Rams Can Only Go Up From Here

A listless 42-14 thrashing at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons was the nail in the coffin for the Los Angeles Rams to finally fire Head Coach Jeff Fisher.  A 31-45-1 record with 5 losing seasons was enough (2012-2016) 7-8-1, 7-9, 6-10, 7-9, and 4-9. Fisher finished his NFL head coaching career at 173-165 just one loss from breaking Dan Reeves record for most losses in NFL history. In 22 seasons at the helm, Fisher had only 6 winning seasons. I viewed Fisher as a solid coach in Houston/Tennessee during his 17 years there. Jumping into the Rams job with just 1 year off may not have been the best choice. Fisher seemed out of gas at the end in Tennessee. The tenure with the Rams was an unmitigated disaster that went on far too long. Fisher should have never made the trip out west with the Rams organization. Owner Stan Kroenke was too loyal to Fisher.  The million dollar question is why?

The first year back in Los Angeles hasn’t gone as planned for the Rams. With QB’s Case Keenum and first-overall-pick Jared Goff leading the charge, the Rams average a league worst’s in 286.2 yards per game and 14.9 points-per-game. Rams QB’s have combined for the 2nd worst passer rating at 73.3, 3rd most INT at 16.

Running back Todd Gurley in 13 games last season rushed for 1,106 yards, a 4.8 ypc, and 10 TD on 229 carries. In 13 games this year Gurley has rushed 227 times for 740 yards and 5 TD. Gurley hasn’t regressed as a player, the Rams offense around Gurley has regressed significantly. WR Kenny Britt has responded with a career high 63 catches for 937 yards. High draft choices spent on wide receivers Tavon Austin and Brain Quick haven’t panned out. The Rams offensive line is serviceable enough to have won more games with better talent at the skill positions.  Offensively have scored 20 touchdowns this season one more than the Brock Osweiler led Texans.

The Rams defensive numbers are skewed a bit due to the offensive ineptitude. The Rams defense in my opinion is good enough to make the playoffs with an average NFL offense.  The defensive unit has solid core players to build around in Aaron Donald, Robert Quinn, Alec Ogletree, and TJ McDonald.

Since offense is the major problem in Los Angeles, I would gear more towards an offensive minded coach. A coach to develop Jared Goff should be the first priority.  LA is a major media market and the ability to handle the spotlight is another critical factor with this job more so than others. I wouldn’t go after a defensive minded coach with the current stage the organization sits.

Stanford Head Coach David Shaw fits the bill, but doesn’t have NFL head coaching experience. Shaw has NFL coaching experience with the Eagles, Raiders, and Ravens. His NFL positions ranged from Quality Control coach, to Quarterback and Wide Receiver coach.

New England Patriots Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels was the Rams OC in 2011 after a failed stint as the Broncos head coach. McDaniels is a hot commodity and can be very selective in his coaching endeavors. Has McHoodie learned enough from the failure of being a head coach to do it better the 2nd time around? It will cost a lot of money to find out.  Maybe McDaniels never leaves and waits for Belichick to hang it up.

Falcons OC Kyle Shanahan is also linked to Head Coaching openings. Shanahan has worked in the NFL since 2004 and as an offensive coordinator since 2008.  Shanahan has worked as offensive coordinator in Houston, Washington, Cleveland, and Atlanta.  The experience in Houston and Washington was for Gary Kubiak, and his father Mike Shanahan. Kyle was in charge of running the offense in Cleveland and Atlanta. Shanahan will be a head coach some day, but I’d rather see more success as an OC before giving him a Head Coaching job.

Tom Coughlin’s overall track record speaks for itself as a possible hall of fame worthy coach. At age 70 I’d go in another direction since Coughlin’s teams failed down the stretch in recent years. Coughlin should remain in the league office.

University of Michigan Head Coach Jim Harbaugh is often linked to NFL openings despite leaving the league to coach his alma mater. An eventual return to the NFL for Harbaugh is expected, but would he spurn Michigan after just 2 years? X’s and O’s Harbaugh is a terrific coach and also has the personality to deal with the spotlight. He also brings credibility to Rams. I believe his personality leads to a shorter tenure on the job. His act carries more weight in college; NFL guys can tune him out.

Jon Gruden is linked to job openings every year, but this could be the one to pull him out of the Monday Night Football Booth and back down to the sideline.  Gruden hasn’t coached since the 2008 season and holds an overall NFL record of 95-81. Gruden won a Super Bowl in 2002 against the team he built in the Raiders. This hiring would provide instant credibility and star power. Gruden would be a great fit to tutor Goff. The defense is in place the offense is the problem, but could be put in the hands of one of his former pupils that is expected to be fired soon.

Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley is coaching out the string and could rehab his career as the defensive coordinator in Los Angeles.   Bradley could also bring along a few assistant coaches in Nathaniel Hackett, Ron Middleton, and Monte Kiffin to fill out Gruden’s coaching staff.  All of these coaches worked under Gruden previously.

Does GM Les Snead remain to fix this mess or get shown the door as well? Did Fisher have more power than Snead in running the Rams?  I find it hard to believe a big name coach would come in to work under Snead.  A big name coach is going to want his own personnel director. Kroenke has the money to pay for the Head Coach he wants. As owner of the Rams I’d send Snead packing, then go after Gruden, McDaniels, and Shaw.

White Sox Should Sell This Offseason

The Chicago White Sox are one of the most interesting clubs this offseason. Coming off a disappointing 78-4 finish, which featured a 17-8 start in April, the White Sox are a club at a crossroads. The club added new Manager Rick Renteria to replace Robin Ventura. The club could try to piece to their core of veterans to contend for 2017. The better option in my opinion is to blow up this whole roster and acquire as many assets as possible. Starting Pitcher Chris Sale has been linked to the Nationals, Astros, and Braves. A perennial Cy Young candidate should be able to bring in major league ready players in return. It takes two to tango however, as we shall see if clubs are willing to give up their top prospects. Whether the Sox could get Trea Turner, Lucas Giolito, Alex Bregman, or Dansby Swanson remains to be seen. GM Rick Hahn should be holding out for a franchise building block in return in any package. The time may come later this winter where lower level prospects with upside may be the route the acquiring clubs would be willing to go.

The White Sox are a viable option because they have assets to move as this is weak free agent class in 2017.  Take into account some of the contracts already signed this winter and compare those to players available in a trade.  Rich Hill signed a 3-year-deal worth $48 million dollars. The soon to be 37-year-old southpaw has 610.1 career innings and is getting paid for finding the fountain of youth.  While Sale is soon to be 28 and has 3-years of team control at $38 million dollars.  Sale has also finished in the Top 6 in AL Cy Young voting each season since 2012.  Which player is the better value?

Other players in Chicago could fetch solid returns in trade due to age and team control. None of these players are in the twilight of their careers.   Closer David Robertson has 2 years and 25 million dollars left on his deal. Clubs that don’t want to spend on Chapman, Jansen, and Melancon could pursue Robertson, who turns 32 next season.  Melancon signed a 4-years $62 million dollar deal with the Giants. Roberston is nearly the same age as Melancon on a shorter deal.  SP Jose Quintana has 4-years and $37.85 million dollars remaining on his deal. Quintana is a soon to be 28-year-old middle of rotation arm with a career ERA of 3.41 and 1.242 WHIP.  3B Todd Frazier has 2 years of arbitration eligibility left and is coming off a year with a career high in HR (40) and RBI (98). Frazier will turn 31 this offseason.  Right Fielder Adam Eaton has back to back seasons of a plus .280 avg and .360 OBP. A 28-year-old leadoff hitter under team control of 5-years for $38.4 million dollars could be attractive to clubs. Eaton is a terrific defensive right fielder, not so much in center field. At $15 million on the last year of his deal, Melky Cabrera should still retain value at his age 32 campaign.  Cabrera may be an add on in one of the blockbuster deals. An outfielder with a career .286 avg and .337 OBP should retain value.

Rebuilding and contending at the same time is tough to do in sports. The White Sox farm   system may have some talent that helps down the road in RHP Carson Fulmer, RHP Spencer Adams, C Zach Collins, RHP Zack Burdi, 3B Trey Michalczewski, and RHP Alec Hanson. GM Rick Hahn has to opportunity to acquire assets to help the White Sox get younger and possibly better.  I believe if the White Sox don’t take advantage of this weak free agent class and selloff, it will set the club back longer. After years of trying to contend and failing, its time for the White Sox to go in another direction.

Be Proactive Pick Up Perkins

Giants running back Paul Perkins is a player fantasy owners should get familiar with real soon.  The G Men’s rushing attack is the worst in the NFL averaging 68.2 yards per game on the ground. Jennings leads the team in carries so far this season with 64 rushing attempts and is averaging 2.6 yards per carry.   In 5 contests, Jennings is averaging just 33.6 yards-per-game. The veteran back missed games 3, 4, and 5 with a thumb injury.  There has been slightly more success among the other Giants running backs with Shane Vereen averaged 4.7 ypc before getting injured with Orleans Darkwa 3.7ypc, Bobby Rainey 3.6 ypc and Paul Perkins 3.4ypc.

Jennings looks to have lost a step and looks to barely get what’s blocked at this point.  Orleans Darkwa is a complimentary back while Bobby Rainey is better suited to be the passing down back.  The learning curve for Perkins was going to be difficult since he missed all of organized teen activities this spring while attending college at UCLA.  Coming out of the bye, Perkins split carries with Jennings in their 28-23 win over the Eagles.  Perkins out produced Jennings this week and should start to see the workload go in his favor as the season progresses.  The time to buy Perkins is now before his full outburst takes place.

There’s no reason the Giants shouldn’t be able to run the ball better with their other offensive weapons.  Perkins has more wiggle, burst, and speed than anyone else in the backfield at this point.  The problem with many rookie running backs is their struggles in pass protection. Perkins doesn’t seem to be fully trusted in pass protection yet, which will curb some of his playing time. Jennings could take away some short yardage work while Rainey could play a bit on 3rd Downs.  The upcoming schedule provides some solid opportunities for the Giants to get the running game in order.

Week 10 Bengals       22nd

Week 11 Bears          14th

Week 12 @Browns   31st

Week 13 @Steelers   13th

Week 14 Cowboys     6th

Week 15 Lions          17th

Week 16 @Eagles     18th

It’s always better be proactive than reactive on waivers. Perkins is worth a waiver claim this week. Owners should expect Perkins to be in their starting lineups as an RB2 or Flex Play sooner rather than later.

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Investing In Lin?

Brooklyn Nets Point Guard Jeremy Lin is one of my favorite players to own in fantasy basketball this season.  Each year a player needs to be evaluated off their situation.  Lin wasn’t a franchise savior in Houston after coming over from the Knicks for the 2012-13 campaign.  Lin put up decent numbers in Houston, but didn’t live up to the contract. Lin lost playing time in Houston in part to his defensive deficiencies.  Also Lin didn’t complement James Harden as well as Patrick Beverley.

After two seasons Lin was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for a forgettable season.  In Los Angeles Lin’s skill set did not complement Kobe Bryant.  Head Coach Byron Scott also started using Jordan Clarkson more in the starting lineup since he was a future building block for the organization.  Coming off the bench in Charlotte last season, Lin rehabbed his career coming off the bench behind Kemba Walker.  His PER was a career low 13.8 with the Hornets last season, but I believe Lin played with more confidence in Charlotte.  Lin is better suited to be a complimentary piece not a franchise building block for a winning team.

In Brooklyn Head Coach Kenny Atkinson will attempt to use Lin to his strong suits.  Atkinson was an Assistant Coach with the Knicks during “Linsanity”.  This situation in Brooklyn is perfect for fantasy owners because Lin has very little competition for shots.  His usage rate of 28.1 during the breakout season with the Knicks is closer to what it should be this season than his career usage rate of 21.7.  This season the Nets will be one of the worst teams in the NBA.  Lin will play a lot of minutes and put together statistics that won’t equate to winning basketball.  In categories leagues Lin can be downgraded a little bit due to percentages and turnovers.  I spent $2.00 in a seasonal league with weekly scoring.  I believe Lin will be one of the best values in that league.  I received some teasing due to my purchase of Lin.

Sometimes fantasy owners overlook players on bad teams, I don’t care what their team does I’m just chasing statistics.  I am a Fantasy Owner, not a real one. The fact of the matter is in Brooklyn; Lin should be able to surpass his career averages of 11.7 PPG, 4.4 APG, 2.8 RPG, 43% FG%, 35% 3-pt%, and 80% FT%.  Lin may be better equipped to handle the pressure of being a focal point in Brooklyn after his experiences in Houston and Los Angeles.  Owners need to evaluate Lin’s situation this season, instead of his career numbers. “Linsanity” won’t happen again, but a solid mid-round production very well could be in the cards.

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Markieff Poised For A Big Year In DC?

Wizards power forward Markieff Morris is a player I will target in the later rounds of fantasy drafts this season.  The jury is still out if the Wizards got fleeced giving away a first round pick for Morris.  In 27 games 21 starts Morris averaged 12.4 points per game 5.9 rebounds per game, and 1.4 assists while his percentages improved from Phoenix to Washington across the board.  The opportunity is there in DC for Morris to take another step forward.  Morris struggles on the defensive end could lead to Johnny O’Bryant taking away some minutes.  Andrew Nicholson is a decent shooter, but is more of a reserve. Morris is the type of stretch for that should be able to complement Marcin Gortat this season.

I believe the 2014-2015 statistics with the Suns are certainly attainable for Morris in which he averaged 15.3 points per game, 6.2 rebounds per game, 2.3 assists per game, 1.2 steals per game, and shot 32% from 3-point range.  The Wizards have enough offensive weapons allowing Morris to slide in as the complimentary piece he is fit to be.  Having a whole off-season been removed from Phoenix and the turmoil that was not been able to play with his twin brother anymore, Morris should be able to bounce back for the Wizards.

Fantasy owners that are investing in Morris are doing so because of the change of scenery and the progress that they saw at the end of last season. I view Morris as a late round lottery ticket because of the situation and upside. The previous knucklehead behavior makes me not want invest too heavily in Morris.

Categories league’s owners look at Morris as a power forward that can hit a three, get a steal, and shoot 76% from the free-throw line. Sometimes fantasy owners get caught up in what player did for them last year instead of what they feel like you’re going to do for them this year.  Morris may provide some late round upside for those that evaluate on the situation this season.

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Don’t Sell Off Blount

New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount has been one of the more valuable players in fantasy football this season.  With Tom Brady out the first four games with a suspension, Blount has been a monster rushing for 352 yards and four touchdowns.  Blount has 22 or more rushing attempts in 3 of 4 contests this season.  That high volume workload won’t continue all season, however the Patriots adjust their game plan to what is better suited to go against each week’s opponent.  Tom Brady is the Patriots best talent and the passing game will return to being showcased each week.  The popular viewpoint is that the Patriots will throw the ball a lot more and abandon the running game.  I’m not buying into that school of thought.

Last season, Blount ran for 703 yards and 6 TD in 12 games. He was placed on IR with a hip injury in mid-December. In an earlier season matchup, which resulted in 30-24 Broncos win, Blount was a non-factor rushing 9 times for 27 yards. Tom Brady threw for 280 yards and 3 TD while getting sacked 3 times. The Patriots were exposed in the AFC championship game vs. the Broncos for their lack of a credible rushing attack. Tom Brady attempted 56 passes throwing for 310 yards a TD and 2 picks. The Broncos sacked Brady 4 times.  The Patriots attempted 17 rushes for 44 yards to the tune of a paltry 2.59 yards-per -carry.  In 2015, the Patriots ranked 30th in the NFL in rushing yards per game at 87.8 yards

I believe the Patriots learned from the 2015 season by upgrading their offensive line with better run blockers.  Brady’s suspension necessitated featuring the rushing attack to start the season, but I believe it will carry over for the rest of the season.  NFL history isn’t kind to 39-year-old Quarterbacks. Tom Brady is no ordinary 39-year-old Quarterback, but still could use more help from the running game.

I don’t believe the other Patriots running backs are truly a threat to Blount’s workload.  Brandon Bolden is more of a special team’s player.  DJ Foster is an experienced player that hasn’t taken any workload away yet.  James White is third-down-back while Dion Lewis may be the one to take away some of Blount’s workload.  Lewis is on the physically unable to perform list and could return anywhere from weeks seven to week nine depending on his health.

The NFL has shifted more towards committee backfields in the last few years.  Fantasy players really need to focus on their league set up and scoring in evaluating players.  Blount while not as valuable in a PPR league as in a standard scoring lead league still will carry a lot of value with Tom Brady’s return.  I find it hard to believe that Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels will completely ignore how effective the running game has been the first four weeks of the season.

Does Lawson Rebound in Sacramento?

Point Guard Ty Lawson looks to get his career back on track in Sacramento.  Lawson flamed out in Houston and Indiana last season with an offensive win share of 0.2 and a defensive win share of 0.7 for a total win share of 0.9. While two seasons ago his offensive win share was 6.0.  Playing in Houston along with James Harden was a complete disaster.  Lawson as a backup point guard was a misfit as his numbers dropped across the board.  Lawson is the type of player that needs to have the ball in his hands to be successful. Lawson’s outside shot isn’t good enough to be successful playing off the ball.  Lawson’s game is transition and setting up his teammates off dribble penetration.

This season Lawson will turn 29-years-old and still should be in the physical prime of his career.  Lawson’s personal issues are well documented, but his conditioning looked to be a problem last season as well.  The opportunity is there in Sacramento for Lawson to turn his career around.  Darren Collison will miss the first few games of the season due to a suspension and there’s a decent chance that Lawson could take away the starting point guard job.  Sacramento has weapons to complement Lawson’s drive and dish skills in DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, Matt Barnes, and Aaron Afflalo.

I hold a bit more stock in his Denver seasons than I do last season in evaluating Lawson as a fantasy player.  Kings head coach Dave Joerger may be better suited to you utilize Lawson’s talents than his last two stops.  Collison and Lawson have been in the league the same amount of time and for their careers Lawson has been the more productive player.  It would not surprise me in the least if Lawson was able to take the starting point guard job away from Collison this season in Sacramento.

Fantasy owners looking for a late round lottery ticket should consider Lawson.  Training camp reports, while often of the glass half full approach, may be able to provide insight into Lawson’s role with the Kings.  Fantasy owners that are targeting Lawson are not looking for percentages they’re looking for assists and points.  The Kings were a good career rehab spot for Rajon Rondo and could also be one for Ty Lawson.

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How Fantasy Owners Should Evaluate Jordan Cameron

Dolphins TE Jordan Cameron has been inconsistent and struggled with drops during the preseason. Cameron had a phenomenal 2013 campaign with 80 catches 917 yards and 7 TD with the Cleveland Browns. Some fantasy owners have been chasing those stats the last few years. The bottom fell out in 2014 with just 20 catches and 2 TD in 10 games. 2015 wasn’t much better with the Dolphins (35 catches 3TD). The sad part of Cameron’s 5- year career is the fact that if your take out 2013 stats the other 4 years resulted in 85 catches 1069 yards and 6TD.

Cameron is avoidable in 10-12 leagues for the most part. I drafted Cameron in a 12-team dynasty keeper league with 40 roster spots and also plan to pick him up in a 16-man league where unfortunately I had to auto draft. Drafting 3 kickers was surprising treat. The track record shows that Cameron has been a one-hit wonder at this stage of his career. A salary reduction to stay with the Dolphins also doesn’t bode well for Cameron’s prospects.

The reason I drafted Cameron was for the situation in Miami. Head Coach Adam Gase is known for involving the Tight End position in his offense. I don’t put too much stock with what Gase did with the Broncos. I’ve always viewed Peyton Manning as the head coach/offensive coordinator. What Gase did with the Bears holds more stock with me. Gase did a good job of reeling in Jay Cutler and getting him to play more controlled. Cutler utilized his Tight Ends quite a bit last season as Martellus Bennett and Zach Miller put up solid stats.

Ryan Tannehill saw his completion percentage drop a bit last season as he threw downfield more than in years past. Tannehill and Cameron never seemed to get on the same page last season. Jarvis Landry picked up the slack leading the team in receiving with 110 catches for 1,157 yards and 4 TD. DeVante Parker was impressive late last season with 26 catches for 494 yards and 3 TD. Parker is expected to take a step forward this season. There’s still room in the Dolphins passing attack for Cameron to put up some stats especially in the red zone.

The preseason hasn’t been a good sign results wise for Cameron so far. Owners should take find the balance of Cameron’s track record of production and the offense ran by Adam Gase in terms of if to draft Cameron. I view Cameron as a TE2 in deeper leagues. If Cameron proves to not pan out right away, he’s a cut piece for another player off waivers. I believe Cameron is worth a late round lottery ticket to find out if he can carve out a role in the offense. If not, no harm no foul.