Chris Johnson

On Feb. 22, I took a look at second basemen. Now, let’s shift to third basemen.

Which third baseman should go off the board first?

Miguel Cabrera (DET) – This isn’t even a debate, and you all know that.

Who is making a comeback from a disappointing 2013 season?

Aramis Ramirez (MIL) – Ramirez battled injuries in 2013 and wasn’t even owned in most leagues throughout the season. After playing just 92 games last year, he is most likely going to miss the first few games of spring training after having a polyp removed from his colon. However, when he is playing, he can be effective. He has always been a consistent fantasy contributor when healthy, hitting more than 25 homers in each season in which he has had at least 450 plate appearances. Ramirez will also maintain a solid batting average, get you doubles and plenty of runs batted in.

Don’t sleep on this guy

Chris Johnson (ATL) – Despite losing McCann, the Braves lineup should be pretty strong again this year. Last year, Johnson broke out and finished fifth in the majors in batting average at .321. He isn’t very powerful at the plate or the best source for runs batted in, but he had 34 doubles last season, and I expect his other numbers to improve. Johnson is currently being ranked in the 20-25 range. He is better than that, and if you find yourself stuck without a third baseman in the late rounds, Johnson will provide tremendous value.

Bound to bust

Kyle Seager (SEA) – Seager has never appealed to me. With Cano on his team, he is expected to produce more, but I don’t see it coming to fruition. Although Seager has hit 20+ homers the past two seasons, his average is never good and none of his numbers stand out. He is currently being ranked in the 10-15 range among third baseman, but I project him finishing worse than that.

My Pre-Season Rankings: Third Basemen

  1. Miguel Cabrera (DET)
  2. Adrian Beltre (TEX)
  3. Evan Longoria (TB)
  4. David Wright (NYM)
  5. Edwin Encarnacion (TOR)
  6. Matt Carpenter (STL)
  7. Ryan Zimmerman (WAS)
  8. Manny Machado (BAL)
  9. Pedro Alvarez (PIT)
  10. Pablo Sandoval (SF)
  11. Josh Donaldson (OAK)
  12. Aramis Ramirez (MIL)
  13. Brett Lawrie (TOR)
  14. Nolan Arenado (COL)
  15. Jurickson Profar (TEX)
  16. Chris Johnson (ATL)
  17. Martin Prado (ARI)
  18. Todd Frazier (CIN)
  19. Kyle Seager (SEA)
  20. Jedd Gyorko (SD)

I’ll leave you with this...

Third base might be stronger than it has ever been in fantasy baseball this season. Cabrera, Beltre, Longoria, Wright and Encarnacion may very well all be gone within the first three rounds of any fantasy draft, but there is no need to panic if you do not end up with one of the top-tier guys because the players below them aren’t too shabby. Third baseman like Carpenter, Zimmerman, Machado, Alvarez and Sandoval are all solid fantasy contributors who have a chance to really shine. This year, it may even be best to pass on drafting a third baseman in the early rounds and wait until the later rounds to pick up potential breakout players like Profar, Arenado or Johnson.

Each week, Adam will give his two cents about the players at each position, naming a clear-cut number one, a comeback player, a sleeper/breakout, a bust, his full rankings and a little advice as to what to do in your draft and throughout the season.

With ten games decided by seven points or less, including two that went into overtime, this week’s slate of NFL action had plenty of nail-biters. Consequently, it only makes sense that fantasy football games across the board also came down to the wire. When the stakes are high and every point matters, some players embrace the pressure while others crumble:

Fantasy Studs:

1) Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans
Looking 2010-esque, when he ran for over 2,000 yards, Johnson absolutely torched the Bills Sunday while carrying his team to a 35-34 victory. CJ2K gashed Buffalo’s defense, accumulating 195 rushing yards and two touchdowns in what was easily his best game of the season. After a slow first month, Johnson appears to be heating up with still over half of the 2012 season remaining. If that’s indeed the case, watch out.

2) Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jackson absolutely embarrassed the secondary of the New Orleans Saints, hauling in seven passes for 216 yards and a touchdown in the Bucs 28-35 loss. The eighth-year veteran has been on a tear as of late, hauling in four touchdowns in his last three games. However, this was by far his best performance since joining the Bucs as a free agent this offseason.

3) Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
Although Vincent Jackson played incredibly for the Bucs, Drew Brees still managed to outshine him. The native Austinite threw for 377 yards and four touchdowns, completing passes to seven different receivers while leading New Orleans to its second consecutive victory after starting the season 0-4.


 

Fantasy Duds:
1) Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Bryant continues to frustrate fantasy owners with his inconsistent play, turning in an awful performance Sunday against the Panthers after having his best of the season last week. The Oklahoma State product caught only two passes for 14 yards and was targeted a whopping three times by quarterback Tony Romo. Until he shows the ability to produce week in and week out, Bryant cannot be considered a top-tier fantasy wide out.

2) Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens
Many, including myself, believed this week’s Ravens-Texans was a possible preview of the AFC Championship game. Instead, it was a complete blowout as the Texans won big, 43-13. Flacco struggled all game long, completing fewer than 50 percent of his passes for 147 yards and two interceptions. Although a third-quarter touchdown pass saved him from total fantasy irrelevance, Flacco’s performance Sunday was a absolute flop.

3) Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco 49ers
After a scintillating start to the season, when he caught four touchdowns in his first three games, Davis was practically a no-show last week against the Giants. However, things got even worse for him in Thursday’s 13-6 victory over Seattle. Not only did the Seahawks hold him without a catch, he wasn’t even targeted by quarterback Alex Smith. Visibly frustrated after the game, Davis said opposing defenses “are just taking stuff away, some of my explosive routes and stuff.” On behalf of fantasy owners and 49ers fans alike, let’s hope this lack of production doesn’t continue.

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) calls a play at the line of scrimmage against the San Francisco 49ers during the first quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

This week is stacked with great matchups, including several division rivalry games. The environment of these games is sure to be electric and players will be looking to elevate their performances against hated foes. With plenty at stake Sunday, be aware of who will be a smart fantasy start:

Players to start:

1) Eli Manning, QB
New York Giants

Outside of an opening-day dud against the Cowboys and last week’s blowout of the 49ers, Manning has been a reliable fantasy player.  Expect him to air it out this week against a Redskins defense that makes every quarterback it faces look like a fantasy all-star. Considering he has been sacked the least number of times in the NFL, Manning should have plenty of time and plenty of opportunities Sunday against Washington.

2) Mark Sanchez, QB
New York Jets

Although the whispers for Tim Tebow to start continue to haunt Sanchez, he played an efficient game against the Colts last Sunday, albeit throwing for a laughable 82 yards. Still, he tossed two touchdowns and surrendered zero turnovers, which should give him some confidence heading into Sunday’s game against the Patriots. Since he is facing a defense that has allowed at least three touchdown passes in each of its last four games, Sanchez is a good sleeper pick this week.

3) Chris Johnson, RB
Tennessee Titans

Though Johnson’s disappointing season has devastated many fantasy owners, he has looked improved in two of the past three weeks and is seeing a larger workload with backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck under center. Johnson should be in store for a strong game against the Buffalo Bills, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs.

Players to sit:

1) Russell Wilson, QB
Seattle Seahawks

Wilson had a huge game Sunday against the Patriots, throwing for 293 passing yards and three touchdowns in what was his best performance of the season. That being said, he was playing in the friendly confines of Qwest Field against an awful secondary. Don’t expect Wilson to duplicate this performance Thursday in San Francisco against a strong 49ers defense looking to rebound from a loss to the Giants.

2) Matthew Stafford, QB
Detroit Lions

Stafford is faced with a tough task this week, facing a Chicago defense that has allowed the least amount of fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Considering the Bears are coming off their bye week and the game will be played in Chicago, their defense is sure to be well rested and prepared for the game. Pairing these conditions with the fact that Stafford’s only thrown four touchdowns in five games this year, it would be wise to avoid him this week.

3) Jermichael Finley, TE
Green Bay Packers

Finley was a non-factor in the Packers’ 42-24 blowout of the Texans on Sunday night due to a shoulder injury, playing only 24 snaps the entire game. Although he should be expected to play more this week versus the Rams, Finley’s lack of production cannot be blamed solely on his health; the former Longhorn hasn’t had more than four catches in a game or scored since a week-one loss to San Francisco.

Printed on Thursday, October 18, 2012 as: Manning due for a giant day against Redskins

Fantasy Frenzy: Week 10

Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans
Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans

Week 10 of the fantasy season is upon us, so here are the players you should start and those you should sit.

Start:

1. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans — It’s hard to believe that anyone would ever consider sitting Johnson after his fantasy performances his first three years in the league, but 2011 has been terrible for him. Johnson has been the biggest bust of the year for fantasy owners, averaging only three yards per carry. However, last week he showed signs of his past form against Cincinnati, rushing for 64 yards, which included a 20 yard run. This week he takes on the 26th-ranked rushing defense the Carolina Panthers. He is a must start.

2. Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings — Harvin has been riddled with injuries much of the year. Combine that with a rookie quarterback throwing him the ball, and he has been an ineffective player all season. But this week, the Vikings go against the high-powered Packers. Expect the Vikings to fall behind quickly and throw the ball to catch up, making Harvin an intelligent play this week.

3. Tim Tebow, Denver Broncos — He certainly doesn’t look pretty throwing the ball, but he is effective as a fantasy player, averaging 19 points a game. While the majority of his points come from his running ability, as an owner, they’re points either way. Tebow is a must start in any league.

Sit:

1. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals — He has been scorching as a quarterback early on in his career, leading the usually terrible Bengals to a 6-2 start. But this week he will face his biggest test so far, in the form of Pittsburgh Steelers defense. Unfortunately for his owners, it’s hard to expect him to fare well against that particular defense the first time he faces them — sit Dalton this week.

2. Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders — The early season rushing leader has been out with a foot injury the last few weeks, and he was expected to be back tonight to face the San Diego Chargers. However, he has yet to even test out his foot and is highly doubtful to play. Sit McFadden tonight before the game, and if you can, play his backup Michael Bush.