Thursday, August 28, 2008

2008 kicker rankings

Please don't draft a kicker until the end of your draft. Stop the insanity.

1. Nick Folk, Dallas Cowboys
2. Stephen Gostkowski, New England Patriots
3. Nate Kaeding, San Diego Chargers
4. Shayne Graham, Cincinnati Bengals
5. Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers
6. Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis Colts
7. Josh Brown, St. Louis Rams
8. Robbie Gould, Chicago Bears
9. Phil Dawson, Cleveland Browns
10. Rob Bironas, Tennessee Titans
11. Neil Rackers, Arizona Cardinals
12. Jeff Reed, Pittsburgh Steelers
13. Lawrence Tynes, New York Giants
14. Josh Scobee, Jacksonville Jaguars
15. Kris Brown, Houston Texans
16. Jason Hanson, Detroit Lions
17. Matt Stover, Baltimore Ravens
18. John Kasay, Carolina Panthers
19. Shaun Suisham, Washington Redskins
20. Joe Nedney, San Francisco 49ers
21. Jason Elam, Atlanta Falcons
22. David Akers, Philadelphia Eagles
23. Brandon Coutu, Seattle Seahawks
24. Ryan Longwell, Minnesota Vikings
25. Taylor Mehlhaff, New Orleans Saints
26. Matt Bryant, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
27. Matt Prater, Denver Broncos
28. Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland Raiders
29. Mike Nugent, New York Jets
30. Rian Lindell, Buffalo Bills

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

2008 wide receiver rankings

I have a problem with Randy Moss.

I’ll admit I’ve never been a huge fan, but my issue isn’t really personal (and for the record, I thought it was hilarious when he "mooned" the crowd at Lambeau Field a few years back).

No, my problem isn't with Moss' personality or his abilities as a football player. Rather, I’m taking umbrage with where he's getting drafted in fantasy leagues.

The New England Patriots wide receiver seems to be the position’s consensus No. 1 entering this season, and that’s fine with me. His lofty status is probably well deserved after last year’s historic team-up with QB Tom Brady, during which Moss caught 98 passes for 1,493 yards and a single-season record 23 touchdowns. While he’s not going to reach that level again, the pieces are in place in New England for him to come close, and that’s good enough to put him atop the preseason rankings.

Trouble is, just because Moss is the top receiver on the board, that doesn’t mean he should be drafted in the first round. In fantasy, running backs still rule. There are only a handful of every-down, carry-the-load backs, and passing on one with your first pick can be a dangerous move. Take Moss first, and you might be looking at a so-so No. 2 RB like Willis McGahee or Jamal Lewis as your top running back.


I’m not so sure Reggie Wayne or Terrell Owens or Larry Fitzgerald won’t finish with similar stats as Moss this season -­ and I can probably get one of them in the second round, after I’ve already taken a stud running back.

So sorry, Randy, if I’ve offended you, but I’m trying to win a championship here.

Anyway, here’s how this year’s wideouts stack up:

1. Moss, Patriots.

2. Owens, Dallas Cowboys: He loves his quarterback, and he’s not afraid to show it. That kind of heartfelt bond is going to produce a lot of touchdowns.

3. Wayne, Indianapolis Colts: It’s official: Wayne has surpassed Marvin Harrison as the Colts’ top option. And you may have noticed they like to throw the ball to him (career high 104 catches and 10 TDs last year).

4. Braylon Edwards, Cleveland Browns: The cut on his foot doesn’t bother me much; he has the skills and the teammates to be elite.

5. Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals: Will be productive no matter who’s throwing him the ball ­- led the NFC in receptions and yards last season.

6. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Cincinnati Bengals: Has caught more TDs than buddy Chad Johnson in each of the past two seasons, and he comes without the banged-up shoulder or the shenanigans.

7. Andre Johnson, Houston Texans: He’ll be a bit undervalued after last year’s knee troubles, but if he’s 100 percent, he could have finish in the top five.

8. Plaxico Burress, New York Giants: Can a player actually get better by NOT practicing? Apparently, yes. A sore ankle cannot stop him from dominating.

9. Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints: He’s got more receptions in his first two years than any other player in NFL history. Drew Brees will get him the ball.

10. Torry Holt, St. Louis Rams: This might seem a bit high, but I like Holt better than some of the younger guys ranked below him. You know what to expect from the vet, and I’m risk-averse when it comes to my No. 1 WR.

11. Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers.
12. Santonio Holmes, Pittsburgh Steelers.
13. Wes Welker, New England Patriots.
14. Anquan Boldin, Arizona Cardinals.
15. Chad Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals.
16. Roy Williams, Detroit Lions.
17. Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers.
18. Brandon Marshall, Denver Broncos.
19. Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons.
20. Jerricho Cotchery, New York Jets.
21. Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs.
22. Laveranues Coles, New York Jets.
23. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions.
24. Hines Ward, Pittsburgh Steelers.
25. Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis Colts.
26. Lee Evans, Buffalo Bills.
27. Santana Moss, Washington Redskins.
28. Joey Galloway, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
29. Donald Driver, Green Bay Packers.
30. Nate Burleson, Seattle Seahawks.
31. Anthony Gonzalez, Indianapolis Colts.
32. Chris Chambers, San Diego Chargers.
33. Bernard Berrian, Minnesota Vikings.
34. Donte’ Stallworth, Cleveland Browns.
35. Reggie Brown, Philadelphia Eagles.
36. Patrick Crayton, Dallas Cowboys.
37. Isaac Bruce, San Francisco 49ers.
38. Derrick Mason, Baltimore Ravens.
39. Reggie Williams, Jacksonville Jaguars.
40. Ronald Curry, Oakland Raiders.
41. Ted Ginn Jr., Miami Dolphins.
42. Vincent Jackson, San Diego Chargers.
43. Sidney Rice, Minnesota Vikings.
44. Justin Gage, Tennessee Titans.
45. DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles.
46. Bobby Engram, Seattle Seahawks.
47. D.J. Hackett, Carolina Panthers.
48. Bryant Johnson, San Francisco 49ers.
49. Chris Henry, Cincinnati Bengals.
50. Kevin Walter, Houston Texans.
51. Amani Toomer, New York Giants.
52. Marty Booker, Chicago Bears.
53. Antwaan Randle El, Washington Redskins.
54. Javon Walker, Oakland Raiders.
55. James Hardy, Buffalo Bills.
56. Jabar Gaffney, New England Patriots.
57. Robert Meachem, New Orleans Saints.
58. Eddie Royal, Denver Broncos.
59. Devin Hester, Chicago Bears.
60. Limas Sweed, Pittsburgh Steelers.

Monday, August 25, 2008

2008 defense/special teams rankings

Here's how I've pegged fantasy defenses for 2008. I don't put a lot of stock in these or any D rankings; to me, you shouldn't be taking defenses or kickers until your final picks of the draft, and really the top 5-10 Ds on this list are interchangeable. Really, I'm just looking for teams with sustained excellence or dynamic playmakers who rush the passer or make interceptions (or have great return men, if your league includes special teams stats). But for what it's worth, here's my list:

1. Chargers
2. Vikings
3. Seahawks
4. Bears
5. Colts
6. Packers
7. Patriots
8. Steelers
9. Cowboys
10. Eagles
11. Bucs
12. Giants
13. Jaguars
14. Cardinals
15. Titans
16. Ravens
17. Bills
18. Jets
19. Browns
20. Broncos
21. Lions
22. Raiders
23. Chiefs
24. Saints
25. Redskins
26. Bengals
27. Rams
28. Dolphins
29. Texans
30. Panthers
31. 49ers
32. Falcons

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The crazy world of closers

Closers can drive you crazy. No position in fantasy is more polarizing or volatile from year to year.

The fact that only one man on one team in any given game can possibly earn a save makes that category scarce and hard to predict. A comparison of last year's top 10 closers and this year's saves leaders illustrates the point.

Scanning last year's list, we see a few familiar names. Jose Valverde, 2007's major league saves leaders (47) with the Arizona Diamondbacks, could match that total this year with his new team, the Houston Astros. Francisco Rodriguez, tied for fifth last year with 40 saves, is threatening Bobby Thigpen's record of 57 this year. And Francisco Cordero, Trevor Hoffman and Bobby Jenks probably won't return to the 40-save plateau but have been solid nonetheless.

But that doesn't even account for half the list.

What happened to Joe Borowski, second in the league last year with 45 saves? He managed only six this year (with an unsightly 7.56 ERA) for the Cleveland Indians while wasting away on the DL and ultimately getting released.

What about J.J. Putz? He too has spent more time on the DL than the field for the Seattle Mariners, not even recording a quarter of last year's 40 saves and posting an ERA almost three full runs higher.

What of Takashi Saito? He was off to another fine start (17 saves) before suffering an elbow injury. Now at 38, his future as the Los Angeles Dodgers' closer is in jeopardy with young gun Jonathan Broxton taking his place.

How about Todd Jones? His dreadful ratios (4.97 ERA, 1.63 WHIP) weren't that much of a shock, but with the Detroit Tigers' struggles this year, his 18 saves aren't even half of last year's total (38). Now he's on his second DL stint of the year and might not return.

And finally, where's Chad Cordero? After 37 saves in '07 with the Washington Nationals, he went 0-for-2008 and is out for the year with a torn labrum.

Those aren't the only horror stories: Veteran Billy Wagner might not appear in a New York Mets uniform again this year; Huston Street's stock is plummeting with the Oakland A's; Eric Gagne's tenure with the Milwaukee Brewers has been a disaster; injuries spoiled Rafael Soriano's season for the Atlanta Braves; the Texas Rangers' C.J. Wilson went down in flames; and a creaky Jason Isringhausen recently told some St. Louis Cardinals personnel he's "done."

Sure, the biggest names haven't disappointed - Mariano Rivera, Joe Nathan and Jonathan Papelbon have been stupendous, to no one's surprise. But consider these other surprise standouts:

Brad Lidge looked finished in Houston but has been outstanding for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Few people heard of George Sherrill before this year, but he'll finish with more than 30 saves for the Baltimore Orioles, despite his recent shoulder problem.

The Kansas City Royals' Joakim Soria and the San Francisco Giants' Brian Wilson are both top-10 closers. So much for guys on bad teams not getting save opportunities.

Former retiree Troy Percival is closing in on 30 saves with the upstart Tampa Bay Rays, and if not for his various injuries he'd have 40 already.

Bradenton's Chris Perez has emerged as a stopper in his rookie season - the Cardinals' third ninth-inning option this year.

B.J. Ryan continues to get the job done for the Toronto Blue Jays, just 15 months after Tommy John surgery.

Someone named Brad Ziegler has been almost untouchable and has unseated Street in Oakland.

The lesson is this: saves can be found everywhere, and your best-laid plans for your bullpen at the start of the season will probably go awry. Keep that in mind as you're speculating on the waiver wire for saves and debating whether to keep a closer for next year.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Is McFadden this year's Peterson?

In this week's column I'm wondering if rookie Darren McFadden can take the NFL by storm the way Adrian Peterson did last year, plus I'm breaking down this year's top 10 running backs. As always, you can check my column online or in print every Thursday in your Herald sports section.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

2008 running back rankings

1. LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego Chargers.
2. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings.

3. Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia Eagles.
4. Joseph Addai, Indianapolis Colts.
5. Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams.
6. Marshawn Lynch, Buffalo Bills.
7. Clinton Portis, Washington Redskins.
8. Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers.
9. Marion Barber, Dallas Cowboys.
10. Ryan Grant, Green Bay Packers.
11. Larry Johnson, Kansas City Chiefs.

12. Willie Parker, Pittsburgh Steelers.
13. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars.
14. Willis McGahee, Baltimore Ravens.
15. Jamal Lewis, Cleveland Browns.
16. Brandon Jacobs, New York Giants.
17. Laurence Maroney, New England Patriots.
18. Reggie Bush, New Orleans Saints.

19. Ronnie Brown, Miami Dolphins.
20. Thomas Jones, New York Jets.
21. Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders.
22. Earnest Graham, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
23. Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons.
24. Edgerrin James, Arizona Cardinals.
25. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears.

26. Rudi Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals.
27. Fred Taylor, Jacksonville Jaguars.
28. LenDale White, Tennessee Titans.
29. Julius Jones, Seattle Seahawks.
30. Kevin Smith, Detroit Lions.
31. Selvin Young, Denver Broncos.
32. Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers.
33. Chester Taylor, Minnesota Vikings.
34. Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh Steelers.

35. Justin Fargas, Oakland Raiders.
36. Deuce McAllister, New Orleans Saints.
37. Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys.
38. Ahman Green, Houston Texans.
39. Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants.
40. Jerious Norwood, Atlanta Falcons.
41. DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers.
42. Kenny Watson, Cincinnati Bengals.
43. Leon Washington, New York Jets.
44. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans.
45. Tatum Bell, Detroit Lions.
46. Ladell Betts, Washington Redskins.
47. Chris Brown, Houston Texans.
48. Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens.
49. LaMont Jordan, New England Patriots.
50. Ricky Williams, Miami Dolphins.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

2008 Quarterback rankings

1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots.

2. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts.

3. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys.

4. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers.

5. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints.

6. Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bengals.

7. Derek Anderson, Cleveland Browns.

8. Jay Cutler, Denver Broncos.

9. Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle Seahawks.

10. Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia Eagles.

11. Marc Bulger, St. Louis Rams.

12. Brett Favre, New York Jets.

13. Eli Manning, New York Giants.

14. Matt Schaub, Houston Texans.

15. David Garrard, Jacksonville Jaguars.

16. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers.

17. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers.

18. Jake Delhomme, Carolina Panthers.

19. Jason Campbell, Washington Redskins.

20. Jon Kitna, Detroit Lions.

21. Jeff Garcia, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

22. Kurt Warner, Arizona Cardinals.

23. Vince Young, Tennessee Titans.

24. Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers.

25. Trent Edwards, Buffalo Bills.

26. JaMarcus Russell, Oakland Raiders.

27. Matt Leinart, Arizona Cardinals.

28. Chad Pennington, Miami Dolphins.

29. Brodie Croyle, Kansas City Chiefs.

30. Tarvaris Jackson, Minnesota Vikings.

31. Kyle Boller, Baltimore Ravens.

32. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons.

33. Rex Grossman, Chicago Bears.

34. Brady Quinn, Cleveland Browns.

35. Shaun Hill, San Francisco 49ers.

36. J.P. Losman, Buffalo Bills.

37. Sage Rosenfels, Houston Texans.

38. Chris Redman, Atlanta Falcons.

39. Drew Stanton, Detroit Lions.

40. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens.

Photos by The Associated Press

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Manny being Manny affects fantasy fortunes

In this week's baseball column, I break down the three-team deal that brought Manny Ramirez to L.A. and its far-reaching fantasy implications.

How does it affect the Dodgers' crowded outfield? How will David Ortiz fare without his dreadlocked buddy batting behind him? What about Jason Bay's fantasy chances in Boston? And do the prospects the Pirates picked up have any chance of success? Find out in Sunday's Herald sports section or online on the fantasy sports page of

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Favre fantasy fallout

I know, I know ... the last thing you probably want to hear about at this point is more Brett Favre nonsense. But it's my civic duty to look at this whole NFL soap opera from a fantasy perspective.

Favre goes from the Packers - his home for 16 seasons - to the New York Jets, winners of four football contests last year. He'll have new coaches, new teammates, a new offensive system with new terminology. How will it affect his fantasy worth?

First, let's pretend this whole thing never happened, and instead of "retiring," Favre decided to come back for another season with the Packers. Where would that rank him among fantasy QBs? In the top 10? Probably. Last season was kind of miraculous for a guy his age (more than 4,000 yards passing and 28 TDs), but it proved he could still air it out. With a nice receving corps (led by Donald Driver and Greg Jennings), an improving tight end (Donald Lee) and offensive line, and an emerging young star (Ryan Grant) at running back, Favre would have had a chance to come close to those stats this year and serve as a quality fantasy starter, somewhere in the bottom half of the top 10.

But now he's a Jet, and the rankings have to change accordingly. Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery are a decent 1-2 WR tandem, and they certainly stand to benefit from the addition of Favre. Ditto for rookie TE Dustin Keller, a serious receiving threat from Purdue. The offensive line looks much improved - at least on paper - with the addition of vet Alan Faneca at guard. Thomas Jones is a solid back who will benefit from better line play.

There's a chance here for Favre to be productive. Problem is, when you factor in his unfamiliarity with the offensive system/coaches/teammates, his advanced age (he'll turn 39 this season) and the pressures of the Big Apple, there's a legitimate risk in counting on him as a top-10 starter. With these question marks, could you justify taking Favre over a young improving QB like, say, Jay Cutler or Derek Anderson - two guys who have a better complement of skill players around them and will benefit from another year in their own system? Would you take Favre over Ben Roethlisberger or Matt Hasselbeck or Carson Palmer - fantasy mainstays who carry considerably less risk?

Maybe you could make a case for taking Favre over Donovan McNabb and Marc Bulger, who've seemingly spent more time in the trainer's room than on the field in recent years. But that still probably leaves Favre outside the top 10 - which means he's not a No. 1 starter in most fantasy leagues. If I can draft him as a No. 2, I'd jump at the chance because of the upside he carries, but I'd have to think long and hard about making him my starter.

Photo by The Associated Press

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

2008 tight end rankings

Let's kick off our 2008 football rankings with a sometimes overlooked position - tight end. The position's gotten a lot deeper in the past few years, and though there are now a handful of elite guys at the top, they're followed by a much bigger pool of decent options.

Here's the top 30, including my top sleeper and top bust:

1. Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers: Expect more fine numbers, provided his big toe is all healed. But be warned - others are challenging him for the top spot as fantasy’s best tight end.

2. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys: Country boy has demonstrated an uncanny chemistry with buddy Tony Romo, and he’s the No. 2 receiving option on what could be the league’s best offense.

3. Kellen Winslow Jr., Cleveland Browns: He stuck a cork in the critics with last year’s breakout season. No more jokes - this Browns offense is good.

4. Dallas Clark, Indianapolis Colts: Signed a big deal in the offseason, meaning Peyton Manning can count on finding him in the end zone with regularity again (11 TDs last year).

5. Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City Chiefs: Enjoyed his best season since 2004 despite working with skittish Brodie Croyle majority of last year. One of the safest choices you can make in a draft.

6. Chris Cooley, Washington Redskins: It’s unclear what new coach Jim Zorn’s offense will look like exactly, but you have to figure consistent Cooley will play a big role

7. Jeremy Shockey, New Orleans Saints: The clean slate and reunion with Sean Payton, his onetime offensive coordinator, could place the Shockster in the upper tier of TEs, as long as that fibula’s fully healed.

8. Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers: Miller’s not a yardage machine like some of his peers, but he gets the job done in the red zone (career-high seven TDs last year).

9. Tony Scheffler, Denver Broncos: Part of an improving corps of offensive skill players, under-the-radar Scheffler should make a great tag-team with QB Jay Cutler

10. Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers: Time for Davis to turn those physical gifts into actual production. Are QB Alex Smith and new offensive coordinator Mike Martz the right men for the job? We’ll see.


11. Todd Heap, Baltimore Ravens. It’s due to no fault of his own, but Heap is a huge injury risk after missing 10 games last year, plus his QB situation isn‘t very enticing. Heap’s a top-tier talent, but I can’t justify ranking him in the top 10 as in years past when there are safer options available.

12. Owen Daniels, Houston Texans.
13. Alge Crumpler, Tennessee Titans.
14. Donald Lee, Green Bay Packers.
15. Benjamin Watson, New England Patriots.
16. LJ Smith, Philadelphia Eagles.
17. Kevin Boss, New York Giants.
18. Greg Olsen, Chicago Bears.
19. Randy McMichael, St. Louis Rams.
20. Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars.


21. Ben Utecht, Cincinnati Bengals. When was the last time you had a Bengals tight end on your fantasy team? Utecht caught 68 balls in the past two seasons as Clark’s backup in Indianapolis and now gets starting role. There’s some upside here.

22. Zach Miller, Oakland Raiders.
23. Dustin Keller, New York Jets.
24. John Carlson, Seattle Seahawks.
25. Alex Smith, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
26. Anthony Fasano, Miami Dolphins.
27. Jeff King, Carolina Panthers.
28. Leonard Pope, Arizona Cardinals.
29. Desmond Clark, Chicago Bears.
30. Martrez Milner, Atlanta Falcons.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Manny to Hollywood and more trade impacts

Now that the MLB trading deadline has come and gone, let's review the major deals from a fantasy perspective:

Manny Ramirez to Dodgers: I don't see Manny's value taking much of a dip in L.A. The change of scenery should bring out the carefree knucklehead we're used to seeing, and although the breakup of baseball's most feared duo (Manny and David Ortiz) hurts both players a bit, both should continue their slugging ways.

Jason Bay to Red Sox: Bay is no Manny, but he's an All-Star-caliber player, and he'll certainly benefit from playing in Fenway Park with a much better supporting cast than he had in Pittsburgh. He was in the midst of a really nice bounceback year, and he's already taken a liking to life with the Sox (homer, three RBIs, six runs scored, three walks in three games).

Craig Hansen, Andy LaRoche, Brandon Moss to Pirates: Three of the four minor leaguers Pittsburgh acquired in their big three-team deal will get immediate playing time with the big league club. Hansen will be in the mix in the Pirates' bullpen and could be their closer of the future, a job he didn't have much chance of taking from Jonathan Papelbon in Boston. Save-scavengers take notice. Moss has a bright future as the Pirates' everyday left fielder, though he's probably a year or two away from making real fantasy contributions. LaRoche, once considered the Dodgers' third baseman of the future before falling out of favor, now holds that distinction in Pittsburgh, where he'll man the hot corner across the diamond from his big brother Adam. He's definitely worth adding in NL-only leagues if he's not owned already, but beyond that, take a wait-and-see approach as he gets his first real shot at regular playing time.

Ken Griffey Jr. to White Sox: Junior's uneventful tenure in Cincinnati comes to a close as he finally gets dealt to a contender. It's a shame he's no longer an elite player and no more than a third or fourth fantasy outfielder at best, but there's a chance a pennant race and the opportunity to play centerfield again gives his bat a little extra life for the next two months. The deal also means less playing time for the fading Paul Konerko as Nick Swisher moves from center to first base.

Ivan Rodriguez to Yankeees: We've seen Pudge change addresses a few times before with no problem, and the relocation to New York's powerful lineup shouldn't affect him much. While no longer a top-level fantasy catcher, his near-.300 average is more than adequate, and he's right on target for the same kind of numbers we've seen from him the past few years in Detroit. Nothing to worry about here.

Kyle Farnsworth to Tigers: Detroit had to upgrade the back end of its bullpen with Todd Jones faltering in the closer's role, replacement Fernando Rodney following in his footsteps and Joel Zumaya being an injury risk. Farnsworth's struggles in big spots are well-documented, but the fact remains he's a strikeout machine (averaging a K per inning this year) and could see save opportunities before long.

Mark Teixeira to Angels: Big Tex's move to L.A. means the Angels finallly have a serious hitter to plant in the middle of their lineup and give Vlad Guererro some help. Teixeira is a notorious second-half player, and we should see a slightly better average from him down the stretch to go with those home runs.

Casey Kotchman to Braves: Kotchman, one of the young talents the Halos have been hesitant to part with the past few years, will step in as Atlanta's everyday first baseman, and though he's a decent player, his limitations as a power hitter make him no more than a middle-tier first baseman in mixed leagues.