2 Off the Top: 7/31/17 – 8/6/17

Recap of last week’s predictions:

Matt: Starling Marte averages above .333 this week. This is a bad start for me, Marte hit just .200 this week; disappointing to both his teammates and myself. This is even worse because I narrowly lost the average category to Eric .2658 to .2642.

Eric: Jose Altuve hits .400 for the week. Jose went above and beyond and hit .500 for the week. Baseball’s hottest hitter is currently batting an unreal .367 on the season. I was not able to overcome bad pitching, however, and lost the fantasy matchup to Matt………that’s going to sting. See you in the playoffs big guy!

Scoreboard Says: Eric-1, Matt-0

This Week’s Predictions:

Luis Severino Gets 1 Win and 15+ Strikeouts this Week

My success in this league has come from my pitching staff. Specifically innings pitched (1st in the league) strikeouts (1st in the league), and wins (2nd in the league). Severino has been a huge part of this success, with 145ks and a 7-4 record. He has two starts this week, against Detroit and Cleveland. His run support doesn’t justify two wins but he will pile up the strikeouts.

Sonny Gray Wins Yankee debut, K’s 6 Indians

Sonny Gray has been one of the better pitchers in baseball over his last 6 starts. The newly acquired Yankee has pitched to the tune of a 1.37 ERA and 0.81 WHIP in his last 39.1 innings. The reports out of New York indicate that Gray will make his Yankees debut Thursday night against Cleveland. The Indians have a great lineup but I think Gray will get the job done in his first start as a Yankee. Side note: how come the Yankees never have to give up their big prospects in trades for anyone? It’s almost like baseball is rigged….Oakland and the rest of the league, WAKE UP!

Top 2’s Way Too Early Mock Draft

Welcome to the “wayyyyyy too early” version of the Top 2 Fantasy Football Mock Draft analysis. Matt and I performed a few mock drafts and settled on one to break down in terms of value and who went where. Mock drafts are the first step towards assembling the fantasy roster of a lifetime.

In this 3-part series, Matt and I will give extensive thoughts on how the draft board is shaping up. Mock draft season is among us, training camp has begun and it is now time to gear up for the NFL season. Lets take a look at way too early mock draft. This draft is a 10-team league with PPR scoring.

ROUND 1 PICK 1 

Eric: David Johnson

Matt: Antonio Brown

Why: David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell will be a hot topic leading up to your fantasy football draft. I was blessed with the 1st pick and decided Johnson is just a clear-cut stud and a safer choice overall. I had Bell last year and I know what he is capable of, but I lost to Johnson in the playoffs. This guy is an animal and should be the 1st guy off the board. He averaged 25 PPR points-per-game last season and never leaves the field. Le’Veon is a fine choice and you can go either way here, but Le’Veon has had injuries and suspensions that raise a lot of red flags. Johnson is the safe pick.

It’s a RB weak draft so it’s hard to not take one in the first round but with the top 3 off the board it was a no-brainer to take a WR. OBJ was a close second but Brown is consistent, and that’s why I took him.

Who followed Eric’s pick: Bell, Ezekiel Elliott, Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham JR., Mike Evans, Jordy Nelson, LeSean McCoy, Melvin Gordon

Round 2 Pick 20

Eric: Amari Cooper

Matt: Rob Gronkowski

Why: The Raiders have a VERY explosive offense this year. Beastly running game, big O-line, two explosive wide receivers and a QB with a cannon. Amari Cooper, I believe, will officially make the leap from up and coming stud to one of the top 5 receivers in the league this year. If Gronk had been available, he would’ve been the pick but Matt ‘the mimic’ Hicks struck again.

Did I pick Gronk just because I knew Eric wanted him? Yes, yes i did.

Who went before Eric’s pick: Lamar Miller, Devonta Freeman, Jay Ajayi, AJ Green, TY Hilton, Jordan Howard, Rob Gronkowski, Demarco Murray, Leonard Fournette

Round 3 Pick 21

Eric: Alshon Jeffery

Matt: Michael Thomas

Why: There are some of you who would be saying ‘who in the right mind goes back-to-back early on receivers? There are so many good ones!’ Well, there are indeed plenty of receivers who are going to make an impact this year and you can find a very reliable starter in the late rounds. Alshon Jefferey is going to light it up for the Eagles this year. One year deal, QB is NOT Jay Cutler and Carson Wentz will only get better with time and experience. I think Jefferey has a big year for Philly and is a worthy 3rd round pick.

Thomas is a steal at this pick. I understand he’s unproven but he’s got a great situation in New Orleans, and if we know one thing about fantasy football it is that Drew Brees is an absolute gunslinger. I passed up on Hopkins and Thomas here because their QB situations are much less promising.

Who followed Eric’s pick: Dez Bryant, Todd Gurley, Michael Thomas, DeAndre Hopkins, Demaryius Thomas, Jordan Reed, Doug Baldwin, Marshawn Lynch, Brandin Cooks

Round 4 Pick 40

Eric: Terrelle Pryor Sr.

Matt: Christian McCaffery

Why: Another wide receiver, are you crazy!? No, no I am not and Pryor will prove that. Listen, receivers who take one-year ‘prove-it’ type deals usually have incredible seasons. Pryor last season, while on the Cleveland Browns who might as well have paid Uncle Rico to play QB, exploded into a fantasy force to be reckoned with.  This year, with a much more capable Kirk Cousins throwing Pryor the ball, will be the next step towards superstardom for Pryor. It should be noted that Tom Brady went the pick before so this pick would have been the second of my back to backs had that opportunity presented itself.

I love this pick as well. McCaffery has great breakout potential. The 4th round is great value for him, especially if your league is PPR and/or a keeper league.

Who went before Eric’s pick: Keenan Allen, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Jarvis Landry, Isaiah Crowell, Sammy Watkins, Christian McCaffrey, Allen Robinson, Tom Brady

Round 5 Pick 41

Eric: Greg Olsen

Matt: Carlos Hyde

Why: Here is a word of advice for anyone who plays fantasy football: if you don’t get Rob Gronkowski, then go the extra mile to get Greg Olsen. Olsen is the most consistent weapon coming from the tight end position and the key word is CONSISTENT. Gronk, even though I love the big lug, is injury prone. There is no ifs ands or buts about it. Jordan Reed, while nasty when on the field, is a walking concussion. Greg Olsen is more reliable than bacon and eggs. He’ll always get the job done and you’ll feel great knowing you can plug him into your lineup and expect at least a 10-15 point a game.

Hyde is a solid pick in the 5th round. He won’t win your league for you, but he will get carries and yards. This pick could be even better if Hyde does end up getting cut and finds himself in a dynamic offense.

Who went before Eric’s Pick: Martavis Bryant, Travis Kelce, Carlos Hyde, Mark Ingram, Bilal Powell, Golden Tate, Julian Edelman, Michael Crabtree, Ty Montgomery 

Round 6 Pick 60

Eric: Matt Ryan

Matt: Larry Fitzgerald

Why: Matty Ice had a heck of a season, capturing his first MVP and leading the Falcons to the Super Bowl. All of his weapons are in tact and ready to roll this season so he will continue to shine even with the exit of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Julio Jones will have another big season and the Falcons running back tandem of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman give Ryan a diverse arsenal. He is reliable as long as he isn’t leading 28-3 in the biggest game of his life.

Like Hyde, Fitz is consistent, reliable, and steady. That’s what I want in my mid round picks. Save the risky moves for later in the draft.

Who went before Eric’s pick: Jamison Crowder, Davante Adams, Dalvin Cook, Danny Woodhead, Frank Gore, Emmanuel Sanders, Larry Fitzgerald, Spencer Ware, Tyreek Hill

Round 7 Pick 61

Eric: Joe Mixon

Matt: Andrew Luck

Why: This was my first true ‘leap of faith’ pick. I don’t like Jeremy Hill and I don’t think the Bengals do either. Giovanni Bernard is more of a scat back than a true workhorse. My guess is Mixon comes in, despite all of the off-the-field issues, and blows people away like Tyreek Hill did ins similar fashion last year with the Chiefs. I expect Mixon to start at some poing in the season and to contribute as a rookie. Gillislee going one pick after made me question my decision so I’ll be watching those two closely. I expect Gillislee to have a superb season in New England.

I understand the injury concerns here but any other season Luck isn’t around in the 7th round. He’s got top talent potential and I got great value on him here.

Who went after Eric’s pick: Mike Gillislee, DeSean Jackson, Andrew Luck, Pierre Garcon, Brandon Marshall, CJ Anderson, Stefon Diggs, Delanie Walker, Donte Moncrief

Round 8 Pick 80

Eric: Jimmy Graham

Matt: Kelvin Benjamin

Why: Can never have too many playmakers and that is what Jimmy Graham became once again last season for the Seahawks. Assuming this was no mirage, Graham will remain an integral part of the Seattle offense. With him and Olsen on board, it will also open the possibility later on to trade from my tight end depth.

Benjamin will benefit from the comeback season that I believe Cam Newton and the Panthers will have this year. It’s a bit of a risk but in the 8th round I’m okay with it.

Who went before Eric’s pick: Paul Perkins, Ameer Abdullah, Tyler Eifert, Theo Riddick, Mike Wallace, Kyle Rudolph, Kelvin Benjamin, LeGarrette Blount, Eddie Lacy

Round 9 Pick 81

Eric: Tevin Coleman

Matt: Matt Forte

Why: With a questionable rookie in Joe mixon being paired with David Johnson, I felt the need to invest in a proper back up who I believe in. I believe in Tevin Coleman. Him and Devonta Freeman were able to be very productive even while splitting carries in Atlanta last season. When you score as many points as Atlanta does, everyone on the offense will get to eat. Coleman should only continue to improve this season.

Don’t love this pick. I was eyeing Coleman and Peterson right before Forte went and didn’t love my other options. Robert Kelley may have been a better choice here.

Who went after Eric’s pick: Adrian Peterson, Eric Decker, Matt Forte, Rishard Matthews, Russell Wilson, Jordan Matthews, Adam Thielen, Willie Snead, Cam Newton

Round 10 Pick 100

Eric: Randall Cobb

Matt: Darren Sproles

Why: As we get into more ‘depth’ selections, it is important to remember where the possible pick plays. Randall Cobb plays in Green Bay where Aaron Rodgers is known to chuck the rock. I’ll gladly take Randall Cobb in the 10th round knowing he has a couple games guaranteed to produce big points. A bench receiver like Cobb can also be attractive trade bait.

Sproles in the 10th round? I’ll take that all day, even if he is an Eagle.

Who went before Eric’s pick: Robert Kelley, Jonathan Stewart, Kenny Britt, Dak Prescott, Cameron Meredith, Corey Davis, Darren Sproles, Jeremy Maclin, Zach Ertz

Final picks, Eric:

Martellus Bennett: See: Cobb, Randall about who plays QB in Green Bay. Bennett will have a monstrous season if he can stay healthy.  This is also another example of attractive trade bait.

Mike Williams: Well, this pick was made before the news that Williams might possibly miss the whole season. I liked the landing spot and potential of this to be a low-risk, high-reward pick but that’ll be caput if Williams goes on IR.

Jameis Winston: Matt seems to think Winston is a mediocre QB in the NFL. With Mike Evans and the newly acquired DeSean Jackson and OJ Howard, Winston has an impressive array of weapons in Tampa Bay. We’ll find out if Winston is for real this season.

Patriots D/ST: The retirement of Rob Ninkovich is a big, unexpected blow to the New England defense. Nink did nothing but make big plays and recover fumbles while also setting the edge in the run game. While he will be missed, this defense is just stacked. Two of the best corners in the league in Butler and Gilmore, one of the best safety tandems in McCourty and Chung, one of the best linebackers in Donta Hightower and emerging star d-lineman in Trey Flowers. Throw in David Harris as Hightowers running mate at linebacker and good luck scoring on this D. They also play the Jets….twice.

Matt Bryant: Buckets.

Rex Burkhead: I have faith in Rex burkhead to be one of the most under-the-radar moves and also one of the most impactful moves of the offseason. Him and Gillislee will make for a great pairing in New England. They will both compliment each other as well as Super Bowl hero James White and Dion Lewis very well.

Final picks, Matt:

Latavius Murray: It’s a late round flyer, but I’m not sold on Dalvin Cook. Murray could end up with more carries and more success.

John Brown: This might be my best pick of the draft. Brown had a down year last season but news out of training camp suggests he’s due to return to his prior success. Brown has tremendous value in the 12th round.

Tyrod Taylor: Taylor is significantly underrated. He has dual-threat talent and carries the Bills offense on his back. With Luck’s injury status in question, it is nice to have Taylor available to fill in for the first few weeks.

Tyrell Williams: I figured I could make a decent Game of Thrones joke out of his last name. Let’s just hope my team fares better than Margaery did.

Matt Prater: Detroit kicks a lot of Field Goals, but not a lot of Extra Points.

Panthers D/ST: I couldn’t care less about the defense I draft. I add/drop defenses every week based on matchups.

Note: We drafted on July 23rd and analyzed from July 23-30. 

We encourage you to let us know what you think, leave comments below and sign-up to receive notifications whenever we post. 

 

What in the World is Going on in Baltimore?

Now that Kenneth Dixon is out, the Raven’s backfield is, once again, is disarray. There is much debate over who will emerge as the best fantasy option here in Baltimore. Here’s a breakdown of the options coming out of the Charm City

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Above: The actual look on every Raven’s fan from today until September 10th

Terrance West

West started the 2016 season as RB 1 for the Ravens. His season was diluted by splitting snaps with a promising (now super injured) rookie. In the 3 games West received 20+ carries last season he averaged 88 yards and 1 TD per game; equating to about 14 fantasy points purely on rushing. With Dixon out and Woodhead unlikely to take too many carries away, we could see a lot more 20+ carry games. I’m going with West as the best option, especially in standard scoring leagues.

Danny Woodhead

If you aren’t in a PPR league, please stop reading, do not draft, and do not pass go. I understand the Woodhead argument, he always seems to make a fantasy impact. He’s quick and he has great hands, he’s often targeted and often drafted late. Let’s be honest, though, Woodhead is a 32 year old RB coming off a torn ACL. Woodhead will contribute, and likely have a few big scoring weeks but I’m not buying the hype.

Someone Else…

It’s rumored that the Ravens aren’t content with the backs currently on their roster, including the recently signed former Giants back Bobby Rainey. They’re eyeing Ryan Matthews (coming off neck injury), the (basically forgotten) Alfred Morris out of Dallas, and to round of their NFC East options is Matt Jones, who began losing carries in Washington after a decent start last season. They also have the option of signing Carlos Hyde if he gets cut by the ever confusing 49ers. I’m not going to speculate on each of these players but if you are going to draft West or Woodhead you need to understand that they’ll likely be competing with at least one of these teams.

Inaugural 2 Off the Top

A weekly series every Sunday (or in this case, Tuesday) where Matt and Eric choose a player in Fantasy Baseball (and soon Football) and predict a certain stat line for the week. They will then either agree or disagree with each other. Let the games begin!

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Every week we are going to highlight one player on each of our fantasy baseball rosters who we believe will be the difference maker for our respective rosters. This week is even better since we are facing off against each other for the first time since launching T2 Sports.

Current Standings (8 Player, Head to Head Most Categories)

1st Eric: 10-2-3

3rd Matt: 9-4-2 (1.5 GB)

Matt: Starling Marte averages above .333 this week

Eric: Marte has been hot since returning plus he faces the Giants and Padres this week so I will agree that he hits above .333 for the week…unfortunately.

Matt’s defense: I’ve been waiting since April for my 4th round pick to contribute to my roster after Marte was handed down an 80 game ban. It appears my patience has paid off; in Marte’s first week back he went 9-27, with hits in 5 of the 7 games he played in. That consistency, and his desire to make up for lost time makes Marte a prime candidate to lead my offense this week. Not only do I want this to happen, I need it to happen. I currently rank 6th overall in our league for average (.2655) and Eric ranks first in the league (.3002) so if I’m going to knock him off the top spot I’m going to need Marte to play like the superstar I thought I had drafted.

Eric: Jose Altuve hits over .400 for the week

Matt: Everything Eric said about Altuve is correct. He’s a superstar player and has justified being drafted #2 overall this year. I’m going to play the numbers here, though, and say he doesn’t hit .400. He’s batting .364 on the season and will face a competitive Detroit pitching staff towards the end of the week. It’ll be close but he’s going to fall short.

Eric’s Defense: Jose Altuve has been arguably the best player in all of baseball this season on arguably the best team in all of baseball. In his last 15 games, Altuve has hit .500 while driving in 9 runs and scoring 9 as well. He has also stolen 3 bases and has been the star I projected him to be when I selected him 2nd overall. .500 over his last 15 is impressive but .615 over his last 7 is even more impressive, which Altuve also has going for him. Combine this all with the fact that he went 4 for 4 yesterday and hitting .400 actually seems realistic.

Player Spotlight: The Mystery of Marshawn Lynch

The NFL prides itself on its ability to change. Every offseason, a team makes a splash and a surprise occurs. This offseason, no surprise was bigger than Marshawn Lynch coming out of retirement and being traded from the Seattle Seahawks to his hometown Oakland Raiders. The Raiders, fresh off one of their best seasons in over a decade, needed someone to replace the recent departure of Latavius Murray. Lynch is not only a replacement, but an upgrade even with the year away from football.

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Above: We found out what Marshawn did before the Raiders came calling

Comparing 2015 Lynch to 2016 Murray

Now before we get all analytical, it is important to note games played. In Lynch’s final season with the Seahawks, he only managed to play in 7 total games. He averaged 3.8 yards per carry and was only able to crack the endzone 3 total times (all rushing) on the season.

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Above: Live look at the Seahawks O-line the last time Lynch terrorized opposing defenses

Murray had a forgetful final year in Oakland after breaking 1,000 yards in just his second year as a pro. In 14 games, Murray averaged 4 yards per carry and was able to find pay dirt a whopping 12 times. While those numbers are impressive, his 788 total rushing yards and diminished role as the season went on were not. Lynch, like Murray, will have to split time with Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington in the Raider backfield.

The O-line Matters…Big Time

One overwhelming positive for Lynch this season is he’ll be running behind one of the top offensive lines in the league. In 2015, Lynch was forced to run behind the 30th ranked Offensive Line in the entire league according to Pro-Football Focus. The Seahawks were ranked 29th in run blocking. No need to be an expert to know how bad that number is.
In 2016, the Oakland Raiders boasted the 4th best offensive line in all of football according to Pro-Football Focus. The most absurd thing about the Oakland O-line is that the average starter is 6’4 and 327 pounds. That is a step below a refrigerator running at you and clearing a path for a guy who is no small back in his own right. Beast mode will be able to eat in Oakland for sure.

The Offense

Look at the Oakland offense and you’ll see why they are a possible super bowl contender this year. Derek Carr is a stud, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree are a dangerous receiving duo, the O-Line is still in tact and now they have added Marshawn Lynch. If the Raiders fail in 2017, it won’t be due to lack of offense. They have the weapons to be a top 5 and possibly a top 3 offense in the entire league.

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Above: Marshawn wants you to hold something

Focusing back on Lynch, I’ll take it a step further with my prediction. Assuming good health (a big assumption since he only managed to play in 7 games in 2015 then took a year off), I will say Lynch will average 4 yards a carry while running for 1,200 yards and scoring a staggering 15 TDs to become one of the best backs in football once again.
Look out NFL, Beast Mode is back.

How to Take Your League to the Next Level: Starting a Keeper League

Depending on the year, I (Matt) run 3-5 fantasy football leagues but my favorite is always my keeper league. Playing in a keeper league takes competition to the next level. It means that come trade deadline time there are buyers and seller just like the pros. It means you use your IR to hold onto players that are out for the season. It also means the trash talk is so much better. A keeper league, however, takes a lot of commitment from both the league manager and the players from year to year, so it can be a bit daunting to take a leap of faith and start that league; here’s 4 tips to help you take your league to the next level from someone who’s keeper league is currently on its 7th season. 

  1. Make Sure Everyone Knows Everyone

This may seem simple, but it’s crucial for a successful keeper league to work long term. My league is made up of a bunch of friends from my hometown. Through the 7 seasons we’ve played together we’ve formed understandings of how each other draft, who is the one that never offers a fair trade, and who consistently finishes at the bottom of the league. We have 3 keepers per year, which really gives our teams character. The sense of community that comes with this type of league makes it feel more authentic, almost like we’re managing professional teams.

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  1. Keep Track of League History

This helps up the smack talk and keep everyone competitive throughout the season. Even when players in my league are eliminated from playoffs they keep up with their teams and usually avoid tanking because they don’t want to drop in the overall league standings that I post after every season. I recommend tracking: overall record, division winners, regular season awards (if you have them), and of course, league championships.

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  1. Be Intentional About Divisions

 Since teams are more consistent year to year there’s a unique opportunity in to be intentional about the way you organize divisions. I mentioned above I keep track of each team’s combined regular season record from all 7 seasons. I use this record to organize my league into 3 divisions: DI, DII, and DIII; with the 4 best teams being in DI and the worst teams in DIII. Division winners are guaranteed playoff berths and then we have 3 wildcard spots (there’s 12 teams, and the top 2 seeds get byes). This makes it so the best fantasy players in the league get better by competing against each other for that guaranteed playoff spot and the worst players have a shot every year to finally make it to the playoffs. This seriously ups the competitive nature of the league, since players take pride in being ranked a “DI” player and “D3” players who are stigmatized as perennial underdogs can still be the champion of…something.

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  1. Switch it Up, Make Your League Unique

No matter how competitive it is, things can get stale if they’re the same from year to year. Don’t be afraid to be unique when making rules for your league. In this league we utilize the Offensive Player (OP) position. This usually means having a second starting QB on your roster and it adds a whole different element to the league. When thinking about making changes from year to year always ask your players for their opinions about what can be done to improve the league. They’ll appreciate having buy-in and it’ll make all the players feel like they contribute to the success of your keeper league. If your league is split about making a change, just do it!

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