THE GEEKLY UPDATE (8/25)

If you may be in the money in your baseball league, resist the fantasy football sirens!

It’s happening again. As soon as we have our first fantasy football draft of the season, we’re like basewhat? Perfectly acceptable if your fantasy baseball season is over. But we’re just a couple of weeks away from the playoffs in H2H leagues and the home stretch in roto leagues. That’s no time to be lured away by the siren song that is fantasy football. Nope. You just need to gather your composure, tighten your grip on that remote and get ready for a double dose of fantasy action. We’ll be your tenacious sidekicks. This week, I’m hooking you up with the scoop on all those running-back-by-committee situations, plus the haps in MLB. Let’s get this fiesta going with the…


STARTING FIVE

“What’s the secret behind your sudden power, Jose?” “Magic burritos.”

1. Sidney Rice had surgery on his hip and may miss half the season
I wish I had Superman’s powers so I could fly around the earth to reverse time so I could get my fourth-round pick back.

2. Jose Bautista reaches 40 home runs
Somewhere, Brady Anderson is scratching his head.

3. Johnny Damon refuses to be traded to the Red Sox
Congratulations go out to Matt Damon, who remains “Boston’s Favorite Damon” for being wickid smaht in Good Will Hunting.

4. Chad Ochocinco fined by the NFL for tweeting
A fantastic start to the season for Ochocinco, who now lead Owens in fines, $25,000 to $0. Your move, Terrell.

5. Mark Cuban makes a cameo on Entourage
Who else was kinda hoping he’d steal Vince’s porn star girlfriend?




GETTIN’ GEEKED

Committee Review

Fantasy football isn’t what it used to be. Back in the day, it was running back, running back, running back. Literally. You’d be crazy not to select at least a couple of running backs with your top picks. Whoever had the good fortune of landing Emmitt Smith or Marshall Faulk would have a big leg up on the competition. The NFL, however, has evolved. Running backs are being handled more carefully to preserve their health. This current trend has spawned the dreaded Running Back By Committee (RBBC) approach.

While RBBCs are lengthening the careers of players like Thomas Jones and Brandon Jacobs, they’re giving fantasy football owners fits. Roughly 20 of the 32 NFL teams will use some form of platoon situation at running back. In a recent draft, I noticed that many of the players sliding down the draft board had one thing in common: they were part of a committee. There’s a genuine fear of the unknown. When carries are split up and roles are undefined, drafters get more hesitant than drivers at a four-way stop sign. But where’s there’s apprehension, there’s also opportunity. Let’s take a close look at some committee situations (involving three or more players) that look like a mess, but can provide some sneaky good value.

DALLAS COWBOYS: Marion Barber/Felix Jones/Tashard Choice

The Cowboys have one of the highest-profile RBBCs. Both Barber and Jones are typically going in Rounds 4 or 5. With some heavy offseason media hype and a career 6.5 yards-per-carry average, Jones has some drool-producing upside. But early in training camp, the Cowboys tagged Barber as the starter once again. He topped 100 yards rushing just once in ’09, despite getting roughly two-thirds of the carries. Throw a very capable Tashard Choice into the mix and you’ve got too much talent for one backfield. Choice had a couple of big games and would thrive as the starter on several other NFL teams.

Commit to: Jones. He should be drafted first, as the split should move toward 50-50. Barber can be a nice little value if he slips enough because he’ll probably find the end zone more often than Jones, but it’s unlikely that he’ll put up better yardage totals. Because Felix is injury prone (his knee is already swelling up in the preseason), Choice is a solid handcuff.

BUFFALO BILLS: Fred Jackson/CJ Spiller/Marshawn Lynch

Marshawn Lynch has taken a back seat in the Bills offense.

The cloudy situation in upstate New York has gotten cloudier with injuries to Jackson and Lynch. Normally, we’d use the four preseason contests to gauge who would get the bulk of the handoffs in Week 1. But with Spiller the only one getting reps these days, it’s tough to tell what’ll happen when the other guys are added back into the mix. Spiller could take this opportunity and, ahem, run with it. He’s a shifty back who is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Jackson is known for his workmanlike effort. He’s a tough runner who catches the ball well. He’s being slowed by a broken hand, but should be fine by the start of the season. Then you’ve got Marshawn Lynch. The former first-rounder is just 24 years old, but has fallen out of favor in Buffalo because he dances around in the backfield and drives around hitting pedestrians. The Bills were said to be shopping Lynch around, but now it appears he’ll be wearing blue and red in ’10.

Commit to: Jackson. I believe he’ll ultimately be the more productive, reliable back here, even though Spiller is going the highest in drafts (Round 6). The broken hand is dropping Jackson far enough down that he could give you solid value in Round 7. Lynch is now only worth a late-round flier, which goes to show how risky young running backs can be. Keeper leaguers should go after Spiller first, as he’s got rare breakaway ability that could earn him a bulk of the carries down the road, à la Chris Johnson. With all three of these backs, you also need to keep in mind that their talent will only get them so far…Buffalo’s offensive line is softer than melted butter.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: Justin Forsett/Julius Jones/Leon Washington

If fantasy owners ran the Seahawks, it would be all Forsett, all the time. The third-year back put up big numbers in limited action. He only received 15+ carries in two games last season, but averaged an impressive 5.4 yards per carry in a very disappointing offense. The majority of carries went to Jones last season. After suffering through his pedestrian 3.7 yard per carry, fantasy owners would’ve probably traded Julius Jones for a child-sized Orange Julius fruit drink. The new face in this crowd is Leon Washington, who came over from the Jets after suffering a season-ending leg fracture in ’09. Washington’s a speedster who excels at catching the ball out of the backfield and returning kicks.

Commit to: Forsett, but keep an eye on Washington. New head coach Pete Carroll has been tight-lipped about his RB trio, but says he loves what each guy brings to the table. Greeeeeat. Forsett is going first in drafts, generally in Round 8, while the other two are going much later, if at all. But there is one interesting development that may start shifting their values. Carroll has named Washington his starting tailback for the third preseason game, which often most closely resembles the opening week lineup. Pay attention to how Washington fares. At 5’8″, 203 pounds, he’s clearly not an every-down back, but it’s still possible he’ll be the most valuable Seahawks RB this season.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Laurence Maroney/Fred Taylor/Sammy Morris/Benjarvus Green-Ellis/Kevin Faulk

That’s a lot of names. The Patriots have the committee of all committees. Coach Bill Belichick is famous for his stealthy tactics. So when fantasy owners coming looking for hints as to which of these four guys will be the lead back, they get zip, nada, nothing. Maroney has frustrated fans during his first four years in the league. He scored a career-high 9 touchdowns last year, but had trouble hanging onto the ball. Fred Taylor is known more for his “fragile” tag than his effectiveness. Sammy Morris also missed time last season and is no spring chicken at 33. Benjarvus Green-Ellis (a.k.a. “The Law Firm”) has sparkled in brief appearances, yet has never had the opportunity to gain momentum. The only one with a clearly defined role is Kevin Faulk. He’s your third-down back and best receiver out of the backfield.

Commit to: Maroney, if you’re desperate for a running back. Trying to learn from recent history is useless, as the constantly scheming Belichick changes everything up on a whim. But we know one thing: the Patriots will still be a pass-first offense. So temper expectations for this entire committee. With all five backs entering the season healthy, it’s safe to dismiss Morris and Green-Ellis. Faulk is really only ownable in point-per-reception leagues. So it comes down to Maroney and Taylor. Of the two, Maroney has more potential for big games. But he’s also more likely to end up in the doghouse.





KEEPIN’ IT ON THE D.L.

We’re getting to the point where “DL” means “end of season”…

Stephen Strasburg has thrown the last pitch of his rookie season, due to a forearm injury. Keeper leaguers, hold on tight and wait til next year.

Kevin Slowey is slowing down his owners with a strained triceps. It comes at a bad time, as he was pitching some of his best ball of the season.

Dustin Pedroia is just dust in the wind after going back on the list with his messed up foot. If Bill Hall is still out there in your league, grab him. Now.Alex Rodriguez’s strained calf landed him on the DL. He’ll be back when eligible, but it’s more disappointment for all those owners who drafted him third overall.


INKED & AXED

Here’s our take on the players fantasy owners are adding and dropping the most. (Change in Ownership Percentages via CBS Sports leagues)

Hot Commodities

Yuniesky Betancourt (up 19%): 6 home runs in August. Who does he think he is, Jose Bautista? Pick him up if you’re hurting at MI, but don’t expect this to last. This has “correction coming” written all over it.

Bud Norris (up 13%): No mystery why fantasy leaguers were all over Norris last week. He punched out 14 batters in one game and goes twice this week. Putting the Ks aside, Norris may have turned the corner. He’s gone at least 6 innings in his past 7 starts and has 4 wins to show for it. He’ll be an intriguing pick next season.

Ronny Paulino must’ve confused himself with Ronnie from Jersey Shore.

Joe Blanton (up 11%): This spike is certainly due to Blanton’s double-start status in Week 21. But he’s been fairly effective of late, with 31 Ks in his past 32 innings.

Cold Product

JP Arencibia (down 22%): Boom! 2 HRs in his first game! Then? Absolutely nothing. If you’re one of the crafty owners who scooped him up early, then sold high right away, I applaud you.

Ronny Paulino (down 11%): He got nailed for PED use and is serving a 50-game suspension. Yeah, that’ll get you dropped in a hurry.

Matt LaPorta (down 6%): Ick. LaPorta is mired in a 3 for 36 slump. Guess he’s living up to his nickname, Matt LaPorta-Potty.


BIG SURPRISES

Guys who stepped up over the past week:

Omar Infante (.433 BA, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 1 SB) – Atlanta’s super-sub is getting full-time at bats now and he’s making the most of them. I used to like Infante as a plucky MI guy when he was on Detroit. Now, he’s become a legit every-week starter.

Coco Crisp (.321 BA, 1 HR, 5 SB) – Yes, all the headlines you’ve been reading are true. Coco is going cuckoo at the plate and on the base paths. He better not be on your waiver wire if you need steals.

CJ Wilson
(8.2 IP, 4 H+BB, 0 ER, 12 K, W) – Because this was his first season as a starter, I thought Wilson would run out of gas. Well, the empty light came on for a brief time, but Wilson filled ‘er up and now he’s back to throwing gas. 


SUDDEN DEMISES

Stars who stumbled:

Adam Dunn (.055, 0 HR, 11 K) – The Big Dunnkey was red hot for a long time. He was due to come back down to earth a bit.

Carlos Gonzalez (.091 BA, 0 HR, 0 R, 0 RBI) – Take a good look at that awful week for Car-Go. You may never see anything like it again.

Yovani Gallardo (3.1 IP, 11 H+BB, 6 ER, L) – Yo-Ga hasn’t been quite right since the 12-strikeout game he had on 8/2. Wonder if the pitch counts are getting to him.


STAT THAT LOOKS LIKE A TYPO…BUT ISN’T

15

That’s how many hits Carl Pavano gave up in 6 innings on 8/19. I can’t ever remember seeing a pitcher give up more hits than that. Holy WHIP-killer, Batman!


HARDBALL HELP

Marvin:  Is Cody Ross worth owning now that he’s been claimed by SF?

The Fantasy Geek:  Not in 12-team leagues or smaller. It’s a real logjam in the SF outfield with Burrell, Huff, Torres, Rowand and now Ross. Burrell is red-hot and Torres and Huff shouldn’t miss out on many at bats.


WHERE AMAZING POLLS HAPPEN


NEXT

It’s crunch time in fantasy baseball and draft time in fantasy football…our favorite time of the year, so come on by:

ALL THE TIME – Look for our tweets with player updates as well as quick posts

FRIDAYSimon Says with more fantasy slants from Si

FRIDAY – Gridiron Geek Fantasy Football Chat with The Geek

SUNDAY Hustle Points with hot free agents, day-to-dayers and double-start pitchers

MONDAY @ 3ET/12PTHardball Help Live Chat with Si and The Geek.

WEDNESDAYThe Geekly Update

And coming up on Saturday 9/4 at 12 ET/9 PT, we’ll be doing our GeekSpeak Fantasy Football Preview Show Podcast.


RUNNING OUT THE CLOCK

Things that popped into my head or my inbox during the past week…

>> This football season, our weekly picks column will be back to help you out in your office pools—or if you fancy a little football betting. Looking for a site that’s top-notch for customer support and payouts? Check out Belmont.com. They’ve got all your sports betting needs covered.

>> When did yo-yoing become an extreme sport? I have a hard enough time getting the damn thing to roll back up to my hand. This guy has spent an hour or two practicing, I think. My favorite part is at the 2:16 mark, when he gives the audience a nod that says “Yeah, I’m hot stuff.” Dude, it’s a yo-yo.

>> It should be illegal to have this much fun playing pool basketball.

Two drafts down, three to go,

The Geek

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One Response

  1. Keep the football stuff coming! I’m under prepared for my drafts, and you guys are always on top of it!

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