Start 'em, Sit 'em: Week 15 picks

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Start 'em, Sit 'em: Week 15 picks

Mark is cheating. We haven't caught him yet, but he remains in first place after finishing dead-last in the CSN Fantasy Football League. It was ugly. With just a few weeks remaining, Scott and Tony have outside chances to reach him. But more important, you've got a fantasy football playoff round to win. With the injury bug affecting players around the league, now is the perfect time to raid your league's waiver wire. There very well may be a hidden gem that could lead you to a fantasy football championship in your league, while startsit decisions could cost you the season, not just a single game.
Just a reminder for those keeping score at home (though we'll do it for you), for players who each analyst starts, these are the points they will receive:
Start 'em:
5 points if a player scores 25 points4: 20-243: 15-192: 10-141: 5-90: negative-4
Sit 'em:
5 points if a player scores negative points to 5 points4: 5-93: 10-142: 15-191: 20-240: 25
Without further adieu, here are our picks for Week 14. Good luck!
Mark Strotman (Week 14: 15 points; Season total: 179 points)
Alright, this is escalating quickly. I mean this is really getting out of hand fast. I'm not sure why I keep hitting on these picks (as my 12th place finish in the preview would indicate), but I'm starting to think it says more about Scott and Tony than it does me. Kidding...I think. Anyway, I have to stay with my theory of taking risks in the playoffs. Winning in fantasy takes luck, and you can make educated guesses as to who will go off to help you out. If you're in the semifinals this week, best of luck and feel free to ride my coattails to the championship.
Start 'em
Stephen Jackson, RB -- STL (vs. MIN)
In years past a running back's matchup against the Vikings would have been cause for concern, but that's not the case this season. Eight straight running backs have racked up 100 total yards or more against Jared Allen and co., and Stephen Jackson is quietly putting up double-digit numbers on a routine basis. He's a nice RB2 start this week, so don't get scared off by the Vikings' defense.
Josh Gordon, WR -- CLE (vs. WAS)
A whopping seven wide receivers this season have caught more than 200 receiving yards against the Redskins' secondary this year, and Gordon may be a top-5 deep-ball threat in the NFL. He's starting to get more targets late in the season, and Brandon Weeden loves to throw. Gordon is a solid back-end WR2 and great flex option for you this week.
Russell Wilson, QB -- SEA (@ BUF)
Look away, Bears' fans. Though many won't want to see this name pop up, I think he's an excellent choice if you are looking for high-risk, high-reward quarterback. The Bills' pass defense is nothing special, and Wilson is coming off a relaxing game, where the 58-0 blowout win didn't allow him to really open up through the air. Wilson can win you a week, and he may just do it against Buffalo.
Sit 'em
Miles Austin, WR -- DAL (PIT)
Dez Bryant should be good to go this week, and the fact is Austin has scored just once since Week 7. He's always a potential play to put up big numbers, but at this point you may be better of looking for a better WR2 if you can. Pittsburgh's pass defense has been solid lately, and Jason WittenDez Bryant are getting most of the looks. Find someone else.
Reggie Bush, RB -- MIA (vs. JAC)
The Jaguars are a putrid defense against the run, which may be reason enough to make Bush a start...but remember, it's fine to risk someone in the flex. Bush may put up solid numbers, but he isn't going to go off. Start him if you must, but he's just not the same running back he was earlier in the year. He's worn down.
Torrey Smith, WR -- BAL (vs. DEN)
I'll admit I was on the Torrey Smith bandwagon BIG TIME this season, but he has surpassed 100 yards just twice this season, and his big games have come against pretty uninspiring pass defenses (NE, OAK, SD). Well, here comes Denver. The Broncos won't let Smith go off, so while he may get a few catches short, he's not a candidate to explode in Week 2 of the playoffs.
Scott Krinch (Week 14: 10 points; Season total: 168 points)
And just like that, my hopes of catching Mark in the standings took a major hit. Now I'm in serious danger of falling into last place with only two weeks to play. This is not the way I envisioned things. Should I get crazy and take some risks with a chance of inching on Mark's point total, or do I play it safe so Tony doesn't surpass me? How about a little of both?
Last week I started Jay Cutler, whoops. I rode the Law Firm's hot streak which was a horrible move, I should have known better. But, where I really went wrong was in my sits. Cam Newton decided to turn into 2011 Cam on the Falcons, Alfred Morris did his thing once again and apparently Julio Jones' ankle is just fine. Time to forget about all that jazz. With that being said, give my picks a looksie (you probably shouldn't take my advice) and find your hidden gem that will lead to the Fantasy Football Championship game.
Start 'em
Andrew Luck, QB -- IND (@ HOU)
Sunday marks Luck's first career-start against the Texans, the team that Indy has been chasing in the AFC South standings all season. I know Luck didn't have a good game against Tennessee last week, but after seeing what the Patriots did to Houston's secondary it's hard not to have high hopes for Luck this week. The Texans are also dealing with a depleted secondary. On the road, the rookie signal-caller is averaging 306 passing yards per game. I expect a huge week and I don't see any reason not to start Luck.
Matt Forte, RB -- CHI (vs. GB)
It's been a disappointing year for the former first-round fantasy pick. With only three touchdowns on the ground and two 100-plus rushing games, the decision to sit Forte each week has been getting easier. So why aren't I go with those statistics for Week 15? Well, if the Bears have a shot at being the Packers, it's going to come down to Mike Tice trusting the run. Green Bay has feasted on Jay Cutler's interceptions. Expect the Bears to establish the running game with No. 22 against a Packers defense who's given up 101.8 yards per game to running backs with four touchdowns in their past four games.
Lance Moore, WR -- NO (vs. TB)
Moore has to have a dynamite fantasy performance at some point, right? I've kept him on one of my teams all season long for that very reason and if he's going to breakout, this is the week to do so. Last time the Saints battled Tampa Bay, Moore had nine catches for 121. I expect this matchup to be a shootout due in large part to both teams having brutal secondaries. I'm expecting a 20-point fantasy game for Moore, one could hope right?
Sit 'em
Ben Roethlisberger, QB -- PIT (@ DAL)
Roethlisberger made fantasy owners happy in his return on Sunday with three touchdown scores, but it's time to tamper that enthusiasm this week. The Cowboys secondary has allowed only two touchdown passes in their last two games, which doesn't bode well for Big Ben. Don't take the risk this week. There are safer options out there if you're in desperate need of a quarterback for Week 15.
C.J. Spiller, RB -- BUF (vs. SEA)
Fantasy owners have been handcuffed by Chain Gailey's decision to split time between Spiller and Fred Jackson all season. Well, this week Gailey is giving Spiller the keys to the offense after Jackson was placed on the IR. So does this mean a monster game for Spiller? Not in my eyes. Seattle's defense is no joke after scoring 53 fantasy points last week, they're on a mission to grab a wild card spot in the NFC. Hold off on starting Spiller this week.
Randall Cobb, WR -- GB (@ CHI)
It's starting to look more and more like Cobb is the Packers No. 1 wide receiver going forward. Rodgers has shown trust in Cobb as he's been seeing his targets go up each week. Despite the Packers recent dominance in the ChicagoGreen Bay rivalry, the Bears have showed an ability to slow down Rodgers. I expect the same of that this week, especially after being embarrassed the past two weeks. I wouldn't be putting my trust into Cobb this week if I owned him in my fantasy leagues.
Tony Andracki (Week 14: 13 points; Season total: 160 points)
Well, last week was more of the same for me, as Greg Jennings put up a goose egg. But at least I didn't sit some guy who wound up having a career day. Matt Ryan was pretty good, but not great, and same with Tony Romo on the starts. Hakeem Nicks scored a touchdown, but he's still dealing with a knee injury and I just don't trust him at all. 
I do have faith in Chris Johnson still, though. I think he can -- and will -- do some real damage this week against the Jets.
My season score in this startsit isn't good, but so you might be surprised that I still have three of my four teams alive and well in the playoffs (though a first-round Bye definitely helps that). And in one of my leagues, I fully plan to start Danario Alexander. Call me crazy, but at least I don't wear leather skirts, Kanye.
Start 'em
Chris Johnson, RB -- TEN (vs. NYJ)
Johnson has been a bit up-and-down this season, but I guess that comes with the territory. CJ1K has had some very good games since his horrid start, but has still topped 20 fantasy points just once this season, against the Bills in Week 7. Expect him to approach that total this week, against the Jets defense that has allowed at least 100 rushing yards in all but three games this season.
Colin Kaepernick, QB -- SF (@ NE)
The wonderkid has netted at least 14 fantasy points in every game since taking over as the starter, despite just three passing touchdowns. His ability to scramble and pick up 50 yards on one rushing play is a huge boost to his numbers, and expect more of the same this week against New England. The Patriots have actually improved their pass defense after spending much of the season at the bottom of the league, but still may not have an answer for a QB with the athleticism of Kaepernick. Plus, if the Niners are down, they'll be putting the ball in Colin's hands more, letting him sling it often.
Danario Alexander, WR -- SD (vs. CAR)
Sometimes in fantasy football, you gotta just take a risk and say "what the hell?" Kinda like Kanye at the 121212 concert with his leather skirt. But in the case of Alexander, he won't bomb completely. Ever since working his way up the depth chart, the Mizzou grad has garnered at least 3 catches and 60 yards in every game, and has racked up double digit fantasy points in four of the last five games, including two 20-point outings. Take the risk. It'll be worth it.
Sit 'em
Andrew Luck, QB -- IND (@ HOU)
I know, I know -- the Texans have given up 25 fantasy points to opposing QBs in three of the last four weeks, including a game against the Chad Henne-led Jags. But I'm betting they get back to playing some solid defense this week and make the Colts' sensation look more like the rookie he is. Yes, Luck has been one of the guys to get you to the playoffs, I'm sure, but this is not the best matchup for him.
Knowshon Moreno, RB -- DEN (@ BAL)
When Willis McGahee went down to injury, most people assumed it would be Ronnie Hillman to get the bulk of the carries and absorb McGahee's fantasy value in that Broncos offense. But it's been Moreno, who has emerged from the shadows to relevancy again, with 38 fantasy points the last three weeks. The Baltimore defense is not what it has been in years past -- especially with all the injuries -- but I'm not so sure Moreno will have success again. I could see Peyton Manning going off, but not Moreno.

Mike Wallace, WR -- PIT (@ DAL)
Wallace has scored 8 tuddies this year, but he has topped 15 fantasy points just twice this season, and one of those came in Week 3. Yeah, he was a beast last week (23 points, two scores) with Roethlisberger back in the lineup, but don't expect another outing like that. Wallace is just too inconsistent to trust in the playoffs, especially if you have other quality options.

The last White Sox rebuild: Bobby Howry remembers aftermath of '97 'White Flag' trade

The last White Sox rebuild: Bobby Howry remembers aftermath of '97 'White Flag' trade

Bobby Howry wasn't aware of the fact he was part of one of the more infamous transactions in White Sox history until a few years after it happened. 

In 1997, with the White Sox only 3 1/2 games behind the division-leading Cleveland Indians, general manager Ron Schueler pulled the trigger on a massive trade that left many around Chicago — including some in the White Sox clubhouse — scratching their heads. Heading to the San Francisco Giants was the team's best starting pitcher (left-hander Wilson Alvarez), a reliable rotation piece (Doug Drabek) and a closer coming off a 1996 All-Star appearance (Roberto Hernandez). In return, the White Sox acquired six minor leaguers: right-handers Howry, Lorenzo Barcelo, Keith Foulke, left-hander Ken Vining, shortstop Mike Caruso and outfielder Brian Manning. Only Foulke had major league experience, and it wasn't exactly good (an 8.26 ERA in 44 2/3 innings). 

Howry was largely oblivious to the shocking nature of the trade that brought him from the Giants to White Sox until, before the 1999 season, he was featured in a commercial that referenced the "White Flag trade."

"I don't even know if I knew it was called that before then," Howry recalled last weekend at the Sheraton Grand Chicago at Cubs Convention. 

The trade was a stark signal that youth would be emphasized on 35th and Shields. Both Alvarez and Hernandez were set to become free agents after the 1997 season, and the 40-year-old Darwin wasn't a long-term piece, either. With youngsters like Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Lee rising through the farm system, the move was made with an eye on the future and maximizing the return on players who weren't going to be long-term pieces. 

Sound familiar? 

It's hardly a perfect comparison, but when the White Sox traded Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox in December for four minor leaguers — headlined by top-100 prospects in Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech — it was the first rebuilding blockbuster trade the organization had made since the 1997 White Flag deal. Shortly after trading their staff ace at the 2016 Winter Meetings, the White Sox shipped Adam Eaton — their best position player — to the Washington Nationals for a package of prospects featuring two more highly-regarded youngsters in Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez. 

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

And there still could be more moves on the horizon, too, for Rick Hahn's White Sox (Jose Quintana has been the subject of persistent rumors since the Winter Meetings). But for those looking for an optimistic outlook of the White Sox rebuilding plans, it's worth noting that the club's last youth movement, to an extent, was successful.

Only Howry (3.74 ERA over 294 games) and Foulke (2.87 ERA, 100 saves over 346 games) became significant long-term pieces for the White Sox from those six players brought over in 1997. And it wasn't like Schueler dealt away any of the franchise's cornerstones — like Frank Thomas, Albert Belle and Robin Ventura — but with future starters in Lee, Ordonez and Chris Singleton on their way the White Sox were able to go young. A swap of promising youthful players (Mike Cameron for Paul Konerko) proved to be successful a year and a half later. 

And with a couple of shrewd moves — namely, dealing Jamie Navarro and John Snyder to the Milwaukee Brewers for Cal Eldred and Jose Valentin — the "Kids Can Play" White Sox stormed to an American League Central title in 2000. 

"It was great," Howry said of developing with so many young players in the late 1999's and 2000. "You come in and you feel a lot more comfortable when you got a lot of young guys and you're all coming up together and building together. It's not like you're walking into a primarily veteran clubhouse where you're kind of having to duck and hide all the time. We had a great group of guys and we built together over a couple of years, and putting that together was a lot of fun."

What sparked things in 2000, Howry said, was that ferocious brawl with the Detroit Tigers on April 22 in which 11 players were ejected (the fight left Foulke needing five stitches and former Tigers catcher/first baseman Robert Fick doused in beer). 

"About the time we had that fight with Detroit, that big brawl, all of a sudden after then we just seemed to kind of come together and everything started to click and it took off," Howry said. 

The White Sox went 80-81 in 1998 and slipped to 75-86 in 1999, but their 95-67 record in 2000 was the best in the league — though it only amounted to a three-game sweep at the hands of the wild-card winning Seattle Mariners. 

Still, the White Flag trade had a happy ending two and a half years later. While with the White Sox, Howry didn't feel pressure to perform under the circumstances with which he arrived, which probably helped those young players grow together into eventual division champions. 

"I was 23 years old," Howry said. "At 23 years old, I didn't really — I was just like, okay, I'm still playing, I got a place to play. I didn't really put a whole lot of thought into three veteran guys for six minor leaguers." 

White Sox Talk Podcast: Zack Collins discusses staying at catcher

White Sox Talk Podcast: Zack Collins discusses staying at catcher

White Sox 2016 first round pick Zack Collins joins the podcast to talk about his future with the White Sox, when he hopes to make the big leagues and the doubters who question whether he can be a major league catcher.   He discusses comparisons with Kyle Schwarber, his impressions of Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, why his dad took him to a Linkin Park concert when he was 6 years old and much more.