7 touchdowns and 6 interceptions on the road. 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 that has allowed 8 touchdowns and 4 100 yard games to tight ends this year.

Colts D/ST: Every defense that has gone against the Jags has recorded at least 8 fantasy points. Last time the Colts played 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 two 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 all season. 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.

Photo cred: http://goo.gl/8MexyK

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Payton is the newest fantasy football contributor to The Sports Script. Be on the lookout for more of his work in the coming weeks and follow him on Twitter @PaySand!

Ricky’s Week 11 Fantasy 5-Pack; Sleepers

Welcome! I give you 5 guys who I think can give you the best bang for your buck in daily fantasy. I provide one player per position who I think fits the bill that you can use on the cheap to fill your daily rosters (I play on DraftKings and FanDuel, so that’s where my pricing will come from).

QB: Andy Dalton vs. New Orleans Saints (DraftKings $5600, FanDuel $7900): Raise your hand if you have been bitten by the Dalton bug on daily fantasy! Yep, thought so. So why in the world would I trust him this week? Well it’s pretty simple, the matchup is tasty and I think Dalton has a chip on his shoulder. While I don’t think he is a very good real quarterback, i think he’ll do just fine this week. The Saints are terrible against the pass and Cincinatti’s speed will be too much for them on the fast-track. The value is nicer on DK, but his price on FanDuel is decent, too.Steven Jackson

RB: Steven Jackson vs. Carolina Panthers (DraftKings: $4400, FanDuel $6700): This is the steal of the week. He is a bargain-buster on DraftKings and bottom of the barrel on FanDuel. His week 11 matchup is super sexy. The Panthers have given up multiple touchdowns to opposing tailbacks in 4 of the last 5 games. Jackson will enter this game coming off a contest in which he had 81 yards on 16 carries (5.1 YPC). He’s also scored in each of last two games. The Falcons offense rolls much better when they get the running game going early. You would be insane not to have Jackson in your lineup this weekend.

WR: Mohamed Sanu vs. New Orleans Saints (DraftKings $6000, FanDuel $7300): Sanu had his worst output of the season last week against the Browns, catching only 2 passes for 20 yards. However, I like Sanu for the same reasons as Dalton. He has 7 or more targets in 7 straight games and has become a real catalyst in this offense, he is bound to explode in the dome and the Saints will likely focus on shutting down AJ Green this week.

TE: Travis Kelce vs. Seattle Seahawks (DraftKings $4000, FanDuel $5900): I’ll be 100% honest, Gronk will be in all my daily lineups this weekend but if you aren’t looking to pay the price, Kelce is your man. He had a tough week last week against the Bills but has a fantastic matchup against a Seahawks team that has been exposed by tight ends all season.

Defense: Cleveland Browns vs. Houston Texans (DraftKings $3300, FanDuel $5200): This matchup makes way too much sense for me. The Browns are coming off an emotional high beating the division rival Bengals and have a really soft matchup this Sunday against Houston. The Texans will be without Arian Foster and are throwing inexperienced quarterback Ryan Mallett into the fire. Love it.

Photo cred: http://goo.gl/ve5QJn

Ricky is a co-owner and fantasy sports writer at The Sports Script. Follow him on the Twitter machine @rickygangster!


Fantasy Football Boom Or Bust: Week 11


Colin Kaepernick: Last week the Giants let Russell Wilson run for 102 yards and prior to last week they had given up 9 passing touchdowns over their last 3 games. I expect the 49ers to replicate the Seahawks zone read running scheme, which should reproduce the Colin Kaepernick we fell in love with 2 years ago.

Le’Veon Bell: Bell is usually a must start but he has not surpassed 100 yards on the ground since week 3 and he’s only produced 56 yards over the last 2 weeks. He has a great matchup this week against a Titans team giving up an average of 127 yards on the ground per game. After last week the Titans defense has now allowed 10 rushing touchdowns on the year. Look for Bell to have a bounce-back game for the Steelers in prime time.

Ryan Mathews: The Chargers could not be more thankful for Mathews’ return after Branden Oliver’s dismal performance over the last three weeks (3 YPC, 0 touchdowns). Opposing running backs have reached the end zone 9 times and have run for over 100 yards 7 times against the Raiders. Mathews should have a memorable return against the team he ran for 99 yards and a touchdown against a season ago.

Alfred Morris: With RGIII under center, Morris is averaging 91 yards a game and has accumulated 19 touchdowns. In 11 games without Griffin, he’s averaged 69 yards, compiling 7 scores. Morris has been the biggest beneficiary of Griffin’s ability to run the zone read offense. Be ready for a big day from Freddy against a Tampa Bay defense that has allowed 80+ rushing yards to running backs in 8 games this season.

Cordarrelle Patterson: Did anybody else watch last Sunday’s game? In case you didn’t, the Bears defense is awful. They have now allowed 106 points and 11 passing touchdowns over the last 2 weeks! I know Patterson doesn’t have a quarterback even close to the caliber of Rodgers or Brady, but the Vikings should find a way to get this dynamic play-maker the ball in week 11.

If there were a game for Pierre Garcon to regain his fantasy relevance, this is it
If there were a game for Pierre Garcon to regain his fantasy relevance, this is it

Pierre Garcon: If Pierre Garcon can’t produce big numbers in this game he should be dropped in all shallow leagues. He has now had a bye week to regain his chemistry with Griffin and they are playing the league’s worst pass defense. The Bucs have allowed performances of 63, 55, 33 and 32 fantasy points (ESPN) by wide receiving corps this year. Unless DeSean Jackson just goes absolutely nuts, Garcon is in line for a big game.

Dwayne Allen: The Pats have allowed tight ends to score in each of the last 3 weeks and the Hoody loves to make teams beat them with their secondary options. With the Patriots’ defense focusing on Hilton and Bradshaw, watch for Allen to be Luck’s number 1 option.

Browns D/ST: I think it is a fantasy football rule to start a defense playing against a quarterback in his first start, especially if that defense is coming off a week where they made Andy Dalton look like well, Andy Dalton. The Browns have forced 12 turnovers in the last 4 games which they will add to this week against the Texans. I think this game will be a low-scoring affair, making the Texans defense a good play as well.

Chiefs D/ST: 3 words; Arrowhead in November. The Chiefs have surrendered just 31 points total in their last 3 home games and the Seahawks’ offense has been stuck in struggle city. The Chiefs defense is a sneaky play this week against the defending champs.


Russell Wilson: The Seahawks passing game has really struggled of late and I don’t see it getting any better when they travel to Arrowhead. Wilson has not surpassed 200 yards passing in any of his last 3 games and has only thrown for 1 score during that time. His ability to run makes him very hard to bench, but keep in mind that the Chiefs have only allowed 20+ fantasy points (ESPN) to one QB this year and his name is Peyton Manning.

Mark Sanchez: There are 2 things to look at here. First, Green Bay’s pass defense has been above average this year, allowing only one 300-yard and 20+ point (ESPN) passer; Drew Brees. Their defense has been especially good at home, surrendering only 4 touchdowns through the air in their last 4 games. The second thing to look at is the overreaction to Sanchez in the Eagles great team win last Monday night. The Eagles were fortunate enough to force 3 turnovers in Panther territory that lead to 17 points as well as generating 14 points on defense and special teams. Sanchez and the Eagles’ offense had 9 drives start in their own territory, and they only scored on 2 of them. Expect Sanchez to have an average game at best in the frigid Wisconsin air.

CJ Anderson: This is more of a gut feeling as I hate doubting anyone on the Broncos’ offense, but this is a tough matchup for them. The Rams have allowed only 1 100-yard rusher over their past 5 games and only Demarco Murray achieved that feat against them at home. All of the sudden the Broncos have a very crowded backfield. Although Ronnie Hillman is expected to miss at least this week, Montee Ball is returning from injury and Juwan Thompson continues to get the rare goal line carries. The only way I see Anderson having a big game is if he breaks off a long run and finds pay dirt.

Marshawn Lynch: Last week Beast Mode had one of the best fantasy performances for a running back in recent years, however that was the first time he had gone over the century mark on the ground since week 1. This week, Lynch goes up against the 6th best fantasy run defense instead of the Giants’ 31st best. The Chiefs have not allowed a running back score a touchdown this year and I think they will keep that streak alive in week 11. Expect the Lynch we saw in weeks 5 through 8, not the one we saw in week 10.

AJ Green: If Keenan Lewis is healthy I would stay away from AJ Green. I will repeat what I wrote last week regarding receivers that Lewis follows. He held Kelvin Benjamin to 2 catches for 18 yards, Jordy Nelson to 3 catches for 25 yards and now, before injury, Michael Crabtree to 2 catches for 11 yards. Lewis is the most underrated corner in the game and should strike fear in fantasy owners like Revis, Peterson, Sherman and Hayden do.

Martellus Bennett: The Vikings being number 2 against tight ends this year coupled with how bad the Bears offense is playing makes Bennett a risky week 11 start. I know it’s hard to bench a guy at a position where there is very little depth, but if you have another solid option at tight end I would go with it.

Eagles D/ST: In their last 8 home games, Aaron Rodgers has thrown 28 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. The Eagles have relied on their defense or special teams to score at least 1 touchdown a week, but the statistics tell us that Rodgers won’t give them that opportunity.

Cardinals D/ST: This is not a knock on the Cardinal defense, I’m just weary of a clicking Lions’ offense. The last time the Cardinals went up against a team with 2 stud receivers, the Broncos, they let Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas combine for 327 receiving yards and 2 scores. Don’t let their recent performance against the Rams give you faith that they will stop Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate.

Photo cred: http://goo.gl/7AoT7L

Payton is the newest fantasy football contributor to The Sports Script. Be on the lookout for more of his work in the coming weeks and follow him on Twitter @PaySand!

Fantasy Football Boom Or Bust: Week 10

Because this is the first week of Boom Or Bust I will explain how this is different than Matthew Berry’s Love/Hate. The players who I think the “Boom” label will fit are either widely rostered as bench options are who you can find on your league’s waiver wire. These players are especially important during weeks like week like this one where 6 teams are on a bye. The players I peg to “Bust” are players who are either normal starters or who have had strong performances recently. Starting one of these players may not hurt you, but you may have someone else on the bench that will give you a stronger performance.


Josh McCown: Josh is basically playing for his job this week. The Bucs are 1-7 and are trying to figure out if the money they spent on McCown is going to be a short or long-term investment. I know McCown was held to only 58 yards passing in his first match against the Atlanta, but the Falcons have now allowed 3,300 yards passing this year as well as 7 passing scores over the last 4 games. The one thing you can count on is that McCown will get the opportunity to put up big numbers; Falcon opponents are averaging 34 pass attempts per game.

Cam Newton: Cam has not impressed of late, passing for only 353 yards and 2 touchdowns over his last 2 games. Fortunately, he will have a great opportunity to bounce back against the Eagles who have given up 2+ passing touchdowns and over 200 yards in 7 of their 8 games this year.

Russell Wilson: Another guy who hasn’t impressed as of late is Russell Wilson. Wilson has passed for over 202 yards just twice this year and has only 1 touchdown over Seattle’s last 2 games. The very talented Wilson should be able to get back to form this week facing a Giants’ defense that has surrendered 9 scores through the air over their last 3 and over 248 passing yards in 7 of their games.

Legarrette Blount: I am expecting the red-hot Steelers to put a beating on the Jets tomorrow at the Meadow Lands. With that being said, I see no reason why the Steelers will wear out Le’Veon Bell, which means Blount should see a fair amount of touches. Although the Jets have a stout front 7 they have given up over 110 yards on the ground in 3 of their last 5 games. The physical Blount should get ample opportunity to go toe to toe with the Jets’ big run stoppers.

Justin Forsett: Forsett has had a very solid year, racking up over 85 total yards in 7 of 8 games this season and has an ideal matchup this week against the Titans. Tennessee has allowed over 200 yards on the ground twice this year as well as over 95 yards in all but one game. Forsett has averaged 20 touches a game since week 7 and if he gets those touches against the Titans he should have a big day.

Darren Sproles: Sproles is notorious for being a boom or bust player, but I think he will bust out against the Panthers. The Panthers are 30th against running backs this year, surrendering 9 touchdowns to opposing backfields. Although Mark Sanchez looked good last week I believe Chip Kelly will try and relieve some of the pressure and rely heavily on the run game.

Davante Adams: In each of the last 4 games Adams has produced 7 standard fantasy points. This week Adams and the rest of the Packers’ receiving corps will be facing a Bears defense that allowed Aaron Rodgers to throw for 302 yards and 4 scores in their first matchup in Chicago.

Roddy White: This one is all about the matchup. Tampa Bay has allowed over 200 yards to opposing team’s receivers 4 times this year as well as 14 total touchdowns. The Bucs should try and keep Julio Jones in check after he went off for 161 yards and 2 touchdowns in their first meeting. Roddy, who did not play in the first matchup should benefit from single coverage all day.

John Brown: Although the Rams’ defense has been much improved over the last 5 games they have allowed over 150 yards and 7 touchdowns in 4 of those contests. The Rams’ pass rush has been especially good, meaning Carson Palmer will have to get rid of the ball quickly which bodes well for the speedy slot man.


Ryan Tannehill: Tannehill is one of the hottest names in the fantasy football world right now, but it should be noted that he has yet to throw for over 300 yards this year. Don’t expect him to break that mark this week against Lions who have held QBs to single digit fantasy performances 4 times and a league best 9 passing touchdowns this year.

Eli Manning: Don’t let Eli’s back-to-back solid fantasy weeks fool you. Last week he picked up the majority of his points in the 4th quarter when they were down 40-10 to the Colts. This week the Giants travel to Seattle to face a defense that hasn’t allowed a quarterback to pass for over 200 yards in any of the last 3 games.

Frank Gore
Don’t look for Frank Gore to snap out of his funk this week against the Saints

Joique Bell: Bell hasn’t had more than 18 carries in any game and he shouldn’t break that threshold this week with a healthy Reggie Bush and an emerging Theo Riddick sharing the Lions’ backfield. To make matters worse the Dolphins have held teams to under 100 yards on the ground in 4 of their last 5 games.

Frank Gore: The ageless Gore hasn’t broken 50 rushing yards in any of the last 3 games and hasn’t scored since week 2. New Orleans hasn’t allowed 100 yards on the ground in any of last 4 games and the 49ers may have to abandon the run early if Drew Brees gets back his Superdome magic.

Brandin Cooks: Besides the Denver game the 49ers haven’t given up more than 11 standard fantasy points to receiving corps in any of their past 4 games. It’s also very hard to trust Cooks when Brees has Colston, Graham, and Stills to throw to as well as a strong running attack lead by Mark Ingram.

Michael Crabtree: Crabtree should draw the attention of the Saints’ Keenan Lewis all game. In the last two games where Lewis has followed a receiver he has held Kelvin Benjamin to 2 catches for 18 yards and Jordy Nelson to 3 catches for 25 yards. Crabtree has already had a mediocre year surpassing 50 yards in a game only twice. Expect his struggles to continue in week 10.

Mike Wallace: Mike Wallace’s fantasy value has become completely touchdown dependent. He has hauled in more than 5 balls only once this year and has a total of 5 catches over Miami’s last 2 games. This touchdown dependent receiver will have a tough day against the Lions who have allowed only 3 receivers to touch pay dirt in 2014.

Photo cred: http://goo.gl/7uCcPd

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Payton is the newest fantasy football contributor to The Sports Script. Be on the lookout for more of his work in the coming weeks and follow him on Twitter @PaySand!

Ricky’s Week 8 5-Pack Fantasy Sleepers

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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For season-long fantasy football chatter, follow Ricky on Twitter @rickygangster!