Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Dwight Howard Underrated?

Dwight Howard started his career with the Orlando Magic who last year traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers before he signed with the Houston Rockets this summer. Through the journey he has lost quite a bit of fans and support as many no longer regard Howard as the best center in the NBA (Highly debated topic).

Much of this is due to his performance of last year while recovering from a herniated disk in his back throughout the entire past season.

When coupled with the fact that he tore his shoulder labrum later on in the season, it should be expected that Dwight could not perform at the highest of his capability.

However many in the sports world for some odd reason expected him to be regular Dwight despite all of the injuries and they expressed deep disappointment when they realized he was not.

This is where my confusion comes in to play because not only do I regard Howard's last season as another great season, but I never expected him to come back and be the exact same until he was fully recovered anyways; while others expected Dwight to produce at the same level as he has in past seasons despite the laundry list of injuries facing him.

Honestly if we are to be clear here in discussing Dwight Howard's stat line, I do not feel last year should even apply. It was stated before the season that he would not be close to full strength until close to the season's end. Thus we did not witness the REAL Dwight Howard at the beginning of the 2012- 2013 season.

However even with that being said, even if we did base our opinion of Dwight Howard off of last year, he would still be head, shoulders and mountains ahead of most of the other big men in the NBA. This is my second source of confusion as an average of: 17 points, 12 rebounds (12.4), 2 blocks and 1 steal is one of the best stat lines of all the centers in the NBA.

I understand that his career average of 18 points, 13 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1 steal is slightly above that of last year's production but one point and less than a rebound is not enough to warrant the verbal bashing that Dwight has taken playing in Los Angeles this past year. Even Laker head athletic trainer Gary Vitti said, "I think Dwight received a bad rap for how he returned from back surgery... he went out there [despite injury] like a warrior and played himself into NBA shape.”

Next year with the Rockets, D Howard aka Superman will team up with Jeremy Lin, James Harden and Chandler Parsons to try and recreate the magic he once had with the Magic - pun intended. I feel a 20 point, 13 rebound, 2 blocks and a steal per game average is likely as Howard aims at proving the ever growing group of doubters he has accumulated through the past two years wrong.

Honestly I am targeting Dwight Howard in the first round next year as no one holds the value he has at the Center position. While Brook Lopez and Marc Gasol are monsters in their own right, Dwight Howard's down year is still better than some of Lopez and Gasol's best years. Thus when drafting this upcoming fantasy basketball season don't fall victim to sports analysts and fan chatter that has downgraded Dwight Howard to less than that of his actual ability.

I may target Howard in my auction league also if he is available for anything under $45; I'm in. While the Yahoo! and/ or ESPN player rankings are not currently in for fantasy basketball yet, I am betting my dollar on his value continuing to be underrated until he comes back guns-a-blazing like an old western film. Jokes aside, look out to add Superman to your team this year as he looks to return to dominating NBA front courts.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Kaep, RG3 or Wilson?

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions... hmmmmmmm. With the upcoming fantasy football season rapidly approaching us, I'm starting to feel my fantasy football mind clicking back into focus. As I do every year, I mock draft as if the draft were to go exactly as the Yahoo! or ESPN rankings indicate in order to help me at least develop a plan, sleepers, etc.

The two things that stood out to me were the amount of RBs ranked in the top rounds and the amount of quality QBs in the rounds following after. The most intriguing of the bunch being the 49er's Colin Kaepernick, Rookie of the Year RG3 himself and the Seahawks future star QB Russell Wilson.

As I have contrasted the three, I have had great difficulty deciding who to rank ahead of who.

Taking a look into each quarterback's last year stat line, I quickly realized that this would had been a Kaep/ Wilson comparison if not for RG3's injury. His injury is what downgrades him, thus putting him into this conversation. If not for the reconstruction of RG3's ACL and LCL, he would have a projection of a 2nd- 3rd round pick placing him above Kaep and Wilson.

However in reality, RG3 is coming off of a serious injury and Kaep is coming off a superbowl run that catapults him into the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks. Thus the hype around the respective young athletes have switched in ways from the offseason prior.

Russell Wilson not only outplayed his competition for his QB position in Seattle, but also much of the NFL as he introduced himself to the fantasy football world. It is now a given that he will be drafted in the top 5 rounds of standard (12 team, snake style) drafts.

The question remaining is whom to take before who as Wilson, Kaep and RB3 rank so closely heading to the fantasy football draft season.

Personally as a childhood 49er fan, I'm inclined to point to the approximate 8 games that Kaepernick did his damage in. If afforded the full 16 games, his stat line may have very well doubled making it 20 passing TDs, 10 rushing TDs, 3600 passing yards and only 6 INT (if he played full 16 games lasy year). However this hypothetical stat line can only be used as a guide and not anything more in comparing with other quarterback's stat lines of past years.

For instance while Kaepernick could have hypothetically done the above if afforded a full year, Russell Wilson actually did have a complete year and proved his 26 TDs, 4 rushing TDs, 3100 passing yards and 10 INTs are not hypothetical but in reality. Much to the dismay of Matt Flynn, it's safe to say Wilson cemented his role as the Seahawks quarterback of the future with this performance in his first season at the helms.

The question remaining is whether Kaepernick's hypothetical ceiling is in reality better than what Wilson has already shown us.

As a Wilson owner last year, I can concur that he was providing great value on a week to week basis, fulfilling my QB position for the latter of the year. While he may not be a star yet, he already provides great value for any fantasy steam.

However Kaepernick on the other hand seems to have already reached star status in only half of a season as quarterback; falling a Michael Crabtree converted TD pass away from a super bowl win.

Thus based off potential shown alone, I have Kaepernick ranked ahead of Wilson. However this is not by a crazy amount of degree as Wilson is no slouch himself as previously discussed.

ESPN's senior fantasy analyst Matthew Berry asserted this week on ESPN's fantasy football podcast that he has Wilson ranked ahead himself while ESPN writer Stephania Bell felt as I do giving Kaepernick the edge; thus it is indeed very subjective.

One thing everyone seems to agree on is that Robert Griffin when healthy would be ranked ahead of both Kaep and Wilson. However in light of injury concerns, many have him ranked last of the three.

However as the season approaches, if he continues to run on his knee in practice showing his recovered health then I may upgrade him right before draft time. This is all contingent on his health as we move forward though.

Thus with that said my current fantasy football ranking of the three outstanding young quarterbacks are as follows: 1. Kaepernick, 2. RG3 and then 3. Wilson with a asterisk next to RG3 representing the fluid movement of his ranking due to his recovery process.

Nonetheless if you get any of these guys then you are well on your way to having a great fantasy season. Them along with Brady, Brees, Rodgers, Manning, Andrew Luck, Matthew Stafford and Cam Newton round out the top 10 QBs in fantasy football and maybe the NFL in general.

It will be interesting to see how the upcoming NFL season will play out with such young talent emerging from all of the very same skilled positions heavily relied upon in the fantasy game.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Vernon Davis Headed Towards Breakout Campaign

Vernon Davis is a BOY (Man), as we would say back home in California. In other words Davis' on-field play has boosted him up the rankings of the top tight ends in the NFL.

With young quarterback Colin Kaepernick leading the realms for the Niners, Davis looks to improve upon past production in which Alex Smith was throwing him the ball. It is safe to say the Niners will in all likely-hood pass more with the more dynamic and powerful Kaepernick at Quarterback helping to defend their NFC title.

Coming into the year, many expected Colin Kaepernick and lead receiver Michael Crabtree to build upon their instant rapport from last year. However Crabtree like many others in the 49er receiving corp became injured declaring him out for the season.

As aforementioned many of the Niners other receivers have dropped off due to one reason or another. Randy Moss was let go after the conclusion of last year; while both Kyle Williams and Mario Manningham are on the physically unable to perform list indefinitely. When added to the fact that lead receiver Michael Crabtree is out for the year, only Anquan Boldin remains as a viable option within the receiving corps.

The effect of all of the injuries will be more balls thrown Davis' way as he will easily become Kaepernick's favorite target at least until injuries subside.

Davis was targeted 61 times last year in 16 games; however with all of the changes to the receiving corps, I am predicting a minimum of 100 targets for Davis this year.

Last time this happened he had his best year to date, which was 2009: 78 receptions, 965 yards and 13 TDs.

While he is yet to break out with a true 1, 000 yard season, there is reason to believe such is right around the corner with all of the circumstances leading into the upcoming season.

In points per reception league, I can see Vernon becoming extremely useful with a 2013 stat line of 65 receptions, 1,000 yards and 6-8 TDs.

If so this would make him one of the most useful tight ends in fantasy football after Jimmy Graham.

Don't believe the hype if you want, but I'm planning on targeting him in all of my upcoming fantasy football drafts myself.

With the tight end position becoming as depleted as is, this also adds to Davis' risen value. As you can see I'm quite bullish on him this year and barring injury I don't see much changing that.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Maukuss Fantasy Post-Season Rankings: Top 10 Centers

To round out the fantasy basketball rankings, below are the post-season fantasy basketball rankings for the top centers in the game. From Dwight Howard to Al Jefferson, there has been a lot of movement at this position during the off season. No telling how this will effect the rankings moving forward, but as of now we will use last year as our guide and basis. When drafting a big man you are looking for a double-double per game with a side combo of blocks and steals. The top centers in the game do this on a nightly basis.
1. Marc Gasol
As a Marc Gasol owner of the previous year, I must say that he did everything and more I expected out of him this year. Averaging 14 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks and 4 assists a game, he can steady any fantasy team. Heading into next year, Gasol will easily be a first round pick capable of even greater numbers then last year with a full Non- Rudy Gay year approaching.

2. Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard has become way underrated in fantasy basketball circles. Many forget his injury last year prevented him from performing at full capability. However even last year he averaged 17 points, 12 rebounds, 2 blocks and a steal per game. Honestly I still don't understand why everyone in Los Angeles hated this dude throughout the year. Nonetheless target Dwight in late first round as he should go no later than early second round in leagues without FT%.

3. Al Jefferson
Al Jefferson the BobCat! Ok sorry, but I had to see how it sounded before continuing. Averaging 18 points, 9 rebounds, one steal and a block apiece, Al Jefferson looks to even add to that with a front court that is without former team mates Paul Milsap, Enes Kenter and Derrick Favors. I'm expecting big things this year from Big Al.

4. Brook Lopez
Brook Lopez lead all centers in scoring, but it was his large overall improvements in other areas that amazed and impressed us all. He improved his rebounding from 4 rebounds to 7 per game, his FG% went up from 49% to 52%, his FT % even improved drastically from 63% to 76% and even more impressive was his improvement in blocks going from less than one per game to over two per game. The ladder may not sound very impressive, but in actuality he went from being one of the worse blocking centers to there not being  many centers outside of Dwight Howard averaging more blocks. The question is will Brook be able to sustain this new level of play?

5. Demarcus Cousins
This kid has mental issues but despite such is still an impending star. Nearly averaging a double-double, Cousins could easily be one of the top 3 big men in all of fantasy basketball. However when you combine his erratic behavior with his coach's weird decisions, many fantasy owners are scared away from him. While I would like to see his blocks raise back to above one per game, Cousins is still a beast when active and any owner should be happy to get him in fantasy drafts after the first round or two.

6. Greg Monroe
Well with the emergence of Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe is now a power forward (Used as a center for most of year). Add to the fact that Josh Smith is now the go to guy and I'm not sure where Monroe fits in with Detroit. I do know that Monroe is a solid big man who consistently gives you 16-10-1-1 per game (Points, rebounds, blocks and steals respectively). While I'm sure his rebounds may go down with Josh Smith in town, hopefully his other stats won't dip too much. 

7. Joakim Noah
Don't get me wrong, 12-11-4-2-1 (Points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals respectively) is a nice stat line but I still feel Noah is overrated in the land of fantasy. Last time Noah played 70 games, I was still going downtown to club. Five years later, few professional jobs later, Noah is STILL injured with the same plantar fascitis!? There is no way I can draft this guy with confidence. I know he will be drafted in the top 65 as he is every year. However I will not be one of the owners biting in on that sandwich.

8. Chris Bosh
Let's be honest here, without the Heat Chris Bosh would be an All-Star building up a Hall of Fame bid. However as a Miami Heat player playing side kick to D Wade and Lebron, Bosh is turning in career lows year after year. With that said a career low Bosh is still better than most big man out there so don't let him slip too far down in your fantasy basketball drafts as he still is productive.

9. Tyson Chandler
Tyson Chandler surprised me this year on his way to becoming defensive player of the year over the king Lebron himself. Averaging 10-10-1 (Points, rebounds and blocks respectively), Tyson solidified the Knicks middle as Amare Stoudemire spent the duration of the year on New York's bench. With Bargnani coming over next year, I am unsure how this will effect the Knicks front court rotation. Nonetheless look for Chandler to remain in that nightly double-double with one block range.

10. Roy Hibbert
In the playoff conference words of Hibbert, "Pause." If you caught the Pacers throughout the NBA playoffs I'm sure Hibbert made you do just that with his seemingly sudden elevated play. However Roy was no slouch during the regular season either almost averaging a whopping three blocks per game. When added with his high FG% and FT%, Hibbert looks to become a top 5 center in the NBA very soon here. I'm telling you now don't sleep on this guy's talent as he will help elevate many fantasy teams next year to the promised land.

Honorable Mention: Nikola Pekovic
This guy is single handedly the reason why I have a silver instead of a gold medal in one of my fantasy leagues. My opponent punished me with the likes of Peko and Duncan until I was well out of the FTM picture, amongst other categories. While Peko may not give you many blocks or steals, the dude averages like 4 or 5 FTM per game. If he were to ever start playing defense in the form of fantasy stats, his value would automatically rise even higher. Look for Peko to do much more of what he did this year again next year as Kevin Love returns to join him in the Timberwolves front court.
On-the Cusp: Jonas Valanciunas, Larry Sanders, Omer Asik
Blocks on blocks on blocks should be the name of Larry Sander's theme song. The dude blocks any and everything in his way. He led the NBA in blocks and that HAS to count for something in the land of fantasy statistics. Jonas Valanciunas also seriously turned it up towards the end of the year. With Bargnani now in New York, look for Valanciunas to man the middle in Toronto and contribute heavily while doing such. Last but not least Omer Asik, the guy who has been replaced (With #2 on this list, Dwight Howard) despite his high level of play during the past year. Asik is highly underrated as his 10-12-1 (Points, rebounds and blocks) stat line shows he is no slouch. Hopefully he can transition into playing power forward next to Dwight Howard or vice versa as their front court has suddenly become very big. Nonetheless Asik had a very solid year in which his play helped elevate the Rockets back to the playoffs.

Maukuss Fantasy Post-Season Rankings: Top 10 PF

Power Forward rankings from last week covered over at Lester's Legends - check it out!


Monday, July 8, 2013

Maukuss Fantasy Post-Season Rankings: Top 10 PF

Rankings: Top 10 PFs 

by Samora Best

We have ranked the power forwards of the NBA in terms of fantasy basketball potential. Coming off a year where the top power forward spent the majority of the season on the injured reserve, the field is now wide open. When drafting a power forward, one must look for a player who can contribute in points, rebounds, blocks, high fg%, steals and even free throws made sometimes. This will be an interesting summer as power forwards such as Kevin Garnett and Paul Milsap look to find new teams, others such as Al Horford and Blake Griffin may have a new role upon returning next season - Nonetheless here goes the rankings!
1. Lamarcus Aldridge
LA is a model of consistency. Every year this dude comes in and produces as the Blazers have turned him into their main scoring threat whom which the offense revolves around. Averaging 21 points, 9 rebounds, a steal and a block, drafting LA is always a safe option for owners looking for a big in the first two rounds.

2. Kevin Love
K Love, K Love, K Love... To the agony of all fantasy owners who drafted him in weeks prior, Kevin Love injured his hand after only 18 games played. He started the year late to begin with due to the same injury so his 2012 worth was little to nothing. However when healthy, Kevin Love is a monster capable of Top-5-player-in-the-NBA type fantasy production. Prior to this past injury plagued year, Kevin Love averaged 26 points, 13 rebounds, 82 percent FT% and nearly two 3PTM per game in 2011- 2012. It will be interesting to see if he bounces back as expected or continues to fight injuries as he only has one complete season in his young five year career.

3. Al Horford
Al-Ho is always underrated in fantasy basketball circles. Whether he is an undersized center or a very capable power forward is another question, but either way he produces at levels worthy of a second to third round selection every year. Averaging 17 points, 10 rebounds, a steal, a block and a nice 54 percent FG% to go along with it, look for Horford to continue producing similar numbers next year as #10 ranked power forward Paul Milsap joins the team.

4. Blake Griffin
Even though more widely known for his SportsCenter highlights, Griffin has developed into a pretty good fantasy player as well. Averaging 18 points, 8 rebounds and a steal a game, Blake remains one of the top scoring power forwards in the league. If you play in a points only or scoring emphasized league, Blake's value is extremely high oppose to standard 9-11 category leagues where he is limited.

5. David Lee
David Lee is nightly double-double that will help any fantasy team lacking in rebounds and points. However for a big man, his Blake Griffinish stat lines leave much to be desired as he turns in less than one steal and/ or block per contest. However with D Howard going South instead of to the Bay, look for Lee to continue his rebounding clinics with a lack of surrounding statistics to go along with it.

6. Serge Ibaka
Leading the NBA in blocks, Serge Ibaka finally proved his early third, late second round value to be true. Stepping up in the absence of James Harden, Ibaka saw an increased role in the Thunder offense also. I'm targeting Ibaka as an early to mid round sleeper with the ability to give you 15 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks a game.

7. Dirk Nowitzki
Once the best fantasy power forward in the game, Dirk still provides high end value for those in search of a power forward beyond the first two rounds. While he is still prone to an injury here and there, Dirk remains the Mavs main offensive threat. Look for an increase in his stats as this past year was plagued by injury for him (Only 53 games played); thus is not an accurate reflection of Dirk's capabilities.

8. Tim Duncan
TIMMY!!!! Can you say vintage!? Wow - Timmy really went into classic form this year leading the Spurs all the way to the championship. Tim Duncan averaged 18 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, shot over 80% from the line and 50% from the field. He propelled a team into winning the championship in a few leagues I participated in. With all of this said, I am not sure if Timmy has the ability to produce at this level year in and year out anymore. However until he proves otherwise, he will be drafted mid-round this year with the expectation that he continues his vintage Timmy act.

9. Zach Randolph
I am a self-admitted Zach Randolph hater-lover-and thinking of hating again. I remember years of him skipping down the court backwards in a Clippers uniform as they lost 60 games at a time. These days Zach is a double-double machine with a very David Leeish stat line. Offering little outside of points and rebounds, I won't be drafting Zach in the first few rounds. However he remains an excellent mid-round option at power forward, giving you 15 and 10 nightly.

10. Paul Milsap
The ever so solid Milsap is taking his talents to the A-Town. This should engender an increase in all of his stats as he already was productive while sharing time with Al Jefferson, Enes Kenter and Derrick Favors. His 15 points per game should head up towards 20 as he will see much more shot attempts as the featured player in the future Atlanta Offense. While his stats only garner a 10th ranking on this list, I'm targeting A-Milly early in drafts. That' s the difference between post-season rankings and early-season rankings though... One is review of the past year while the other focuses on next year. Look for Milsap to receive a better ranking when the Maukuss early season rankings break out.
Honorable Mention
Pau Gasol was ranked as high as mid second round in many fantasy drafts and thus had a disappointing season. However Pau is still a multiple category threat and with D Howard leaving town, look for D' Antoni to use him as their primary center moving forward. While I would not use an early pick on him, Pau is still one of the top power forwards in the NBA. With Kobe out through December, look for old Pau to return to form with the offense centered around him for the first month or so.

Many of the power forwards on the cusp could very likely be top 10 next year. Anthony Davis is a future top 5 power forward in all actuality, but the Pelicans inconsistencies often eradicates mention of his play. Averaging 14 points, 8 rebounds, a steal and a block, I am officially an Anthony Davis believer. David West also had a solid season helping lead the Pacers to the eastern conference finals. West had a great year bouncing back from injury and will see an increase in his previously thought worth come fantasy basketball draft time. Carlos Boozer and Kevin Garnett are two older veterans who showed us like Tim Duncan that they too can still ball. While not as versatile as some of the their younger counterparts, KG owners were very satisfied with the value he provided through his late round selection this year. Next year in Brooklyn may vary, but for now Kevin Garnett rides the cusp along with the others.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Maukuss Fantasy Early-Season Rankings: Top 10 RBs

To finish up the series, we ranked running backs from 1-10 indicating who to target early and vice-versa. As per usual its covered over at Hatty's Waiver Wire Guru - Check it out! Can't wait for the Fantasy Football season to start. #LetsGo