Fantasy Football Sleepers At Wide Receiver

The first couple of teams are heading to training camp and it’s getting close to football season again.  With the NFL season comes fantasy football time.  Everyones doing their research looking for a leg up on the competition.  With many players moving, new opportunities arise and players have the opportunity to step up and prove themselves.  Let’s take a look at some sleepers at wide receiver for this upcoming NFL season.

Martavis Bryant – Pittsburgh Steelers

Will Selva - Martavis Bryant

Martavis Bryant is poised for a breakout year.

Bryant didn’t appear in a game until October 20th, but boy did he burst onto the scene.  By November 9th, Bryant had caught 6 touchdowns already while playing in just 4 games.  A rookie out of Clemson, Bryant played second fiddle to Sammy Watkins in college but looks like he can play at the NFL level.  Bryant stands at 6’4 and 210 pounds making for a great end zone target.  He finished with 26 receptions for 549 yards and 8 touchdowns in 10 games.  He’ll play opposite Antonio Brown, one of the best receivers in the game today so defenses will be keying in on Brown as opposed to Bryant.  Bryant can very well put up 1,100 yards and 8-12 touchdowns this year.

Steve Smith Sr. – Baltimore Ravens

Steve Smith Sr. has been around the league for 15 seasons and has had his better days.  During his final five years with the Panthers he eclipsed 1,000 yards just 2 times.  During his age 35 season with the Baltimore Ravens, Smith recorded 1,065 yards and 6 touchdowns.  At times in the offense Smith found himself as Flacco’s go-to guy.  He had 11 games with 5 receptions or more for the Ravens.  Now with Torrey Smith in San Francisco, Smith becomes the leader of a receiving core that features unproven players in 2015 1st rounder Breshad Perriman and undrafted 3rd year players Marlon Brown and Kamar Aiken.

Stedman Bailey – St Louis Rams

Stedman Bailey is a 3rd round pick from the 2013 draft with not much to show for it.  In his defense, he has suffered from Sam Bradford being so injury-prone.  In the final 6 weeks of last season, Bailey put up 349 receiving yards on 22 receptions with a touchdown.  That pace through the course of a 16 game season puts him close to 1,000 yards.  With Bailey ending the 2015 season on a high note, he now welcomes a quarterback in Nick Foles for this coming season.  Assuming Foles can stay healthy, he gives Bailey a better option at the quarterback position to get him the ball than Austin Davis or Shaun Hill did.

NBA Draft: 2nd Round Gems

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The NBA Draft is very different from the NFL Draft in the sense that the NFL’s is 7 rounds and the NBA’s is 2. In the NBA, you don’t find as many gems in the draft, 1st or 2nd round. Often times people think what they want of a 1st round pick in the NBA, but reality is the 25th pick in the 1st round is really just the 25th best player among 60 that are picked. A late first round pick is similar to that of a 4th round pick in the NFL Draft. However, sometimes NBA teams who do their research come away with a great player in the 2nd round, which is hard to do. Let’s take a look at some of the better 2nd round picks in recent memory.

Monta Ellis – 40th Pick, 2005

Monta Ellis comes from a time where high school players could go straight to the NBA. Ellis was certainly talented in high school but teams were unsure how it would translate to the NBA. He definitely came in with a couple of problems right off the bat. He was a scorer in high school but at 6’3 185 pounds, he didn’t fit the physical mold of an NBA shooting guard. He’s now a great combo guard for the Dallas Mavericks and holds career averages of 19.3 points, 4.1 assists, and 1.9 assists per game.

Marc Gasol – 48th Pick, 2007

Will Selva - Marc Gasol

Marc Gasol

Marc Gasol was drafted 48th overall but he may have fell just because he was not ready to come to the NBA due to his contract with Akasvayu Girona in Spain. Gasol was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers and actually traded to the Memphis Grizzlies for his brother Pau Gasol. Gasol has since been an All-Star center for the Grizzlies averaging 14.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.6 blocks per game.

Manu Ginobili – 57th Pick, 1999

Overseas, Ginobili won 2 Italian League MVPs as well as the Euroleague Finals MVP so he came to the NBA having accomplished a lot already. When Ginobili came to the NBA in 2002, it didn’t take long for him to carve himself out a role with the San Antonio Spurs. It’s usually hard for a 57th pick to make a roster let alone contribute on a great team. Ginobili has won 4 titles with the Spurs and has been one of the leagues premier 6th men.

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Nets Thaddeus Young to Opt Out

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The Brooklyn Nets acquired Thaddeus Young from the Minnesota Timberwolves at the 2015 NBA trade deadline for Kevin Garnett. The move seemed to be a win-win for both teams but more so a steal for the Nets. The Timberwolves, who were out of contention received Garnett, a future Hall of Famer, a former Timberwolve, and great asset to sell tickets. The Nets received a younger more talented combo forward in Young. Young came to the Nets with a year left on his deal valued at $10.2 million. However, that year was a player option and Young has decided to opt out.

Will Selva - Thad Young

Thaddeus Young will become a free agent.

The decision doesn’t come as a huge surprise. Young played well for the Nets down the stretch. He played in 28 games (20 starts) averaging 13.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.4 steals and assists. He showed improved range knocking down 38% of his 3 point attempts, a career high. Young played both the 3 and the 4 for the Nets and figures to be a great 4 when teams play small ball.

Young is ultimately looking to cash in on a long-term deal. The Nets hold his Bird Rights meaning they can offer him more than any other team. At age 27, Young should be able to get himself a deal in the neighborhood of 4-5 years. That would bring him to age 32 where he’ll most likely have 1 or 2 more NBA contracts left in him. The Nets will try not to overpay to keep Young but if the past is any indication, the Nets will ultimately look to break the piggy bank yet again. Bringing back talent the Nets have is one of few moves they can make in order to stay competitive. While over the salary cap by a wide margin, Bird Rights will be the Nets best friend moving forward. Bird Rights allow the Nets to continuously break the cap in order to bring back players they previously had under contract.

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Pryor to Try WR?

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Will Selva - Terrelle PryorTerrelle Pryor is making noise again, and not the kind of noise he made when he won the Rose Bowl and MVP in 2010 with the Ohio State Buckeyes. Terrelle Pryor, who was signed by the Cincinnati Bengals on May 10th posted videos of himself passing footballs during Bengals minicamp following his release from the team on June 18th. A very controversial move as no player ever posts video of an actual practice. Maybe perhaps he was trying to showcase what he can do as a quarterback, still a wrong move nonetheless. However, a caption to one of the video’s reads, “Going to miss QB but I will make a great WR! Already working !!”

Pryor was claimed on waivers by the Cleveland Browns and appears destined now to play wide receiver in the NFL. Pryor stands at 6’5 235 pounds. He may be a bit too heavy for the position but he has certainly displayed the speed for the position. He was clocked between 4.32 and 4.54 seconds when he ran his 40 yard dash during his Pro Day. He also holds the longest touchdown run by a quarterback in NFL history with a 93 yard run. The speed and size is certainly there, it’ll be interesting to see if he possesses the hands and route running that the position calls for. Cleveland is not necessarily deep at wide receiver with Brian Hartline and Dwayne Bowe slated to start this season. With Hartline 28 years old and Bowe 30, they’re certainly not long term solutions for the Browns. Maybe they keep Pryor as a project for a year and see if he can pick up all the necessary skills to play the position at a high level later in the season or even next.

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NBA Draft Trade Rumors

The NBA Draft is slated to begin Thursday, June 25th at 7:00 pm but that won’t stop the trade rumor mill from spinning. Not only will we likely see draft picks traded Thursday night, but we will most certainly see a couple of NBA players on the move as well. NBA teams have had a lot of time since the season ended, or for some playoff teams, when they were eliminated, in order to evaluate the draft pool as well as talent currently on NBA rosters in order to be moved. Let’s take a look at some veterans who could be on the move come draft night.

Brendan Haywood – Cleveland Cavaliers

Will Selva - Brendan haywood

Brendan Haywood should be on the move Thursday night.

Brendan Haywood has not been much of a factor since the 2009-2010 season in which he spent time with both the Washington Wizards and the Dallas Mavericks. His production has been down in recent years and he managed to play in just 22 games this season for the Cleveland Cavaliers and averaged just 5.4 minutes in those games. So why would anyone want Haywood? Haywood is entering the final year of a 6 year $55 million deal that he signed following the 2010 season. The Cavaliers are looking to package Haywood and the remaining $10.5 million on his deal with a 1st round pick and upgrade their roster. The Cavs can bring in a better player closer to worth of $10.5 million and the team that acquires Haywood receives a 1st round pick and if they waive Haywood before August 2nd, that team rids themselves of paying Haywood anything.

Jamal Crawford – Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers just recently shipped small forward Matt Barnes and center Spencer Hawes to the Charlotte Bobcats for guard/forward Lance Stephenson. The Clippers are now looking to move guards Jamal Crawford and CJ Wilcox for an upgrade at small forward. There have been rumors of Crawford, Wilcox, and a 1st rounder to the Denver Nuggets for Wilson Chandler but talks are still ongoing.

Anthony Bennett – Minnesota Timberwolves

The 2013 #1 overall pick is involved in trade talk yet again. After disappointing the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2013-2014 season, Bennett was sent in a packed deal to the Timberwolves which helped the Cavs acquire Kevin Love. Bennett reportedly can now be had for just a 2nd round pick. Still at the young age of 22, Bennett way still be worth the risk of a 2nd round pick if put in the right situation.

NBA Draft Stock Watch

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With the NBA Draft order set, mock drafts are now falling into order a lot easier. However, with the order set, that won’t provide answers for some of the most questionable prospects in the draft. When it comes to making it in the NBA, you have to have the size, strenght, IQ, and specific skill set based on position in order to make it in the NBA. While some players come in with all of the above, many lack 1 or 2 and this puts them on the fringe of where in the draft they go or if they even go at all. Lets take a look at some of the more questionable prospects in the draft.

Georgia State Guard, RJ Hunter

RJ Hunter had a decorated career at Georgia State under his dad as head coach. At 6’6, 190 pounds, Hunter definitely has the size and strength to play shooting guard at the next level. After averaging 19.7 points per game, theres no question if RJ can score. What scouts are taking a closer look at is his efficiency. Hunter was underwhelming shooting 39% from the floor and 31% from 3 point range. However, scouts are looking through that noticing he was the face of a team that relied on him to shoot a lot, sometimes contested and off balance jumpers. In the right system and role in the NBA, scouts thing he can 44% field goal and 40% 3 point shooter he was during the 2013-2014 season at Georgia State. Look for Hunter to go late in the 1st round.

Kentucky Guards, Andrew and Aaron Harrison

Both Aaron and Andrew Harrison were big time prospects coming out of high school. After a freshmen year that saw them play well but not spectacular, they decided to stay another year at Kentucky. Still both did not do much to help there cases for the NBA Draft. However, they’re leaving Kentucky for the NBA. At 6’6 about 210 pounds each they make for interesting guards in the NBA. Both can play point but aren’t necessarily great facilitators. Could they have been hurt by playing with so many other great players at Kentucky that their minutes and overall numbers were diluted? Sure, and thats what any NBA team is hoping if they draft them. These guys will look to be picked in the 2nd round or catch on with someone via Summer League play.

Syracuse Power Forward/Center Rakeem Christmas

Rakeem Christmas burst onto the scene this season for the Orange averaging 17.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks. Problem is, this wasn’t your typical 25-7 Syracuse Orange squad. Christmas did if for an 18-13 team, 9-9 in ACC play and missed the Big Dance. Another red flag is senior season point total eclipsed his previous 3 years on campus point total together. Where was this Christmas the previous 3 years? Can he continue to play at this level for years to come? Can his 6’9 225 pound frame hang with the NBA big men? He’s a tough prospect to project but someone should take him in the 2nd round.

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Early Season Triple Crown Contenders

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It’s not often someone wins the Triple Crown in Major League Baseball, although Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera won it 2012, no one had previously won it in 45 years at that time. Still with a hot start to a season, we always speculate that the next one could happen this season. Lets take a look at both the American and National League contenders so far to win the Triple Crown.

American League

 

Nelson Cruz

It was not too long ago Nelson Cruz of the Seattle Mariners served a suspension for performance enhancing drugs but that’s now behind him and he has been raking the ball in 2015. Cruz currently has 17 home runs (1st in the AL), 35 runs batted in (Tied for 2nd in the AL), and is batting .341 (3rd in the AL). Cruz is 1 of 2 players in the American League to hold a slugging percentage over .600 and his is actually approaching .700 (.688).

Prince Fielder

Cruz looks to be the only strong threat at this point but if Prince Fielder of the Texas Rangers can get hot with the long ball he could be a real threat. Fielder is currently hitting .365 (1st in the AL), with 35 runs batted in (Tied for 2nd in the AL), and has 9 home runs (Tied for 11th in the AL). Fielder has hit over 35 home runs in a season 3 times in his career and is no stranger to the long ball, so it would not be a huge surprise if he closed the home run gap in the coming months.

National League

 

Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals has absolutely been on a tear. For the month of May, Harper is hitting .384 with 11 home runs, and 26 runs batted in. On the season, he has 16 home runs (1st in the NL), 41 runs batted in (2nd in the NL), and is hitting .333 (Tied for 4th in the NL). Certainly if he continues to hit the way he has in May, he stands a great chance to win the Triple Crown.

Paul Goldschmidt

Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks has always been viewed as a great balance hitter who can get on base, hit for power, and knock runners in. While he does all of these very well, he’s not dominant in enough categories. At this point he’s hitting .338 (3rd in the NL), with 12 home runs (Tied for 4th in the NL), and has 38 runs batted in (3rd in the NL). He’s in striking distance of each category here but it’ll be a challenge for him to make a push to lead the league in all three categories.

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