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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, January 27, 2011

Fantasy football: Top keepers for 2011, QBs

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick will present one of the most unique draft-day dilemmas in 2011.

If you select the best athlete at his position, are you getting the player who threw for 3,018 yards and 21 touchdowns in only 12 games in 2010? Or are you getting the player who runs so often he is an injury waiting to happen? Both?

Even more of a dilemma: If you own Vick in a keeper league.

Where does he fit after the best season in his career, a campaign in which two of the 12 games he played consisted of a seven-attempt effort before getting hurt (Week 4) and a second-half mop-up in place of an injured Kevin Kolb (Week 1)?

I would place him in the top eight, ahead of Ben Roethlisberger, but that's as much of a risk as I would be willing to take on Vick, who might have a difficult time avoiding injuries because of his entertaining (reckless?) style.

That brings us to our top 10 fantasy keepers at quarterback. You might be surprised by No. 1, but only if you're expecting the list to go in order of the biggest names in the business.

1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers (age 27): In his last three seasons, he's averaged 4,131 yards, 29 touchdown passes and four rushing TDs. He also ran for 356 yards in 2010 -- and you might recall that he's had a pretty decent postseason.

2. Philip Rivers, Chargers (29): He threw for a career-high 4,710 yards and had 30 TD tosses in 2010. Rivers has averaged 31 TD passes the last three seasons, a span in which he's throw for more than 4,000 yards each year.

3. Peyton Manning, Colts (34): He will be 35 on March 24, but even in a "down" year in which many of his weapons were injured, Manning threw for 4,700 yards and 33 scores. In the last five years, he's averaged 4,328 yards passing and 31 TDs.

4. Drew Brees, Saints (32): Since 2008, he's thrown for at least 4,388 yards and 33 touchdowns each year, though he was intercepted a career-high 22 times in 2010.

5. Tom Brady, Patriots (33): He threw for 3,900 yards and 36 TDs, with only four picks, in 2010, and Gisele's husband has averaged 4,149 yards and 32 TDs the last two seasons.

6. Matt Ryan, Falcons (25): Ryan was very productive in Year 3 (3,705 yards and 28 TDs), and his touchdowns have increased by six each season (from 16 as a rookie to 22 in 2009 to ... you get the idea).

7. Josh Freeman, Buccaneers (23):
What a second season. Freeman threw for 3,451 yards and 25 TDs, with a 95.6 rating and 364 yards rushing.

8. Michael Vick, Eagles (30): In his first extensive action since 2006, he posted career highs in TD passes (21), passing yards (3,018), rushing TDs (9) and passer rating (100.2).

9. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (28): He threw for 3,200 yards and 17 TDs, with two rushing scores, in 12 games. He's a winner, but in fantasy, he's only had two big seasons -- 2007 (34 total TDs) and 2009 (4,328 yards passing, 28 total TDs).

10. Eli Manning, QB, Giants (30): He's averaged 4,012 yards and 29 TDs the last two seasons, but he threw a career-worst 25 interceptions in 2010.

Honorable mention

11. Matt Schaub, Texans (29): He's averaged 4,570 yards and 27 TDs since 2009.

12. Joe Flacco, Ravens (26): He threw for 3,622 yards, only 9 better than the year before, but his TD passes increased from 21 in 2009 to 25 in 2010.

13. Tony Romo, Cowboys (30): An injury ended his season after six games, but don't forget his 2007-09 production (91 total TDs).

NEXT: Running backs

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Fantasy baseball: Early top 100 for 2011

Is it too early to rank the top 100 players in fantasy baseball?


But if the Yankees can pay Rafael Soriano almost $12 million per season to be Mariano Rivera's setup man and Prince Fielder can earn $15.5 million to bat .261, then we can compile a top 100 in January.

Without further delay, our Ridiculously Early But Still Interesting Top 100 for 2011:

1. Albert Pujols, 1B, Cardinals
2. Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Rockies
3. Hanley Ramirez, SS, Marlins
4. Josh Hamilton, OF, Rangers
5. Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Tigers
6. Carl Crawford, OF, Red Sox
7. Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies
8. Joey Votto, 1B, Reds
9. Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers
10. Roy Halladay, SP, Phillies
11. Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees
12. Felix Hernandez, SP, Mariners
13. Evan Longoria, 3B, Rays
14. Tim Lincecum, SP, Giants
15. Alex Rodriguez, 3B, Yankees
16. David Wright, 3B, Mets
17. Matt Holliday, OF, Cardinals
18. Chase Utley, 2B, Phillies
19. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Red Sox
20. Joe Mauer, C, Twins
21. Buster Posey, C, Giants
22. Jose Bautista, OF, Blue Jays
23. Adam Wainwright, SP, Cardinals
24. Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Red Sox
25. Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Indians
26. Jose Reyes, SS, Mets
27. Jayson Werth, OF, Nationals
28. Kevin Youkilis, 3B, Red Sox
29. Jon Lester, SP, Red Sox
30. Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees
31. Justin Verlander, SP, Tigers
32. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Nationals
33. Cliff Lee, SP, Phillies
34. Ian Kinsler, 2B, Rangers
35. CC Sabathia, SP, Yankees
36. Matt Kemp, OF, Dodgers
37. Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds
38. Victor Martinez, C, Tigers
39. Jason Heyward, OF, Braves
40. Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates
41. Prince Fielder, 1B, Brewers
42. Adrian Beltre, 3B, Rangers
43. Dan Uggla, 2B, Braves
44. Derek Jeter, SS, Yankees
45. Brian McCann, C, Braves
46. Nelson Cruz, OF, Rangers
47. Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Rockies
48. David Price, SP, Rays
49. Ryan Howard, 1B, Phillies
50. Justin Morneau, 1B, Twins
51. Jimmy Rollins, SS, Phillies
52. Josh Johnson, SP, Marlins
53. Adam Dunn, DH, White Sox
54. Hunter Pence, OF, Astros
55. Justin Upton, OF, Diamondbacks
56. Alex Rios, OF, White Sox
57. Rickie Weeks, 2B, Brewers
58. Chris Young, OF, Diamondbacks
59. Jered Weaver, SP, Angels
60. Andre Ethier, OF, Dodgers
61. Alexei Ramirez, SS, White Sox
62. Paul Konerko, 1B, White Sox
63. Roy Oswalt, SP, Phillies
64. Delmon Young, OF, Twins
65. Shane Victorino, OF, Phillies
66. Mat Latos, SP, Padres
67. Brian Roberts, 2B, Orioles
68. Michael Young, DH, Rangers
69. Corey Hart, OF, Brewers
70. Kendry Morales, 1B, Angels
71. Cole Hamels, SP, Phillies
72. Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Cubs
73. Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Red Sox
74. Clayton Kershaw, SP, Dodgers
75. Chris Carpenter, SP, Cardinals
76. Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Mariners
77. Grady Sizemore, OF, Indians
78. Martin Prado, OF, Braves
79. Carlos Santana, C, Indians
80. Brian Wilson, RP, Giants
81. Heath Bell, RP, Padres
82. Clay Buchholz, SP, Red Sox
83. Francisco Liriano, SP, Twins
84. David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox
85. Joakim Soria, RP, Royals
86. Casey McGehee, 3B, Brewers
87. Aubrey Huff, 1B, Giants
88. Billy Butler, 1B, Royals
89. Matt Cain, SP, Giants
90. Starlin Castro, SS, Cubs
91. Curtis Granderson, OF, Yankees
92. Neftali Felix, RP, Rangers
93. Yovani Gallardo, SP, Brewers
94. Zack Greinke, SP, Brewers
95. Mariano Rivera, RP, Yankees
96. Carlos Marmol, RP, Cubs
97. Vernon Wells, OF, Blue Jays
98. Mike Stanton, OF, Marlins
99. Bobby Abreu, OF, Angels
100. Adam Lind, DH, Blue Jays

-- Five more we considered: Juan Pierre, OF, White Sox; Trevor Cahill, SP, Athletics; Tommy Hanson, SP, Braves; Mark Reynolds, 3B, Orioles; Jason Kubel, DH, Twins.

-- The top 100 by position: Outfielders, 28; starting pitchers, 22; first basemen, 12; third basemen, 8; second basemen, 8; shortstops, 7; relief pitchers, 6; catchers, 5; designated hitters, 4.

-- Note: We listed the players at the position at which they are expected to spend the most time this season. Obviously, you would want to draft Michael Young as a third baseman, but with Adrian Beltre on board for $96 million, Young likely will be Texas' primary designated hitter in 2011.

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Fantasy football playoff pools: K and D/ST rankings

First, the links:

-- Part I: Rankings of the top quarterbacks and running backs.

-- Part II: Wide receivers and tight ends.

On to the afterthoughts -- the kickers and the defenses/special teams.


1. Matt Bryant, Falcons:
128 points, 8.0 per game, 28 field goals.

2. Shayne Graham, Patriots: 71 points, 8.9 average, 12 field goals.

3. David Akers, Eagles: 143 points, 8.9 average, 32 field goals.

4. Shaun Suisham, Steelers: 61 points, 8.7 average, 14 field goals.

5. Adam Vinatieri, Colts: 129 points, 8.1 average, 26 field goals.

6. Robbie Gould, Bears: 110 points, 6.9 average, 25 field goals.

7. Billy Cundiff, Ravens: 117 points, 7.3 average, 26 field goals.

8. Garrett Hartley, Saints:
100 points, 7.1 average, 20 field goals.

9. Mason Crosby, Packers: 112 points, 7.0 average, 22 field goals.

10. Nick Folk, Jets:
127 points, 7.9 average, 30 field goals.

11. Olindo Mare, Seahawks: 106 points, 6.6 average, 25 field goals.

12. Ryan Succop, Chiefs: 102 points, 6.4 average, 20 field goals.


1. Steelers:
14.5 points per game allowed (No.1 in league), 32 turnovers forced.

2. Patriots: No. 8 in points allowed, 36 turnovers forced.

3. Falcons: No. 5 in points allowed, 29 turnovers forced.

4. Ravens: 16.9 points allowed (No. 3), 22 turnovers forced.

5. Bears: No. 4 in points allowed, 33 turnovers forced.

6. Packers: No. 2 in points allowed (15.0), 30 turnovers forced.

7. Saints: No. 7 in points allowed, 23 turnovers forced.

8. Colts: No. 23 in points allowed, 20 turovers forced.

9. Eagles: Tied for 21st in points allowed, 20 turnovers forced.

10. Jets: No. 6 in points allowed, 24 turnovers forced.

11. Chiefs: No. 11 in points allowed, 22 turnovers forced.

12. Seahawks: No. 25 in points allowed, 21 turnovers forced.

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Fantasy football playoff pools: WR and TE rankings

If you missed Part I of these rankings -- or if you have no idea what a fantasy playoff pool is -- click here.

Otherwise, it's time for Part II -- the diva section.


1. Roddy White, Falcons: With 115 receptions, 1,389 yards and 10 touchdowns in the regular season, he's the slam-dunk choice. My only concern: If the Eagles and Saints win in Round 1, New Orleans will visit Atlanta in the divisional round, increasing the odds that the top-seeded Falcons could be one-and-done in the postseason.

2. Wes Welker, Patriots: He has had only one game with more than 90 receiving yards this season, but he is the top target for the Super Bowl favorites.

3. Mike Wallace, Steelers: He has 209 yards and two TDs in his last two games, and he averaged 21 yards per catch and scored 10 times in the regular season.

4. Marques Colston, Saints: He sat in Week 17, but is expected to be fine after an 84-catch campaign.

5. Pierre Garcon, Colts:
He has five TDs in his last five games and gets the nod over Reggie Wayne because the latter likely will be matched up with Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis on Saturday night.

6. Reggie Wayne, Colts: He had 111 receptions for 1,355 yards and six TDs in the regular season, but Revis has a tendency to crush fantasy hopes faster than Dwayne Bowe.

7. Jeremy Maclin, Eagles: In point-per-reception formats, he is a better play than DeSean Jackson after catching 70 passes and reaching the end zone 10 times in the regular season.

8. DeSean Jackson, Eagles: He had 1,056 yards and six TDs, but caught only 47 passes and tends to be big-play-or-bust.

9. Greg Jennings, Packers: He has better numbers than almost everyone on this list (76 receptions, 1,265 yards and 12 TDs), but if you take him, you better be certain the Pack will win at Philadelphia on Sunday.

10. Anquan Boldin, Cardinals: He's the Ravens' big-play threat, but in his last four regular-season contests, Boldin had eight catches for 67 yards and zero TDs.

The rest: 11. Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs; 12. Deion Branch, Patriots; 13. Lance Moore, Saints; 14. Johnny Knox, Bears; 15. Santonio Holmes, Jets; 16. Braylon Edwards, Jets; 17. Hines Ward, Steelers; 18. Mike Williams, Seahawks.


1. Tony Gonzalez, Falcons: He had 70 receptions and six TDs in the regular season, but you're probably better served taking Roddy White or Michael Turner as your only Falcon.

2. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots: He had 10 TDs as a rookie (four in his last four games), but has to be overshadowed by teammates Tom Brady, Welker and BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

3. Jacob Tamme, Colts: Because of the top two's teammates, Tamme likely will be many owners' selection at tight end after he racked up 67 catches for 631 yards and four TDs in Indy's last 10 games.

4. Heath Miller, Steelers: A possible sleeper pick after tallying nine catches for 128 yards and a TD in Pittsburgh's final two games.

5. Todd Heap, Ravens: He missed Weeks 14 to 16 with a hamstring injury, but returned to catch three passes for 53 yards last week.

6. Greg Olsen, Bears:
He didn't score in the Bears' last five regular-season games, and he had exactly one catch in three of the five contests.

7. Brent Celek, Eagles:
He might have been the biggest fantasy bust at his position (42 receptions, 511 yards and four TDs).

8. Dustin Keller, Jets:
He has the numbers (55 catches, 687 yards, five TDs), but you would have to be confident of the Jets winning at Indy in the wild-card round.

The rest:
9. John Carlson, Seahawks; 10. Jeremy Shockey, Saints.

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Fantasy football playoff pools: QB and RB rankings

Maybe you're like me (if so, I apologize).

Maybe you want to keep the fantasy football season going, even if it ended as wacky as ever and left you questioning if the game is now much more about luck than skill.

If you're not ready for the season to end, you're likely in a playoff pool. If you're not, here is how it works: In standard postseason leagues, you select nine players -- one QB, two running backs, three wide receivers, a tight end, a kicker and a defense/special teams. You can only select one player from each playoff team, which leaves three teams unaccounted for and forces you to decide which teams you think will play two or three postseason games as much as you are deciding which players you prefer at each position.

Once the games start this weekend, the nine players you select accumulate points each time they play. Once their team is out, you obviously get no more points from that slot. The team with the most points from his or her nine players wins.

It sounds simple, and it is. The difficult part is choosing a nine-player team that isn't loaded with Patriots, Steelers and Falcons.

Here is one man's opinion on the top quarterbacks and running backs in playoff pools. We'll break down the best receivers and tight ends later in the week.


1. Tom Brady, Patriots: He's the obvious choice, which might make you decide to go in a different direction (see Welker, Wes).

2. Michael Vick, Eagles: He had 30 TDs (21 passing, nine rushing) in 12 games and, if the Eagles can beat the Packers at home in the wild-card round, you get at least two games out of him, with a decent chance at three.

3. Drew Brees, Saints: He threw 22 interceptions, but also had 4,620 yards and 33 TDs. The danger: To get more than two games out of Brees, New Orleans would have to win at Seattle, then likely at Atlanta.

4. Peyton Manning, Colts: You know he'll produce, but are you willing to select him as your QB and roll the dice that the Colts will win at Pittsburgh in Round 2?

5. Matt Ryan, Falcons: He has the numbers (3,705, 28 TDs), but Roddy White is the obvious Atlanta pick in leagues that award a point per reception.

6. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers: He has two Super Bowl rings, but teammates Rashard Mendenhall and Mike Wallace might be the better plays.

7. Aaron Rodgers, Packers: He would be ranked much higher if not for the wild-card road game against Vick's Eagles.

8. Joe Flacco, Ravens: You have to like the Ravens' odds of winning at Kansas City this weekend, but if that's the case, running back Ray Rice is too good to pass up in favor of Flacco.

The rest: 9. Jay Cutler, Bears; 10. Matt Cassel, Chiefs; 11. Mark Sanchez, Jets; 12. Matt Hasselbeck or Charlie Whitehurst, Seahawks.


1. Ray Rice, Ravens: He ran for 322 yards and reached the end zone three times in Baltimore's last three games. If you can get at least two games from him, he's worth the pick.

2. Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers:
He isn't the workhorse he was in Weeks 1-4, when Roethlisberger was suspended, but he finished with 13 rushing TDs (tied for second in the league).

3. Michael Turner, Falcons: He had 12 rushing TDs, and his 1,371 rushing yards are second among playoff backs to Jamaal Charles.

4. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Patriots: He might have been this season's most unlikely 1,000-yard rusher not named LeGarrette Blount, and he tied Mendenhall with 13 TDs. With Brady on his team, he would be a bold -- but potentially rewarding -- selection.

5. LeSean McCoy, Eagles:
In PPR leagues, he is an intriguing possibility after rushing for 1,080 yards, catching 78 passes for 592 yards and scoring nine times.

6. Matt Forte, Bears: He has the stats (1,069 rushing yards, 51 catches for 547 yards, nine total TDs), but I'd be nervous about the one-and-done potential with Philadelphia as a possible division round opponent after Chicago's Round 1 bye.

7. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs: If we were going strictly by numbers, Charles would be No. 1 after rushing for 1,467 yards, catching 45 passes for 468 yards and scoring eight times. But do you believe the Chiefs will get by the Ravens?

The rest: 8. Joseph Addai, Colts; 9. LaDainian Tomlinson, Jets; 10. Brandon Jackson, Packers; 11. Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks.

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