Recent Fantasy Clicks 8-1-08: Manny's Hollywood Close-Up 7-31-08: Contemplating a blockbuster 7-29-08: Is 29 the New 40? 7-28-08: The Real Playoff Horses 7-25-08: All-Undervalued Team 7-24-08: Running to nowhere 7-23-08: A threat on the NBA's horizon 7-22-08: Escape from New York 7-21-08: Breaking Down Vlad, Lee and Crawford 7-18-08: Beware of the Curse of the HR Derby 7-17-08: Best advice for season's second half 7-16-08: Biggest fantasy busts of 2008
Manny's Hollywood Close-Up
Manny Ramirez: AP
So, Manny Ramirez is now with the Dodgers and out of Boston (seemingly) for good, eh? Fine. But does it really matter where he's playing come August and September, or what playoff-contending uniform he's wearing during the stretch run?
The no-nonsense fantasy owner should care less about the next "Manny Being Manny" episode in La-La Land, or whether or not Ramirez, while playing left field at Dodger Stadium, would ever (comically) cut-off one of center fielder Juan Pierre's throws to third base or how fast (or slow) he runs to first base during academic groundouts (scouts reportedly clocked Manny at a glacial pace of 5-plus seconds the other night). No, the only things that truly matter are:
1) How will Ramirez respond/adjust to his new surroundings?
2) What can he expect when facing a largely unfamiliar lot of National League pitchers?
3) At age 36, is he still capable of carrying a team offensively?
4) And what's his track record during the months of August and September?
Listed below, SI.com has a survey of Manny's August/September production since 2000:
This one comes courtesy of SI.com's resident trivia guru, Bill Trocchi: Mike Sweeney, Mark Teixeira, Adam Dunn and Geoff Jenkins are the four active leaders in home runs for players who've never reached the postseason. Who is the king dinger of the group? Scroll down for the answer.
Arms And The Men
Let's pretend the difference between first-place and third-place overall in your fantasy league rests with three or four little slots in both ERA and WHIP. But you don't have the heart to part with either Ian Kinsler or Jose Reyes to make a trade play for Jonathan Papelbon, K-Rod or CC Sabathia. In other words, you're looking for a quick and cheap way to steal the league title. Well, once again, SI.com has you covered with its list of the top-10 hidden gems (or non-closers) for strikeouts, ERA and WHIP: (Stats taken into account since July 1 -- minimum of 10 innings)
1. J.P. Howell, Tampa Bay
2. Brad Ziegler, Oakland
3. Carlos Villanueva, Milwaukee
4. Grant Balfour, Tampa Bay
5. Jonathan Broxton, L.A. Dodgers
6. Octavio Dotel, Chicago White Sox
7. Matt Lindstrom, Florida
8. Will Ohman, Atlanta
9. Ron Mahay, Kansas City
10. Cesar Jimenez, Seattle
In Case Of Emergency
In search of an unheralded Friday spot starter for your fantasy lineup, one who may bring glory in Ks, ERA and WHIP -- if for just one night? Look no further than Minnesota's Nick Blackburn, who's been at the forefront of the Twins' resurgence in the AL Central. In his last 12 starts, Blackburn has once allowed 4-plus runs. During that span, he's also posted a strong 40/14 K/BB ratio, yielded just five homers and cultivated an absurdly low WHIP that hovers around 1.00. On Friday night, he'll be facing the Indians (ranked 26th in batting average). The Twins, by the way, are 37-20 at the Metrodome this season. Here's hoping this prediction fares better than my Tuesday one -- Cincinnati's Bronson Arroyo (6 runs in 6 1/3 inning, 3 Ks).
The Reds' Dunn, who was surprisingly not a trade-deadline acquisition for either the Rays or Red Sox, has the most home runs (270) for an active player who has never reached the postseason.
Double Your Pleasure
Changing gears to football ... need a little hint as to which receiving tandem will rule the roost in 2008? One national publication has painstakingly crunched the numbers, thus determining the 'winners' in the vital categories of Targets, Catches, Yards Receiving and Total TDs.
Targets: Chad Johnson (156), T.J. Houshmandzadeh (155) = 311 total
Catches: Larry Fitzgerald (95), Anquan Boldin (84) = 179 total
Receiving Yards: Fitzgerald (1,367), Boldin (1,123) = 2,490 total
TDs: (tie) Randy Moss (14), Wes Welker (5); Fitzgerald (10), Boldin (9) = 19 total
Of course, these estimates are based on the players being healthy (but not necessarily happy -- ahem, Boldin). In fact, the Fitzgerald-Boldin forecast could already be in jeopardy, if there's any dire significance to Boldin's recent hamstring injury.
Anquan Boldin (left), Larry Fitzgerald: AP
The Buddy System
The fantasy owners of Giants running back Brandon Jacobs -- at least the ones who preach 'handcuffing' -- will encounter an interesting dilemma in the latter rounds of their respective drafts: Who's the better handcuff, Ahmad Bradshaw or Derrick Ward? Whether you favor Bradshaw (151 rushing yards in Week 16 last season) or Ward (602 rushing yards in '07; five games of 80 yards or more), both players should be full-time participants in New York -- now that Bradshaw's jail terms will not overlap with football season. Of course, that's assuming Reuben Droughns (2,472 combined rushing yards from 2004-05) isn't a viable threat to unseat either Bradshaw or Ward.
Bye, Bye ... Bye Theory?
Say you take Adrian Peterson with the No. 1 or No. 2 pick in your 12-team league. And on the backside of Round 2, you have a clear shot at Packers RB Ryan Grant. Do you make the bold move of securing AP and Grant for your starting backfield, or do you pass on Grant -- not due to his current holdout, per se -- because he shares a Week 8 bye with Peterson?
My old-school way of thinking initially dictated, "Heck no!" But lately, I've been reading intently about the long-term benefits of aligning stars to the same bye week, and I will touch on this conundrum next week. For a complete listing of 2008 bye weeks, click here.
Gratuitous Promotion Warning
The Sports Illustrated Fantasy Football Preview has arrived at bookstores and grocery outlets nationwide, just after Mock Draft season and right before Draft Day. I would advise all cheatsheet-makers to use the detailed rankings (QB, RB, WR, TE, K, D/ST) as a supplement to your ever-expanding temporary fortress of fantasy magazines, mock-draft results sheets and, of course, my own Top 200 rankings.
Doing The Mock Thing
I Cannot Leave Without Saying ...
That I've gone two weeks without rehashing one nanosecond of the Brett Favre Saga or how it MAY affect the fantasy world this season, if at all. Well, assuming Favre doesn't take the Packers' hush money and stay retired, I will project his 2008 numbers -- for either Green Bay, Tampa Bay, the New York Jets or Canadian Football League team of his choice -- sometime next week.
Come One, Come All
At long last, SI.com has a fantasy football game, complete with all of the drafts, waiver wires, stats and analysis you need. Take the grand tour here and sign up a league. Heck, sign up two leagues if you want. We'll be waiting.
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