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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A fond farewell

I just finished my final column for The News-Herald -- a ranking of the top 12 fantasy football players for 2013.

If that seems like a silly endeavor, you might be right. But it sure is fun.

The column will be published online Friday night and, space permitting, in the print editions on Saturday.

It seems a fitting way to exit The N-H, which I am leaving after 13 years for a position as assistant editor at Crain's Cleveland Business.

It was time for a new challenge, which, like taking Trent Richardson in the first round next September, can be scary.

This is the 375th post in this blog's history, and I've thoroughly enjoyed interacting with many of you via email and Twitter.

Fantasy sports can be extremely frustrating -- did you play against Bryce Brown in Week 12 or 13? How about the Seahawks' defense against the Ryan Lindley-John Skelton platter in Week 14? -- but they're also an escape.

They allow us to be the general manager, coach, team president and frustrated fan.

They add to the television viewing experience -- and at times, take away from it.

But they never stop entertaining.

Hopefully, this blog provided you many of those same emotions -- minus the Lindley-Skelton anger.

You can find me on Twitter and email future questions to

Good luck, and start a defense against Arizona until further notice.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Fantasy football: Week 16 waiver-wire picks

It's championship week in fantasy.

If you have made it this far, you likely need a waiver-wire acquisition as much as Brandon Weeden needs another two-interception game.

If you play in a 16-team league and are hoping to find a flex starter -- which is one of the few scenarios I can imagine in which a league finalist would be searching for a starter at this point in the season -- there could be an intriguing choice at running back in Week 16.

It's a risky move -- Curtis Brinkley, anyone? -- but running back has been such a crapshoot this season (see Brown, Bryce; Mathews, Ryan and countless other examples) that nothing would surprise me.

Mathews' season ended the way it started -- with a broken clavicle -- which will sideline the Chargers running back and one of the season's biggest busts for the final two games.

Enter Brinkley, who had six carries for 42 yards and caught three passes for 14 yards last week.

Don't get too excited. Brinkley has averaged 3.2 yards per carry and has 214 yards rushing in his three-year career.

The matchup, however, is favorable -- at the Jets -- as is the fact Ronnie Brown (hamstring) is also injured.

If Brown returns this week, he is the best play among San Diego's running backs, but the guess here is he won't be a factor because of his injury.

Jackie Battle, who has four TDs this season and would have seemed to be the choice to replace Mathews, had only three carries for 2 yards last week.

Norv Turner appears to favor Brinkley. Or maybe the soon-to-be-fired coach was confused and thought Battle was in the game the entire time.

Regardless, Brinkley is our top-ranked running back this week, thanks in part to the Jets ranking 29th against the run. New York is allowing 138.7 rushing yards per contest, 4.5 yards per carry and has given up the fifth-most TDs on the ground (15).

Again, Brinkley is no more than a desperation flex play in a deep league. If that describes your team, I'd go with him unless Brown is said to be healthy heading into Sunday's game.

On to our rankings for the week.

As always, we rank players who are available in more than half of the leagues on, and we usually aim for 40 percent ownership or lower.

1. Russell Wilson, Seahawks (owned in 27.3 percent of the ESPN leagues)
2. Sam Bradford, Rams (38.2)
3. Kirk Cousins, Redskins (2.2)
4. Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins (9.5)
5. Nick Foles, Eagles (4.9)
Dropped out: Brandon Weeden, Browns
Just missed the cut: Jake Locker, Titans (7.4 percent); Chad Henne, Jaguars (5.8)

1. Curtis Brinkley, Chargers (0.3 percent)
2. Montell Owens, Jaguars (11.0)
3. Jackie Battle, Chargers (12.8)
4. Joique Bell, Lions (33.8)
5. Jacquizz Rodgers, Falcons (25.8)
Dropped out: David Wilson, Giants (now owned in 74.5 percent of the ESPN leagues, which is too obvious); Marcel Reece, Raiders; Alex Green, Packers
Just missed the cut: Danny Woodhead, Patriots (28.2 percent); Green (29.5); Bilal Powell, Jets (7.2); Mike Goodson, Raiders (2.7)

1. Brandon Gibson, Rams (13.2 percent)
2. Leonard Hankerson, Redskins (38.9)
3. Rod Streater, Raiders (2.0)
4. Golden Tate, Seahawks (17.8)
5. Santana Moss, Redskins (38.2) 
Dropped out: Danario Alexander, Chargers (now owned in 53.3 percent of the ESPN leagues); Josh Gordon, Browns (46.2 percent, also too obvious); Jason Avant, Eagles; Kendall Wright, Titans
Just missed the cut: Greg Little, Browns (14.0 percent); Avant (1.3)

1. Dennis Pitta, Ravens (29.8)
2. Brandon Myers, Raiders (32.3)
3. Dallas Clark, Buccaneers (25.3)
4. Dwayne Allen, Colts (2.2)
5. Anthony Fasano, Dolphins (2.5)
Dropped out: Joel Dreessen, Broncos; Clay Harbor, Eagles
Just missed the cut: None

Past waiver-wire picks: Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, Week 8, Week 10, Week 11, Week 12, Week 13, Week 14, Week 15

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Fantasy football: Week 15 waiver-wire picks

Browns rookie receiver Josh Gordon is averaging 17.4 yards per catch.

In his last two games, he has 14 receptions for 202 yards and one touchdown.

He has five TDs in his last nine contests.

In the latter span, he has 35 catches for 639 yards and five TDs -- a 16-game pace of 62 receptions for 1,136 yards and nine scores.

All of which isn't to hammer home the point Tom Heckert shouldn't lose his job to Mike Lombardi (of course he shouldn't), but to say Josh Gordon is a fantasy starter.

Yes, your Cleveland Browns have a fantasy starter other than Trent Richardson and Phil Dawson.

On draft day, you would be elated if I told you your No. 3 fantasy receiver would finish the season with more than 60 catches, more than 1,100 yards and end the campaign with nine TDs.

That's how productive Gordon has been since Week 5, which makes it puzzling he is available in more than 62 percent of the leagues on

If you play in a league in Northeast Ohio, there is very little chance Gordon is available on the waiver wire.

If you were fortunate enough to claim him in past weeks, play him as your third receiver.

If you're reading this in Pennsylvania, New York or somewhere else -- I hear this blog is huge in Australia -- put in a claim on Gordon today.

On to our rankings for the week.

As always, we rank players who are available in more than half of the ESPN leagues, and we usually aim for 40 percent ownership or lower.

Note: We analyzed the value of Giants running back and most-coveted pickup of the week David Wilson on Monday.

1. Russell Wilson, Seahawks (owned in 22.0 percent of the ESPN leagues)
2. Nick Foles, Eagles (3.9)
3. Chad Henne, Jaguars (7.0)
4. Brandon Weeden, Browns (8.1)
5. Sam Bradford, Rams (38.6)
Dropped out: None
Just missed the cut: Jake Locker, Titans (7.6 percent)

1. David Wilson, Giants (41.1 percent)
2. Montell Owens, Jaguars (8.8)
3. Alex Green, Packers (31.9)
4. Marcel Reece, Raiders (38.6)
5. Joique Bell, Lions (10.2)
Dropped out: James Starks, Packers; Jacquizz Rogers, Falcons
Just missed the cut: Rogers (28.4); Bilal Powell, Jets (3.1)

1. Danario Alexander, Chargers (27.2 percent)
2. Josh Gordon, Browns (37.9)
3. Jason Avant, Eagles (0.5)
4. Golden Tate, Seahawks (17.0)
5. Kendall Wright, Titans (14.8) 
Dropped out: T.Y. Hilton, Colts (now owned in 56.7 percent of the ESPN leagues); Chris Givens, Rams
Just missed the cut: Givens (17.3); Davone Bess, Dolphins (16.9); Santana Moss, Redskins (37.5); Donnie Avery, Colts (16.3); Brandon Gibson, Rams (12.3)

1. Brandon Myers, Raiders (35.1 percent)
2. Dennis Pitta, Ravens (29.5)
3. Joel Dreessen, Broncos (7.2)
4. Clay Harbor, Eagles (0.1)
5. Dallas Clark, Buccaneers (5.3)
Dropped out: Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars; Benjamin Watson, Browns; Tony Moeaki, Chiefs
Just missed the cut: Lewis (20.5); Watson (4.2)

Past waiver-wire picks: Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, Week 8, Week 10, Week 11, Week 12, Week 13, Week 14

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Fantasy football: David Wilson analysis

There are many advantages of advancing to the semifinals in fantasy football.

The bragging rights, the cash, the women. Too many to count, really.

One edge that might not come to mind: Getting a gem on the waiver wire.

If you will be playing in your league's final four in Week 15, there is obviously much less competition for players. And with Giants running back David Wilson potentially available, that is a very good thing.

Wilson, a rookie drafted with the final pick of the first round by the Giants last spring, was a player many of us expected to have an impact in fantasy this season.

Wilson made us wait 14 weeks for said impact, which meant many owners had already dropped him -- he is available in almost 60 percent of the leagues on

If you need help at the flex position or are looking for a third running back in Week 15, Wilson could be an excellent choice.

He rushed for 100 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries Sunday against the Saints. He also returned a kickoff 97 yards for a score and had 327 all-purpose yards.

Wilson received more work than expected because of a knee injury suffered by Ahmad Bradshaw. The latter left the game with the ailment, but later returned. Monday, Bradshaw had tests done on the knee.

If it's announced Bradshaw will miss time, Wilson is a must-start this week against at Atlanta, which is tied for 23rd defending the run and has allowed 14 rushing touchdowns.

In Week 16, the Giants will play at Baltimore, which also struggles against the run (No. 25).

Even if Bradshaw plays, Wilson should get a decent amount of touches as a change-of-pace back. Because of his excellence as a returner, he likely won't get 20 to 25 carries, but as he displayed Sunday, he is in the C.J. Spiller mold -- sometimes 15 attempts is all it takes.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Fantasy football: Week 14 waiver-wire picks

Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck get the accolades, and deservedly so, for their phenomenal, somewhat unprecedented rookie seasons.

Often lost in the discussion is Seahawks rookie QB Russell Wilson, whose 95 rating is better than Luck's 76. Wilson also has thrown for more touchdowns than Luck (19 to 17) and has been picked off eight fewer times (eight, to Luck's 16).

I'm not saying Wilson is better than Luck, who is on pace to throw for 4,795 yards and has added five TDs on the ground.

I'm saying Wilson should be owned in far more than 17.8 percent of the ESPN leagues, and he is a decent starting option in deeper leagues.

If you've made your league's postseason, which likely begins this week, you probably don't need a QB.

If you do and Wilson is available, here are two numbers to consider: nine and zero, as in the number of touchdown passes and interceptions for the Seattle QB in his last four games.

In his last five contests, Wilson has thrown for 1,114 yards, 11 TDs and one interception.

This week, the Seahawks will play the Cardinals, who rank third against the pass and have more interceptions (18) than TD passes allowed (16). On paper, or your iPhone, the matchup might not look great, but I wouldn't worry about Wilson suddenly turning into Seneca Wallace.

In Week 15, Seattle will play at Buffalo, which is No. 13 vs. the pass but has given up 21 TD tosses, compared to 10 picks.

There are two more rookies in our top five at QB this week -- the Browns' Brandon Weeden and the Eagles' Nick Foles -- but Wilson is clearly the best option.

On to our rankings for the week.

As always, we rank players who are available in more than half of the ESPN leagues, and we usually aim for 40 percent ownership or lower.

1. Russell Wilson, Seahawks (owned in 17.5 percent of the ESPN leagues)
2. Chad Henne, Jaguars (8.5)
3. Brandon Weeden, Browns (7.5)
4. Sam Bradford, Rams (38.8)
5. Nick Foles, Eagles (3.5)
Dropped out: Colin Kaepernick, 49ers (owned in 45.7 percent of the ESPN leagues, which makes him too obvious of a choice for this list); Christian Ponder, Vikings
Just missed the cut: Jake Locker, Titans; Ponder; Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins

1.James Starks, Packers (7.0 percent)
2. Montell Owens, Jaguars (0.0)
3. Joique Bell, Lions (9.5)
4. Jacquizz Rogers, Falcons (32.9)
5. Alex Green, Packers (23.9)
Dropped out: Bryce Brown, Eagles (68.8 percent, which is too obvious); Knowshon Moreno, Broncos (48.8 percent, see Jennings); Jonathan Dwyer, Steelers (41.2, see Brown and Moreno); Rashad Jennings, Jaguars
Just missed the cut: Bilal Powell, Jets (1.8); Justin Forsett, Texans (0.8)

1. T.Y. Hilton, Colts (33.6 percent)
2. Danario Alexander, Chargers (26.8)
3. Josh Gordon, Browns (25.6)
4. Golden Tate, Seahawks (10.0)
5. Chris Givens, Rams (3.1) 
Dropped out: Jeremy Kerley, Jets; Andre Roberts, Cardinals; Davone Bess, Dolphins
Just missed the cut: Emmanuel Sanders, Steelers (3.7 percent); Kendall Wright, Titans (13.4); Bess (19.8); Brandon LaFell, Panthers (18.0); Donnie Avery, Colts (8.4); Kerley (37.1)

1. Brandon Myers, Raiders (22.1 percent)
2. Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars (18.7)
3. Benjamin Watson, Browns (5.6)
4. Dallas Clark, Buccaneers (5.2)
5. Tony Moeaki, Chiefs (0.7)
Dropped out: Dustin Keller, Jets; Dennis Pitta, Ravens; Dwayne Allen, Colts
Just missed the cut: Coby Fleener, Colts (12.2 percent); Pitta (30.4); Allen (2.8)

Past waiver-wire picks: Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, Week 8, Week 10, Week 11, Week 12, Week 13

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Fantasy football: Bryce Brown and LeSean McCoy analysis

If you play fantasy football, you're likely aware Bryce Brown has been one of the waiver-wire finds of the year.

The Eagles' rookie running back has rushed for 347 yards and four touchdowns in two games in place of LeSean McCoy. He has averaged 8.1 yards per carry the last two weeks, and he's been remarkably explosive (at least 169 yards rushing in each game, with two TDs and four catches in each contest).

What you might not realize is Brown was regarded as the nation's No. 2 running back recruit in 2009. The consensus No. 1: Trent Richardson.

Brown rushed for 460 yards as a freshman at Tennessee in 2009, sat out the 2010 season after transferring to Kansas State, then had only three carries for 16 yards with the Wildcats last September before leaving the program.

The Eagles selected him in the seventh round last spring, and he was largely unknown in fantasy until McCoy suffered a concussion.

Monday, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported McCoy is in Phase 3 of his recovery, but considering the Eagles are 3-9, Coach Andy Reid is on his way out and Nick Foles will be the starting quarterback the rest of the season, would you be surprised if Philly rests McCoy for another week or two and sees what it has in Brown?

If you own McCoy and not Brown and have a fantasy playoff game this week, I wouldn't feel good about my chances of having the former in my starting lineup in Week 14.

If you have Brown, you have to continue to play him, obviously, until McCoy returns. Once Shady is back, Brown has to go back to your bench -- remember, it has been difficult enough for McCoy to get enough carries with Reid calling the plays, let alone dividing carries between two electric backs.

If you own McCoy in a keeper league, don't fret.

McCoy is 24, was signed to a five-year, $45 million contract extension in May, and he rushed for 1,309 yards, averaged 4.8 yards per carry, scored 20 total touchdowns and caught 48 passes for 315 yards last season.

He's not going anywhere.

This season is another matter.

Nothing the Eagles do from this point on would surprise us.

You should expect McCoy to be in your lineup in time for at least the fantasy semifinals next week.

You should also be prepared to be without him.

If you own Brown and not McCoy, two stats might cool your enthusiasm about the rookie: He has lost three fumbles the last two weeks (causing Reid's mustache considerable stress), and the Eagles face the league's No. 1 (the Bucs on Sunday) and No. 3 (the Redskins in Week 16) run defenses the next three weeks.

Continue to play Brown until McCoy returns, and continue to expect the unexpected in Reid's final days in Philly.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fantasy football: Week 13 waiver-wire picks

By now, you know Eagles rookie Bryce Brown rushed for 178 yards and two touchdowns in place of LeSean McCoy on Monday night.

He also swung the result in some fantasy games, albeit the few in which owners were bold (or desperate?) enough to start him. (Was I the only one who was eliminated from postseason contention by a player I had never heard of prior to the announcement that McCoy had a concussion?)

This week, McCoy is expected to sit again, giving owners looking for running back help a second start from Brown, who was selected by Philadelphia in the seventh round in 2012.

The Eagles' Week 13 opponent, the Cowboys, rank 13th against the run, but after Brown looked so electric on Monday night, I wouldn't hesitate to start him if you're in need of a flex play in a deeper league.

Another interesting waiver-wire choice at running back, the Broncos' Knowshon Moreno, was mentioned in this space Monday. I value him ahead of Brown because Moreno should get the bulk of the carries the rest of the season, and Brown likely won't have much of a role after this week.

On to our rankings for the week.

As always, we rank players who are available in more than half of the ESPN leagues, and we usually aim for 40 percent ownership or lower.

1. Colin Kaepernick, 49ers (owned in 27.6 percent of the ESPN leagues)
2. Russell Wilson, Seahawks (17.5)
3. Chad Henne, Jaguars (6.1)
4. Sam Bradford, Rams (39.6)
5. Christian Ponder, Vikings (20.6)
Dropped out: None
Just missed the cut: None

1. Knowshon Moreno, Broncos (4.2 percent)
2. Bryce Brown, Eagles (5.0)
3. Jonathan Dwyer, Steelers (35.9)
4. Jacquizz Rogers, Falcons (12.4)
5. Rashad Jennings, Jaguars (40.4)
Dropped out: Marcel Reece, Raiders (now owned in 46.5 percent of the ESPN leagues, which makes him too obvious of a choice for this list); James Starks, Packers; Jalen Parmele, Jaguars; Ronnie Hillman, Broncos
Just missed the cut: Starks (9.1 percent); Bilal Powell, Jets (1.4); Chris Ivory, Saints (3.3)

1. Andre Roberts, Cardinals (36.2 percent)
2. Davone Bess, Dolphins (14.8)
3. Danario Alexander, Chargers (27.5)
4. T.Y. Hilton, Colts (25.4)
5. Jeremy Kerley, Jets (39.5) 
Dropped out: Cecil Shorts, Jaguars (now owned in 51.1 percent of the ESPN leagues); Golden Tate, Seahawks
Just missed the cut: Ryan Broyles, Lions (1.3 percent); Santana Moss, Redskins (30.4); Emmanuel Sanders, Steelers (4.1); Josh Gordon, Browns (22.0); Brandon LaFell, Panthers (15.5); Mohamed Sanu, Bengals (1.1); Kendall Wright, Titans (14.7); Brandon Stokley, Broncos (13.2); Tate (10.3)

1. Dustin Keller, Jets (36.5 percent)
2. Brandon Myers, Raiders (36.5)
3. Dennis Pitta, Ravens (31.4)
4. Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars (7.0)
5. Dwayne Allen, Colts (3.6)
Dropped out: Dallas Clark, Buccaneers; Joel Dreessen, Broncos
Just missed the cut: Clark (4.2 percent)

Past waiver-wire picks: Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, Week 8, Week 10, Week 11, Week 12

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