Jack Flaherty

Jack Flaherty to was very vocal in his displeasure with starting the 2018 season in Memphis.  The Cardinals decided to go with an ailing veteran Adam Wainwright instead of their top prospect.  Despite his disagreement with the decision Flaherty went down to Memphis an continued his dominance, going 4-1, 2.27ERA over 5 starts. The injury bug hit the Cardinals allowing them to call up the 2014 first round pick, he took no time at all in becoming the proverbial “Ace” of a potential playoff team.

Miles Mikolas has been the surprise of the 2018 season leading the team in wins and ERA.  He took home the only true All-Star birth for the Cardinals (Yadi in after Posey injury) and has established himself as the regular season MVP of the rotation.  As the playoffs get closer Mikolas has not stood out as the dominant force that Flaherty has.  Flaherty has shown the swing and miss stuff that you see from elite level starting pitching.  Only Max Scherzer (12.09) has a higher K/9 then Jack Flaherty (11.24).  Flaherty also through 5 less starts than Miles Mikolas has 32 more strikeouts.  That’s nearly double the K/9 rate as the pitcher most Cardinal fans would assume would be the starting pitcher of a potential Wild Card game.

The debate from most fans would be that Mikolas is a different kind of pitcher then Flaherty.  He pitches to contact more, throwing more strikes, going longer then Flaherty.  While those attributes are useful int he regular season it’s Flaherty’s ability to make hitters miss that can be beneficial in the big moments.  Similarly the Houston Astros would rather see Justin Verlander then Dallas Keuchel in a make or break moment of the playoffs.  Verlander brings the ability to get out of a tough situation by missing bats rather then hoping for perfect placement.  Flaherty has that ability along with a bulldog demeanor on the mound.  He has the confidence that he can strikeout any hitter in a lineup in any given situation.

The youth movement in the bullpen and in the field has seen great results in the month of August but it has been Flaherty that has taken on the role of staff leader.  Over his last seven starts he is 4-2 with a 2.45ERA, striking out 57 over 40.1 innings.  He has taken control of teams from the very start.  He has forced himself into the conversation for team ace purely by going out and taking it.

With the injuries to Michael Wacha and aCarlos Martinez and the current placement of the Cardinals at leading the Wild Card the question has come up on who would start the potential Wild Card game.  A young team can be motivated by presence and dominance.  A presence on the mound can be a determining factor for a young team.  Flaherty brings that Cris Carpenter intensity along with a dominant repertoire of pitches. He can be the pitcher that this team has been looking for.  The replacement for the great Adam Wainwright at the top of the rotation.  If the wild card game was tomorrow and you had everyone available to pitch the clear choice should be the pitcher that was an afterthought to begin the season.  The answer to the question of who is the Cardinals “Ace” is Jack Flaherty.

August 24- Affordable 5 MLB DraftKings

I Talk Sports DFS Affordable 5- August 24- Draftkings

Eduardo Escobar, SS/3B, Arizona Diamondbacks ($4,900)

The Arizona Diamondbacks will have a matchup with the struggling Erasmo Ramirez.  Ramirez has been crushed by lefties in his 4 starts in 2018, lefties are crushing .341BA, .795 slugging percentage.  Escobar has 15 of his 18 homers as a left handed batter this season.  This matchup screams extra base hits.  Arizona lefties will be a huge play on today’s slate.  With Escobar you can get great value at $4,900 with multiple position potential.

Dallas Keuchel, P, Houston Astros ($9,200)

Dallas Keuchel was dominate is his last start vs. the Los Angeles Angels, going for 29.5 Draftkings points. Playing lefties vs the Angels is one of my favorite plays all season with a stat line of .226/.296/.373 during the season.  I was hesitant at first when I saw that Mike Trout was returning to the lineup up but, Keuchel sits nearly $600 less than the other starter I was interested in Rich Hill.  Go with Keuchel to save and most likely get the 4 points for a win.

Omar Narvaez, C, Chicago White Sox ($3,400)

Looking for value, Omar Narvaez of the White Sox has been one of my favorite part time plays over the last few weeks.  Narvaez is 5 for 7 in his career vs Tigers starter Michael Fulmer.  Fulmer has also had his trouble with lefties this year giving up a 5.31 ERA against them this year. 10 of 14 homers vs Fulmer this season have come against lefties.

Greg Allen, OF, Cleveland Indians ($3,800)

Greg Allen has emerged from lineup as a force.  Double digit Draftkings points in 3 of 4 games establishing himself in the Cleveland outfield.  Allen won’t bring you the power you may be looking for but his potential for stealing bases and scoring runs will be a huge asset for the Cleveland team with a high implied run total.  Grabbing a player at $3,800 with the potential upside of Allen can put you in the money.

Jake Bauers, 1B/OF, Tampa Bay Rays ($3,600)

Bauers has a .208 ISO vs righties this season.  Coming off a 14 point night he can be a valuable low cost option in the outfield that can give you the opportunity to pay up for some higher priced studs. Bauers also feeds off of the home crowd with higher statistics in every category at Tropicana Field.  With Bauers in the middle of the Tampa Bay lineup he can will also have a higher chance to produce with runners on base.  Give Bauers a look especially sense outside of last night he has had some struggles, which means most likely low ownership.

Potential Team Stacks:

Washington vs. Jason Vargas

Cleveland Indians vs. Brad Keller

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Ryan Borucki


Biggest Fantasy Draft Questions?

Each year we set up for our drafts the same way.  Do as many mocks as we can fit in on a work day.  Debate with friends and co-workers about who is going to be the biggest sleepers or the most likely busts . It’s time for the top four questions going into your draft.

David Johnson or Antonio Brown at #4

This has been the question I have been asked multiple times by many different people.  After the top three (Elliot, Bell, Gurley) come off the board, who’s next?  ESPN has David Johnson actually ranked ahead of Ezekiel Elliot on their draft boards.  Johnson coming off a season ending injury last year was a unanimous top two pick going into that season.

Johnson has the ability to be the best runningback in the league when healthy but he also has a problem of lack of talent around him.  Sam Bradford is an injury machine and Josh Rosen is a rookie.  Two quarterbacks that give the opposing defense little to worry about.  Antonio Brown on the other hand is the unquestioned #1 wideout on any and all draft boards.  Brown is a part of a high level offense that will be putting up points throughout the season.  Going with Johnson is not going to put you in a bad position but Brown brings you a number one unquestioned top player on your roster.  David Johnson is great but he was only great for one season.  If you can’t get the best of the best at RB1 I say you go for the top receiver.

Who could be a late second round steal?

Getting the first few picks is fun but it also means you have a long wait for the next pick.  Who should you be keeping an eye on for a second rounder with 1st round talent. Davante Adams.

Davante Adams has become the #1 target for the best Quarterback in the league. With the decline of Randall Cobb, departure of Jordy Nelson and lack of overall running game Adams will be target number one for Aaron Rodgers.  Adams emergence into fantasy relevance relevance over the last two seasons has put him in a prime spot to top 3 receiver status.

Adams quietly grabbed 22 touchdowns over the past two seasons.  This season he could propel not only to double digit touchdowns but also break 1,000 yards for the first time in his career.

When do you take a Quarterback after the top 3 are gone? Who do you take?

So you didn’t get Russell Wilson, Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers. What do you do?  You wait.  Players like Drew Brees are falling down draft boards faster than Ohio State’s reputation.  Projections are showing Brees being chosen as late as the 11th round. Brees has his issues with age and a movement of assets but to get him with your 11th selection is still a steal.

Keep an eye on the falling Ben Roethlisberger and Pat Mahomes.  Two teams that have dynamic talent around them.  You can load up on high level RBs, WRs and backup tightends.  There is a perception that after the top three the quarterback situation stays the same but it is important to understand the teams style before just plugging in the middle tier players.  If you do plan to wait for a quarterback you need to make sure you add two of the middle tiers guys to play the matchup.

What rookie should I target?

Runningbacks are the obvious choice when looking for rookie fantasy value.  With the injury to Derrius Guice there is a new opening for rookie talent in your fantasy draft. Calvin Ridley of the Atlanta Falcons is a player that I plan to take late in drafts. Ridley is coming through as advertised as an ideal complement to Jones with reliable hands, strong routes against single coverage and a nose for the end zone.  Ridley will also have the chance to work against single coverage with Julio Jones and Mohammad Sanu attracting most of the attention.

Each teams most important player down the stretch!

As the MLB season winds down it is time to find out which teams are prepared for a playoff push or just to get pushed.  There are five teams on the outside of the National League playoffs that will need contributions from players that can give them that push.  Who are they?

St. Louis Cardinals- Paul DeJong

The St. Louis Cardinals have lacked a power bat in their lineup since the departure of Albert Pujols.  Marcell Ozuna was supposed to be that player but has not shown the power of his previous season in Miami.  DeJong’s productions can be a huge contribution to a St. Louis order that tends to struggle to put runs on the board. During the month of August his contributions have been minimal despite the Cardinals beginning to show life winning nine straight games at one point.

As the Cardinals continue to fight their way to a potential wildcard they will need the productions from one of their most powerful forces in the lineup.  Being a player that put his name on the map in 2017 with a ridiculous .333 ISO he has the potential to make a serious impact in the middle of the St. Louis order.   If he can’t pickup the power statistics St. Louis will have a problem scoring runs down the stretch, especially if MVP candidate eventually comes back down to earth.

Milwaukee Brewers- Cory Knebel

The Milwaukee Brewers added a lot of power during the trade deadline.  They didn’t however address one of the needs many thought they would, their starting rotation.  Instead the Brewers will look to get what they can from the rotation and have their strong bullpen figure out the backend.  All-Stars Josh Hader and the reborn Jeremy Jefferess have done their part to keep the Brewers in the race.

2017 breakout Corey Knebel has not found his form during the second half of the season.  He currently holds a second half ERA of 6.75 and has become a liability on the mound.  Knebel has not only had issues with walks but players are have been hitting him hard with a hard hit percentage 11% higher then 2017.  For the Brewers to find their way into the playoffs they will have to rely on their bullpen for 3+ inning most nights.  Knebel returning to his All Star form is the key to their success.

Colorado Rockies- Wade Davis

Positive, Wade Davis has 35 saves in 2018.  Negative, Wade Davis has a 4.99ERA.  The biggest off season signing for the Rockies has had an up and down first season with Colorado but his playoff experience is going to be huge for the young club over the final few weeks of the season.

Davis has seemed to find his way over his last five appearances picking up 3 saves and not giving up a single run in that span.  Those appearances brought his August ERA down to 9.82.  He has to build off of those games as the Rockies have little to no room for late inning blow ups down the stretch.  Davis and the other Rockies bullpen arms have to hold on to leads in order to make them a real threat in the both the wild card and the division hunt.

Los Angeles Dodgers- Walker Buehler

With the lose of Kenley Jansen for an unknown amount of time the Dodgers will have need someone to step up at the backend of the bullpen.  They will also need their starters to step up for more innings down the stretch.  With four veterans Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda and Alex Wood in the rotation the one guy that will need to give them a little more length is star prospect Walker Buehler.

Over his last three August starts Buehler has shown the promise that Dodgers brass have banked on coming into the season going 2-0 with a 1.47ERA.  He has also given six innings per start which is all you can ask of a young pitcher down the stretch.  If Buehler can continue to produce solid outings the Dodgers could be in a great spot to overtake the unproven Arizona Diamondbacks in the West.

Philadelphia Phillies- Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana was a surprise offseason signing from the young and thought to be rebuilding Philadelphia Phillies.  His defense and power seemed like a perfect fit for a time on the rise in the NL East.  To the surprise of many in the baseball world the Phillies have been in the thick of the race the entire season.

Santana will have to be the force in the order that the fighting Phils thought they had signed in order to make the playoff push.  With Rhys Hoskins taking on the role of offensive leader, it will be up to Santana to produce enough to force pitchers to throw to Hoskins or pay the consequences.  While Santana has provided some power with 18 homers on the season, the Phillies need to have more consistency day to day.  A .218 average from your four hole hitter will not scare teams enough to pitch to the hotter bats in the lineup.  If Santana can’t find a way to produce the lineup depth for the Phillies ends very quickly.



Early Fantasy Sleepers


Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans (ESPN 22)

Derrick Henry has been patient in his young career, waiting for his chance to show his worth in the fantasy world.  A sexy pick in 2017 that never seemed to get his chance to shine Henry had a mediocre season waiting for veteran DeMarco Murray to either get injured or show some decline. Murray’s injury during the 2017 playoffs opened the door for the former Crimson Tide back leading to a breakout game carrying the ball for 156 yards and a touchdown.

Henry may not see as many 3rd downs as most would like due to the pickup of former Patriot Dion Lewis but look for Henry to get all goal line carries as well as the bulk of the opportunity during the season.  Henry is to good and the Titans line love to run block.  If it’s PPR you may not see the productions you would want but in standard scoring leagues he could be a steal in the mid rounds.

Matt Brieda, San Francisco 49er (ESPN 55)

Jerick McKinnon may be more suitable for the starting spot in San Francisco, especially after Brieda suffered a shoulder injury during the preseason.  But McKinnon has just shown glimpses of ability in his career and has never been able to take over a starting spot. Look for the second year player from Georgia Southern to take over the carries early.

Brieda will most likely go undrafted in most leagues so keep an eye on him on the waiver wire around week two.

Honorable Mention:  Kenyan Drake (Dolphins)


Cam Meredith, New Orleans Saints (ESPN 54)

Meredith was a sleeper for me in last years draft until a knee injury put him on the sidelines for the entire season.  Injuries have derailed the start of the preseason for Meredith but remember this is a guy that had 888 yards receiving with Brian Hoyer as his starting Quarterback just two years ago.

He now has Drew Brees throwing him passes in New Orleans as well as a Wider Receiver core that lacks depth after Micheal Thomas.  If Meredith is healthy he can be a solid #2 wide receiver that will pay out big time in late rounds.

Allen Hurns, Dallas Cowboys (ESPN 48)

There has been a lot of talk about Cole Beasley and Tavon Austin but I am keeping my eye on former Jaguar Allen Hurns.  With Dez Bryant out of the picture there will be a need in Dallas for a bigger receiver that can catch the long ball and Hurns stands out to me as a potential steal.

At 6’3″ he can be a bigger target for Dak Prescott in the red zone, while the Cowboys also have the 5th easiest projected schedule  against wide receivers during the 2018 season. Hurns is another big gamble for the upcoming season but if he can be a threat with Blake Bortles he can really be a threat with Prescott.

Honorable Mention: Mike Williams (Chargers), DJ Moore (Panthers), Calvin Ridley (Falcons)


Matt Carpenter the best at the top.

Matt Carpenter has entered himself into the National League MVP race over the last two months of the 2018 season after many wrote him off, including yours truly.   I went so far as to write an article about the Cardinals moving Tommy Pham into the leadoff position was what was best for the St. Louis Cardinals.  Just like Carpenter and his salsa I am ready to eat my words.  Carpenter has found himself in this situation while being primarily in the lead off role. His potential MVP status has opened my eyes to the evolution of the lead off hitter as a force in MLB lineups.

Traditionalist have a predetermined idea that a leadoff hitter should be someone with speed. A player that can turn a single into a double or even triple by being on the move. But today’s MLB doesn’t work that way anymore.  Baseball is a game of statistics as well as ever changing dynamics.  Players like Billy Hamilton and Dee Gordon can change the game with their speed, but they are the leadoff hitters of the past.   The new form of leadoff hitters are players that force a pitcher to be on their game right away or be down by one run.

Today’s leadoff hitters focus more about getting on base and provide much more power.  Look at the impact that George Springer had for the World Champion Astros during their great 2017 run in the playoffs.  Springer was able to jump on get me over fastballs to start the game and put an immediate run on the board.  Lead off hitters now rely on patience and launch angles to beat up on the opposition rather than using their speed.

Look at a list of impactful leadoff men in today’s game and see that there is a new trend in the game.  Joining George Springer are star caliber players like Charlie Blackmon, Mookie Betts, Anthony Rizzo, Corey Dickerson, and even Bryce Harper have spent time in the leadoff spot for their respective teams.  Managers are beginning to understand that their best hitters will not only be getting more at bats but they will also be in a position to see a few get me over fastballs that can be deposited in the seats.  Instead of pitchers trying to pitch around these players they are forced to pitch to them at least once rather than start a game with a runner on base.

Matt Carpenter is currently leading the National League in homeruns. While a large portion of those homeruns are solo shots he is still making an impact from the lead off position.  What is overlooked is that he has the protection of the middle of the order forcing pitchers to throw to him.  The worst thing a pitcher can do is to put a man on in front of the middle of the order.  Carpenter has to see strikes, he has to be challenged and he more you challenge him the better he has been.  This is the new idea of lead off hitters.  In a way its like a slow pitch softball approach, why not get your best player as many at bats as you possibly can?

I Talk DFS Picks: August 6 MLB

Tons of potential tonight with multiple games projected for high run totals, here are the Power 5 DFS Picks for August 6th.

Nick Tropeano, Pitcher, Los Angeles Angels ($6,200)

Tropeano is by far not the biggest pitching stud on this slate but a matchup against the awful Detroit Tigers is one you should always keep an eye on, especially when they are facing a righty.

Tigers hitters bat 30 points lower against righties to go along with 30 points lower on the road. Tropeano’s low cost will allow you to pay up for bats with so many potentially explosive games on the slate you will need to have room for stacks.  Tropeano will face a projected 5 right-handed batters and four switch hitters, on the season righties are hitting just .215 against him. At just $6,200 the flexibility he brings is worth the risk.

Jose Martinez, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals ($4,000)

With injuries becoming a an issue for the St. Louis Cardinals Jose Martinez will be called upon as they head into Miami.  Dexter Fowler and Tyler O’Neil have recently been put on the disabled list allowing Martinez to benefit from the playing time.  Luckily for DFS players defense is not taken into consideration.

Martinez is projected in the middle of a St. Louis lineup that has been steady against lefties all season. Eight players in the St Louis lineup have at least a 108 wRC+ against LHP over the last calendar year with only cleanup hitter Marcell Ozuna (118 wRC+, .158 ISO) below a .200 ISO.  That’s some proficiency against a southpaw who has allowed a .350 wOBA to RHBs since the start of last season.  Martinez can supply the runs and hits that will make him worthy of the nod as your starting first baseman.

Whit Merrifield, 2B/OF, Kansas City Royals ($4,900)

Merrifield is the definition of on hot right now, hitting .479 over his last seven games.  Matching up with the surely popular Cole Hamels will set you apart from most players.  Merrifield has been a lefty masher all season with a .377 average and five of his seven homers.  Look for Merrifield to also give you a boost on the basepaths as Hamels has shown an inability to hold runners on this season.  The Royals currently have nothing to lose so why not let your players run free on the bases.

Evan Longoria, 3B, San Francisco Giants ($3,200)

In a time where Draftkings is making you pay top dollar for even the most modest of batters, Evan Longoria is still nicely priced for a hitter that has been streaking.  Going for over 8 points in five straight games Longoria has the potential to bring lots of value at a low cost. Even with All- Star Charlie Morton on the mound sometimes you just can’t put out the flame of a hitter on fire.

Daniel Palka, OF, Chicago White Sox ($4,700)

Palka loves to hit fastballs.  Lance Lynn only throws fastballs.  This is a dangerous matchup for the veteran hurler.  Palka also loves himself some home cooking, hitting .278 at US Cellular Field nearly 70 points higher then he does on the road.  Look for Palka to try and jump on Lynn early.  I am calling a home run tonight and potentially a dominant night from the young White Sox Hitters.


Stackable Teams:

Seattle Mariners

Colorado Rockies

Cleveland Indians




I Talk Sports DFS Picks Aug. 2nd (Night Slate)

With a nine game slate upon us in DFS I wanted to pass along my plays for tonight August 2nd 2018. All prices based on Draft Kings.

Pitcher- Mike Foltynewicz, Atlanta Braves ($10,500)

Most people will be drawn to known aces Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer.  But with matchups against much better offenses I wanted to go with a much lesser known All-Star pitcher.  Mike Foltynewicz has established himself at the top of the rotation starter.  Playing in New York against a team that has been underwhelming to say the least should give Foltynewicz a better matchup to get him on track post All Star break.

In two post All Star break starts thus far Foltynewicz has struggled playing much higher level offenses of the Nationals and the Dodgers.  Mike’s last start against a much more inspired Mets team on June 12th he was able to score 21.5 DK points.  While you are paying a steep price at $10,500 I believe you will see a big upside and can save yourself over $1,000 when compared to the two previously mentioned aces.

SS/3B- Tim Beckham, Baltimore Orioles ($3,800)

Former prized draft pick Tim Beckham recently made a list of top 20 draft busts over the last ten years.  With star Manny Machado in LA Beckham will see an increased role with the Orioles and I believe increased production.  This Orioles/Rangers game looks and feels very stackable. Beckham stands out to me due to his mid-level cost and power/speed potential. Beckham’s is 3/4 in his career versus Yovanni Gallardo, while that is a small sample size I really like the exit velocity of 95.8MPH in those at bats.  Not only did he hit Yovanni, those balls were destroyed.

SS/3B- Johan Carmago, Atlanta Braves ($4,100)

Carmago has been a big part of my DFS lineups this year, especially against lefties.  The Braves showed that they are committed to Carmago at third base for the rest of the season by not making a move at the trade deadline.  The matchup tonight vs Jason Vargas intrigues me.  Carmago has shown great power against lefties slugging a ridiculous 200 points higher as a right handed batter.  Vargas has also been a dumpster fire the entire season, there is no reason to think that is going to change.  With Draftkings prices as high as they are playing a guy with major power upside and a low price is a need.

OF- Shin-Soo Choo, Texas Rangers ($4,900)

The resurrection of Shin-Soo Choo is in full force in 2018, until the last 15 games.  A matchup with Andrew Cashner is always a way to break a slump . Choo hits 60 points higher against righties as well as 15 point higher at home.  Choo will have his chances during this game projecting to bat second.  This game will be one that many pick on with the highest projected run total on the slate.  I expected Choo to be a cornerstone in my lineup.  I see a potential home run from him tonight.

1B- Justin Smoak, Toronto Blue Jays ($4,100)

First base has its obvious choices.  Paul Goldschmidt should be popular tonight, Joey Votto actually has some great career numbers versus Max Scherzer, Justin Bour versus a struggling Nick Pivetta is also intriguing.  I am looking at Justin Smoak against the pitcher formally known as King Felix.  Smoak is 6 for 10 in his career against Felix with a 95.2MPH exit velocity. He hits Felix very hard and consistently. Even though Smoak has not had the season he had in 2017 he has still been consistent with his power holding a season long ISO of .223.

Smoak’s price tag will allow you to make moves on some of the beast of the night like Mookie Betts and JD Martinez.




Secondary Pitchers

Mike Montgomery- Cubs

Felix Hernandez- Mariners