Deliver Us From Evil (Empire)
The golden left arm of Jon Lester salvaged a must-have series split in the Bronx this afternoon, holding NY scoreless over 6+ innings to snap a personal four-game losing streak. This effort may have been for naught, however, without a stellar bullpen performance from Daniel Bard and Papelbon, both of whom entered the game with the Sox in a jam and proceeded to pitch out of them. Jacoby Ellsbury made what seems like his first contribution of the season in tying Remy’s team record for steals in a game with four swipes, while Bill Hall, J.D. Drew and recent call-up Ryan Kalish accounted for the two Boston runs. Kalish actually received some fantasy lovin’ from Yahoo the other day, an article that bumped his ownership up to a whopping 3% across the Yahoo universe. Good stuff, kiddo.
It’s probably a good time to mention the Youkilis injury, a devastating blow to say the least. Tito has done a miraculous job of tricking this team into winning games and staying in the playoff hunt, but this is probably the straw that snaps this particular camel’s back. It is impossible to replace Youk’s offensive and defensive production unless you’re somehow going to trade for Mark Teixera, and I’m pretty sure that’s out of the question. Pedroia is targeting a return sometime next week, but that might be too little, too late. Pardon the pun; he’s really, really small.
Speaking of really, really small...
I love pretty much everything the Celtics have done (and not done) this offseason, and the signing of one Shaquille O’Neal is no exception. There is no guarantee that Perk will be at all effective when he finally gets back on the court next season, and the C’s (like everybody else in the East other than Orlando) need bodies to throw at Dwight Howard. The Diesel is as big a body as they come, he’s still physical as hell when he wants to be (just ask Rondo), and there’s no substitute for the level of experience, savvy, and swagger he brings to the team. Like they needed more swagger. Plus, I have to imagine the guy who gave The Truth his nickname is out for a little blood after being abandoned by LeBron in favor of former co-champ Dwayne Wade and former speedy carnivorous dinosaur Chris Bosh. Oh yeah, and he still hates Kobe, which makes him okay in my book. He gets introduced tomorrow and I can’t wait for the press conference.
Patriot nation is buzzing with the news of Aaron Schobel’s release from the Bills over the weekend, and it sounds as though the Pats have some legitimate interest in Tom Brady’s nightmare. Seriously, this guy has been in Brady’s lap more times than Gisele. I’m always for adding someone who can improve a pass rush by himself, and Schobel is definitely one of those players. The only question, as frequently occurs when dealing with the Pats, is what he’ll cost. We aren’t talking Julius Peppers money here, but he won’t be cheap.
A few quick-hitters:
~Patrick Chung, on why he enjoys special teams: “It’s a legalized 40-yard fistfight”. I think I might have a new favorite Patriot. What a great line.
~Nick Kaczur has what’s being termed as a “significant back injury”, which just makes me hate Logan Mankins even more. Get your ass to camp and start punching people in the cock, Redbeard.
~Charlie Weiss is falling apart. Literally. I can’t imagine how someone in peak physical condition, such as Charlie, could have something like this happen to him. It’s shocking.
~Anybody else think the Yankees’ rotation is suspect after C.C.? Phil Hughes is fading as the season wears on, Burnett is twenty pounds of hot garbage stuffed into a ten-pound headcase, Javi Vazquez is irrelevant in the A.L., and Andy Pettitte helped build the pyramids. I’m not saying the Sox will catch them, but I wouldn’t put money on NY going anywhere with those arms.
And now…the moment all ten of you have been waiting for…it’s fantasy football time. As a refresher, we left off at Dallas Clark as my number 30 overall.
31. Greg Jennings: He can’t possibly be as disappointing as last year’s lackluster effort, and Driver is playing on borrowed time at this point despite his continued production. Rodgers will get him the ball more frequently, particularly with newly minted TE stud Jermichael Jer-Finley attracting defensive attention away from the Pack’s best wideout.
32. Pierre Thomas: I fucking hate Reggie Bush, both as a person and as a fantasy football option. I feel like Sean Payton shares my distaste for Mr. Kardashian, hence the preferential treatment shown to Thomas as an every-down type of back. Plus, you want as many major pieces of this New Orleans offense as you can get.
33. Sidney Rice: I’m nearly positive Favre is coming back, and while I dislike his Wrangler-festooned personality and accent, he’s good for fantasy business in Minnesota. Rice is a sicko, to the tune of ten scores over his final nine games (including the playoffs) last year. You’ll have to take him higher than this in most leagues, and I’ll move him up my draft board when Brett confirms his return.
34. Antonio Gates: This is my pick as the guy you’ll see most often on successful fantasy teams this season. He’s a TD machine in a stellar offense, and I can’t imagine his redzone looks decreasing with the departure of Tomlinson and suspension of Vincent Jackson. Only knock on Gates is his propensity to be strongly vaginal at times, but I’ll risk him missing a game or two in exchange for his consistent production.
35. Jahvid Best: While I can’t condone selecting him with the second overall pick like my friend did (albeit accidentally, darn player queue), Best stands to do well in an improved Lion offense. Much more of a homerun hitter than his backfield brother Kevin Smith, I believe Best will benefit from having a solid, proven back providing a change of pace against opposing defenses. 1300 total yards and a handful of scores aren’t out of the question.
36. DeSean Jackson: I’m trusting that Kevin Kolb isn’t a total bum here (see post-Super Bowl Jake Delhomme) and that he can reach Jackson downfield. The kid is a burner and big-play maven, plus a kick-returning whirlwind if you engage in a league that rewards you for such feats. But Kolb worries me a little.
37. Steve Smith (CAR): No, not the fake NYG Steve Smith. I’m banking on Matt Moore not being capable of sucking the way Jake Delhomme sucks. It seemed like Moore and Smith found a nice chemistry as last season wore on, and I still believe Smith has the talent and athletic ability to be a top-5 WR when healthy.
38. Beanie Wells: Would you allow Matt Leinart to chuck the ball around? And no, I’m not buying the Derek Anderson hype until I see it for a few regular season games. That pretty much leaves you with Wells and Tim Hightower, and while Hightower is a pain in the ass TD vulture, Wells should see an expanded role this season.
39. Ronnie Brown: Why draft a guy who can’t stay healthy for a full season? Because if he does, you’re most likely going to win your league if the rest of your team doesn’t stink. Brown is as talented a back as there is in the league (yes, that includes Purple Jesus and Chris Johnson), his fantasy points-per-game average is always ridiculous, but yeah, he ALWAYS ends up tearing something. Classic high-risk, high-reward.
40. Joseph Addai: Listen, I love UCONN, but Donald Brown isn’t going to be an every-down back in the NFL, and Addai straight up finds the endzone. Peyton will have the Indy offense clicking right out of the gate, and there’s been rumblings about wanting to reduce the number of passes he has to throw over the course of a season, two factors which have me high on Addai.
Until next time, loyal readers…