Articles by Rick Kinigson

A listing of all the articles written by Rick Kinigson for the RotoWire Blog.

The Need For Speed: Should You Draft Billy Hamilton?

Everywhere you look Billy Hamilton is projected not only to lead the majors in stolen bases this season, but to do so by a wide margin, making his an attractive draft day target for fantasy owners. And, why not? After all, he did steal 330 bases over the past three minor league seasons, and he gave us a glimpse of what he can do at the major league level, stealing 13 bases in 13 games last year.

But, before you bid $26 (RotoWire Auction Value), or use your fifth or sixth round pick (based on his current ADP) to get him, you may want to consider the following?

– Hamilton hit just .256 and posted a .308 OBP in Triple-A in 2013, where he stuck out nearly 20 percent of the time

– He has played in just 13 major league games

– Although he stole 13 bases in those 13 games, he was used primarily as a pinch runner, with the sole purpose of stealing bases (he only started three games, and six of his stolen bases came in games in which he didn’t have a single plate appearance)

– Sixty-two percent of his stolen bases came against teams in the bottom half of the league in terms of stolen bases allowed (Pittsburgh, Houston, Milwaukee)

Using our own RotoWire projections, as well as those of eight other fantasy sources, Hamilton’s 2014 season plays out as follows:

At Bats: 491
Batting Average: .246
Stolen Bases: 56

Since 2000, 18 different players have stolen 50+ bases in a season a total of 36 times. Even if Hamilton manages to stick around the majors most or all of the season, history is not on his side:

– Only one player managed to steal 50+ bases with an average of .246 or lower (Scott Podsednik, .244, 2004)

– Only one player managed to steal 50+ bases with 491 or fewer At Bats (Willy Taveras, 479, 2008)

There is no question that Hamilton can run. But, can he hit and will he be given enough opportunities to prove it? So, before you go anointing Hamilton the next Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford or even Luis Castillo, ask yourself if you can afford an untested, one-category performer and, if so, at what cost?

Happy drafting!

Early 2014 Predictions

Pitcher and catchers have reported for all but four teams, so now is as good a time as any to predict how the season will end. As I see it, we will have a new World Champion when the all is said and done, with Boston failing to even make the post-season.

A.L. East
1. Yankees — A return to post-season play, but will lose in the Division series
2. Red Sox — Not as good as 2013, but not as bad as 2012
3. Rays — Miss the playoffs for only second time in past five years
4. Blue Jays — Denied breaking the .500 mark for a fourth straight season
5. Orioles — Hard to believe they were a playoff team two years ago

A.L. Central
1. Tigers — Best record in the A.L. and World Series Champs
2. Royals — Offense not enough
3. Indians — Last year was a fluke
4. White Sox — 2008. That’s the last time this team made the playoffs
5. Twins — Will finish with the worst record in all of baseball

A.L. West
1. Rangers — Hold off late surge from Anaheim and Oakland, but lose League Championship to Detroit
2. Angels — One and done in playoffs
3. A’s — One of only two A.L. teams (Detroit) to return to post-season
4. Mariners — Cano will soon regret leaving the Bronx
5. Astros — Won’t lose 100, but still a last place team

N.L. East
1. Nationals — Claim the best record in baseball, but denied World Series
2. Braves — Fourth playoffs in five years, but lose to Reds in Wild Card game
3. Phillies — 102 wins in 2011; under .500 in 2014
4. Mets — A sixth straight sub .500 season
5. Marlins — Miss out on 100 losses by one game

N.L. Central
1. Cardinals — Fourth consecutive post-season, but lose in Divisional Series
2. Reds — Runner-up to Cardinals again makes for difficult playoff path
3. Brewers — 90 wins not enough to make post-season
4. Pirates — These are the Pirates we know and love
5. Cubs — Curse of the goat good for another year

N.L. West
1. Dodgers — Get to the World Series, only to lose to Detroit
2. Giants — 2012 seems so long ago
3. Diamondbacks — First sub .500 finish since 2010
4. Rockies — Finally climb out of last place in their division
5. Padres — Sub .500 for the sixth time in past seven seasons

Looking Ahead To Your League Playoffs: WRs & TEs

Week 12 of the regular season is not too early to start thinking about how to best position your roster for your league playoffs. For most of us, that means taking a look at the matchups for Weeks 14 thru 16, making sure we get the most from the guys currently on our roster, or looking to add the players that can help bring home the Championship.

It goes without saying that if you have Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson or Jimmy Graham on your team, they will be in your lineup unless hurt, regardless of who their NFL opponent is. But, if you don’t have a stud and have been playing matchups all season, now is the time to see if you’ve got the right players on your team.

In my final installment of “Looking Ahead To Your League Playoffs” I take a look at the top two non-stud WR/TE with the best playoff schedule (statistics thru Week 11):

Alshon Jeffery, Chicago
With Brandon Marshall drawing most of the attention from opposing pass defenses, Jeffery has put together an outstanding season thus far, with 818 yards on 54 receptions (15.1 avg) and three TDs. That is only 10 less receptions and yards than Marshall, and Jeffery has another 111 yards rushing.

The Bears host the Cowboys, whose pass defense is ranked 31st in the league, in Week 14. Opposing teams average 313 yards through the air, and have scored 20 receiving TDs (tied for 4th most in the league). In his only other game against Dallas, Jeffery caught three passes for 32 yards.

Week 15 could present a bit of a challenge for Chicago, when they travel to Cleveland to face the Browns and their 4th ranked pass defense. That said, much of that success can be attributed to Joe Haden, who will most certainly be assigned to Marshall most of the game.

In Week 16 the Bears head to the City of Brotherly Love to face the Eagles and the league’s worst pass defense, which has been thrown on 484 times (the most in the NFL). Whether Jay Cutler has returned from his ankle injury or not, Chicago should have success against a Philadelphia pass defense that is allowing 300 yards per game, and has provided highlight reel material to the likes of Mike Glennon, Matt McGloin, Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzien.

Jeffery may be available for a decent price, except perhaps in keeper and dynasty leagues, especially if Cutler does not return. Play up this angle, along with the “not enough balls to go around” theory with Marshall, Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte all stealing touches, in an effort to grab Jeffery.

Delanie Walker, Tennessee
It is hard to recommend anyone other than Chris Johnson off the Titans roster, especially with Ryan Fitzpatrick or, dare I say it, Rusty Smith or John Skelton at quarterback. Still, Walker is their best receiving option and, in light of their inferior passers, more likely to be targeted over Nate Washington and Kendall Wright.

In Week 14 the Titans go to Mile High Stadium to face the Broncos. Fantasy owners care little about who wins this game (which, by the way, will be Denver). What they do care about is that Tennessee will have to throw the ball all game to keep pace with the Broncos’ offense. Because most teams have had to take this same approach, Denver is ranked 28th against the pass, allowing 279 yards per game.

In Week 15 the Cardinals come to town, bringing their 19th ranked pass defense with them. But when you look closely at the numbers you learn that Arizona has had difficulty against opposing tight ends all season, yielding 712 yards on 43 receptions with eight TDs to their opponents number one TE.

In Week 16 Tennessee faces Jacksonville, whose pass defense is ranked 24th in the league. This is somewhat misleading, since teams tend to establish the lead against the Jaguars, turning towards the ground game. In fact, only eight teams have been passed on less than Jacksonville. Earlier this season, Walker caught four passes for 62 yards and a TD against them.

The tight end position is thin (what else is new), and the timing may not be the best, with Walker coming off of two solid performances, but he may not yet have been claimed in your league. Grab him now if he is still available.

Looking Ahead To Your League Playoffs: RBs

Week 12 of the regular season is not too early to start thinking about how to best position your roster for your league playoffs. For most of us, that means taking a look at the matchups for Weeks 14 thru 16, making sure we get the most from the guys currently on our roster, or looking to add the players that can help bring home the Championship.

It goes without saying that if you have Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson or Jimmy Graham on your team, they will be in your lineup unless hurt, regardless of who their NFL opponent is. But, if you don’t have a stud and have been playing matchups all season, now is the time to see if you’ve got the right players on your team.

Let’s take a look at the top two non-stud players with the best playoff schedule at the QB, RB, WR and TE positions (statistics thru Week 11). Next up are the running backs:

Eddie Lacy, Green Bay
Lacy is 8th in the league with 696 rushing yards (4.0 average), five TDs and only one fumble (which came in his very first NFL game). He has also caught 16 passes and could very well have Aaron Rodgers back for the fantasy playoffs.

In Week 14, Green Bay hosts the hapless Atlanta Falcons, whose rushing defense ranks 30th in the league. They are allowing 132.7 yards per game and are the only team yet to record a fumble recovery. The Falcons appear to have given up on the 2013 campaign, yielding 729 rushing yards and six TDs in their last four games.

In Week 15, the Packers head to Big D to face the Cowboys, whose 27th ranked run defense allows 126.8 yards per game and a league worst 4.9 yards per carry. They have also allowed 11 rushing TDs (only Washington, Tennessee, Jacksonville and Pittsburgh have allowed more this season).

Green Bay plays host to the aforementioned Steelers in Week 16. Their 125.2 rushing yards allowed per game is 24th in the league, and their 13 rushing TDs allowed is ranked 29th. But this does not tell the whole story. On the road, Pittsburgh’s run defense has allowed an average of 149.8 yards per game with nine TDs.

The Packers will likely be playing for their own playoff lives as the regular season winds down and, even if Rodgers does not return, the team will lean heavily on Lacy. The price to acquire him may be steep, especially in keeper and dynasty leagues, but you don’t get what you don’t ask for, so make an offer.

DeMarco Murray, Dallas
Despite his high risk of injury, the Cowboys have little else to rely on in their ground game so, as long as he is on the field, Murray is their guy. He is averaging 4.9 yards per carry and has caught 31 passes out of the backfield this season (12th most among running backs).

In Week 14, the Cowboys travel to the Windy City to face the Bears. This once ferocious defense is now ranked 31st in the league against the run, allowing 133.9 yards per game. Weather may also play a factor, forcing Dallas to rely on their ground game even more.

In Week 15, Dallas hosts Green Bay, which may prove to be a difficult matchup for Murray. However, if Aaron Rodgers has not returned from his collarbone injury, the Cowboys defense could give Scott Tolzien fits, creating opportunities for Murray to have a big game.

In Week 16, the Cowboys head to Washington to face the Redskins, whose 18th ranked run defense has allowed 15 TDs, tied for the most in the league. Earlier this season, Murray was en route to a big day against Washington, rushing for 29 yards on seven carries (4.1 avg) and a TD, along with two receptions for 21 yards, before leaving with a sprained left ankle.

Murray owners may wish to move the oft-injured back, allowing you to get him cheap. Keep in mind that he is quietly having the best season of his short career, having already matched his season high of four TDs with six games remaining, and is on pace for his first 1,000 yard season.

Looking Ahead To Your League Playoffs: QBs

Week 12 of the regular season is not too early to start thinking about how to best position your roster for your league playoffs. For most of us, that means taking a look at the matchups for Weeks 14 thru 16, making sure we get the most from the guys currently on our roster, or looking to add the players that can help bring home the Championship.

It goes without saying that if you have Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson or Jimmy Graham on your team, they will be in your lineup unless hurt, regardless of who their NFL opponent is. But, if you don’t have a stud and have been playing matchups all season, now is the time to see if you’ve got the right players on your team.

Let’s take a look at the top two non-stud players with the best playoff schedule at the QB, RB, WR and TE positions (statistics thru Week 11). First up are the quarterbacks:

Nick Foles, Philadelphia
Foles has completed 63.6|PERCENT| percent of his passes with 16 TDs and 0 INTs for a QB rating of 128.0. His 9.6 yards per attempt is best in the league and he’s also run for two TDs, despite standing on the sidelines for all or part of the Eagles first five games this season.

In Week 14, Philadelphia hosts the Detroit Lions, whose 30th ranked pass defense has yielded 19 TDs this season, and allowed 284 yards per game, while recording just 16 sacks through 10 games (only the Jaguars and Giants have less).

Week 15 offers an equally attractive opponent for the Eagles, who head to Minnesota and their 29th ranked pass defense. The Vikings have allowed a league-high 23 TDs to opposing quarterbacks and an average of 280 yards per game.

Should you advance to your league Championship game in Week 16 the matchup is a bit tougher, with Philadelphia hosting Chicago. While the Bear pass defense, ranked 16th overall, is allowing just 239 yards and 1.5 TDs per game, their pass rush has been non-existent with only 17 sacks. And, considering both the Eagles and Bears will likely be playing a meaningful game in terms of their own playoff chances, combined with Philadelphia?s 32nd ranked pass defense, this has all the signs of being a shootout.

Foles has several solid receiving options in DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper and LeSean McCoy and, while he may be hard to acquire at this point in the season, if he is currently on the roster of a team looking ahead to 2014, now may be a good time to get him.

Case Keenum, Houston
I know what you’re thinking… he was pulled in Week 11 for Matt Schaub. True, but head coach Gary Kubiak has already named Keenum the Week 12 starter, and with the Texans having nothing to play for this season, he should get an extended look the rest of the way. Like Foles, Keenum has had limited playing time this season, playing just three and a half games, but has made the most of it with eight TDs and just one INT for a QB rating of 99.0. His 7.9 yards per attempt is ranked 8th in the league among quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts.

In Week 14, Houston travels to Jacksonville, whose 24th ranked pass defense has allowed 20 TDs while having a league-worst four INTs and just 15 sacks (only the Giants have less). Need I say more?

In Week 15, the Texans head to Indianapolis. By no means is the Colts pass defense soft, but Keenum torched them for 350 yards and three TDs with no INTs earlier this season, and Houston will likely be looking at this game to salvage pride for the season.

Week 16 presents a far more attractive option, when the Texas host the Broncos and their 29th ranked pass defense. Considering Denver’s potent offense, opponents have been forced to attempt over 40 passes per game (3rd most in the league), giving Keenum ample opportunity to put up big fantasy numbers.

Keenum may still be available on the waiver wire in your league, and has Andre Johnson, Garrett Graham and Ben Tate as targets, making him worth stashing on your roster until playoff time.

2013 W-L Predictions: Money Talks

Vegas has now posted their win totals and World Series odds for each team, giving the savvy bettor an opportunity to wager before bookmakers can adjust. Even though the first exhibition games have yet to be played, we have a sense as to how teams will perform in 2013. Here are my Win-Loss projections, along with the Vegas lines on Wins, Winning the Pennant, and Winning the World Series, with a few wagers I like thrown in for good measure.

AL EAST
W
L
WINS
PENNANT
WS
New York Yankees
89
73
86.5
13-2
+1250
Tampa Bay Rays
88
74
85
12-1
+1600
Toronto Blue Jays
83
79
86.5
12-1
+1600
Baltimore Orioles
81
81
76.5
20-1
+5000
Boston Red Sox
76
86
79.5
14-1
+2000
AL CENTRAL
W
L
WINS
PENNANT
WS
Detroit Tigers
91
71
90
4-1
+800
Chicago White Sox
83
79
80.5
20-1
+4000
Kansas City Royals
81
81
79
25-1
+5000
Cleveland Indians
77
85
77.5
20-1
+9000
Minnesota Twins
65
97
64.5
50-1
+10000
AL WEST
W
L
WINS
PENNANT
WS
Los Angeles Angels
92
70
89.5
9-2
+600
Texas Rangers
88
74
87
13-2
+1500
Oakland Athletics
86
76
83
16-1
+3200
Seattle Mariners
75
87
76.5
40-1
+7000
Houston Astros
63
99
59.5
100-1
+25000
NL EAST
W
L
WINS
PENNANT
WS
Washington Nationals
92
70
90
15-4
+800
Atlanta Braves
89
73
86
7-1
+1500
Philadelphia Phillies
81
81
81.5
25-1
+1650
New York Mets
73
89
74
40-1
+8800
Miami Marlins
61
101
64.5
50-1
+20000
NL CENTRAL
W
L
WINS
PENNANT
WS
Cincinnati Reds
91
71
89.5
6-1
+1200
St. Louis Cardinals
85
77
85.5
9-1
+1800
Milwaukee Brewers
81
81
79.5
18-1
+5000
Pittsburgh Pirates
77
85
79
25-1
+6500
Chicago Cubs
75
87
72
40-1
+10000
NL WEST
W
L
WINS
PENNANT
WS
Los Angeles Dodgers
91
71
89.5
4-1
+650
San Francisco Giants
86
76
86
7-1
+1000
Arizona Diamondbacks
83
79
81.5
25-1
+5000
San Diego Padres
76
86
74.5
40-1
+8500
Colorado Rockies
71
91
71.5
50-1
+10000

Orioles over 76.5 wins

It seems like everyone, including Vegas, does not believe the Orioles can repeat their incredible 2012 season win total of 93. They certainly had a lot of favorable bounces last year, but are still a solid team with Matt Wieters, Jim Johnson and Adam Jones. Even with a Baltimore chop to .500 in 2013, their 81 wins are 4.5 more than the line, and the largest differential among my predictions.

Blue Jays under 86.5 wins

Am I the only person who thinks an increase of nearly 14 wins from last season is a bit of a reach for Toronto? The new-look Blue Jays won just 73 games last season, but are being picked by many to win the uber-competitive AL East. Jose Reyes is good, but not that good, and I just do not see that much improvement, or a trip to the post-season in 2013.

Astros over 59.5 wins

When was the last time any franchise had three consecutive 100-loss seasons in a row? The Detroit Tigers did it from 1994-96. And, in the past 50 years, only one other franchise, the New York Mets, has done so (1962-65). It will not be easy, but the team that scored the fewest runs in baseball will be helped by their move to the AL and the addition of the designated hitter. The Astros have a .465 winning percentage against the AL, a mark they have achieved only twice in the past six seasons in the NL. As a result, I believe they will narrowly avoid 100 losses in 2013.

Marlins under 64.5 wins

The same cannot be said for Miami. With Houston moving to the AL, and a roster that was decimated by the epic-fail that was their trade with Toronto, the Marlins should be able to claim the worst record in the NL. Without Reyes, Mark Buehrle or Josh Johnson, the 2013 season will not make the Miami-Dade County $2.4 billion debt any easier to swallow.

Dodgers 4-1 to win NL Pennant

On paper, the Washington Nationals may be the best team in baseball, adding Dan Haren, Rafael Soriano and Denard Span to their roster. But, as a lifelong Yankees fan, I know that money talks. Adding Zack Greinke to a pitching rotation that already has Clayton Kershaw, Josh Beckett and Chris Capuano makes Los Angeles and their league-leading $213 million payroll my pick to win the NL Pennant.

Value Bet: Giants 7-1 to win NL Pennant

They are still the champs until someone beats them.

Angels 9-2 to win AL Pennant

The Detroit Tigers, with the 2011 and 2012 MVPs, Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera, will run away with the division this year, and be the first to clinch a playoff spot. But, the lack of competition during the regular season will be their downfall, losing to Josh Hamilton and the Angels in the AL Championship, setting the stage for an all Los Angeles World Series. Not surprisingly, the Angels $152 million payroll is second only to the Yankees in the AL, but that includes the $27.5 million being paid to Alex Rodriguez, who may not play until July.

Value Bet: Rays 12-1 to win AL Pennant

Their chances improve greatly if they edge out New York for the AL East title, avoiding the Wild Card play-in game.

Angels +600 to win World Series

Free-agent Hamilton helps bring home the championship that 2012 free-agents Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson could not.

Value Bet: Rays +1600 to win World Series

2012 Standings Predictions

NFC East
1. Philadelphia Eagles      9-7
2. New York Giants             9-7
3. Dallas Cowboys              7-9
4. Washington Redskins     6-10

NFC North
1. Green Bay Packers    13-3
2. Detroit Lions                9-7
3. Chicago Bears               8-8
4. Minnesota Vikings         6-10

NFC South
1. New Orleans Saints    11-5
2. Atlanta Falcons           10-6
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-10
4. Carolina Panthers          6-10

NFC West
1. San Francisco 49ers  11-5
2. Arizona Cardinals          8-8
3. Seattle Seahawks         7-9
4. St. Louis Rams             4-12

AFC East
1. New England Patriots 12-4
2. New York Jets               8-8
3. Buffalo Bills                   7-9
4. Miami Dolphins             5-11

AFC North
1. Baltimore Ravens      10-6
2. Cincinnati Bengals    10-6
3. Pittsburgh Steelers       9-7
4. Cleveland Browns         5-11

AFC South
1. Houston Texans        10-6
2. Tennessee Titans         7-9
3. Jacksonville Jaguars     6-10
4. Indianapolis Colts         5-11

AFC West
1. Denver Broncos          9-7
2. Oakland Raiders         9-7

3. San Diego Chargers      7-9
4. Kansas City Chiefs       7-9

Wildcard Round
Eagles over Falcons
Lions over 49ers
Ravens over Raiders
Bengals over Broncos

Divisional Round
Eagles over Saints
Packers over Lions
Ravens over Texans
Patriots over Bengals

NFC Championship: Packers over Eagles
AFC Championship: Patriots over Ravens

Super Bowl: Packers over Patriots