2012 Fantasy Football Preview: D/ST

Football fans, you’re Christmas is right around the corner. Preseason games have already started and the regular season is right around the corner. Nearly as important, the fantasy football season is finally here! In the coming weeks, we will prepare you ready for the upcoming fantasy season by breaking every position. First up, we’ll rank the top the top defense & special team units.

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Week 5 Fantasy Football Rankings: Bye weeks begin

Fantasy football is about more than assembling your favorite players on one team. This week, with six teams on a bye week, strategy element of the game begins to set in. While a week to rest might be good for the players, it’s certainly a headache for fantasy owners.

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Fantasy Football Weekly Podcast 4, Sports Radio 1400

wes_welker

WQOW ABC 18’s  Stephen Kelley co-host a weekly fantasy football radio show here in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. After the jump listen to “Fantasy Football Weekly on Sports Radio 1400”

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Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings: Put up or shut up

We’re three weeks into the fantasy football season and the surprises just keep on coming. Cam Newton and Matthew Stafford are top-10 fantasy quarterbacks. Coe College alum Fred Jackson is the third best fantasy back. And how about Scott Chandler, who had one catch before this year, picking up four scores in the first three weeks. But much like business, it’s not what you did last week; it’s what are you going to do for me now. So let’s look into the crystal ball and find this weeks surprise, shall we?

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Fantasy Football Weekly Podcast, Sports Radio 1400

WQOW ABC 18’s  Stephen Kelley co-host a weekly fantasy football radio show here in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. After the jump listen to “Fantasy Football Weekly on Sports Radio 1400”
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Week 3 Fantasy Football Rankings: The Injury Bug Bites

It shouldn’t surprise any of us. In a game as violent as football, injuries are bound to happen. Top-5 pick Jamaal Charles is out for season. Miles Austin is out until October 16th. Let’s not even get started on Peyton Manning.  Much like their professional counterparts, fantasy owners need to find ways to fill the void left by their injured players. Included in this week’s rankings, I’ll list some guys that could step in for your injured star this week.

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Week 2 Fantasy Football Rankings: Building on a strong week

If we learned one thing about the NFL in week one: the lockout certainly did not slow down the offensive numbers.  A ridiculous 14 quarterbacks had more than 300 yards, four of which went over 400. 13 receivers topped 100 yards, including seven double-digit touchdown performances. Needless to say, fantasy teams weren’t suffering. Now it’s time to build on that success and dominate week two of the fantasy season.

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Week 1 Fantasy Football Rankings: Football is Back!

We endured an offseason consisting of men in suits walking in and out of buildings. We endured a three-month stretch when the work “lockout” might as well have been preceded by a four-letter word. But courtrooms, politics, and league lawyers are now a thing of the past. Because ladies and gentleman, we’re finally here! The start of the NFL season is here!

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St. Louis Rams NFL Draft Prospectus

rams cheerleaders

For the St. Louis Rams, the team with the #1 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, this year marks a chance for them to build on a solid foundation that they’ve already laid the ground work for. They got their franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford last year, now they need a legit wideout to pair with him- or maybe some additional protection up front.

Of course, this team is coached by Steve Spagnuolo, the new boy defensive genius of the NFL, so you know they’ll load on that side of the ball too. Here’s what I have mocked to them in the first three rounds.

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Midwest Swing Sweet 16 Edition

The MLB All-Star Game: Encouraging voter fraud one fan at a time

The 2009 All-Star Game

By Jake McCormick

Trivia time! Name the only major American sporting event where there are no sports scheduled during the game and the days before and after.

By process of seasonal elimination, the answer has to be the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. The subtitle should be “The Only Exhibition Game that Matters,” after its one of many flaws.

All-star games in other leagues are advantageous for all the players involved. The ones that are selected receive well-deserved recognition for their personal achievements in team sports, complete with week-long vacations to places like Las Vegas and Hawaii. Bud Selig believed that by The impending ending to an All-Star Game that mattersmaking the MLB All-Star Game count for something, it would improve overall ratings and easily solve the home field advantage in the World Series problem. The better idea would be to total up the final interleague records and award home field advantage to league that won the most games. Putting relevance into the game has the potential for a Griswold family vacation, where players get hurt or overworked because the managers treat it as more than just a friendly competition.

Although fan voting in any league can be considered about as smart as motives for choosing political candidates, the MLB has better election rigging tactics than Iran. Instead of fans choosing the starters for the game, follow the NBA’s lead and just count fans for one-third of the final results. Every year there are starters that are questionable for the overall team (See 2008: Jason Varitek, Kosuke Fukudome), and certain fan bases (Brewers, Phillies, Red Sox) cast enough votes that their bench players get heavy consideration. You don’t need a congressional audit committee to figure out the All-Star Game doesn’t always pit the best against the best, but neither do real elections I guess.

Setting these necessary changes aside, there were a lot less snubs for this year’s game than there have been in the past. Apparently voting has been a little smarter, as the players and fans connected on seven starters from the NL and six from the AL. The MLB must’ve done some fine exit polling. Here are the changes I would make to both leagues’ starting lineups, reserves, and pitching staff:

American League starters:
Justin MorneauFirst Base – Justin Morneau, Twins (Mark Teixiera, New York Yankees)
Pure example of fan voting at its finest. Morneau has been more consistent throughout the season, isn’t surrounded by the best lineup money can buy, and leads Teixiera in batting average, home runs, RBIs, on-base percentage, and both are equally excellent fielders.

Aaron HillSecond Base – Aaron Hill, Toronto Blue Jays (Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox)
This is the easiest change to make, and I would argue that Ian Kinsler, Brian Roberts, or Robinson Cano (preferably Cano) should’ve received Pedroia’s spot on the roster. Hill leads AL second basemen in home runs and RBIs, and gives the Blue Jays production the team expected from Vernon Wells, who looks more like Ben Grieve than Torii Hunter.

Torii HunterOutfield – Torii Hunter, Los Angeles Angels (Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers)
Hamilton has been injured for most of the first half, so replacing him was pretty easy. Hunter is on pace for another career year at the plate while continuing to make friends with every outfield wall he can. Side note: I became an immediate fan of Torii Hunter when he told Jim Rome that he doesn’t wear a cup because “there’s too much going on down there.” It makes every crazy catch he’s made that much harder/funnier to watch.

AL position snub:
Miguel CabreraKevin Youkilis should not be on this roster. Miguel Cabrera plays the same position, has more home runs, RBIs, a better average, less strikeouts, and more at-bats than Youkilis. Both are great players on good teams, but feel-good story Russell Branyan’s stats are almost identical to Youkilis’, and he’s not going to St. Louis either.

AL pitcher snubs:
Tim WakefieldThe biggest question mark for the AL pitching staff was Tim Wakefield, who has pitched well but not nearly to the caliber as starters like Jared Weaver or Kevin Millwood. Wakefield benefited from the Eric Crouch Effect, where as long as he has played well for a long enough period, he’ll get an All-Star berth, Heisman Trophy, or gold watch.

National League starters:
Brian McCannCatcher – Brian McCann, Atlanta Braves (Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals)
Like brother Benji Molina, Yadier Molina has quietly shed his reputation as a pure defensive catcher and has become a fairly good back of the lineup hitter. NL catchers have largely been an offensive disappointment this season, but McCann should be starting based off his better overall hitting statistics.

Brad HawpeOutfield – Brad Hawpe, Colorado Rockies (Carlos Beltran, Mets)
I chose Hawpe because he is in the top five for most offensive categories, including batting average, slugging percentage, doubles, and RBIs. You could make the argument that Coors Field inflates his stats, but they aren’t exactly night and day (.374, 4 HR, 27 RBI in 107 AB at home/.291, 9 HR, 29 RBI in 158 AB on the road).

NL position snub:
Mark ReynoldsRyan Howard should be swapped for Mark Reynolds outright. Reynolds leads him in home runs, RBIs, batting average, on-base percentage, and has 14 steals on his resume. Howard is good, and I’m guessing Charlie Manuel picked three extra first basemen so they could pinch hit in a clutch situation, but Reynolds doesn’t have Chase Utley or Raul Ibanez around him in the Diamondbacks lineup. Another easy switch would be Astro Hunter Pence for Dodger Matt Kemp, who is statistically superior to Pence in a lineup that was expected to falter without Manny Ramirez.

NL pitcher snubs:
Here are the 2009 numbers for Johan Santana, Adam Wainwright, Ted Lilly, and Yovani Gallardo. Try to match the stats to the pitcher!

1. 9-7, 3.29 ERA, 107 K
2. 8-6, 2.95 ERA, 120 K
3. 8-6, 3.32 ERA, 97 K
4. 9-5, 3.09 ERA, 110 K

Yovani GallardoThe correct answers are 1. Santana, 2. Gallardo, 3. Lilly, and 4. Wainwright. Lilly’s addition to the team was simply because no one else on the Cubs stood out enough, and since every team has to have one player on the roster, I’ll let it pass. But other Adam Wainwrightthan wins, Gallardo has outpitched Santana throughout the year. Same goes for Wainwright, who has been a model of consistency for a Cardinals team that is in first in the NL Central and hosting the All-Star Game. Name recognition had to factor into Santana’s selection.

The NL team is very similar to the Cubs; they haven’t won a game in 12 years, continue to field better players each year, and every time I look at the rosters I keep thinking, “this could be the year.” Then I come back to reality and realize the AL has more money, and subsequently better overall players. Whatever the results may be, the selection process itself needs to be changed in some way. But unless there’s a big scandal, odds are that Selig will continue tooting the ratings and record attendance horn until he sells every used car in his lot.