Blogs > N-H Fantasy Sports

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.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Fantasy focus: Drew Gooden and Marcus Thornton

Drew Gooden is better than this.

Better than playing on eight teams in eight NBA seasons. Better than being on his fifth team since the Cavs traded him to the Bulls in 2008. Better than being an afterthought in another mega-trade — last week’s three-team deal that brought Antawn Jamison to the Cavaliers.

Better than being available in more than 92 percent of the fantasy leagues on

In two games since he was dealt to the wasteland that is Donald Sterling’s Clippers (you deserved better than this, too, Blake Griffin), Gooden has 30 points and 22 rebounds in 65 minutes. He is perfect on 10 free-throw attempts in two games, the latter of which was his first start.

Wednesday, Gooden had 20 points, 13 rebounds and four assists in 37 minutes.

With Marcus Camby dealt to Portland in another cost-cutting maneuver and Griffin’s rookie season done before it even started, Gooden should be a starter during his brief tenure in L.A. Our apologies go to the 0.4 percent of you who own Craig Smith and the 0.5 percent who have Clips teammate DeAndre Jordan.

If you’re keeping score at home, Gooden has played for the Bulls, Kings (one game), Spurs, Mavericks and Clippers since he was unloaded by the Cavs in the Ben Wallace, Wally Szczerbiak trade in 2008. In eight NBA seasons, he’s also played for the Magic and Grizzlies.

Gooden’s $4.5 millon salary will expire at the end of this season, which should mean nine teams in nine years by the summer.

Until then, give him a chance.

He is an asset in points, rebounds and the percentages.

He’s a fantasy bargain — Sterling’s type of player, if you will.

More bargain hunting

Marcus Thornton was a second-round pick by Miami who was traded to New Orleans last June for a pair of second-round selections.

The rookie shooting guard from LSU is a fantasy afterthought who is available in more than 85 percent of the ESPN leagues.

The latter number is as confusing as Gooden’s six-teams-in-two-years line.

In his last two games heading into Friday, Thornton had 62 points in 72 minutes. Starting with a 37-point effort against the Cavs on Tuesday, he is 20-for-43 from the field (46.5 percent), 6-for-12 from 3-point range and perfect in 10 free-throw attempts.

Thornton has scored in double figures in eight straight games, and when he gets consistent minutes, he’ll help you in points, 3-pointers, 3-point percentage (if that’s a category in your league) and free-throw percentage.

The bad news: He doesn’t do much else. Even during an outstanding February, in which he’s averaged 18.6 points and made 45 percent of his 3-point tries in eight games, Thornton has norms of only 3.3 rebounds, two assists and 0.9 steals.

If you’re in a daily league, Thornton is a part-time starter if you’re deep in the backcourt and a full-time starter if you’re not.

In weekly leagues, he should start if you’re weak in any of the aforementioned categories at which Thornton excels.

Coming attractions

Next week, we’ll start breaking down the fantasy baseball season with the first of our positional previews. We’ll begin with Lou Marson and the catchers.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fantasy focus: Tracy McGrady and Andray Blatche

You won't be surprised to know Tracy McGrady -- three games into his Knicks tenure -- is suffering from a sore knee.

You might be surprised he hasn't sprained an ankle yet.

The notoriously brittle former superstar has been a popular player on the waiver wire in fantasy leagues. His ownership percent soared 30.6 percent this week to 58.2.

Most of the interest stems from a rousing New York debut Saturday, during which McGrady had 26 points on 10-for-17 shooting and added five assists and four rebounds.

A lot of us rushed to our league's homepage Saturday night or early Sunday in an effort to acquire T-Mac.

Five days later, we're already wondering why.

We knew he would soon complain of some type of soreness. We knew it would limit his effectiveness. But we made the leap anyway, hoping McGrady would somehow play like it was 2007.

In two games since scoring 26 on Saturday, McGrady has gotten progressively worse. He had 15 points on 5-of-14 shooting Monday, then said he banged knees during the game and wasn't sure he would play the following night. Tuesday, he had six points on 3-of-8 shooting in 27 minutes.

If you were among the half-full types who picked up McGrady, all is not lost.

He's not healthy enough to play 36 to 40 minutes a night, but the Knicks are so thin he will be forced to play at least 25. There will be nights he shows flashes, and there will be nights he is what he is -- a 30-year-old former All-Star dragging around a bad leg who hasn't shot better than 43.1 percent from the field since he was with the Magic in 2002-03.

How's that for a pick-me-up?

If you're in a deeper daily league, McGrady is a part-time starter at best. In smaller weekly leagues, he should remain on the waiver wire -- another reminder of the steady decline of an enigmatic player who rapidly broke down before the age of 30 as if he was an NFL running back.

-- You've got to see this Wizard: The trade deadline helped the Cavaliers' championship chances, the Rockets' future and further irritated NBA fans (outside of Cleveland) at the ridiculous possibility of a player being traded and returning to his original team five weeks later. It also helped any owner -- all 15 of you -- who actually held on to Wizards power forward Andray Blatche.

Blatche is now a must-start in any format after averaging 24.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.4 steals and one block in five games since the Wizards cleaned house. He is 51-for-88 from the field (58 percent) and 22-for-26 from the free-throw line (84.6 percent) in that span.

Earlier this season, Blatche was suspended by the Wizards for conduct detrimental to the team and openly criticized for his work ethic and attitude. Now he's playing like an All-Star, which makes about as much sense as expiring contracts being more coveted trade commodities than players who can actually, well, play.

Blatche's ESPN ownership percentage has jumped 39.4 percent to 51.3 this week. If he's somehow available in your league, you don't need me to tell you what to do.

And you shouldn't need me to tell you not to be shocked when Blatche's numbers go the way of McGrady.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fantasy baseball: Early top 100

Pitchers and catchers report.

On the baseball calendar, those four words might only be surpassed by “Tim McCarver will retire” and “Look, there’s Erin Andrews!”

As spring training gets set to begin, let’s take our first crack at the top 100 in fantasy.

This list will change as draft day gets closer.

Our feelings on McCarver and Andrews? Not so much.

1. Albert Pujols, 1B, Cardinals
2. Hanley Ramirez, SS, Marlins
3. Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B, Yankees
5. Chase Utley, 2B, Phillies
6. Matt Kemp, OF, Dodgers
7. Tim Lincecum, SP, Giants
8. Joe Mauer, C, Twins
9. Prince Fielder, 1B, Brewers
10. Roy Halladay, SP, Phillies
11. Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees
12. Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Tigers
13. Matt Holliday, OF, Cardinals
14. Ryan Howard, 1B, Phillies
15. Evan Longoria, 3B, Rays
16. Felix Hernandez, SP, Mariners
17. Zack Greinke, SP, Royals
18. David Wright, 3B, Mets
19. CC Sabathia, SP, Yankees
20. Carl Crawford, OF, Rays
21. Grady Sizemore, OF, Indians
22. Ian Kinsler, 2B, Rangers
23. Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies
24. Jose Reyes, SS, Mets
25. Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Red Sox
26. Justin Verlander, SP, Tigers
27. Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Red Sox
28. Justin Upton, OF, Diamondbacks
29. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Padres
30. Dan Haren, SP, Diamondbacks
31. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Nationals
32. Derek Jeter, SS, Yankees
33. Curtis Granderson, OF, Yankees
34. Jason Bay, OF, Mets
35. Johan Santana, SP, Mets
36. Chris Carpenter, SP, Cardinals
37. Jon Lester, SP, Red Sox
38. Justin Morneau, 1B, Twins
39. Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees
40. Mark Reynolds, 3B, Diamondbacks
41. Jimmy Rollins, SS, Phillies
42. Adam Wainwright, SP, Cardinals
43. Victor Martinez, C, Red Sox
44. Pablo Sandoval, 3B, Giants
45. Josh Johnson, SP, Marlins
46. Brian McCann, C, Braves
47. Cliff Lee, SP, Mariners
48. Kevin Youkilis, 1B, Red Sox
49. Brian Roberts, 2B, Orioles
50. Adam Lind, DH, Blue Jays
51. Manny Ramirez, OF, Dodgers
52. Lance Berkman, 1B, Astros
53. Andre Ethier, OF, Dodgers
54. Aaron Hill, 2B, Blue Jays
55. Nick Markakis, OF, Orioles
56. Kendry Morales, 1B, Angels
57. Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds
58. Jayson Werth, OF, Phillies
59. Josh Beckett, SP, Red Sox
60. Chone Figgins, 3B, Mariners
61. Mariano Rivera, RP, Yankees
62. Joey Votto, 1B, Reds
63. Shin-Soo Cho, OF, Indians
64. Javier Vazquez, SP, Yankees
65. Bobby Abreu, OF, Angels
66. Carlos Lee, OF, Astros
67. Joe Nathan, RP, Twins
68. Jonathan Broxton, RP, Dodgers
69. Josh Hamilton, OF, Rangers
70. Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Mariners
71. Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Cubs
72. Derrek Lee, 1B, Cubs
73. Jonathan Papelbon, RP, Red Sox
74. Ben Zobrist, 2B, Rays
75. B.J. Upton, OF, Rays
76. Cole Hamels, SP, Phillies
77. Yovani Gallardo, SP, Brewers
78. Francisco Rodriguez, RP, Mets
79. Shane Victorino, OF, Phillies
80. Nelson Cruz, OF, Rangers
81. Billy Butler, 1B, Royals
82. Adam Dunn, 1B, Nationals
83. Tommy Hanson, SP, Braves
84. Jake Peavy, SP, White Sox
85. Matt Cain, SP, Giants
86. Michael Young, 3B, Rangers
87. Torii Hunter, OF, Angels
88. Hunter Pence, OF, Astros
89. Carlos Quentin, OF, White Sox
90. Huston Street, RP, Rockies
91. Dan Uggla, 2B, Marlins
92. Nate McLouth, OF, Braves
93. John Lackey, SP, Red Sox
94. Raul Ibanez, OF, Phillies
95. Jair Jurrjens, SP, Braves
96. Chad Billingsley, SP, Dodgers
97. Clayton Kershaw, SP, Dodgers
98. Jose Lopez, 2B, Mariners
99. Jason Bartlett, SS, Rays
100. Carlos Pena, 1B, Rays

NOTE: Players are listed at the position at which they are expected to start, according to the depth charts at

Top 100 by position:
Outfielders 26
Starting pitchers 24
First basemen 15
Second basemen 10
Third basemen 9
Relief pitchers 6
Shortstops 6
Catchers 3
Designated hitters 1

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fantasy NBA: Pick Three for Week 17

The All-Star break is over, the trade rumors are endless and the Clippers are the Clippers (Marcus Camby, consider yourself fortunate).

Let's take a quick look at three players who are available in the majority of the leagues on (all stats are prior to Tuesday's games):

-- Peja Stojakovic, SF, Hornets (owned in 36.7 percent of the ESPN leagues): Fantasy owners are finally starting to take notice after Stojakovic has scored in double figures in nine straight games and has hit three or more 3-pointers in five consecutive contests. After compiling miserable shooting percentages in the first three months of the season (37.3 in November, 42.1 in December and 39.5 in January), Stojakovic has been back to his old self in February. In six games this month, he is averaging 19.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 steals. He is shooting 49.4 percent from the field, 47.5 percent from 3-point range and 88.2 from the free-throw line in that span. Until he cools down, he's a must-start in any format.

-- Ryan Gomes, SF, Timberwolves (4.4 percent): Another small forward on a roll, Gomes is shooting 54.5 percent from the floor in four games this month. In that stretch, he's averaging 15.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, one steal and 2.5 3-pointers. He has scored in double digits in eight straight games, a span in which he is 18-for-33 from 3-point land (54.5 percent). In deeper leagues, Gomes is a valuable reserve and/or part-time starter. In daily leagues, he's worth a start or two per week.

-- Anthony Morrow, SG, SF, Warriors (33 percent): The second-year standout has been great in the two games Corey Maggette has missed because of a dislocated finger, totaling 59 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists in 93 minutes. In those contests, he was 21-for-36 from the field (58.3 percent), 8-for-15 from 3-point range (53.3) and perfect in nine attempts from the line. Once Maggette returns, your guess is as good as Don Nelson's when it comes to Golden State's backcourt/small forward rotation. Should Maggette get traded, however, Morrow would be a huge asset. Even if his minutes are limited somewhat by Maggette, Morrow will help your percentages. In his two-year career, he's shooting 48.3 percent from the field, 88.7 from the line and 46 percent on 3s.

Good luck, and happy trading.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fantasy focus: Nazr Mohammed and Ty Lawson

Nazr Mohammed has never averaged in double figures and might be best known as the starting center in one of the worst NBA Finals ever.

You might remember (if you're lucky, you don't) the 2005 Finals, a season that concluded with Mohammed's Spurs defeating the Pistons in seven games. The average margin of victory for the seven contests was 14.4 points, and only one team scored 100 points -- the Pistons in a 102-71 Game 4 victory.

What do the 2005 Finals have to do with Mohammed the fantasy player? Nothing, really, other than it's nice to see the veteran center contribute something much more important than playing a small role in a championship I would only rewatch if I was forced to choose between Game 7 and an interview with Snooki and The Situation.

Mohammed is available in 98 percent of the leagues on, a number that is every bit as confusing as the "Jersey Shore" phenomenon.

The Bobcats center has had at least 10 rebounds in five of his last seven games, and his numbers from the last six read as follows: 14.3 points, 11 rebounds, one block, 66.1 percent from the field and 70.6 percent from the free-throw line.

Some owners might be scared off by the fact Tyson Chandler is back after missing almost two months because of a foot injury. But in the two games, the oft-injured Chandler has played a total of 22 minutes and had seven points and four rebounds. Wednesday, with Chandler logging all of 12 minutes, Mohammed started and had 21 points, 20 rebounds, two steals and one block in 40 minutes.

For the season, the 12-year veteran is shooting 57.3 percent from the field and averaging 10 rebounds per 33 minutes.

Unless Chandler starts playing significant time, Mohammed -- as a center who can help you in points, rebounds and field-goal percentage -- is a starter in deeper leagues.

Don't hold the summer of 2005 against him.

-- Backup plan: Chauncey Billups owners might be among the few who have noticed the production of his protege, Nuggets rookie Ty Lawson. If you are playing Billups, who has been bothered by sprains to both ankles, and you're in a weekly league, Lawson is a must-have.

The rookie, who is owned in only 11.3 percent of the ESPN leagues, had 25 points, four assists and four rebounds when Billups missed a loss at Utah on Feb. 6. Even with Billups back, Lawson tallied 13 points, seven assists and five rebounds on Tuesday.

The latter is averaging 9.6 points in 22.5 minutes per game. He's shooting 51.2 percent from the field, 43.5 percent from 3-point range and 78.3 percent from the line.

If you're in a daily league, the choice on Lawson is more difficult because you use everyone on your roster and he doesn't play significant minutes. But he is playing enough of late (24.5 minutes in January and 24.8 this month) to make an impact.

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Fantasy focus: Tayshaun Prince and Ryan Hollins

You might remember Tayshaun Prince as a very good defender whose defensive reach and left-handed jump shot caused many teams problems when Joe Dumars' Pistons were an intimidating bunch -- not a 16-31 team that has one fewer win than the Indiana Pacers.

Fantasy owners now recall Prince as an oft-injured shell of himself, one who has played in only 15 games this season because of back and knee injuries.

It's much too early to be overly optimistic, but Prince has shown some encouraging signs in the last five games since returning from a sore knee. He has averaged 11 points and 5.4 rebounds in that span, and in the last two, he's totaled 27 points and 17 rebounds on 12-of-26 shooting (46.2 percent). The latter percentage isn't impressive, but it's much better than Prince's season average of 41.2 percent -- 4.8 below his career norm.

Prince is available in more than 73 percent of the leagues on for a reason. But if you need help at forward, or if you're in a daily league in which you play everyone on your roster based on the schedule, he's worth considering.

From Bad Boy to serviceable reserve -- the 2009-10 Pistons.

-- Showing some bite: In four NBA seasons, Ryan Hollins has averaged 3.5 points and 2.1 rebounds in 10.8 minutes per game. He's also the key to the Timberwolves' resurgence.

The latter is a slight (OK, huge) exaggeration, but Minnesota (11-38) is 2-0 since Hollins was inserted into the starting lineup. In that span, the center has 35 points, six rebounds and four blocks in 60 minutes. Hollins is 13 of 19 from the floor in the two contests.

This is a bigger reach than believing "Pants on the Ground" would become a song we couldn't get out of our heads, but Hollins -- who is owned in 0.4 percent (yes, 0.4) percent of the ESPN leagues -- is worth monitoring in the next week or two.

One, he's a center, a position at which you can't have enough help. Two, he's shooting 54.1 percent from the field and, if given minutes, might help you in points and blocks.

The bad (believe it or not, Hollins has negatives): The 7-footer is averaging all of 2.9 rebounds in 17.1 minutes this season.

Again, this is a reach, but Hollins should be on your watch list.

Pants on the ground, pants on the ground ...

-- Chris Paul update: After knee surgery Thursday, the Hornets point guard will be out 4-6 weeks. Considering most leagues begin their postseasons in Weeks 21 or 22, and this is Week 15, Paul owners will be fortunate if they get their first-round selection back in time for the playoffs.

Keep that in mind if your league's trade deadline hasn't passed. As I wrote Monday, Darren Collison is more than an adequate replacement for Paul on your roster.

The Hornets rookie has 42 points and 41 assists in three games since Paul was injured.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Fantasy focus: Chris Paul and Darren Collison

Chris Paul's knee injury is the basketball equivalent of losing Adrian Peterson for at least a few weeks in the fall.

If that sounds dramatic, take a glance at the statistics for the Hornets' All-Star point guard. He can score (20.2 points per game), he leads the league in assists (11.2), is second in steals (2.3) and is fourth among guards in field-goal percentage (50.4). Paul also averages 4.6 rebounds and 1.2 3-pointers per game, and he commits only 2.5 turnovers (his assist-to-turnover ratio of 4.42 easily leads the league).

Now you're left with, if you're lucky, Darren Collison for at least the next month.

When asked about Paul's knee injury Monday, Hornets coach/general manager/quote machine Jeff Bowers told reporters, "It is likely there will be a surgical solution for it."

Bowers wouldn't confirm an ESPN report that Paul has a torn meniscus and could be sidelined two months.

What Bowers doesn't need to confirm is Collison's place on the waiver wire. The rookie from UCLA is a must-have for Paul owners, and he's a free-agent gem for anyone who is in dire need of assists.

Counting Monday's loss to the Suns, Collison has 32 assists in the two games since Paul was injured. He has 33 points, 10 rebounds and nine turnovers in that span, and he's made all but one of his 11 free-throw attempts.

When Paul missed eight games because of a sprained ankle earlier this season, Collison averaged 14.9 points, 6.4 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.1 steals in that stretch. He was 29-for-32 from the free-throw line (90.6 percent) and 42-for-100 from the field (hopefully, I don't have to tell you that's 42 percent) in the eight games.

The latter percentage is one of the few drawbacks to Collison.

For the season, he's shooting 41.2 percent from the field, and he's not nearly the 3-point threat Paul is (Collison has 11 treys in 42 games).

You won't get two or three steals per game, either, but you can do a lot worse than a rookie who can pile up points and assists, along with helping your free-throw percentage.

As of late Monday night, Collison was available in 93 percent of the leagues on

He's a bargain in any format until Paul returns.

And we'll have to wait for further word on a "surgical solution" to know when that might be.

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