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Eric Ebron NFL Draft
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Now that the NFL draft is behind us it is time for fantasy football nuts to start breaking down the rookies. Here’s the LestersLegends’ look at the 2014 NFL rookie tight end class.
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1. Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions
Ebron is 6’4″ and 245 pounds with 4.6 speed making him a nightmare for defenses, particularly when they have to focus on Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush. Ebron caught 62 passes last year for 973 yards and three touchdowns. In 2012 he caught 40 passes for 625 yards and four scores. During his time at North Carolina Ebron averaged 16.1 yards per catch. Ebron will have to improve on his red zone prowess to really make noise, but he should be a solid fantasy option right away.
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2. Jace Amaro, New York Jets
Amaro caught 106 passes for 1,352 yards and seven touchdowns last year at Texas Tech. He is 6’5″ and 260 pounds with 4.72 speed. The Jets are thirsty for offensive firepower outside of Eric Decker, which could lead to plenty of targets for Amaro right out of the gate. There is a good chance that he leads all tight ends in receptions and/or yards.
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3. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Seferian-Jenkins, at 6’6″ and 276 pounds, gives the Bucs another huge target. He has caught 146 passes over the past three seasons for 1,840 yards and 21 touchdowns. Between Seferian-Jenkins, Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans the Bucs have loaded up with tall weapons for Josh McCown. Seferian-Jenkins could lead all rookie tight ends in touchdown receptions.
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4. Troy Niklas, Arizona Cardinals
Niklas at 6’6″ and 270 pounds gives the Cardinals a huge option at tight end. He caught 32 passes last year at Notre Dame for 498 yards and five touchdowns. Defenses will be concerned with Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, which should allow Niklas to get good looks. He will be useful in the red zone.
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5. C.J. Fiedorowicz, Houston Texans
Fiedorowicz is 6’6″ and 262 pounds with 4.76 speed. He caught 75 passes over the past two seasons for 732 yards and seven touchdowns for Iowa. The Hawkeyes threw just 375 times compared to 557 rushing attempts. In a pass-heavy league Fiedorowicz could easily emerge as better pro player than he was at the collegiate level. Fiedorowicz should make his mark in the red zone.
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Sammy Watkins
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Now that the NFL draft is behind us it is time for fantasy football nuts to start breaking down the rookies. Here’s the LestersLegends’ look at the 2014 NFL rookie wide receiver class. It should come as no surprise given the evolution of the game, but this position has the deepest crop of fantasy newcomers.
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1.  Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills
Watkins gives Buffalo an explosive weapon the passing game. He’s 6’1″ and 205 pounds with 4.43 speed. Last year at Clemson he caught 101 passes for 1,464 yards and 12 touchdowns. With C.J. Spiller and Watkins on the field at the same time the Bills will have some firepower on offense.
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2. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Evans at 6’5′ pairs with the 6’5″ Vincent Jackson to give the Bucs a pair of huge wide receivers. That recipe worked well for Josh McCown last year in Chicago (Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery). Evans had 1,105 yards in 2012 and 1,394 yards and 12 touchdowns last year. Evans should be a nice red zone threat out of the gate.
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3. Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles
Matthews may have been the seventh receiver to come off the board, but Jerry Rice’s cousin landed in a good spot with Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles. He will work the slot and use his 4.46 speed to get separation. Matthews caught 206 passes over the past two seasons for 2,800 yards and 15 touchdowns. There will be plenty of targets up for grabs following the departure of DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant.
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4. Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints
Cooks gets a chance to catch passes from Drew Brees, which fuels the excitement. Marques Colston isn’t the same player he used to be. Cooks could step in and shine. He caught 128 passes for 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns last year at Oregon State. He could see plenty of time in the slot and get some of the looks reserved for Darren Sproles the past few years.
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5. Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants
Beckham Jr. was the 12 overall pick by the Giants as they looked to get Eli Manning more firepower after a down year. With 4.43 speed Beckham Jr. brings explosiveness to the table. He should be a nice complement to Victor Cruz. Beckham Jr. caught 59 passes last year for 1,152 yards and eight touchdowns.
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Bishop Sankey combine
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Now that the NFL draft is behind us it is time for fantasy football nuts to start breaking down the rookies. Here’s the LestersLegends’ look at the 2014 NFL rookie running back class.
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1. Bishop Sankey, Tennessee Titans
Sankey may not be the best running back in this class, but there is a path to starting job with Chris Johnson moving to the New York Jets. Sankey tore it up last year at Washington with 1,870 yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground, which was a nice follow-up to his 1,439 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2012. Sankey also caught 61 passes over the past two years, making him a potential three-down back. He should have little problems beating out Shonn Greene.
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2. Andre Williams, New York Giants
Andre Williams was taken in the fourth round with the 113th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, but lands in a good spot with the G-Men. Rashad Jennings ran well for the Oakland Raiders last year, but his 163 carries were a career-high. Williams ran for 2,177 yards and 18 touchdowns last year for Boston College. At 6’0″, 227 pounds he could easily handle goal line duties while sharing some of the load on the ground.
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3. Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers
Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde is easily the top choice among running backs for dynasty leagues. Frank Gore just turned 31 on May 14th. The Niners nabbed Hyde in the second round to be his replacement. Hyde is a 6’0″, 235 pound battering ram. He ran for 1,521 yards last year and has 35 touchdowns in the past two seasons. Hyde will get some touches this year. If Gore gets banged up, he’ll immediately move up the ranks.
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4. Terrance West, Cleveland Browns
West should steal some carries from newly acquired Ben Tate as Tate has never had 200 carries in a season. He finished his career at Towson with 802 carries for 4,849 yards and 84 touchdowns. West is 5’11 and 223 pounds with 4.54 forty speed. He’s also a good dynasty option.
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5. Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals
Hill was the second running back selected. It’s a little curious because the Bengals took Giovani Bernard last year in the second round. Hill, at 6’1″ and 235 pounds will likely be the goal line back. He could also be used to close out games. Running backs have not gone in the first round the past two seasons. Committees are the new wave. If Hill can punch in several scores during the year he’ll have some fantasy weight.
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Johnny Manziel NFL Draft
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Now that the NFL draft is behind us it is time for fantasy football nuts to start breaking down the rookies. Here’s the LestersLegends’ look at the 2014 NFL rookie quarterback class.
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1. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
Bortles was not only the first quarterback taken in the 2014 NFL Draft, but he’s also the one most likely to play meaningful snaps in the 2014 NFL season. The third overall pick is 6’5″ and 232 pounds. He threw for 3,581 yards and 25 touchdowns at Central Florida. Bortles should be able to get a shot with Chad Henne holding down the starting job in Jacksonville. Not having Justin Blackmon at his disposal hurts, but the Jags did a nice job of adding Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson in the second round.
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2. Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns
Despite the talk surrounding Johnny Football, don’t expect him to be Johnny Backup all year long. Brian Hoyer is the top man on the depth chart, but with 192 career pass attempts and a big game against a bad Minnesota Vikings defense shouldn’t give him a very firm grip on the job as he recovers from a knee injury. Manziel threw for 3,706 yards and 26 touchdowns to win the 2012 Heisman. He responded to offseason criticism with 4,114 yards and 37 touchdowns last year. Manziel ran for 1,410 yards and 21 touchdowns as a freshman and “just” 759 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground last year. At 6’0″ and 210 pounds that trend should continue against the bigger, faster NFL players. Like Bortles, Manziel will have to get by without a star player. In Manziel’s case it is Josh Gordon.
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3. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders
Carr will get to learn behind the newly-acquired Matt Schaub, who has been pretty average the past few seasons despite having Andre Johnson to throw to. Neither Schaub nor Carr have good talent to work with in Oakland, but that could lead to an earlier look at Carr. He threw for 3,544 yards and 26 touchdowns as a sophomore, 4,104 yards and 37 touchdowns as a junior and 5,082 yards and 50 touchdowns as a senior. He has the pedigree. Hopefully he has more success than his big brother David.
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4.  Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings
Teddy will get to learn behind Matt Cassel, who will form a bridge to the Bridgewater era. Cassel will likely miss a couple of games during the year, which will give Bridgewater a chance to get his feet wet. If he runs with the job he will never look back. Over the past two seasons the 6’2″, 205 pound Bridgewater averaged 3,844 yards, 29 touchdowns and just six interceptions. He’ll have to add to his frame, but Bridgewater isn’t a running quarterback that you have to worry about getting put in harm’s way.
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5. Zach Mettenberger, Tennessee Titans
Zach Mettenberger rounds out the top five only because of Jake Locker’s injury history and a general lack of immediate impact players at the position in this year’s draft crop. Mettenberger is 6’5″ and 235 pounds, but lacks any sort of mobility. He also has character concerns. Mettenberger threw for 3,082 yards and 22 touchdowns. If Locker goes down again, Mettenberger could see some action.
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Megatron
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With the 2014 NFL Draft finally approaching, here’s an early look at the 2014 Lester’s Legends’ fantasy football tight end rankings.
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1. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
Megatron has averaged 1,712.3 yards and 11 touchdowns over the past three seasons. With his size, speed, hands and route running ability Johnson simply is the best receiver out there.
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2. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
Thomas has averaged 1,432 yards and 12 touchdowns over the past two seasons shagging balls from Peyton Manning. With Eric Decker moving on the the New York Jets, Thomas should be an even more vital option in the passing game.
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3. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
Dez has averaged 1,307.5 yard and 12.5 touchdowns over the past two seasons. He has the talent to be as good as any receiver in the league. In fact, the top five choices are pretty interchangeable.
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4. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
Green has averaged 1,277.7 yards and 9.7 touchdowns the past two years and 1,388 yards and 11 scores over the past two seasons. Green has bulked up a bit to improve his physicality. Entering his fourth season, look for Green to continue to be one of the elite fantasy options at wide receiver.
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5. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
Jones was averaging 116 yards per game before a foot injury derailed his 2013 season. He averaged 1,078.5 yards and nine touchdowns in his first two seasons. Be sure to monitor his recovery. If there aren’t any setbacks, Jones should be a solid WR1 option once again.
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6. Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears
Marshall finished with 100 receptions for 1,295 yards and 12 touchdowns. He took a step back from the 118 catches for 1,508 yards and 11 touchdowns thanks to the emergence of Alshon Jeffrey. Nine of his touchdowns were thrown by Jay Cutler as they continue to have a great rapport. That trend should continue.
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7. Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears
Jeffery had 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns last year. He did a lot of his dame with Josh McCown, but Cutler is more than capable of getting him the ball.
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8. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers
Nelson rebounded with 1,314 yards and eight touchdowns despite Aaron Rodgers playing in just nine games. Look for Jordy to light it up with a healthy Rodgers.
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9. Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
V-Jax has averaged 1,304 yards and 7.5 touchdowns the past two seasons with the Bucs. Josh McCown made good use of big receivers Marshall and Jeffery last year. V-Jax should be a force once again.
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10.  Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins
Garcon was banged up in 2012. Robert Griffin III wasn’t himself last year ,but Garcon finished with 113 catches for 1,346 yards. With both of them healthy and DeSean Jackson on board to take away some of the defensive attention, Garcon should have another strong season.
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11. Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers
Allen had an impressive rookie season with 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns. In his final 13 games he averaged 78.2 yards and 0.6 touchdowns. Year two should be even more impressive.
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12. Andre Johnson, Houston Texans
Johnson has averaged 1,502.5 yards the past two seasons despite questionable quarterback play. He did manage just nine touchdowns combined over the two years. Will the quarterback play be an issue again? If it is, will it catch up with Johnson. Those are the questions that keeps him just outside of WR1 territory.
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13. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
Brown had an impressive 2013 showing with 1,499 yards and eight touchdowns. He should continue to see a heavy volume of looks from Ben Roethlisberger.
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14. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
Fitz had another down year in respect to his 954 receiving yards. He did manage to score 10 touchdowns. Fitz still has plenty left in the tank. He’s probably a little riskier that the other top 15, but he has a track record of greatness.
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15. Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers
Cobb was limited to six games last year, but managed 433 yards and four touchdowns. He added 78 rushing yards. He’s a dynamic playmaker if he can stay healthy.
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With the 2014 NFL Draft finally approaching, here’s an early look at the 2014 Lester’s Legends’ fantasy football tight end rankings.
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1. Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints
Graham has averaged 1,169 yards and 12 touchdowns over the past three seasons. Last year Graham racked up an amazing 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns. With Darren Sproles being dealt to the Philadelphia Eagles, Graham will take on even more meaning for the potent Saints’ offense. Graham will likely negotiate a long-term deal before training camp.
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2. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
Gronk has 42 touchdowns in 50 career games, but he has managed to play just 18 games over the past two seasons. When he’s healthy he’s as good as anybody in the league. He’s coming off a knee injury that will likely limit his preseason involvement. There are healthy doses of risks and rewards associated with Gronk.
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3. Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos
Orange Julius exploded on the scene with 788 yards and 12 touchdowns in 14 games. With Eric Decker moving on to the New York Jets, Thomas figures to be more of a focal point in the offense. Having Peyton Manning’s confidence, particularly in the red zone, puts him a notch ahead of Vernon Davis in my book.
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4. Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers
Davis finished with 850 yards and 13 touchdowns in his most impressive season since 2009. Michael Crabtree, who was limited to five games because of an Achilles injury figures to eat into some of Davis’ production. Still, Davis has a combination of size and speed that is difficult to match. He’s too fast for most linebackers and too strong for most defensive backs.
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5. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
Witten reached 850 receiving yards for the seventh straight season. He’s topped 750 yards for 10 straight years. Witten is as consistent as they come. He had his fewest receptions (73) since 2006, but he finished with eight touchdowns.
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6. Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
Olsen finished with 816 yards, giving him an average of 829.5 yards over the past two seasons. Olsen caught six touchdowns, which was his sixth straight season with at least five scores. With a shortage of reliable options for Cam Newton in the passing game, Olsen should play a huge role for Carolina in 2014.
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7. Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens
Pitta appeared poised for a breakout season before a hip injury limited him to four game last year. Despite being sapped of his explosiveness, Pitta caught 20 passes for 169 yards and a score. In 2012 Pitta caught 61 passes for 669 yards and seven scores. Don’t let the Owen Daniels’ signing scare you off. Pitta is primed to deliver.
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8. Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns
Cameron also emerged last year with 917 yards and seven touchdowns after catching 26 passes for 259 yards and a touchdown in his first two seasons. No longer in Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner’s system, Cameron will likely regress. Still, he’s too good of a talent not to peg him in the top half of the fantasy tight end landscape.
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9. Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
Rudolph (foot) was limited to eight games last year and subjected to five games with Christian Ponder at the helm. With Matt Cassel at quarterback and new offensive coordinator Norv Turner in the mix, look for much better things from Rudolph.
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10. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
Ertz caught 36 passes for 469 yards and four touchdowns last year as a rookie. All four of his touchdowns came in the second half of the season. Look for a step forward in Ertz’s second year, particularly with DeSean Jackson’s 82 catches for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns up for grabs.
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MLB: NLDS-St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates
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The Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks were already Men at Work, kicking off the 2014 Major League Baseball season in Australia. The Dodgers will continue to be the spotlight franchise as they square off with the San Diego Padres on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. On Monday, March 31th we’re off to the races with a flurry of day games. Here are 10 things to keep in mind as you set your lineups.
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1. Be aware of Early Starts
If you are in a fantasy baseball league that allows you to make daily changes to your roster, make sure you make your adjustments early. The only day next week that doesn’t have multiple (or any at all) day games is April 1st, and that’s no joke. I recommend setting your lineup at least the night before to make sure you are adding your bench players to the active lineup. There is nothing more frustrating than seeing quality counting stats sitting in your bench. Do a quick check of your lineup in the morning and enjoy. Having games spread out throughout the day is awesome for baseball fans that have been clamoring for the real deal for months.
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2. Pay Attention to the Weather
“April showers bring May flowers.” That isn’t just a cliché. Last April there were 18 games postponed. If you stay on top of things you can make roster changes as needed to maximize the number of games your fantasy team plays in a given week. I’m not suggesting you start following Al Roker, but due your due diligence so you don’t miss out on opportunities.
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3. Keep an Eye on Injury Updates
Early in the season there tends to be a rash of minor day-to-day injuries as players tweak their hamstring, groin, etc. It’s a long season so there is no point risking a long-term injury, which means starts can get pushed back or position players are given the occasional day of. Make Rotoworld your friend.
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4. The Philadelphia Phillies Get an Extra Bat
The Philadelphia Phillies open their season playing the Texas Rangers. Tony Gwynn, Jr. and/or John Mayberry could get the nod at DH. They could be worth a look in NL-Only leagues.
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5. The Milwaukee Brewers Will Get a DH Too
The Milwaukee Brewers face the Boston Red Sox in Fenway in their second series of the season. Logan Schafer could find himself playing some outfield while Ryan Braun occupies the DH slot. Lyle Overbay and Mark Reynolds could also share first base and DH duties.
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6.Road Warriors
There is something about a team’s home opener. There is a buzz of excitement and optimism that is usually reserved for the pennant chase. There are seven teams that only play on the road during the first week. The Atlanta Braves, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, Phillies, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners and St. Louis Cardinals won’t get any home cooking this week. If you’re on the fence for one of these players, check their home and road splits. Cue Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again“.
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7. Beware of Slow Starters
Speaking of splits, another thing to look at is how a player plays in March/April. Yahoo is a great place to check. You can see that Mark Teixeira has a .239 career average in 802 April at-bats. Play your studs, but use past performances to be a deciding factor between two like players.
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8. Study Your Opponent
Is your opponent built for power? Maybe they stocked up on speed guys. Maybe they opted to go with a strong stable of closers or punt the saves category altogether. If you can’t keep up with a particular category, focus your lineup to play to your strengths and your opponent’s weaknesses. You don’t want to go toe-to-toe with a heavyweight.
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9. Francisco Liriano to Start Opener
Francisco Liriano will start in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ opener against the Chicago Cubs. He was 1-0 with a 2.12 ERA against the Cubs in 34 innings over five starts last year. They Cubbies hit .158 against him. Liriano should also make a second start this week against the St. Louis Cardinals. Liriano won all three of his starts against them last year with a 0.75. The Cards hit .127 against him. Both are home starts. Liriano was 8-1 at PNC Park with a 1.47 ERA (8-7, 4.33 on the road).
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10. More is Better
AT&T is on to something. Barring a postponement there are seven teams that play seven games this week. If you are in a fantasy baseball league that doesn’t allow you to make daily lineup changes consider using players from the Colorado Rockies, Miami Marlins, Oakland Athletics, Giants, Mariners, Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays.
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