Start 'emSit 'em: Week 10

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Start 'emSit 'em: Week 10

The guys stayed close in Week 9 and enter Week 10 with just two points separating all three.

This week features four teams on a Bye -- Washington, Green Bay, Cleveland and Arizona -- meaning quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Robert Griffin III and Brandon Weeden are out of commission for one matchup. Though, if you're counting on old man Weeden as your No. 1 fantasy QB, your team has more issues than just a simple Bye week.

So many QBs are on the bubble as starter-worthy fantasy guys, but we attempt to sift through the mess this week, touching on six different signal-callers. We even toss in a few RBs and WRs, too, just to keep things interesting.

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 4 points4: 5-93: 10-142: 15-191: 20-240: 25
Without further adieu, here are our picks for Week 9. Good luck!
Tony Andracki (Week9: 14 points; Season total: 99)
I didn't have the best week, but still maintained my lead over these jokers. My biggest mistake was one that I will correct below. As I told my cousin after the first half of the Broncos-Chargers Monday night game in Week 6 -- Never count out Peyton Manning.

It pains me to see C.J. Spiller with a rough day, but at least I called it. I like Fred Jackson, and I know Spiller isn't exactly the picture of health, but the Bills would be a much better team if they gave Spiller 20 touches every game. He needs to be the focal point of that offense.

Jamaal Charles probably would have had a better day if he didn't get hurt, but such is life. Rivers would have been better, too, if he didn't go all Philip Rivers at the end of the first half of that Thursday Night Game.

Start 'em:
Carson Palmer, QB -- Raiders (@ BAL)
Normally, you wouldn't start many fantasy guys against the Ravens defense if you can help it. But here's the thing -- Baltimore's D has been ravaged by injuries and they should go up big early. Palmer is among the league leaders in passing attempts, topping out at 61 last week. Most of that is due to the fact Oakland is trailing often, and this week will be no exception. By sheer opportunity, Palmer is a must-start this week.

Reggie Bush, RB -- Dolphins (vs. TEN)
Bush looked like fantasy gold after the end of last season and the first two games of this season (totaling 890 yards from scrimmage and 4 TDs in that six-game span), but has trailed off in the six games since (393 yards, two tuddies). I bet he gets back on track this week against a Titans defense that has been gashed for more than 130 yards on the ground in all but two games this season.

Eric Decker, WR -- Broncos (@ CAR)
It wouldn't be a StartSit without Eric Decker huh? I made a mistake last week in including him in my Sit. Never. Count. Out. Peyton. Manning. Even while his teammate, Demaryius Thomas, ranks fourth in the NFL in receiving yards, Decker has become a must-start in any game with Manning under center. Don't ever doubt him again.
Sit 'em

Joe Flacco, QB -- Ravens (vs. OAK)
Once again, I blame myself for Flacco's struggles. Well, that and the fact that Flacco is just not an elite fantasy quarterback. (I said fantasy, people. Don't need an "elite" quarterback debate on our hands, here.) Flacco won't need his laser-rocket arm this week. Expect a heavy dose of Ray Rice (have you seen how bad the Raiders are at defending the run?) and a big lead early. No need for the Flac man to release the Kraken.
Matt Forte, RB -- Bears (vs. HOU)
It hurts me to sit one of the Bears, especially in arguably the biggest game of the season. Forte will be a focal point of Chicago's offense this week, but his contributions may be limited to the passing game. Houston has not allowed a rushing TD this season, and they've given up more than 82 rushing yards just once this year. Forte will be bottled up early and often.
Hakeem Nicks, WR -- Giants (@ CIN)
This has nothing to do with the matchup, especially since the Bengals were torched for 38 standard-league fantasy points by Denver's wideouts last week. Warm up a spot on your bench for Nicks. He's been bogged down by a knee injury all year, and it's apparently gotten worse, with more swelling this week than last. Nicks has had just one good fantasy day this season (Week 2) and hasn't even come close to being relevant the other five games. Until he proves you can trust him, bench Nicks like a third-string quarterback.

Mark Strotman (Week 9: 13 points; Season total: 97)
It's really impressive how close the three of us have been all year long. That's a testament either to how good or how bad we've been in our predictions, but if you're reading this, you must like something we're doing. This week, I'm riding the coattails of players who have been hot the last few weeks, and I'm benching waiver wire pickups that looked a lot better in your head than in your lineup.

Start 'em:
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB -- Bills (@ NE)
Fitzpatrick hasn't lit up the fantasy world this year, and has posted double-digit points just once since Week 5. But these are the Patriots, and he has had plenty of success against his division foe in six meetings. He threw for 350 yards and four touchdowns against the Pats in Week 4 (4 interceptions, too), and I like him to have success through the air on Sunday as well.
Brian Hartline, WR -- Dolphins (vs. TEN)
Ryan Tannehill is starting to put the pieces together, and Hartline is going to benefit most from that. After three ugly games in a row, Hartline caught eight passes for 107 yards last week in Indianapolis. With the Titans' 27th ranked pass defense coming to South Beach on Sunday, I expect Hartline to have a big day through the air.
Sidney Rice, WR -- Seahawks (vs. NYJ)
The Seahawks are boring, they play on the West Coast and generally don't draw a lot of national attention unless replacement refs are gift-wrapping them victories (still a bitter Packers fan), but Sidney Rice has quietly scored three touchdowns in the last four weeks. He has gone from a nice potential flex play to a WR2 in that span, so make sure he's in your lineup against Tim Tebow--I mean--Rex Ryan and the New York Jets.
Sit 'em:
Jonathan Stewart, RB -- Panthers (vs. DEN)
I was ecstatic to have picked up Stewart in two of my fantasy leagues two weeks ago, only to be disappointed, to say the least. Stewart is "the guy" in Carolina, there's no debating that. But Carolina's offense is such a mess that there's no telling when they'll stick to the ground, or try and let Cam Newton win a game with his arm. Stewart has upside because he's going to get the carries, but he's back on my bench in both those leagues.
Jay Cutler, QB -- Bears (vs.HOU )
The Bears keep rolling along and Cutler continues to find chemistry with Brandon Marshall (three TDs last week), but this isn't the Titans' secondary he'll be going up against Sun day night. Aaron Rodgers was able to torch Houston's defense for 6 touchdown passes, but the Texans have allowed just seven other passing TDs all year. The Bears have a chance to win at home, but Cutler isn't going to have a repeat performance of Tennessee.
Pierre Thomas, RB -- Saints (vs. ATL)
Everyone's favorite waiver wire pick-up received just six carries last week, while Chris Ivory and Mark Ingram were also used in the run game without Darren Sproles. Thomas has a good matchup with Atlanta this week, but for now, I'm staying away from the RB situation in New Orleans. Thomas is worth a stash, but not a start.

Scott Krinch (Week 9: 17 points; Season total: 98)
Well, thanks to the "MuscleHamster" I finally had a strong week and due to Doug Martin going HAM,we've decided that nobody is allowed to start Dougie Fresh in our weekly StartSit.I thought I should have been awarded bonus points, but Tony and Mark weren'thaving any of that. Hey Mark, how did Donald Brown work out for you? That'swhat I thought.

Anyways, I scored big last week on Willis McGahee not findingpay dirt and Marques Colston's low yard total. Somebody tell me why I startedHakeem Nicks though?? The guy had ONE catch; going forward this will be thelast time I mention his name.

Last week, I threw allstrategy out the window and went with my gut feeling and it paid off. I doubtthat will happen again, so I'm mixing it up a little this week. Tone Zone hasbeen running his mouth about being back in the lead, so it's time to knock himoff his pedestal. Don't sleep on my picks this week, it may just win you a fantasymatchup. If it doesn't, well just blame Andy Reid. He seems to be taking a lotof heat in Philly this week anyways.

Start'em:

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB -- Bills (@NE)

I started Fitzy a few weeks back and it workedout, why not give it a go again? In six career games against the Patriots, theHarvard-grad has thrown 16 interceptions. Don't let that number scare you.Despite the high turnover-ratio, Fitzpatrick has 11 touchdowns and has averaged284 yards per game. I see Buffalo being behind all game, which will force theBills to air out. What does that mean for you? Garbage time points and fantasyowners love their garbage points. Just hope you're not playing against him.

Mikel Leshoure, RB -- Lions (@ MIN)

Iknow, I may be jumping the gun a little bit on Leshoure. The formerIllinois standout found the endzone THREE times against the Jaguars on only 16carries. With the Lions' redzone struggles, he may see a lot more carriesgoing forward. Minnesota, who at one time this season was one of the best rundefenses, has been miserable lately. In the Vikings' past four games, they haveallowed 166 rushing YPG for an average of 4.6 YPC. I don't see any reason whyLeshoure doesn't hit double digit fantasy points on Sunday afternoon.

Torrey Smith, WR -- Ravens (vs.OAK)

After starting off the season on fire, Smithhas been quiet as of late. He caught a touchdown last week, but just barelycracked double-digit fantasy points with 10. Vincent Jackson and Mike Williamshad a field day on Oakland's secondary in Week 9 and I believe Smith will dothe same. Smith has seen four redzone passes this season and caught all ofthem and the odds of being in the redzone are in Baltimore's favor against theRaiders. BOLD PREDICTION: Smith catches a TD pass for over 65 yards on Sundayafternoon.

Sit'em:

Cam Newton, QB -- Panthers (vs.DEN)

Newton has been better as of late, finding anice balance between the run and the pass, but Denver is not a good matchup forhim. The Broncos' secondary has been rock solid lately and kept Drew Brees andAndy Dalton in check. Carolina ranks 30th in the NFL (2.5 percent) intouchdowns per pass attempt. Those statistics don't bode well for Mr. Newton.Sit him with confidence on Sunday and search your league's waiver wire for abetter option.

Arian Foster, RB -- Texans (@CHI)

Sitting Foster?!?!? I must be insane. On myactual fantasy team, I wouldn't do such a thing, but that's because I don'thave any other viable options. Each week, I sit a player who's going up againstthe Bears' ferocious defense. Chicago is only allowing 9.1 fantasy points pergame to opposing backfields and hadn't allowed over 100 yards to a running backall season until Chris Johnson broke off a huge scamper on Sunday. Rememberthough, that was against backups. For the first time all year, I think Fosterwill finish under double-digit points.

VincentJackson, WR -- Buccaneers (vs. SD)

There's reallyno reason to sit Jackson, who's been a beast as of late, but I'm doing it. Ithink V-Jax is going to be way too pumped against his old team on Sunday and itcould diminish his fantasy value. Yes, it could be the complete opposite, but Iwill take my chances. With Martin being the focal point of the offense in TampaBay now, I think Jackson will see less and less targets each game.

Cubs fans regulate on rapper Warren G for his rendition of 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game'

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Cubs fans regulate on rapper Warren G for his rendition of 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game'

Cubs fans may have witnessed one of the quickest seventh inning stretches ever performed at Wrigley Field on Friday.

Rapper Warren G, famous for his 1994 hit song "Regulate", yelled "Cubbie fans mount up!" and then sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the Cubs-Braves game. The results were ... interesting, to say the least. 

Cubs fans were not having it.

Watch the full stretch in the video above.

One year later, White Sox recall baseball's most surreal game

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One year later, White Sox recall baseball's most surreal game

BALTIMORE -- One year ago, three days of civil unrest and confusion resulted in the White Sox playing in one of the more bizarre games in major league history.

After city-wide riots in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death resulted in a city-wide curfew as well, the calling of the National Guard and two cancelled games, the White Sox and Baltimore Orioles became the first teams in Major League History to play a contest that was closed to the public.

No fans were allowed inside Oriole Park at Camden Yards, which provided a surreal backdrop that Wednesday afternoon as the Orioles crushed the White Sox 8-2.

Whether it was the lack of background noise, the audible cheers of a group of several dozen fans outside the park or the idea that baseball was played in a city where so much remained uncertain, with armed guardsmen stationed just outside the park, players involved have very distinct memories of what would have normally been a nondescript contest.

“You could hear everything,” said pitcher Carlos Rodon, who pitched a scoreless ninth inning in only the second appearance of his big league career. “I remember listening to Adam Jones out in the outfield, just like calling his own game out there like he was the umpire.

“Just real quiet. Almost like backyard baseball.”

White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton remembers he felt conflicted about playing. The White Sox had arrived in town late Sunday night, only a day after unrest outside the ballpark resulted in a smashed window at one of the venue’s restaurants.

While the area around the ballpark and Baltimore’s Inner Harbor had quieted down by Monday morning, events began to reignite that afternoon about 4-5 miles from Camden Yards.

By the time players hit the field for stretch and batting practice, police helicopters could be seen hovering in the background, sirens blared everywhere and Eaton remembers he could smell smoke from some of the fires that had been set. Monday’s game was quickly cancelled and players were ushered back to their hotel by security personnel.

Stuck in their hotel, players remember seeing from their rooms the orange glow of some of the more than 200 fires set to structures and vehicles. They awoke the next morning to the arrival Maryland Army National Guard trucks, whose armed troops lined the Inner Harbor and key points around the city.

By early Tuesday, officials from both teams tried to determine what to do. Whereas most games’ start times are determined by either the home team, umpires or MLB, this time the White Sox were also included in the process. The teams considered several options, including moving the series to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Various start times and scenarios were also also considered for the game’s start to avoid playing after the 10 p.m. EST curfew was put in place.

“We kind of looked if we wanted to play in Chicago, play here and if there was a way to avoid coming back and doing another trip,” White Sox traveling secretary Ed Cassin said. “This was kind of a special case. There was a lot of people involved.”

Manager Robin Ventura was involved in the process so he could give his players an idea of what to expect. What stands out to Ventura is how nobody made their way to the ballpark on Tuesday to check into the clubhouse or workout, etc.

Instead, players stayed in their hotel rooms and watched movies or played video games, just waiting on word of the next step.

“As a major league player or staff, you never go that many days without getting on the field, especially during the season,” Ventura said. “You didn’t do anything. You kind of just watched the news to see what was going on. That part was eerie in a way because nobody goes through that. Last time something like that was 9/11.”

Ultimately, the decision was made to play Wednesday afternoon and make up the other games in a May 29 doubleheader. While pregame activities weren’t out of the ordinary, everything changed once the game began. Players took the field for the national anthem and found the park to be empty aside from several scouts in the stands. Orioles players faked flipping balls to fans in the stands, high fiving fans and signing autographs.

But everything else was dead silent save for the crack of the bat, balls hitting the catcher’s mitt and the sound of Orioles announcer Gary Thorne booming from the announcer’s booth above when Chris Davis blasted a three-run homer in the first off Jeff Samardzija.

“We were here, it got canceled, and the next day we were like, ‘Hey we’re canceled,’” Eaton said. “Are we going to fly back tonight? Are we going to go tomorrow? What do we do? Do we play the third game?

“Not that we didn’t feel right playing, but to be honest, we didn’t feel right playing at the time because there were lives on the line and being were rioting, a lot of chaos going on in the city. But as a professional, you had to sit back and say, my job is to go out and play baseball today, and that’s what I’ve got to do in any circumstance, and that’s what we did.

“It was just super weird.”

ESPN's Stephen A. Smith defends himself against Jake Arrieta

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ESPN's Stephen A. Smith defends himself against Jake Arrieta

Jake Arrieta vs. Stephen A. Smith: Round II?

Not quite, but the ESPN personality still felt the need to defend himself from the Cubs ace on air Thursday after Arrieta created a stir by Tweeting at Smith Wednesday.

Smith initially took a strong stance against Arrieta and the possibility of the 2015 NL Cy Young winner taking performance-enhancing drugs, but then immediately backed down when confronted on Twitter. 

On Thursday's "First Take," Smith apparently felt like he had to keep the drama going and responded to Arrieta:

"I can appreciate Jake Arrieta defending himself," Smith said. "If it were me, I certainly would. I take no offense whatsoever at anything he said towards me or that he Tweeted at me. 

"But I do think he needs to understand my perspective. Skip Bayless - we didn't walk on this show saying, 'We've been watching Jake Arrieta pitch. Let's talk about it because this seems suspicious.' No, it was an article in USATODAY with fans and contemporaries quietly saying, 'Something doesn't seem right here.' So we pointed out the level of excellence, what he did in the second half of last season."

Smith then delved into how many others in the game of baseball have denied using PEDs - like Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun - and how we can't take anybody's word for it nowadays.

Apparently that means that Smith can accuse (without technically accusing) somebody of taking PEDs or claiming they handled the aftermath wrong by laughing it off?

To be fair, that's basically what "First Take" is: discussing hot-button sports issues with vague language - it's basically a bunch of hot takes communicated with lawyerspeak - so the Arrieta comments Wednesday weren't all that newsworthy until the Cubs pitcher decided to respond on Twitter.

"I don't know anything about Jake Arreita," Smith continued. "All I know is this man is nothing short of sensational, deserving of the Cy Young Award because of his performance in the second half of the season and - by the way - happened to lose to the Mets in the postseason. That's all I know about him."

Cheers to the (hopeful) end to this saga.