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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.

Decision Time for Lincecum

Tim Lincecum remains a free agent weeks after his showcase.  The 2-time Cy Young award-winner has struggled with an ERA over 4.00 in each of the last 4 seasons.  Is the hip problem the main culprit for loss of velocity and command?  It’s possible the hip is a major factor, however 1, 643.2 career major league innings on a 170 pound frame could also be a problem.

Lincecum has been linked to the Giants, Angels, and White Sox.  Reports claim “The Freak” prefers a starting job on the West Coast.  The Giants have a rotation with problems at the back end with Matt Cain and Jake Peavy looking their age.  Lincecum could be better than one of both of them at this point.  The fact that a reunion hasn’t happened yet is not a good sign to me.  The Giants not guaranteeing a spot in the starting rotation could be part of the hold up.

The White Sox released John Danks and picked up Miguel Gonzalez.  Carlos Rodon has been inconsistent and Mat Latos has pitched better than expected.  The White Sox lead their division by 5 games and offer the best spot to win right now.  Would Lincecum’s stuff translate in the Windy City?  The Sox launching pad park would be a concern for me.

The Angels on the other hand have just 1 solid starter in Hector Santiago at this point. Injuries have ravaged the Angels with Andrew Heaney and Garrett Richards with UCL injuries, Tyler Skaggs rehabbing a UCL injury, and CJ Wilson’s shoulder acting up.  Nick Tropeano and Matt Shoemaker have been knocked around and Jered Weaver’s continued velocity drop is just plain sad.  The Angels are only 5 games back in the division and could use Lincecum the most.

Lincecum’s decision should be coming sooner rather than later. An incentive laden 1-year prove-it deal is more than likely what would be offered. A GM that offers him a multi-year deal should have his head examined. A minor league assignment is in order before Lincecum can help a Major League club. Lincecum is reaching the S*&^ or get off the pot time.

Fantasy owners have been off the pot for 4 years, but should pay attention to where he signs and how things go. Pitching is so unpredictable it’s not out the realm of possibility that “Big Time Timmy Jim” returns.

Fantasy Owners Should Hold Onto Derrick Favors

I am a frustrated Derrick Favors fantasy owner.  Favors is averaging 8.7 PPG, 6.1 RPG, and 1.5 BPG in 21.5 mpg. The Per 36 minutes stat lines of 14.6 PPG, 10.2 RPG, and 2.5 BPG have fantasy owners anxiously waiting for the Jazz to open up a starting spot for Favors.

The NBA Trade Deadline is Thursday February 21st.  The Utah Jazz are a team that’s not good enough to contend for a championship, but not bad enough to win the lottery.  The Jazz are just a middle of the pack team. The acquisitions of Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors in recent years set the clock on moving on from Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap.  The veteran bigs have contracts that expire at the end of this season. Jefferson and Millsap are still very productive players with tread remaining on the tires. Jefferson averages 17.4 PPG and 9.4 RPG with a 4.2 win share so far this season. Millsap checks in at 14.9 PPG and 7.7 RPG with a 4.2 win share.  Mo Williams is out indefinitely with thumb surgery and also has an expiring contract.  The Jazz lack of talent in the backcourt is glaring.

Gordon Hayward hasn’t justified the first round selection. Hayward has improved his scoring to 13.7 PPG, but is only averaging 2.3 APG playing with established post players.  Alec Burks scoring ability in college also hasn’t translated to the association with just 13.4 mpg this year. Kevin Murphy has just been recalled from the Reno Bighorns of the NBA D League.  In 14 games with the Bighorns, Murphy averaged 13.2 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 28.6 minutes.  Randy Foye is a decent backup combo guard that shoots 43% from downtown this year, but isn’t someone to build around.  The fact that Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson are rostered speaks volumes about the Jazz backcourt.

Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey has 2 veteran post players in their prime with expiring contracts at his disposal to move at the deadline. 2 young raw post players are waiting in the wings. Favors and Kanter won’t develop with limited playing time. The Jazz have the pieces in Jefferson and Millsap to be able to acquire young franchise lifting guards or draft choices. Eric Bledsoe of the Clippers is the epitome of what Jazz should look to acquire in return.

Fantasy owners should look to hold off cutting or trading away Favors until the deadline passes. If you’ve been able to hold onto Favors this long why not see it thru? I would be surprised if the Jazz don’t open up playing time for Favors at the trade deadline.

Ed Davis Becomes A Must-Own Player

Fantasy basketball owners should rush out to pick up Raptors PF/C Ed Davis before it’s too late. Davis is a young player that’s gone thru the growing pains in 3,136 career minutes entering this season. The Andrea Bargnani elbow injury should open up minutes for this 3rd year player. There’s a real chance Davis could force the issue for more minutes permanently with a good showing. This former Tar Heel could make those rumored Bargnani trades a reality. The overall numbers right now don’t stand out for fantasy owners to take the plunge.
The stats Davis is accruing right now in 17.2 minutes per game of 7.0 PPG and 5.8 RPG don’t jump out to fantasy owners as a must own player.   I value the 36 minutes per game analysis in trying to access if a bench player is worth picking up. It gives me a ballpark of what a player could possibly do with more playing time.  The field goal attempts average of 4.8 so far this season is low, but per 36 minutes the number is 10.0 FGA. Davis per 36 minutes would average 14.7 PPG, 12.2 RPG, 1.4 BPG, and 1.3 SPG. The 57% FG% will help owners in category or rotisserie leagues.
The jury is out on Amir Johnson at this point of his career. Johnson is a backup big that will provide a solid FG%. Jonas Valanciunas should also see an uptick in minutes while Bargnani is out. This Lithuanian big man is a future building block for the Raptors, but is already owned in most fantasy leagues.  As the Raptors sit in the basement of the Atlantic Division, Dwane Casey’s job should be to find out which players can contribute to rebuilding the Raptors. Trying to win games to save a job isn’t going to help turn the franchise around. Hopefully the front office shares the same sentiments.