Articles by Jeff Erickson

Jeff Erickson is a co-founder of and the only two-time winner of Baseball Writer of the Year from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He roots for the Reds, Bengals, Red Wings, Pacers and Northwestern University (the real NU).

Early FAAB and Waiver Results For Week 2

The first couple of weeks of free agent acquisitions are vital in each fantasy sport. Often this is the first opportunity since Draft Day to improve our roster, and plenty enough has changed to create new value. Moreover, a player you land now carries a lot more impact than someone you can acquire in Week 10.

That might not necessarily be true this week, and certainly not in leagues where FA’s have been open before Week 1. But there are still some gems to find – at least in many leagues the Baltimore RB picture remains wide-open. Additionally, Allen Hurns is someone who I discounted before last week, but I’m willing to make small bids now to see if he’s for real.

NFFC PrimeTime: QB Chicken

Saturday marked my third NFFC event and my final draft for this season, the 3:00 PT PrimeTime League. This was a fairly unique league, as there were five of us in Las Vegas (well, more than five including partners and friends hanging out), five drafting at the Chicago venue, and two other players drafting on the phone. It was also unique because Peyton Manning went with the first overall pick, something I haven’t come close to seeing this year, even with the six-points per passing TD format that we have in the NFFC. While I think this was a mistake (the number of players that you can start at a position generally means more than the scoring system), I can see some of the logic – Manning’s floor is ludicrously high, and clearly he wasn’t going to get Manning on the way back. But even in a 20-round draft there are quarterbacks that don’t get selected, and you have to start a combination seven non-QBs at other skill positions.

The “Zero-RB” strategy has drawn a lot of my attention this draft season, and I’m sold that in the right circumstances it can be a viable plan. I’ve used it in two of my drafts and have been happy with the result, and in one other league – one of the RotoWire Fantasy Football Online Championship leagues that I shared with RotoWire’s Vlad Sedler – we came pretty close to that plan, filling 4 of the top 5 spots on WRs and Julius Thomas. This league presented another opportunity for me to try it, as I drafted 10/12, but I made one critical decision that turned me off that, at least in its purity.

1.10 – Julio Jones – I’ve been big on Julio over the last two weeks, as I’m persuaded that he’s all the way back. Jones was off to an incredible start before his foot injury, and Atlanta’s defense appears to remain awful. We’re going to see Matt Ryan chucking the ball to Jones/Roddy White and Harry Douglas a lot this season. Because Manning went first overall, rather than somewhere in the second round where he usually goes, I had more options than I anticipated. I debated between Jones and Jimmy Graham, who actually went at 1.12 after A.J. Green.

Trade Deadline – Reds Stuck In The Middle

Jay Bruce

On one hand, the Reds made exactly as many trades as the Phillies and Rockies, two teams in more dire need of an overhaul than the Reds. On the other hand, they remain in a precarious position as a franchise. While they’ve had a nice run in the regular season, making the playoffs three of the last four seasons, this generation’s team also hasn’t won a playoff series and appears unlikely to make the playoffs this year. Injuries to Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips have exposed the utter lack of depth at the upper levels of their farm system and the 40-man roster, as the likes of Jack Hannahan, Donald Lutz, Ramon Santiago, Skip Schumaker, Neftali Soto and Kristopher Negron have all been found lacking. They begin play Thursday night 53-54, six games behind the Brewers, and 4.5 games out of the second Wild Card in the NL.

But complicating matters is that they aren’t bad enough to become sellers either. Their starting rotation is one of the best in baseball, with Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake, Homer Bailey and Alfredo Simon all above average. The set-up/closer combo of Jonathan Broxton and Aroldis Chapman has been brilliant too. They haven’t completely tanked offensively because of the breakout seasons of Todd Frazier and Devin Mesoraco, and Billy Hamilton has been better than expected.

MLB Trade Deadline – Breaking Down the NL

Cliff Lee

While the AL Trade inventory appears bleak*, the NL appears to have more players ready to move, even with the Chase Headley trade Tuesday removing one of the primary trade targets.

* I’m not buying into the John Danks trade rumors. His contract remains too prohibitive for the potential payoff, even with baseball awash in TV money. Where’s the payoff for the acquiring team? His strikeout rate (6.3 K/9) is well below average in today’s high-strikeout environment. Maybe, just maybe, a trade to the NL would boost his worth, but I doubt that the White Sox can extract a prospect worth their effort in giving an acquiring team salary-relief.

A quick gander at the NL Wild Card standings illustrates more sure-fire sellers than the AL. Besides the Cubs and Padres, who have already commenced fire sales, the Rockies, Phillies (though you can never count on Ruben Amaro Jr. to realize he needs to sell, especially if such a realization also signals that his job is in jeopardy), Diamondbacks and Mets are good candidates to sell, and the Marlins might end up there too.

What do these teams have left to offer?

MLB Trade Deadline – AL Inventory Very Thin

The All-Star break is over, as is my summer vacation. The MLB trade deadline isn’t too far off, and we’ve already had two big trades where the in-season talent has flowed over to the AL West, with the A’s and the Angels adding to their immediate needs.

We’ve had some big duds the last couple of trade deadlines on the day itself, and I worry that might be the case again this year. I say “worry” because I love the trade deadline and the chaos that ensues from it. Trades create new opportunities, not just for the players dealt, but for the players remaining that fill the voids left. If you’ve ever played in an AL-only or NL-only league, you know that sentiment, especially if you were the lucky one to get the windfall from the Jeff Samardzija deal or for Huston Street this weekend.

At any rate, aside from relief pitching, which seems to be the easiest commodity to move, there’s a lack of good inventory available. The Rays were once thought to have two of the best trade chits in David Price and Ben Zobrist, but now it’s not a sure thing that they’ll get traded at all. They are six games back in the wild card race, and 7.5 games back in the AL East. That’s no shoo-in, but given that the rest of the AL East seems vulnerable, I wouldn’t be surprised if they at the very least went down to the wire before deciding their role. All but three AL teams are within six games of the wild card (at least, the second wild card). Of those teams, I’d only bet on the White Sox being willing to sell. Let’s look at the four AL selling teams (White Sox, Twins, Rangers, Astros – it’s possible that in 10 days the Rays, Royals, Indians or Red Sox might fall in that camp, but I’m not putting them there yet) – what do they have to sell?