Fantasy football stock watch

Fantasy football stock watch

By David Ferris
CSNChicago.com

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Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons: There are buzzy skill players all over the Atlanta offense (Julio Jones, Jacquizz Rogers), and by osmosis, that has to bump Ryan's draft stock up a few slots. And all signs point to Michael Turner receiving a smaller share of the workload this year, which should open up red-zone passing attempts. Maybe Ryan doesn't have enough upside to chase a 40-touchdown season, but something in the mid-30s is doable. The dome-heavy schedule doesn't hurt. Don't sleep on this team.

Josh Freeman, QB, Buccaneers: He dropped 20-30 pounds in the offseason and the coaching change came at the right time - last year's offense was toxic in every sense of the word. Freeman is going to have a ball throwing deep to Vincent Jackson (and short to super back Doug Martin), and third-year pro Mike Williams can't be as bad as he looked in 2011. Freeman doesn't have to be selected as your No. 1 quarterback, but he's a backup with upside. He'll throw in 300-400 rushing yards as a bonus.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals: A lot of roto players are sweating Fitzgerald's supporting cast, but if he could post 80-14-11-8 in this mess last year, what's the big worry? Kevin Kolb's spotty exhibition debut is a blessing in disguise - it increases the chance of John Skelton winning the QB gig, someone who will stand in the pocket and make intermediate and deep throws. You'll at least recoup your draft day investment on Fitzgerald, and there's plenty of room for profit.

Eric Decker, WR, Broncos: Everything is about precision and trust in the Peyton Manning offense; you have to be where he wants, when he wants you there. That's good news for Decker, the most polished route runner of the young Broncos receivers. Maybe raw but athletic Demaryius Thomas will eventually make beautiful music with Manning, but it looks like Manning and Decker have the early jump when it comes to building rapport.

Brandon Bolden, RB, Patriots: He's basically the new BenJarvus Green-Ellis in New England, a no-name back, absent of pedigree, who could sneak into the rotation. Bolden has the same body type as the Law Firm, and the Patriots don't seem to be head-over-heels for Stevan Ridley or Shane Vereen. Most of your league doesn't even know Bolden's name right now, and they might regret that a month from now. Earmark him for the final round in medium and deeper groups. 

Andrew Luck, QB, Colts: Everyone has flipped for Robert Griffin III and we're on board, too. But we also have to remember that Luck is more experienced and polished, and he might be under less pressure in Indianapolis as well. Look for a reliable rookie year right out of the chute, enough that veteran receiver Reggie Wayne becomes a target player as well.

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Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers: Although he broke his collarbone on Thursday and will miss 4-6 weeks, the majority of the fantasy community isn't bailing on Mathews: most still see him as a Top 12 running back. That's good news for you; you'll make a profit by shorting this stock (again). Mathews has been hurt in every season dating back to his college days, and he's also had ball-security problems as a pro. And heck, why do you want to spend a premium pick on a high-attrition player who already has a major injury? Step to the side, let your opponents trip themselves up.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: His best receiver (Mike Wallace) isn't happy, the offensive line is a mess, the offensive system is new, and there isn't a special talent on the outside after Wallace (though Antonio Brown is very good). Roethlisberger also brings on extra contact every year, since he'll hold the ball for an eternity on any snap, hoping to make a deep connection. That's a wonderful thing when it works, but it also leads to a bunch of nagging injuries - and Big Ben has already disclosed a rotator cuff issue. So many red flags here; go look at someone else. It's a deep position.

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants: He's had a laundry list of surgeries on his feet and ankles, and the Giants spent a first-round pick on rookie David Wilson. It's not hard to connect the dots. As gallant as Bradshaw has been over the last few years, playing through pain, you can't cheat this sort of thing forever.

Shonn Greene, RB, Jets: The electric 2009 season (and playoffs) got everyone excited, but Greene hasn't been much of a pile mover since then, despite a better-than-average offensive line and a scheme committed to the running game. Last year's stat haul is probably the upside for Greene, and he's still a poor fit for work in the spread package and on third down. Look for a better upside back for your third or fourth option.

Brandon Marshall, WR, Bears: While he was a reception and yardage monster in the Denver days with Jay Cutler, the duo didn't do much with touchdowns - just 14 in 36 games together. And Marshall's allergy to the end zone continued in Miami, albeit the mediocre QBs there didn't help. Don't let preseason buzz and hype affect your Marshall projection: he'll probably get his 6-8 scores this year, but he's never been a dynamic option in the scoring area.

Wake-up Call: Miggy gets the boot; Rodon's rocky debut; More bad news for Cubs?

miguel_montero_cubbies.jpg
AP

Wake-up Call: Miggy gets the boot; Rodon's rocky debut; More bad news for Cubs?

Where it all went wrong for Cubs and Miguel Montero

White Sox willing to overlook 'rough' patches as healthy Carlos Rodon returns

Kris Bryant’s sprained ankle is more bad news for Cubs: ‘You can’t cry about it’

Can Leonard Floyd break out in 2017? The Bears like the early signs

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: What's next for Blackhawks as free agency looms?

Preview: Cubs wrap up series with Nationals today on CSN

Preview: White Sox host Yankees tonight on CSN

Bulls Talk Podcast: An NBA gone wild and Zach LaVine sit down interview

How Rick Renteria has tried to help White Sox players combat travel fatigue

What pushed Theo Epstein over the edge in making Miguel Montero decision: ‘It screamed out’

 

White Sox willing to overlook 'rough' patches as healthy Carlos Rodon returns

White Sox willing to overlook 'rough' patches as healthy Carlos Rodon returns

The two fastballs that soared to the backstop on Wednesday night should give you a strong indication that Carlos Rodon was far from perfect.

But in making his first start of the 2017 season, the White Sox pitcher also offered his team plenty of signals that his health isn’t going to be an issue.

Rodon returned to the mound for the first time since last September and brought the goods that made him one of baseball’s top pitching prospects several years ago. Given he’d missed three months with bursitis in the left shoulder and the potential value he offers to a franchise only half a season into its first rebuild in 20 years, that was plenty for the White Sox to overlook the rust Rodon showed in a 12-3 White Sox loss to the New York Yankees at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“He started a little rough early obviously, got some high pitch counts,” manager Rick Renteria said. “And then he kind of settled down.

“Having him back in the rotation and getting him back out there on the big league field, coming out of there feeling good, healthy. I'm sure he will continue to get better as he continues to get out there and move forward.”

Renteria said he wasn’t surprised that Rodon struggled with his command as much as he did against the Yankees. The issues the pitcher displayed in uncorking a pair of wild pitches, walking six batters and throwing strikes on only 41 of 94 pitches were also present during Rodon’s four rehab starts in the minors.

But as long as the stuff was there, the White Sox would be OK with any issues that accompanied the performance. Rodon began to alleviate those concerns immediately when he earned a called strike on the game’s first pitch with a 93-mph fastball to Brett Gardner. Featuring a four-seamer with an absurd amount of movement and a nasty slider he struggled to control, Rodon checked all the boxes the White Sox hoped for from a pitcher they believe will be a frontline starter for years to come. Rodon also was pleased by how he felt before, during and after the contest.

“I was pretty excited,” Rodon said. “I was going a little fast in the first. But it was good to be out there. Next time out, it’ll hopefully be a little better. Arm feels good, body feels good, all you can ask for.”

Well, it’s not ALL you can ask for, but it’s pretty damn good out of the gate given how slow Rodon’s return took. His four-seam fastball averaged 94.9 mph according to BrooksBaseball.Net and touched 97 mph. His two-seamer averaged 94.4 mph and touched 95. And his slider, though he couldn’t control it, nor locate it for a strike, averaged 86 mph.

“You could see (Omar Narvaez) going over to try to catch some balls that were having tremendous run,” Renteria said. “That's (Rodon). He's got some tremendous life, he's just trying to harness it the best that he can and being able to execute where he wants to get as many strikes as possible.”

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The strikes were about the only thing Rodon didn’t bring with him. He walked Gardner to start the game and issued two more free passes after a Tim Anderson error allowed a run to score and extended the first inning. Rodon threw 37 pitches in the first, only 15 for strikes.

He also reached a full count to each of the batters he faced in the second inning. Rodon walked two more with two outs in the third inning after he’d retired six batters in a row.

And there were those pesky first-inning wild pitches that resembled something out of ‘Bull Durham.’

But all in all, Rodon and the White Sox ultimately saw enough in the first outing to be pleased.

“Great stuff, great life, but the goal is to put it in the zone and let them swing it to get guys out early,” Rodon said. “That’s not what happened. I’ll get back to that.”

“It’s a tough loss, but it’s better to be with the guys out on the field grinding than sitting on the couch and watching, for sure.”