Articles by Erik Siegrist

Erik Siegrist is an FSWA award-winning columnist who covers all four major North American sports (that means the NHL, not NASCAR) and whose beat extends back to the days when the Nationals were the Expos and the Thunder were the Sonics. He was the inaugural champion of Rotowire's Staff Keeper baseball league and is the defending champion in Rotowire's football auction Steak League. His work has also appeared at Baseball Prospectus.

Johansen Contract Saga Getting Ugly

Coming off the best season in franchise history, the future seemed bright for the young Blue Jackets. They had a stacked farm system, an elite goalie in Sergei Bobrovsky, a deep group of defensemen that included future Norris Trophy contender Ryan Murray, and a deeper group of physical, skilled forwards headlined by rising star Ryan Johansen. Sure, Johansen was a restricted free agent, but it’d be crazy to think they wouldn’t get him inked quickly…

Cue the ominous music.

Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt, has a penchant for tough negotiations and occasional holdouts, so it’s perhaps no surprise that Johansen is back home in Vancouver instead of in Columbus as training camp begins. But after a fairly quiet summer in which the two sides seemed to make some progress by agreeing to a two-year ‘bridge’ deal, even if they were millions apart in salary, things blew up completely over the last few days, with GM Jarmo Kekalainen and president John Davidson both publicly raking Overhardt over the coals. Davidson even went so far as to reveal what the club has offered Johansen, and that’s where the story really starts to get interesting.

Training Camp Notes: Cuts Like a Knile

Note: Knile Davis was NOT cut by the Chiefs. I just couldn’t resist the pun, sorry. It feels so right, baby.

– the biggest non-cut news from the past 24 hours was Aldon Smith receiving a nine-game suspension for a combo violation of the NFL’s substance abuse and personal conduct policies. Chris Liss has already talked (and talked, and talked…) about Josh Gordon’s year-long banishment, but it’s hard not to roll your eyes at a disciplinary system that hands out 16-game suspensions for what may have been exposure to second-hand sinsemilla, but gives about half that to Smith for multiple DUIs, multiple weapons charges and a freaking airport bomb threat. Regardless, owners who already spent a relatively high pick on the 49ers defense will just have to grit their teeth and suck it up while Smith is sidelined.

Now Is The Time To Draft Johnny Manziel

After all the preseason hype, Mike Pettine and the Browns finally did the logical thing and named vanilla veteran Brian Hoyer as their starting quarterback, relegating Johnny Manziel to the role of understudy. The decision just made too much sense – the rookie showed flashes of his dynamic upside during the preseason but didn’t dominate, and Johnny Football couldn’t provide many compelling reasons why he should be thrown into the fire for Week 1.

That’s why it now makes sense to draft Manziel.

Wait, what?

Training Camp Notes: Ball Is Bouncing Back

- Montee Ball, laid low by appendicitis earlier in camp, will make his preseason debut tonight against the Texans. His snaps will certainly be limited, but owners who have invested a high pick in Ball (or are planning to do so) can now exhale, as all signs currently point to him being ready for Week 1.

– more good news for Broncos fans: Von Miller will also play Saturday, seeing his first game action since tearing his ACL last season in Week 15. Between Miller’s return and the offseason addition of DeMarcus Ware, the Denver defense could be a sneaky fantasy play in formats that reward big sack totals.

Deep Sleepers: WRs and TEs

Following up my post on deep sleepers at running back, it’s time to take a look at potential late round darts at wide receiver and tight end.

Unlike with the RBs, most of these guys will probably go completely undrafted in normal leagues. Whereas there can be a lot of turnover in fantasy backfields due to injuries, timeshares and the like, the top of the wide receiver pool tends to be a lot more stable. (In fact, that’s the primary reason I’ve become such a big proponent of going WR-WR to start off a draft in standard leagues.) That doesn’t mean there won’t be surprise performers at WR or TE, however, just that you have less need to build a fantasy strategy around hoarding receiver lottery tickets in the hopes of hitting big on one or two of them.

For that reason, when I compiled this list I focused only on players currently outside the top 200 in ADP. (Travis Kelce has crept into the 190s since I put it together thanks to a big preseason so far, but I’m leaving him in.) That means no ‘obvious’ sleepers like Sammy Watkins, Brandin Cooks, DeAndre Hopkins etc. Most of these guys will probably go undrafted in a normal league, but savvy owners will still keep a mental list of players who they think might break out, and will be ready to pounce with early FAAB bids or waiver claims if they show any signs of life. Owners in deep leagues, of course, will probably find a few names here worthy of late round calls.