Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fantasy Favorites

A few musings and predictions for your upcoming fantasy drafts...

Aaron Rogers is the only QB that is worth drafting in the first round (think after pick 9).

Larry Fitzgerald is the best receiver in the league who will never get the ball as long as Matt Leinart is QB. Careful here with picking him.

LT and Shonn Greene will produce like Stewart and Williams with Carolina. Saying it now-if LT stays healthy he gets 1000 yards this season. No particular reason, call it a hunch...

Bye week stacking-an interesting idea. Basically you draft a lot of guys who all have bye weeks the same week and essentially forfeit that one game, but then have a stacked line up the rest of the year. Never tried it, but this year I might.

Handcuffing-why on earth would you draft a running back who you thought was going to get injured just so you can waste a pick later in the draft on his back up. I have never understood this philosophy. Yes, everyone will say what about Michael Turner last year with Jason Snelling. My response: unless you're a mind reader why do you want to waste even a late round pick on a bench player. Waiver wires exist for a reason.

Ray Rice. Better year than Chris Johnson.

Some good rookies and 2nd year studs will be on a lot of teams.

Defense/kicker = your last 2 picks.

Jermichael Finley leads all TEs this year.

Be patient and value oriented. Just because everyone in your draft gets TE happy in the 4th round doesn't mean you should too or QB happy in the second round. Patience can pay off big time.

Questions, comments, complaints? hit me up.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Torch Report: Champions?

So when I last wrote about the Liberty they had won 5 of 6 and we're in the hunt for the playoffs. A lot has changed since then and for the better. The month of August has seen this team come together and they are playing better than anyone in the league winning their last 10 games and tied for first place with Indiana. In fact, if the finals were tomorrow I'd take them over Seattle head to head in a 5 game series-that's how good they are playing.

What's the difference? They are no longer a 1 woman team. Nicole Powell has finally gotten comfortable in her new digs and is shooting 59% from the floor and a whopping 56% from behind the arc. When she is on they are near unbeatable. Taj has been a steady force in the paint and the veteran has put up double digits points in 4 of 5 games. McCarville is shooting 49%, which is her best month since May. Although she's not averaging as many points, she's taking better shots and is dishing out 3 assists and grabbing 6 boards a game. All positive and productive. Leilani Mitchell is quietly putting together a career season. There were doubts going into the season if she could be a starter in this league, but she's been beyond impressive. She's been solid on defense and a stud on offense. When the Liberty need a big shot she always seems to be able to knock it down. They are also getting key minutes from the bench with Pierson, Carson, and Greene that's letting the starters keep their minutes down as the Liberty play 4 games in 6 days.

Cappie continues to have a MVP type season. She's a team player who has made everyone around her play at a higher level. Her desire to win a championship is contagious and her leadership is setting the tone for this team. They are peaking at the right time, but still have 2 key games left on the schedule with a tough road game against Washington tonight.

The Liberty are set to make a deep run in the playoffs-possibly playing for a Championship. They have a playoff veteran led team with players and a coach who have won championships, which could be the X-factor that could bring New York their first championship.

Monday, August 9, 2010

August 10th

August 10th is a big day in my sports year, 2010.  First, the USMNT is facing off against a competitive and new look Brazil team at the Meadowlands.  And second, the NBA is releasing it's complete schedule for the 2010-2011 season.

So far, just the marquee holiday matchups have been set.  Unfortunately, Miami does not open its season in Cleveland, but the Heat will indeed travel twice to Ohio to visit the artist formerly known as Lebron's old team.  Miami will open the season with a great matchup against the Boston Celtics that critics will pick apart for weeks before and after as if the Eastern Conference champion is being determined opening night.

As far are the Knicks are concerned, like in 2009 they again will play first on Christmas day, this year against their old rival Chicago Bulls (how great would a renewed Chicago/New York rivalry be for the NBA?).  Fingers are crossed the Heat will also make two trips to NYC, but if I remember correctly they visited the Garden twice last year so it's probably the Knicks turn to make two trips.

As season ticket holders, we at the Cubicle Coaches tend to be overly invested in the makeup of the Knicks home schedule.  But with excitement brewing, a potential storm looms on the horizon:  Tropical (?) Storm Isiah.


Despite running the Knicks organization into the ground with a group of underachieving players with bloated contracts that Donnie Walsh has struggled to disassemble, Isiah will be following his less than impressive 1st year coaching at Florida International University (7-25 overall record with a 4-14 showing in the fierce Sun Belt conference) with an improved showing.  His attention seems to be elsewhere, however, as he has accepted a position as a "paid consultant" for the Knicks.  To do what, exactly? Advocate to bring in terrible, injury prone players past their primes for enormous costs?  The Knicks finally are finished giving away their 1st round draft picks for Stephon Marbury after the 2010 draft, but had to give up 2012 and offer to swap 2011 with Houston to create something resembling salary cap space.

It goes without saying, that if the Knicks bring Thomas back as the General Manager, the Cubicle Coaches season tickets will not be renewed, bringing great pain and sadness to the friends and family of the blog.  Brooklyn Nets, anyone?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Fantasy Preview: San Diego Chargers

San Diego Chargers
2008: 8-8
2009: 13-3
2010: 13-3

Week 1: at Kansas City
Week 2: Jacksonville
Week 3: at Seattle
Week 4: Arizona
Week 5: at Oakland
Week 6: at St. Louis
Week 7: New England
Week 8: Tennessee
Week 9: at Houston
Week 10: bye
Week 11: Denver
Week 12: at Indianapolis
Week 13: Oakland
Week 14: Kansas City
Week 15: San Francisco
Week 16: at Cincinnati
Week 17: at Denver

San Diego could start the season at 9-0 with New England as their first real test in week 7, but you have to like their chances at home against a team traveling across country. There could be a surprise in week one as KC is always a tough place to play, but shouldn’t be a match for a veteran led team in the Chargers. They’re only real tests in the second half of the season are a road games against Indy and Cincinnati that will have a playoff feel to them.

Quarterback: Philip Rivers has consistently been a top 5 fantasy QB. Don’t worry about Vincent Jackson holding out or the loss of LT. Rivers will continue to produce and is worth a late 2nd round pick in most fantasy drafts.

Running backs: Ryan Matthews is a stud rookie out of Fresno State. The Chargers were so high on this guy they traded up to get him and didn’t think twice about losing LT. With the weak schedule he’ll get plenty of action and will put up some solid numbers. He’s should be available in most drafts until the middle rounds and someone might even pull the trigger on this kid early. I think if you pick him up in the 8th-10th round you’ll have yourself quite a steal. If you’re keen on him then I’d follow him in the preseason, but also in mock drafts to see where he’s going. From there you’ll have a pretty good idea if you can wait or if you need to pick him up a round or two earlier.

Darren Sproles should be watched closely. If Matthews signs early and establishes himself as the starter then Sproles won't get enough touches to warrant a draft pick as his running production will go down this season. If Sproles looks to be the starter, then he's worth a spot on your roster, but he shouldn't be your #1 or #2 RB.

Wide Receivers: Vincent Jackson will be a #1 in pretty much every league. His contract will get worked out and he’ll have plenty of time to get ready for week 1.

Malcom Floyd will be a solid #3 WR or add good depth to your bench. He might not be drafted in some leagues, but by round 12 or 13 he’s a solid value pick.

Tight End: Antonio Gates is one of the few TE’s that is a star in the NFL, but that doesn’t mean you should draft him in the 3rd or even 4th round. If someone picks a TE in the 4th round (it happens) other owners get nervous and pull the trigger and by the 5th round you have 5 or 6 TEs picked even though you have a ton of holes on your roster and a ton of talent on the board. As much as I like Gates, he’s not someone I pick in round 4 or 5. Last year he was the 3rd best TE behind Clark and Davis. To put his point production into perspective, the 49ers Defense scored more points than Gates and no one was picking them in the 4th round. This is about value. He’s a great TE and a starter on every team, but just be patient and don’t pull the trigger too quickly on a guy that’s real value is in the 7th or 8th round.

Defense: The chargers D was pretty average last year. Not great, not horrible. Three of their first 4 picks in the draft this year were on the defensive side so you know they want to improve. Merriman hasn’t been the same since he’s had to play juice free and a suspect secondary leaves them open to the big play. They wouldn’t be my top choice, but are good enough to make them your starting D because they’ll have plenty of help with a weak opening schedule.

Kicker: Nate Kaeding led all kickers last year in fantasy points. If you have the first pick in the 16th round-he’s your man.

The Torch Report

The New York Liberty are finally coming into form by winning 5 of 6, and are 3 games above .500 and now in the 4th spot for the playoffs. Good news is they are only 3 games out of first place in the Eastern Conference. Bad news is they are 3 games from the basement in the ultra-competitive East. Cappie Pondexter is having a MVP type season carrying the Liberty on her back. In yesterday’s game against the Sun, New York had an 8 point lead in the 3rd quarter then 4 minutes later they were down by 8. A 16-point swing earlier this season or on a cap-less Liberty team would have meant a loss and probably a blowout. But, after going down by 8, Cappie literally took the game into her own hands and went coast to coast for a layup that not only woke up the MSG crowd, but more importantly-her teammates. It was clear from that moment the Liberty or I should say Cappie would not be denied. The Lib went onto win 71-67 in a key conference game.

It's tricky to have a good start in the WNBA. Why? Because the majority of the players in the WNBA play overseas and those seasons wrap up literally days before the season begins. Players drafted out of college, new acquisitions and veterans alike have very little time to play together before the season starts. The teams that do are generally a lock to make the playoffs. The Liberty played .500 ball through June and only recently have gotten above the bubble now sitting 3 games over .500. Despite Anne Donovan being a lame-duck coach she’s getting the most of the team. The biggest acquisition this year not named Cappie Pondexter was picking up Plenette Pierson who gives the team a tough inside player. She puts the power in power forward.

Nicole Powell has struggled as a starter this year. Her shooting has been atrocious: 32% from the field and from behind the arc. To make a playoff run she needs to start nailing down shots because the Liberty are going to need more production out her in August as the playoffs are on the line. For now, the Liberty have gotten a free pass from some poor scouting as opposing teams cover Powell, but leave Leilani Mitchell open to knock down the tre’s-and does she ever.

As the Liberty enter the final stretch, Donovan should start Pierson and bench McCarville. Pierson is an intimidating inside presence. The only thing McCarville intimidates is an all you can eat buffet. Too often McCarville settles for 15’ or thinks she can handle the ball and tries to drive from outside the paint only to turn it over. She needs to drop some weight, hit the weight room and take this job seriously. As the season wears on, her numbers dwindle. In May she shot a respectable 53% from the field. In June, 44% and now in July, a boorish 41%-anyone else see a pattern? Fortunately for her, the WNBA usually has at least 3 days in between games as McCarville shoots an abysmal 38% with only 1 days rest and unfortunately for the Liberty their schedule is not kind to them (see below) in August. On top of her poor shooting Janelle doesn’t hustle and takes too many plays off when she's gassed. When she turns the ball over she watches the other team go on a fast break while hanging her head. Rebound: only by accident. It’s time for McCarville to have a reality check and ride the pine for a bit.

As the Liberty enter the final stretch of the season every game will be important. The biggest stretch will be when the Liberty are tested in 5 games a 7 day span playing 3 conference rivals: @Atlanta, Indiana and @Washington. Let’s hope Cappie and the Liberty are up for the challenge.

Fantasy Preview: Oakland Raiders

Oakland Raiders
2008: 5-11
2009: 5-11
2010 Prediction: 6-10

Week 1: at Tennessee
Week 2: St. Louis
Week 3: at Arizona
Week 4: Houston
Week 5: San Diego
Week 6: at San Francisco
Week 7: at Denver
Week 8: Seattle
Week 9: Kansas City
Week 10: bye
Week 11: at Pittsburgh
Week 12: Miami
Week 13: at San Diego
Week 14: at Jacksonville
Week 15: Denver
Week 16: Indianapolis
Week 17: at Kansas City

Oakland will improve this year, but not by much. They start off the season with a tough road match up against the Titans, but then have 3 winnable games before hosting a tough division rival in San Diego. After the bye week they’ll play the Steelers on the road who will be in playoff form, but are lucky to play Indy in week 16 while the Colts tend to be more concerned with resting players than getting a W. Jason Campbell will add stability, but if he goes down any chance at being a .500 team goes down with him.

Quarterbacks: Unless you’re in a 14/16 team league no point in drafting Campbell. Is he an improvement? Yes. Is he a starter? No.

Running backs: Darren McFadden will split carries with Michael Bush. I like McFadden as a wire guy only. He’s an effective receiver out of the backfield, but has yet to be a steady or productive every down back.

Michael Bush: Keep an eye on Bush. Most beat reporters in the Bay area have him picking up the load of the carries now that Justin Fargas has left. He’s averaged 4.8 ypc last season and had a few 100-yard games.

Wide Receivers: Louis Murphy averaged 15.3ypr last year. The only problem is that he only caught 34 balls. Look for him to get between 55-65 receptions this year with the same average making him a bye week guy, but worth a spot on somebody’s roster.

Chaz Schilens is another safe pick for the later rounds. He won’t be a top WR, but could be a worthy sub for when you need him.

Heyward-Bey: I’m not sold on him and wouldn’t draft him. He’s not a good route runner or very physical.

Tight End
Zach Miller led the team in receptions last year and is always a solid starter. He won’t compete with Antonio Gates or even a Brent Celek, but if you don’t want to draft a TE high in the draft, he’ll be there late in the draft to grab. His numbers will only go up this year with a competent QB.

Defense: The Raiders were 26th in the league last year in overall D. 7th in passing D, but 29th against the run. They used their first 2 picks in the draft to help stop the run with Rolando McClain and big bodied Lamarr Houston. Will it make a difference? Not enough to draft this D.

Kicker: Sebastian Janikowski made 6 out of 8 FGs from over 50-yards last year. Only one other kicker in the league had more attempts from that distance (Josh Scobee), but nowhere near his accuracy. With a better team he’ll have more attempts and PATs. From 20-29 yards: 100%, 30-39: 100%, 40-49: 90% (he missed once) and hit 75% from over 50. He’s a starter and should be your pick in the 16th round!