Thursday, August 28, 2014

Bringing Your AAA Game: September Callup Edition

Welcome back fantasy baseball eficionados!  As our season is winding down, hopefully you are all gearing up for your playoff runs to the 'ship!  I'm here today to answer many people's biggest question this time of year as the calendar flips to September: What prospects are getting called up for the annual "cup of Joe" September audition?  First of all, I want to talk to all the Gregory Polanco owners out there.  Settle down!  Seriously, stop freaking out.  He will be back up September 1.  If he's not up, I'll eat my hat and give you your money back for this blog post.  How's that for putting it on the line: promising to eat my hat when no one can ensure that I actually did and giving money back for a free blog post.

Anyway, let's get back to the prospects on their way up to the majors September 1, when all rosters expand from 25 to 40, freeing teams up to "waste" roster spots on younger, unproven players that they can't use earlier in the year.  I'm going to give you some names of players that should be up and what you might be able to expect from them in MLB.  Let's just say that with the promotion of Jorge Soler this past week, the well of top prospects is a little dry, especially position players.  I'll do my best to highlight the names of guys that will be useful to you, whether you are in a shallow league or a deep one.

Sadly, Kris Bryant, Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, and other super exciting prospects won't be called up this September either due to injury, or in Bryant's case, financial considerations, so we are left with some interesting names, but few elite options.

Let's do a full twisting double in the pike position and dive in!

Joc Pederson, LAD OF

There's really not much analysis needed here.  Pederson is ready to play CF for the Dodgers right now after tearing up AAA with a 30 HR, 30 SB season.  He has a .304/.434/.590 slash line.  He has a massive 17.8% walk rate, but a somewhat worrying 27% strikeout rate.  Nonetheless, he's ready and has more fantasy value than anyone else on this list except....he won't have much playing time when he is called up.  Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has already stated that he will not be playing Pederson very much.  LA already has four capable outfielders, so Pederson will probably only start one or two games per week, unless there is an injury.  Pederson has massive upside if he gets regular playing time, but beware, he may have an adjustment period like George Springer did, since he has similar strikeout issues.  Sigh, if only he could get a full-time job this year.  That will have to wait until next year.  Those in very deep leagues may take a flier on him or if a Dodger outfielder goes down, everyone should pick him up.

Francisco Lindor, CLE SS

Many thought Lindor would be called up earlier this summer, but that didn't happen despite the Indians trading away their starting SS, Asdrubal Cabrera.  Now that it is September, there is a very good chance he will get the call.  Lindor's primary fantasy contribution is speed.  He has 28 steals in the minors this year and has put up decent numbers in AAA (.278/.305/.382 with 4 homers) in 33 games, but his walk rate has plummeted from 10% to 4%.  His strikeout rate is OK and probably won't be an issue.  Unfortunately, that line is not world-beating and he probably will offer little offensively in September.  He doesn't have much power, but the speed is above average and he has good contact skills, so he could hit for a decent average eventually.  I would guesstimate his line for September like this: .260/.300/.360 with 5 steals, 10-12 runs, 5-7 RBI and 1-2 homeruns.  If that is useful for you, he should get regular playing time at SS assuming he gets the call, so you can take a chance on him and get some late-season shortstop help.

Denver Broncos Fantasy Football Outlook

The Denver Broncos were the best offensive team in the league last year and payed off for fantasy owners. Peyton manning had a career year in 2013  breaking the single season record for passing yards and passing touchdowns while also throwing double digit touchdowns to four different receivers. While it’s hard to believe he can repeat a record setting season like that it’s almost as hard to believe he won’t, with Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders stepping into Eric Decker’s role, and Montee Ball taking over running back duties the 2014 Broncos are poised to be just as explosive as they were in 2013.

Peyton Manning

Manning had his best season as a fantasy quarterback ever in 2013 scoring 406 points in standard leagues and topping 25 points in nine out of sixteen games. Manning single-handedly won owners their championships last year and is poised to have a similar year this year. Though he lost Eric Decker he may have found a better overall receiver in Emmanuel Sanders. Plus with the return of Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, and Julius Thomas Manning is a player you can feel safe taking in the late 1st round.  We ranked Peyton Manning 1st in our QB rankings.

Montee Ball

Ball is in a great position to become a true RB1 now that Knowshon Moreno is in Miami. Moreno did very well in the Bronco’s high power system last year scoring 220 points, so one could only imagine what a talented running back like Ball could do with the same amount of carries. Due to an appendectomy Ball has fallen into the late 2nd round, but the Broncos organization has said he’ll be ready to go for the season opener.  We ranked Montee Ball 7th in our RB rankings.

Demaryius Thomas

With Manning throwing to him Demaryius Thomas became a premiere receiver. Thomas is an all around receiver who can catch the deep ball and turn a short catch into a long game. He is a consistent fantasy producer scoring 203 and 211 points in his two years with Manning as his QB. Thomas is a safe bet and should be the second receive roff the board behind Calvin Johnson.  We ranked him 2nd in our WR rankings.

Wes Welker

Welker has flashes of the player that he once was but last year it became clear as the season went on that he was at best a 3rd or 4th option in the offense though he still enjoyed success with 10 touchdowns, his 78 receptions were his lowest since 2006. He becomes an even riskier option on draft day after suffering his 3rd concussion in less than 10 years. If he plays he shouldn’t be counted on as anything besides a WR3. Welker’s situation should be monitored closely because if he is out for an extended amount of time Andre Caldwell could be in line for some increased reps.  We ranked him 29th in our WR rankings.

Emmanuel Sanders

Sanders is poised to breakout this year in a big way if he can stay healthy. Last year as a number 2 receiver in a limited Steelers offense he caught 67 balls for 740 yards and six touchdowns. In a Denver offense in which three receivers had double digit touchdowns last year a receiver with Sanders’ potential could do wonders as your WR3 with WR2 potential.  If you have the chance you should definitely target him in the 5th or 6th round.  We ranked him 32nd in our WR rankings.

Julius Thomas

While Jimmy Graham is the consensus number 1 tight end in the league, Thomas is a big-time red-zone threat only missing out on scoring a touchdown in 6 games (two of which he sat out). He should be the the number two tight end drafted and is a pretty pricey pick going in the late-third or early-fourth round but there aren’t many tight end who can consistently produce like he can.  We ranked Julius Thomas 2nd in our WR rankings.

Fantasy Football Outlook

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2014 Fantasy Football - Tight End Rankings

According to our scoring system, just 9 tight ends put up 100+ points, with Jimmy Graham on the top with 199.75.  Tony Gonzalez was on that list and he is now retired, which leaves us with eight great TEs.  As Mike's early Mock Drafts have shown us, .Graham is a 1st round pick, Julius Thomas is usually gone by the 3rd round and you can get Dennis Pitta or Jason Witten in the 7th round, which is probably the way most of us should attack the draft.

Graham, Gonzalez and Jordan Cameron were the only TEs to catch 80+ passes in 2013, with Graham going for over 1,200 yards and Cameron over 900.  Antonio Gates, Gonzalez, Witten, Vernon Davis and Greg Olsen were the only other TEs with over 800 receiving yards.

Graham, Davis and Thomas were the only TEs to catch 10+ touchdowns.  Joseph Fauria caught 7 TDs on just 18 receptions, but now with Eric Ebron in Detroit, his red zone reign is over....most likely.

Charles Clay had a nice season for the Miami Dolphins filling in for Dustin Keller who never even got to play thanks to an injury.  Clay caught 69 passes for 759 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Graham and Thomas will be gone by the end of the 3rd round, and if they are not on your roster, when do you plan on drafting one?  There is a huge drop off after each round.

Who Would You Rather Have - Charls Clay or Jordan Reed

TEs Wearing New Helmets

Rookie TEs to Watch

2014 Fantasy Football TE Rankings

QB Rankings
RB Rankings
WR Rankings

Updated 8/28

1Jimmy GrahamNO
2Julius ThomasDEN
3Rob Gronkowski +1NE
4Vernon Davis -1SF
5Jordan Cameron +2CLE
6Kyle Rudolph +3MIN
7Jordan Reed +4WAS
8Greg Olsen -3CAR
9Jason Witten -3DAL
10Dennis Pitta -2BAL

11Zach Ertz +2PHI
12Antonio GatesSD
13Martellus Bennett -1CHI
14Heath Miller +1PIT
15Charles Clay -5MIA
16Ladarius Green -2SD
17Garrett Graham +3HOU
18Dwayne AllenIND
19Tyler EifertCIN
20Delanie Walker -4TEN

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