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Tom Blaz – Page 13 – FantasySP Blog

NFL Combine: Character?

On the eve of the annual NFL Combine in Indianapolis, I keep hearing talking heads like ESPN’s Todd McShay referring to character. Several players consistently are mentioned when this topic comes up. Auburn quarterback Cam Newton and defensive tackle Nick Fairley.

Who is the judge of character? Do we all view its traits differently? Does McShay know these or any of the players?

Many NFL mock drafts have Newton and Fairley going among the top three picks in the first round. Why? Lets take a look at their play on the field. Newton carried Auburn to the BCS National Championship and won the Heisman Trophy. He did this playing the toughest schedule, enduring incredible scrutiny and put up arguably the greatest stats in the history of the game. Cam has confirmed that he is “All In” for the combine. He will throw, run, lift and answer the inevitable questions about “pay for play”. What about some of the other quarterbacks? McShay loves Blaine Gabbert who won’t throw at the combine. Why? If you were Gabbert’s agent, would you want him running, lifting and throwing next to Newton? Didn’t think so. Former NFL GM and current ESPN analyst Matt Millen questions Newton’s ability to face tough defenses and perform in front of “more than  100,000 fans”. Last time I checked, SEC had the toughest defenses in the country and many stadiums seating more than 100,000. Oh yeah, their is only one NFL stadium that tops 100k, and that’s Dallas with standing room (at the Super Bowl).

Recent “worries” about the “character” of Nick Fairley have also emerged. Where did these come from? Is it because of the late hit on the quarterback from Georgia? Or perhaps the phantom late hit on the Bama quarterback in the Iron Bowl? Despite that bogus call, Fairley was a play maker leading Auburn back from a 0-24 deficit at Bryant Denny Stadium. Do you think NFL GM’s want lineman that “pull up” when nearing the quarterback? Do you think that will get it done when trying to take down Big Ben? Clemson defensive end DaQuan Bowers, the other top lineman in the draft, will only lift weights at the combine. Is that hiding a valid concern?  Fairley’s season was a highlight reel, he won the Outland Trophy. The team that picks Fairley will have a very disruptive force on the field, not off.

As future NFL players go through the combine this week, other questions will emerge. Who will come up short in the 40, or fail in benching 225 or even struggle with the mental testing. One thing I do know, Newton and Fairley are being unnecessarily called out.

For the latest on the combine  and follow us on twitter @FantasySP.

NBA: What’s next?

With Carmelo taking his talents to Manhattan, expect smaller trades to fall into place. Last year, about this time, teams were positioning themselves for the Wade’s, Lebron’s and Bosh’s of the world to enter free agency.  The next huge free agent class doesn’t come until the Summer of 2013, but its never too early to prepare, right?

First things first. Before the deadline of 3pm Thursday, clubs will be looking to acquire expiring contracts or possibly position themselves to have cap space for the apple of their eye in free agency. Three big men are on the horizon headed for free agency this Summer. The Rockets Yao Ming,  The Grizzlies Zach Randolph and the Mavericks Tyson Chander will certainly spark interest. The Warriors have already hinted an interest in Yao, Chandler is having the best season of his career, while Randolph is an absolute scoring and rebounding machine. On the perimeter, the pickings are even slimmer, Orlando’s Jason Richardson, Atlanta’s Jamal Crawford and Dallas’ Caron Butler are the best of the group.

The Summer of 2012 unrestricted free agent group features a mix, with a handful of aging future Hall of Famer’s included. Tim Duncan, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Kevin Garnett, Vince Carter and Ray Allen are all up a summer from now. Will the Celtics be in total rebuild mode by then? Then, there is the younger set with Laker super-sub Shannon Brown, new Nugget Ray Felton and Hornets big man David West the best of the lot.

The Summer of 2013 is where things get REAL interesting. Need a big man? How about Orlando’s Dwight Howard? Too rich for your blood? How about Atlanta’s Josh Smith? Take a chance on injury prone Lakers big man Andrew Bynum? The guards are just as sexy. Already Utah point Deron Williams has been rumored to be interested in joining Melo in the Big Apple. New Orleans guard Chris Paul may be the most sought after of the bunch as he has not been shy about his intent to move along. Will we have another dream team ala Miami?

We have seen teams like the Knicks and Nets mortgage everything to prepare for the free agent class of 2010. Trading away every and anything of cap value, draft picks, whatever, to have space for a megastar. Its a fine line for NBA teams as they need to remain competitive for their paying fan base AND have enough talent onboard so the courted superstar doesn’t feel alone. The Knicks wanted Lebron, ended up with Carmelo, a good job of “saving” the situation in my opinion. The Nets appear to have lost out again, perhaps they will be best suited for the great crop of 2013.

Note: There is alot of uncertainty surrrounding upcoming labor talks and many things may change. Additionally, free agents mentioned are “unrestricted ” in year cited, however some have a player option which may “release” them to free agency a season earlier.

Carmelo Trade Impact

Carmelo Anthony’s move to the East will have wide ranging fantasy impact. The leading suitor are the New Jersey Nets, with Melo’s preferred destination the New York Knicks. Anthony must sign a 65-million dollar three year extension for ANY deal to take place.

Lets break down how Melo’s move changes the franchises involved.

The Nuggets package includes:

Carmelo Anthony– Would become the face of the franchise. Much needed with the move to the new palace in Brooklyn. Would create good inside/outside game with Brook Lopez. Arguably the top scorer in the NBA.

Chauncey Billups– Takes over the point, would be a key piece as Nets try to land a playoff spot NEXT season. Would become a bigger scoring option with Lopez and Anthony only other threats.

Renaldo Balkman– Has only played one game since December.

Shelden Williams– Deep reserve,  just another body to balance the cap.

Melvin Ely– See Shelden Williams.

In return, the Nets package:

Derrick Favors– The key to deal, huge upside and would become future of Nuggets.  Would continue to get minutes but the learning curve has been steep after only one college season.

Devin Harris– Injury prone point would takeover Billups spot. Talented but misses far too many games. Trade doesn’t alter health.

Ben Uzoh– Rookie guard insurance to Harris’ lack of durability.

Troy Murphy– reportedly would pass through Denver on way to another team via trade.

4 first round picks– accumuated in hopes of King James taking his talents to join Jay-Z this past summer.

The Knicks package has been evolving.

Timofey Mozgov– The latest demand by the Nuggets.  The 7’1″ Russian is young and cheap. Would allow Denver to move Nene via trade, possibly to Houston.

Danilo Gallinari– Knicks balked at first, but eventually added him to package. Big time shooter with great height at SF (6’10”). Has thrived in fast paced New York offense. Adjustment in Denver may have impact.

Raymond Felton– Has had a nice comeback season, would assume point in Denver. Has been a pleasant free agent surprise for NY. Will score and dish after finding game that was lost in Charlotte.

Wilson Chandler– Has continued to emerge this season, would man the front court with Gallinari. Nice combo forward who logs heavy minutes and can score.

Eddy Curry– Hasn’t played, won’t play- simply expiring contract.

1st round pick– Reportedly from Minnesota who is interested in Knicks forward Anthony Randolph.

Note: Deron Williams rumored to be interested in joining the Knicks when he becomes a free agent in 2012.

Williams is denying those rumors but certainly do nothing to hurt New York’s chances and Melo’s continued interest.

NBA Fantasy Review

We’ve reached the midway point of the 2011-12 NBA season, providing a great opportunity to review where our fantasy teams are (not) headed.

Who has Brandon Roy on their team? show of hands please…. I thought I was in decent shape heading into the auction. We utilize a 15 man roster, 12 players active witth a salary cap of $150. We are allowed to keep four players from the previous season:

Blake Griffin $8- I bid on him after he was injured last season, hence the cheap price. I thought he was going to be good, but he has far exceeded anyone’s expectations, even Mamma Griffin.

Brandon Roy $21- My fall guy. I blame all my problems on him, all of them, even those not fantasy related. I should have listened when I heard he had basically no ligaments in either knee.

Devin Harris $20- Another member of the All-Injury team. VERY inconsistent and, like Roy, misses games randomly.

Josh Smith $21- No complaints here. Josh does it all.

OK, not a bad group to start with, lets review auction night. Entering the auction, my plans were to spend my money wisely, try and get some good bargains to carry over to next season, and pickup new hometown superstar John Wall. My plan didn’t last long….

Kobe Bryant $33- Now, by no stretch is this a bad pickup. Kobe does it all and plays for the best team in the NBA. Why is that important? In our league, a portion of the units (nobody plans for money-right?) are applied to our NBA playoff teams. The top four finishers in the regular season also compete in the post season. We (as if I will be one of them) get to retain two players from our regular season roster and then draft to fill the rest of the spots.  That’s my justification for blowing such a large portion of my remaining budget, and I’m sticking with it!

Al Horford $21- I really thought this was a steal, especially  since he qualifies at both forward and center at our site (CBS Sportsline). His scoring is down a bit and has been called out by Amare Stoudamire.

At this point, my money was pretty much gone. I had added my token superstar and a much needed center, but for the most part, guys like Wall and other sexy stars were now too rich for my budget.

Hedo Turkoglu $4- I was very fortunate that Hedo found his way back to the Magic Kingdom. Horrible for a season in Toronto, he had been just as useless in Phoenix. Has struggled of late, but seems a perfect fit in the Orlando offense.

Tyson Chandler $3- I am quite proud of this selection. Chandler has long been a favorite of mine. There was concern about having to compete with Brendan Haywood, but two magic words……. Contract year!

Ben Gordon $2- Took a chance that he could rekindle his game. Guess the price tag was about right.

Andrei Kirilenko $1- Has been on a long slide since the days when he was one of THE most valuable fantasy players in the land. Has exceeded expecations and cannot be to blame for my incompetence.

Robin Lopez $1- His brother is so good and Brook was on my roster the two previous seasons. With the “good” Lopez far too rich for my budget, I took a chance that he might improve. Somebody had to take up the slack on the Nash pick and roll,right? wrong

Four players I picked up at the auction have been unceremoniously cut by me during the season.

Tracy McGrady– what was I thinking? seriously….

Jason Thompson– like Horford, had dual position eligibility, I should have saved money for DeMarcus Cousins.

TJ Ford– had neglected to note that Darren Collison had migrated north from the Big Easy.

Greg Monroe– I fell victim to the home town DC media hype.

Many others, not worthy of mention, have passed through our roster, the waiver wire fodder now gracing my roster follows:

Mike Bibby– I needed assists and three pointers- seemed like a perfect fit.  Key word-seemed.

Kirk Hinrich– My favorite player in the NBA, along with Chandler. Has exceeded expectations, Gilbert’s trade helped immensely!

Glen Davis– Big baby was a nice waiver pickup. Dual position eligibily. Kendrick Perkins return hasn’t helped.

Shawn Marion– Has helped me across most categories. Not the fantasy stud he once was, but neither am I.

OJ Mayo– My latest pickup. Was pondering for awhile as he served 10 game suspension. Rudy Gay’s injury sealed the deal!

How is your team doing? Let us know, and for fantasy help, check out FantasySP forums.

A Special Time of Year

For me February is the transitional month when it comes to sports. We come off the highs of the college bowl games and NFL post season and labor through nasty weather that accompanies winter sports.

March brings hope, the Boys of  Summer begin spring training games, college basketball heads towards Madness, NBA rides the home stretch and the fresh smell of cut grass fills the air.

Football also reappears with the NFL wrapping up its annual combine in Indianapolis and teams make final preparations for the April draft. College football also returns for a brief tease as teams across the land hold spring practices culminating with inter-squad games.

Winter into Spring also brings the NHL post season, the Daytona 500, the Masters and the French Open.

Off the field issuess will certainly take focus this Spring as both the NFL and NBA face possible work stoppages. Baseball is forever testing athletes for banned substances and college football debates the BCS versus playoff system.

While we will touch on all of this in this forum, one thing will remain constant, helping you win your fantasy league.