Danilo Gallinari's only downfall is that Denver is giving him too many days off

 

Basketball News

Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari's recent spike in production has made him an intriguing option for fantasy NBA owners looking for help in the playoffs. His recent hot streak has him surpassing his season averages significantly, and with consistency, Gallinari could put fantasy basketball owners in contention to win their respective titles.

Gallinari's strong play could be attributed to him inching closer to 100% healthy, as well as the firing of Head Coach Brian Shaw. Whatever the reason may be, fans will have to cross their fingers and hope the onslaught continues.

The 26-year-old Italian sharpshooter has overcome an injury-filled first half to this year and is finally coming around. Disregarding the 2 games he sat out for rest, Gallinari's last 5 games have been tops of NBA players, posting averages of 22.8 points, 2.6 threes, 5.2 boards, 3 assists and 1.2 steals per game (all above his averages for the season). This seems like the perfect opportunity to add a multi-faceted asset, but there's one major issue.

The Nuggets seem to be resting Gallinari during the latter half of back-to-back games. Unfortunately, Denver has 3 more back-to-back sets, so owners will have to search elsewhere for production. 

His daily league fantasy basketball value is greater than his standard format value due to the sporadic DNP-CDs, but he is still worth an add. When active, Gallinari should be started and is a solid bet for points, threes and rebounds.

 

One sheet of paper makes all the difference during any fantasy draft

 

There are obviously always going to be players who have been cramming for the upcoming fantasy draft for weeks now. They are reading every fantasy trade publication, listening to sports radio in the car and watching Baseball Tonight podcasts into the wee hours of the morning. However, all is not lost. With a little bit of common sense and a some sensible research, the average sports fan can be ready for the draft in about 90 minutes.

Fantasy Sports championships are rarely won during the initial fantasy draft, but building a decent fantasy squad NEVER hurts. Here are 3 tips to help smooth out the bumps in this year's fantasy draft:

Make, borrow or steal a 1-PAGE cheat sheet - 

Have a notebook, laminated placard or scrap of paper that has at least 3 players listed that you really want at each position. This takes a little more homework, but it gives you a rough strategy on how to run your draft. 

Feel free to stray away if you see a juicy player sitting on the board, but keep the list handy. When those seconds start ticking away, having a cheat sheet could mean the difference between drafting a solid player or another completely wasted pick.

Phones can die, computers can lose signal, magazines are too hard to navigate, one piece of paper is all that you need. Your cheat sheet must limited to ONE-PAGE. There’s nothing more entertaining that watching someone with 2 open magazines and 30 sheets of paper flying around like a sand storm while they are trying to remember the name of that hotshot minor leaguer that’s supposed to set the league on fire.

Don’t be a Charles Barkley!

Sir Charles obviously has no business calling NCAA Men’s college games because he could care less. During the first half of the Kansas vs. Wichita State game, he mentioned that Cliff Alexander was playing pretty good. The only problem is that Cliff Alexander in under investigation by the NCAA and hasn’t stepped foot on basketball court in the nearly a month.

My point is, even if you are a casual player, READ an MLB INJURY REPORT!

It never ceases to amaze me during a fantasy draft when some genius scoops up a player who is injured, suspended or is already done for the year. It takes about 20 minutes for that bit of research and saves you from a wasted pick or being the laughing stock of your fantasy league.

Only draft players you have actually heard of -

This seems like common sense, but many people still feel compelled to roll the dice.

WOW – You found a top-50 ranked pitcher – And he’s still on the board, what a steal!!

Maybe, maybe not? It doesn’t matter how this player slipped under your notice, drafting someone you don’t know is tempting, but not worth the risk. There are 1,200 active players to choose from and it only makes sense to draft someone you have heard of before.

LeSean McCoy anchors what should be a radically improved Bills team

 

The Buffalo Bills have made some big moves (with fantasy football implications) during the offseason and now arguably have one of the most talented teams in the NFL. It all started with the hiring of Rex Ryan as their head coach and the blockbuster trade that landed NFL fantasy stalwart LeSean McCoy in exchange for Kiko Alonso. The Bills have been busy in free agency as well with the notable signings of Percy Harvin and Charles Clay.

If the season started today, the Bills would have LeSean McCoy, Sammy Watkins, Percy Harvin, Robert Woods, and Charles Clay as the focal pieces of their offense. What's missing in that All-Star lineup? Only the most important piece, the quarterback. The Bills will need either EJ Manuel, Matt Cassel or a quarterback they get in the upcoming draft to play some quality football to win the AFC East and dethrone the defending Superbowl champion Patriots. 

The Bills now have one of the best defensive minds in the NFL as their head coach, a defense that led the NFL in sacks last year with 54, and all the offensive weapons a quarterback could ask for. With that said, it's still hard to imagine the Bills winning the AFC East this year because of the uncertainty at the quarterback position. At the same time, it's hard to imagine the Bills not making the playoffs as a Wild Card team and being a team that nobody wants to face in the playoffs.

It will be a pleasure to see some competitive AFC East match-ups this upcoming season, but as long as Tom Brady and Bill Belichick reside in New England, the Patriots will be the class of the AFC East.

Stay tuned for the latest NFL player news!

As far as fantasy basketball purposes go, Kevin Durant is done for the season

 

Basketball News

Reigning MVP and fantasy NBA stud Kevin Durant will be "removed from all basketball activities" and he will be "out indefinitely." Until Durant can return to the court without pain in his injured foot, Thunder GM Sam Presti says he will not risk further injury to one of the best NBA players in the league.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks said earlier in the week that Durant's rehab had gone through "peaks and valleys." That now seems like a terrible understatement as Durant is being shut down with only a month left in the regular season.

As far as fantasy basketball purposes go, Kevin Durant is done for the season. The only silver lining is for Russell Westbrook fantasy owners, because he is the only premier player left on the team who isn't injured. 

Matt Wieters elbow issues are too much of a liability for fantasy purposes

 

In most MLB fantasy leagues, you only need to start one catcher and carry a max of two on your roster. Taking a chance at the position is a high risk, low reward proposition unless you snag Buster Posey. Orioles catcher Matt Wieters is returning from Tommy John surgery, a rare injury for a player at his position. The rarity itself is cause for concern on his return and how completely he will recover.

Catching nearly everyday of a MLB season is arguably one of the most strenuous jobs in the league, leaving Wieters’ risk for re-injury presumably somewhat high. In addition to the Tommy John surgery, Wieters has recently been diagnosed with elbow tendinitis.  

The diagnosis is likely just a bump in the road, causing him only to miss a few days. However, when it comes to your fantasy team, with the amount of more reliable options around him, it makes sense to leave Wieters for someone else to draft.

When it comes to Wieters, why risk it? With fantasy trophies often decided by which team stays the healthiest, you should err on the side of caution. Better options include catchers like Brian McCann or Russell Martin.

   

Brandon Phillips - 2B, Cincinnati Reds

Phillips' name recognition, along with the overall dearth of fantasy production at second base, has exaggerated perceptions of his MLB fantasy value for a while now. Once a good bet for around 20 homers and 80 RBI, his offensive numbers have steadily declined and there is little reason to think that won't continue as he turns 34 this year. His OPS plummeted from .810 to .678 in the last four seasons, and his increasing lack of plate disciple (15% strikeout rate last year) won't help matters. The speed element of his game has evaporated as well: after averaging 22 steals from 2006-2012, he has swiped only seven total in the last two seasons. Don't fool yourself into thinking Phillips is still top-15 at his position.

Victor Martinez - 1B, Detroit Tigers

V-Mart enjoyed a tremendous 2014 campaign, putting up a Major League-best .974 OPS on his way to All-Star honors and a second-place finish in AL MVP voting. But there are more than a few reasons to be skeptical of an encore performance in the upcoming season. Not many players have a career year at age 35, and Martinez has been battling familiar knee trouble this spring. His 32 home runs last year were a career-high by a decent margin; he had not broken 20 since 2009. Though his ability and track record are undeniable, his preseason value is inflated by the striking numbers he produced last year. Several rankings place him as a top-50 player, which is too bold for 2015.

Yadier Molina - C, St. Louis Cardinals

Like Phillips, the preeminent Molina brother is another player whose popular reputation will lead to him being drafted too early. As far as catchers go, he's still one of your better options, but unless his name is Buster Posey, I'm not using a premium pick on a backstop. Renowned for his consistence and durability, Molina showed some cracks in 2014. A thumb injury limited him to 110 games, the lowest total since his debut season. His batting average dipped below .300 for the first time since 2010, and his power numbers have taken a nosedive as well (.386 SLG last year, down from .501 in 2012). At 32 years old, the physical demands of the position often take their toll, so it's hard to see Molina reasserting himself as a top-5 catcher.

Ryan Braun - OF, Milwaukee Brewers

Braun's various issues are well-documented, but he has remained a relevant player for fantasy purposes. It's hard to justify, however, ranking him as a top-10 outfielder for 2015 as some have done. He's missed significant time to injury the last two seasons and has seen a fair amount of pop leave his bat, due in large part to the career-low 8% home run to fly ball ratio he posted last year. His 2014 second half was particularly brutal, in which he hit .226 with 8 home runs and 29 RBI. Even if offseason thumb surgery helps keep him on the field, Braun is yet another player on the wrong side of 30 unlikely to reclaim past glory and not worth risking with a first or second round pick.

With the fantasy NBA playoffs underway, Serge Ibaka loses all fantasy basketball value except in Keeper Leagues

 

Basketball News

Fantasy basketball owners are reeling after losing Thunder PF Serge Ibaka during the first week of the fantasy NBA playoffs. Ibaka underwent arthroscopic knee surgery Tuesday and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. The surgery to clean out his right knee puts Oklahoma City in a difficult place, as well as Ibaka's fantasy basketball owners.

The prolific shot blocker only missed 4 games total in the last 4 years, but will now be out for at least a month. He had been very productive this year, posting averages of 14.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per contest, making him not only one of the better fantasy NBA players at his position but also very tough to replace. Ibaka is a lost cause for this season, but should obviously be retained for Dynasty and Keeper leagues.

In order to make up for this great loss, the Thunder will look for Enes Kanter and Steven Adams to step up in Ibaka's absence. Kanter will probably be the bigger benefactor, absorbing Serge Ibaka's scoring and rebounding duties. 

Kanter has turned it up as of late, going for 19.8 points and 12.6 rebounds per game over his last 5 games. He will continue to be the starting power forward and most likely even increase his production once Kevin Durant comes back and takes the attention of opposing defenses.

Steven Adams will also need to help out with scoring and grabbing boards, but his focus will have to be on protecting the rim. Over his last 5 games, he has averaged 1.8 blocks, and will continue to be prominent on the defensive end of the floor. 

If Enes Kanter and Steven Adams are available, they should be added in all standard leagues. Expect them to put up more consistent numbers as they grow more comfortable with their increased roles. Forward Mitch McGary should also see an uptick in value as one of the only valuable big men available to come off the bench.

Fantasy baseball fanatics are going all in on Mike Fiers and they're making a mistake

 

With the upcoming draft, we have been covering a wide variety of fantasy baseball sleepers, but this list is more about the potential busts. Pitchers who have limited upside and would be better off on any other team besides yours.

Mike Fiers - Milwaukee Brewers

Calling Fiers’ 2014 campaign lucky is unfair and a discredit to a collection of solid outings. Plenty of owners saw Fiers fall into their lap late off the waiver wire. He registered an outstanding August and a fine September, though he wasn’t going as deep into games. Fiers September included an increase in hits and walks allowed. In 2015, he likely will return to those workman like numbers. His personal dip is indicative of the entire Brewers team in 2014, which saw the wheels fall off the wagon of their division lead and playoff spot late in the regular season. There is no need to avoid Fiers like the plague, but certainly be aware that his previous production certainly isn’t sustainable for 2015.

CC Sabathia - New York Yankees

Though Sabathia was injured for the majority of 2014 and it’s unfair to judge him on that alone, his steady decline in production over this latter half of his career is reason enough to avoid. In his last full season of work, 2013, Sabathia allowed the most runs in MLB. He tallied his worst ERA+ in his career and also allowed 28 home runs, a career high for the former ace. Sabathia’s decline is written on the wall. Add a trying injury recovery to that and you have a player to steer clear of in 2015.

Corey Kluber - Cleveland Indians

Kluber put in an outstanding 2014, securing the Cy Young Award—and rightfully so. But, there is reason for hesitation. A Cy Young Award does not guarantee future continued dominance—just ask RA Dickey. There is no reason to solely look at Kluber’s 2014 campaign in the same sense that you can’t just assume Justin Verlander is a bum pitcher because he struggled last season. When drafting a fantasy baseball team, you have to factor in a pitchers' entire body of work. 2014 was Kluber’s first year with more than 25 games started and 150 innings pitched. He also had never previously had a season with an ERA+ over 100, the league average, or a FIP under 3.30. It’s fair to think that Kluber figured it out in 2014 and will be a stud from now until the day he calls it quits. But it’s also fair to hold out reservations and not overspend on him in an auction draft.

A. J. Burnett - Pittsburgh Pirates

At 38-years-old, Burnett has announced that this will be his final season. He obviously sees his own decline, and you should too. Last season he posted one of his highest career WHIP and worst career ERA+. He is headed back to the Pirates, so he should see an increase in wins from last year, where he only posted eight. However, Burnett is no longer investing in his own future, and neither should you. With his age and decline, Burnett’s best days are behind him.

Kevin Gausman is a young pitcher with a dynamite fastball, but he needs to develop more control

 

Season-ending pitching injuries have piled up recently, including two suffered by players we recently named as potential fantasy baseball sleepers. Blue Jays hurler Marcus Stroman underwent a procedure to repair a torn ACL, while Tommy John surgery will snuff out Zack Wheeler's hopes of pitching for the Mets this season. Fortunately for fantasy owners, there are still plenty of appealing starters who could provide unexpected boosts to their rotations.

Kevin Gausman - Baltimore Orioles

Starting 20 games for the O's in 2014, Gausman put up respectable numbers within a challenging division in his first extended action at the Major League level. He surrendered less than a hit per inning on his way to 7 wins and a 3.57 ERA. His youth (age 24) and fastball (topping out near 100 mph) make him an intriguing prospect for fantasy owners. If the walks come down a bit (3.0 BB/9 last year), he has a shot to reach even greater heights this season and is worthy of a late-round flyer.

Drew Pomeranz - Oakland Athletics

Leaving the rarefied air of Coors Field for spacious Oakland Coliseum paid dividends for Pomeranz last year. Though he started just 10 games for the A's, they were promising ones in which he put up a 2.58 ERA over 52.1 IP and held opposing batters to a miniscule .205 average. With the departures of Jon Lester and Jason Hammel, the 26-year-old lefty will be counted on for more innings in 2015 and is primed for the taking with one of your last few draft selections.

Shane Greene - Detroit Tigers

Imported by the Tigers from the Bronx this offseason, Greene quietly did a very admirable job filling in for a plethora of injured Yankees starters in 2014. Though his stuff doesn't pop quite as much as some of the other pitchers on this list, Greene throws four different pitches capably and posted a strong 9.3 K/9 rate last season. Moving out of a hitter's park and support from a more potent offense should help him improve significantly on last year's 5 wins and 3.78 ERA.

Noah Syndergaard - New York Mets

A legitimate fantasy alternative to Wheeler may be the man who could replace him on the Mets' staff. Scouts rave about Syndergaard's high-90s fastball and all-around overpowering stuff, which helped him rack up an impressive 145 Ks in 133 IP for Triple-A Las Vegas last year. Even if the Mets don't break camp with the 22-year-old in their rotation, it's a good bet he'll be first in line to receive a big league call-up. Though his control needs some refining, Syndergaard will likely offer some immediate punch in the strikeout department whenever he makes his debut. Owners looking to get ahead can stash him with a late draft pick.

Reigning AL MVP Mike Trout is already sporting an astonishing .556 spring batting average

  

Mike Trout - Los Angeles Angels

Arguably the best player in MLB Fantasy, Trout is poised for another MVP season. Trout, just 23 years old has been on a tear since he has come into the league. The 2014 MVP finished batting .287 with 36 HR and 11 RBI. That was his lowest batting average since he has come into the league but his power numbers continue to get better. Trout has vowed to become a better hitter and strikeout less. He will help your fantasy team in every facet of the game is worth the first overall selection in the draft.

Andrew McCutchen - Pittsburgh Pirates

The 2013 MVP, is next up on our list. Andrew McCutchen has been unbelievable for the Pirates in the last few seasons finishing in the top 3 in MVP voting the past couple of years. If it wasn’t for Clayton Kershaw’s remarkable 2014 season, McCutchen could have easily been holding 2 MVP trophies. He finished last season batting .314 with 25 HR an 83 RBI. He's been dealing with a lower back issue, but is expected to be completely healthy for the upcoming season. Look for his power numbers to stay steady as well as his batting average. McCutchen is as close to a sure thing you can find in this years draft.

Giancarlo Stanton - Miami Marlins

Stanton is coming off an incredible 2014 campaign. His season was cut short after his terrifying injury but he is completely healthy for the 2015 season. Stanton finished last season with 37 HR and 105 RBI batting .288. Stanton is often considered the most feared hitter in the league because of his ability to take any pitch to any part of the park. His unbelievable power to go along with his great eye makes Stanton one of the premier players in our game today. Stanton will look to lead the Marlins to the playoffs, and will only do so by having a similar season to last years.

Paul Goldschmidt - Arizona Diamondbacks

Goldschmidt’s 2014 season ended only 109 games because of a left hand fracture. We only saw glimpses of the type of player Goldschmidt can become. In 2013, Goldschmidt had a stellar campaign batting .302 with 36 HR and 125 RBI. He brings a big power bat to your lineup as well as the ability to hit for a high average. If he is able to stay healthy throughout the 2015 season, he will likely have another great season and prove to fantasy owners that he is one of the top bats in the league.