With seven wins in their last ten games, most would expect the Sox to have made up significant ground on AL East foes Tampa and New York. Unfortunately for Boston, the three best teams in the AL (and possibly the league) this year reside in the East, meaning that said 7-3 record has resulted in the Sox LOSING ground on Tampa over the same stretch (8-2) and only gaining a single game on NY (6-4). Here at NErage, however, we choose to focus on the positives in life. So here goes: John Lackey has emerged from the All-Star break with a vengence, posting three straight starts of at least seven innings and no more than two earned runs allowed (with a date tonight with the lowly Injuns); Clay Buchholz was dominant on Sunday against a good Tigers lineup in a game Papelbon ultimately blew for him; even Josh Beckett has returned strong from a two-month hiatus, posting a win last week during the Sox’ sweep of the Angels. One has to wonder, however, how long this team can continue to tread water in the AL East while fending off the always-pesky Twins in the hunt for the Wild Card. One thing is for certain: If Ellsbury and Pedroia do not return to this lineup within the next couple of weeks, this Red Sox season is like everything British Petroleum touches…dead in the water.
When you read this Pats training camp report by Christopher Price, try your hardest to ignore how gay it makes Tom Brady sound and focus instead upon Aaron Hernandez. I get the feeling that this kid is going to be the TE goal-line threat that the Pats have lacked since Christian “Between-the-legs-jump-spike” Fauria. Ben Watson was never that guy, and as much as I love Danny Graham, his hands were like frozen bricks wrapped in slices of uncooked bacon and sprayed down thoroughly with Pam. But man, that guy could run block his ass off.
Also from training camp, it sounds like the injury suffered by Gary Guyton is a relatively minor one, so everybody can relax a little on that front. The last thing the Pats need is to start dropping linebackers from an extremely young (but talented) unit. Derrick Burgess, on the other hand, can fuck off and retire. They worked out former-Fin Adewale Ogunleye yesterday in case Burgess does in fact decide to hang ’em up, which some have argued he already did two or three years ago. Not my favorite recent signing, to say the least.
On to the Green, who a few days ago inked one of those players who can make or break your team, or your afternoon tea. I am of course speaking of Olympiacos’ own Von “Lorna Doone” Wafer, who last played in the NBA two seasons ago for the Rockets. Last time I saw this guy, he had one those idiotic Ron Artest faux-hawk things going on, but he’s a scorer off the bench so I won’t hold it against him. The second/third units seem to be rounding into form nicely for the C’s, who have added bench depth this offseason rather than involve themselves in the marquee free agent fuck-fest of a month ago.
How about that third round of fantasy football rankings? Here you go loyal readers, as we enter the rounds that usually dictate your success as a manager and as a person. Maybe that’s taking it too far…
Note: Denver’s Knowshon Moreno has a “mildly frayed” hamstring after feeling it pop over the weekend. Avoid him like the plague, if for no other reason than one of his major leg muscles is now being compared to an elderly pair of my boxer shorts.
21. Ryan Mathews: I’ve never trusted single-T Mathew’s as a general rule, but I think in this case it’s okay to roll the dice. Single-T (I think I just coined his nickname) is getting rave reviews early on in Chargers camp, and with LT’s departure he makes for one of those gigantic upside picks as a young starting RB in a potent and established offense.
22. Shonn Greene: Let’s continue the run on players who spell simple names oddly and snatch up Gang Green’s replacement for Thomas “Why Does Everybody Dog Me?” Jones. Their line is ridiculously good, they have some wideouts and Dustin Keller who can stretch the field and open things up underneath, and Mark Sanchez needs to hand the ball off to be a successful NFL quarterback. A caveat to be aware of: LT is in the house now, so goal-line carries are not a sure thing for Greene.
23. Larry Fitzgerald: Nobody is more upset about the upcoming season than Fitzy, who finally loses Brenda Warner to old age and will now be subjected with regularity to footballs hurled into the turf and twenty feet over his head. Matt Leinart sucks, is what I’m saying. Then again, Fitzy doesn’t have Anquan Boldin sucking up the stats anymore, so perhaps he can salvage a solid season. Either way, early third round seems right for the former top-ten pick.
24. Brandon Marshall: Chad Henne is going to use Marshall like Kobe uses concierges, Ron Washington uses crack and Roethlisberger uses teenage girls. The guy is a huge target, runs like a deer and is pretty much a lock to reach the century mark in catches every year he plays the full slate.
25. LeSean McCoy: Brian Westbrook has departed, Mike Bell just got carted off the field, and this kid has talent to spare. Think Ray Rice and his skill set, only probably not quite as explosive. Teams won’t be able to stack the box to stop him given Philly’s WR threats. If Bell is out for an extended period of time, McCoy is going to have a party every Sunday.
26. Miles Austin: Last year’s biggest surprise at the WR position might not repeat 1300 yards and 11 scores, but I believe he’ll come close. Dez Bryant is already proving how brittle he is and Roy Williams is nowhere near Austin in terms of athleticism, and Romo seems to look for him with the same frequency as he looks for Jason Witten.
27. Matt Schaub: If he can stay on the field for all 16 games (and that has been a big “IF” to this point in his career), Schaub can be argued as the third most valuable fantasy QB in the league. He gets to throw to Andre Johnson and a more-than-serviceable TE in Owen Daniels, and his secondary wideouts (including Jacoby Jones) are also solid. Great arm + great weapons = fantasy success.
28. Tony Romo: He’s got all the weapons you could want for your fantasy QB in Austin, Witten, Williams, and Bryant, plus two capable (though oft-injured) backs in Barber and Jones to help shoulder the load and keep the heat off him. If he continues down the path of ball control and good decision-making, he’ll duplicate last year’s 26 TD, 9 INT campaign. If not, he’ll be more along the lines of Romo ’08 and end up fucking Homer Simpson again.
29. Marques Colston: The best of a great bunch of Saints wideouts, Colston is a beast when healthy. Oh yeah, and Drew Brees chucks the rock at him, so that’s usually a good thing for a receiver. He might not get the catches or yardage of other number ones, but I think his TD total will always be there as long as Brees is guiding the ship. Plus, he played his college ball at Hofstra. Nobody plays their college ball at Hofstra.
30. Dallas Clark: He gets better and better every year, he catches passes from Peyton Manning, and he’s the one Colt I don’t despise as a human being. Oh, and did I mention the ‘stache? Seriously though, he’s the best TE in the game, both for fantasy purposes and in real life.
Anybody else loving the infrequent posting and updates? Me three. Let’s hold onto that feeling…