2014 NFL Free Agent Signings Fantasy Football Review

The NFL Free Agent Signing period is currently underway and many of the chips have already fallen.  The biggest signings in terms of fantasy football are Eric Decker taking a huge hit in value to go to the Jets and Ben Tate going to Cleveland who sorely needing help at the RB position.  Hakeem Nicks could see a resurgence playing with QB Andrew Luck, and Emmanuel Sanders could have a huge year playing with Peyton Manning and possibly fill Eric Decker's role.  Golden Tate will be lining up across from Calvin Johnson and Jeremy Maclin will get his chance to shine in Chip Kelly's offense.  Toby Gerhart will get a chance to take over primary back duties in Jacksonville and will finally get the opportunity to emerge from Adrian Peterson's shadow.  

Top Fantasy Football Relavent Free Agent Signings:

2014 Fantasy Baseball Spring Injury Watch

Each year there are injured players expected to rejoin their teams and return to a starting role at some point during the season.  Star players coming off of injury can often be had for a value if they aren't going to be ready by the start of the season, but these players always come with several risks.  Recovery projections are too often overoptimistic, players sometimes need extra time to get back to their previous form (especially with power sapping wrist injuries), and injuries can linger all year or even completely shut a player down. A recommended rule of thumb is to stay away from any pitchers with arm trouble except at extreme discounts.  injured hitters are somewhat safer, but watch out for wrist and hand injuries.  Any pitcher with forearm tightness should be avoided or traded. 

Injuries to watch:

Rumor: Prominent Indiana Boosters Want To Fire Tom Crean

Rumors have emerged that important Indiana Boosters are calling for Men's Basketball Coach Tom Crean's contract to be bought out at Indiana University.  The rumors also state that Coach Mike Woodson - despite zero NCAA coaching experience - would be a top candidate for the position.  Mike Woodson still works for the Knicks at this time, and it seems unlikely that he would be considered a top candidate for a top NCAA coaching position due to lack of experience at the college level.  Perhaps Woodson has more connections and inroads to the NCAA recruiting scene than one might expect from a career NBA coach, but it seems most likely that a program such as Indiana would desire a much more proven NCAA coach.

2014 Fantasy Baseball Relief Pitcher Rankings For Points Leagues

Relief Pitcher is the most variable position in fantasy baseball.  Typically there are a few elite closers who can be valuable due to high K/9 and better than average pitching relative to normal relief pitchers - these guys are the only closers who are worth a high pick and even then it is risky.  The position is also typically very Saves dependent as well, with SPs with RP eligibility often pushing Holds relievers onto the waiver wire.  It is important to note that you should be careful when using high draft picks or spending auction budget on relief pitching.  Not only is it relatively easy to find production off the waiver wire, but the position has a very high "bust rate" given injuries and normal performance variation from season to season.

2014 Fantasy Baseball Starting Pitcher Rankings For Points Leagues

Pitching is a position in which leagues can be won or lost through pure value (or lack thereof) in fantasy baseball points leagues.  Starting Pitching is less variable from year to year than Relief Pitching, however every pitcher comes with inherently more risk than their offensive counterparts due to injury.  Pitching injuries are frequent, usually lingering, and rehabiliatation can be a patience-sucking headache for the player himself, fans and fantasy owners alike.  There are several factors to consider when looking at Starting Pitching including depth at the position, likelihood of injury, innings limits, and relative player value.  The fact remains that in most leagues savvy owners can acquire ace level pitching at bargain basement prices by scooping up cheap young pitchers just before they break out.

2014 Fantasy Baseball Outfield Rankings For Points Leagues

The Outfield position is rich with talent in 2014 but there is a significant dropoff after the top 25 or so players.  The wealth of talent at the position is made up of both established stars such as Mike Trout and Carlos Gonzalez but also composed of rebound/breakout candidates such as Justin Upton and Jason Heyward who have so far struggled to play up to their immense talent.  Other risky players like Jose Bautista and Matt Kemp have sky high ceilings but enough question marks to indicate a fairly low floor.  Ryan Braun and Giancarlo Stanton look to bounce back with huge 2014s while Bryce Harper looks for a major breakout season.  Overall outfield offers a large number of players with very high potential for huge fantasy seasons while also carrying significant risk.  Weighing upside and risk should be paramount in your Outfield strategy for 2014.

2014 OF Rankings For Points Leagues:

Rumor: Tom Izzo preparing to leave Michigan State for NBA

Rumors have surfaced that Michigan State Men's Basketball coach Tom Izzo has informed his assistant coaches and other staff that he may be preparing to leave for the NBA in the next few seasons.  These rumors are currently unsubstantiated other than reported interest from NBA teams, and Izzo has recently vowed to coach NCAA hoops another 5 years.  Let's not let that stop us from considering the possibility and reviewing some recent and past events that may have given rise to the rumors.

2014 Fantasy Baseball Third Baseman Rankings For Points Leagues

Last season Third Base was a position in which the elite players gave their owners a huge advantage by outproducing the lesser starting options by a wide margin, especially in deeper leagues.  In 2014 the talent cliff at 3B continues and there are few elite options at an already shallow position.  Third base should be a priority position for points league owners in 2014, as one of the top four 3B options can represent a significant advantage over the opponent.  Miguel Cabrera tops this list, as he has consistently dominated the competition and is expected to continue to do so in 2014.  Cabrera is the #1 player in fantasy baseball and should be the top priority in auction and snake draft formats.  A smaller group of high ranked third baseman include Wright, Beltre, Longoria before the steep drop-off occurs at the position.

2014 Fantasy Baseball Shortstop Rankings For Points Leagues

Troy Tulowitski - #1 Fantasy SS

Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki stand out in an elite tier at the Shortstop position.  Both of these athletes are extremely high ceiling players with some injury concern who can be serious difference makers at a position lacking other elite options.  Ramirez will likely not produce the same rate statistics as last season - by far the best of his career - but his .363 BABIP in 2013 seems slightly less crazy when you consider that Hanley's career average BABIP is .334 and he was also able to significantly increase his Line Drive % to 22% up from a career average 18.6% (league average is ~20%).  Ben Zobrist will look for a power resurgence but should produce solid numbers without one, while Starlin Castro and Xander Bogaerts are high upside plays who could pan out big time.  JJ Hardy and Jed Lowrie should also deliver solid production from the SS position in points leagues.

2014 Fantasy Baseball Second Baseman Rankings For Points Leagues

Top 2B Robinson Cano

The second base position is reasonably deep in fantasy baseball this year, but second base can often offer an advantage over your weekly opponent.  2B is a position in which there are a few elite run-producers, but most players often serve a table-setting or bottom-of-the-order role offensively.  Paying close attention to platoons and especially batting orders this spring will be important because the second basemen in the middle of the pack (9-15) can move around quite a bit based solely on batting order spot.  In points leagues it is important to consider counting stats in addition to rate stats and a player who bats 1st in the order will get roughly 750 PA in a season vs a player who bats 9th who will get roughly 615 PA over the same period.  Matt Carpenter is one of those players who is expected to bat high in the order and could be a big time breakout candidate.  


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