The NFL has just reached the first quarter mark of the season. For many fantasy football owners who are currently struggling in their leagues this is the time to ask themselves “Do I stay patient and wait for some these players who haven’t produce to come around? Or, should I try to trade some of my guys to try and improve my team?”

Although the season may seem like it just started don’t forget that for many fantasy leagues  their playoffs begin in week 13. So for many people the halfway mark is approaching fast. It’s probably coming even faster for those individuals who are at the bottom of their league standings.

It isn’t quite  panic time yet; however a team can’t afford too fall too far behind the team with the last spot in the playoffs. It’s important to stay at least within 100 points of that team.

Arian Foster is the biggest surprise so far this fantasy season

 It’s never too early a make a trade. It’s important though to apply good trading principles and research all of the players targeted in the potential trade.

 This is important if an owner wants to receive good value for a pick. If your roster has four good running backs please trade one of them now! A running back is only as valuable as his last game. One game could diminish his value not only because of production but also because of  injuries. Trade one of those running backs and try to boslter the depth of your roster with another potential good player.

There is also an opportunity for an owner to try and trade for an underachieving player.  There are many of these players that are out there that are available on many fantasy teams.  Many owners are frustrated with these underachievers lack of production and they are willing to part ways with these individuals for the right price.  This is a great time to inquire about these players since normally the asking price would be too high.

Fantasy owners should feel really good if they own Peterson

  If you decide to trade for one of these players make sure you do your homework! Find out why they are not producing and look the rest of their schedule to see if they have any favorable matchups.  If they do and you feel like they will  produce  up your standards eventually then by all means get them on your team!

Another element that many fantasy owners miss out on is the waiver wire. This is a huge part of the game that should be watched on a consistent basis. Many of these players are often overlooked until they have a good game and then they are gone.  There are many hidden gems available right now!

 Perfect example; last year my team was struggling at the wide receiver position. None of my starters were putting up any decent stats on a week to week basis. I needed a wide receiver really bad. Miles Austin was slept on and forgotten about for many fantasy owners. It wasn’t until he had one  breakout game early last year that people really paid attention to him.

Peyton Hillis has been fantasy football treasure found on the waiver line

 Immediately after the game I went to add him to my team and but it was already too late.  He was already claimed by another owner. That haunted me for the rest of the season as I watched him soar up the league standings with a player from the waiver line.  After this I vowed to never let this happen again and so now I religiously watch that waiver line.  Don’t let this same mistake happen to you.

Don’t hesitate to make the right move that could steer your team in right direction.  Make the right trades, research favorable matchups for your team, and watch the waiver line. Follow these tips and you should stay in contention for the fantasy league championship all year long.

The NFL is known as the National Football League but those initials have another alternate identification and that is “Not For Long.”  With only three weeks gone by in the season we’ve already seen plenty of changes among several teams within the league.

Just three weeks ago teams had aspirations and high hopes for the upcoming season.  Dreams of long playoff runs and super bowl titles are already in jeopardy in the minds of some fans for their respective favorite  football teams.

The Trent Edwards Era Is Now Over.

Four teams have already benched their starting quarterbacks from week 1(Buffalo, Carolina, Philadelphia, and Oakland) and the San Francisco 49ers have already fired their offensive coordinator. 

Teams haven’t even played 25% of their games and they have already made major changes.  I understand that there is only 16 games in a season and each games is important but if major changes are needed in just week 3 it sounds like desperate attempts to salvage mistakes made in the preseason.

Solid football teams don’t make drastic changes after just the third game into the season.  I don’t remember New England firing their defensive coordinator after a couple of games and I can’t recall the Indianapolis Colts benching their quarterback after a few games either.

Bruce Gradkowski

I’m not saying that teams should stay aboard a sinking ship; however I am saying that teams should have these things straighten out before the season starts.  Teams have all winter and spring to figure out what is best for their team and make the necessary adjustments in order to be successful during the regular season.  Making drastic changes after just a few weeks shows a fundamental flaw that should have been addressed in the offseason. 

Another cliché that runs throughout NFL circles is that “The NFL is a week to week league.” Maybe these weekly changes can help teams find the formula to a successful season.

It’s amazing how fast people’s opinions change about an individual.  In a matter of five minutes Lebron James went from being beloved to being hated in the city of Cleveland.  I can only imagine their frustrations. 

Having the best player right in your hometown is something that they have enjoyed over the past seven years.  They had grown accustomed to seeing this and had expected this to continue.  Unfortunately it will not because Lebron has chosen to “…take his talents to South Beach.”  Those words sent shock waves through the streets of Cleveland and I know that most people in that city will never forgive Lebron for what he did.

As I thought about writing this blog I really thought about getting after Lebron for his “decisions” and actions over the past few weeks. I thought the way he handled this free agent period was completely wrong and his choice to reveal his decision about a team on a national television show was completely unnecessary.  During these past few weeks he has really showed me a lot about his character and now we all realize that Lebron loves him some Lebron and he really likes attention.  In the end despite what I or anyone else thinks, Lebron was a free agent and he had to freedom to sign wherever he wanted.  Just because he grew up in the Cleveland area doesn’t mean he has to stay with the Cavaliers for the rest of his career.

Lebron Is Now Enemy #1 In The City Of Cleveland

My focus is on the rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers organization.  Today they are playing the victim role and expect everyone to have some sort of sympathy for them but I don’t.  They hold some responsibility in this “Ledacble” and they could’ve done more to entice Lebron to stay.

First, they should’ve fired Coach Mike Brown a long time ago.  I understand that Cleveland has had the best record in the eastern conference for the past few years, however that was almost all due to Lebron and had very little to do with Brown.  As far as I’m concerned he was the head coach in name only.  Brown was routinely outcoached in the playoffs and provided no schemes to push this team over the top.   It seemed like whenever Cleveland faced equal or superior competition in the playoffs Coach Brown could never adjust to the schemes facing his team.  Coaching the Cavaliers with Lebron James would’ve been the most attractive coaching vacancy in the league and they could’ve easily hired a better coach.  Lebron has always respected head coaches that were former players and they could’ve easily filled that void from him.

Brown Was Simply The Figure Head While King James Ruled The Court.

Second, General Manager Danny Ferry could’ve surrounded Lebron with better talent.  I won’t sit here and say that he did nothing because he didn’t. He made some efforts, but they weren’t enough.  I’ll start with this season with the decision to not obtain Amar’e Stoudemire.  With Amar’e they maybe wouldn’t have won the title but, he would’ve been a better fit for the Cavs then Jamison was and turned out to be.  It was only a rumor, but supposedly the reason why Cleveland couldn’t get Amar’e is because they weren’t willing to let go of J.J. Hickson.  This may or may not be true, but with Amar’e being a free agent Phoenix couldn’t have asked for a lot back in return.  Besides Amar’e what about the fact that Cleveland was never able to obtain another scoring threat in addition to Lebron?

It has been widely known for years that the Cavaliers needed another consistent scorer to take stop teams from simply just playing a makeshift zone against Lebron.  Another scorer would’ve spread the court better for the offense.  Their best effort was when they added players like Larry Hughes and Wally Szczerbiak.  These journeymen were supposed to be the Robin to Lebron’s Batman?  This was the best that you can do in the last seven years?  Trying isn’t good enough for me.  Cleveland should’ve done a better job in surrounding Lebron with better talent.

He Was Supposed To Be The Answer?!

Lebron was wrong how he acted the last few weeks, but he was not wrong for leaving.  Now Cleveland has to do what they should’ve been doing the last several years and that is put the best roster out on the floor possible.

The NBA Draft of 2010 has now officially come to a close.  All of the speculation of where these amateur athletes would land is now over.  The speculation of how good these players will be can now begin.  Overall I thought the draft was full of intriguing players.  It seemed like there was some talent available, but we all are generally unsure of how these players will translate to the NBA.  This year’s draft didn’t see a senior selected until the twenty third pick.  This was first time this happened since the NBA implemented the lottery system in 1985. 

Every year more and more underclassmen are entering into the draft.  With the bulk of prospects only being in college for a year or two this doesn’t give scouts a lot of information to appropriately determine how well these players will transition to the professional game.

In this unpredictable draft there were three players in that really stood out to me. Each of these players’ talents and attributes affected me in a different way.  And they are….

Boom = Greg Monroe

I could’ve easily picked John Wall as the player I think that could be the best in this draft class but how boring is that?  That’s like picking the Lakers to win the title again next year.  There is no risk involve in that selection.  So I will stick my neck out there a little bit with Monroe.  I am confident that he will have the most successful NBA career out of anyone in this year’s draft.  What I like best about Monroe is that scouts say that he is the most NBA ready player out of anyone of his peers.  I like the sound of this along with his measurables and his attributes. He is a 6-11, 240 pound true power forward.  He already possesses a decent offensive game that includes the ability to put his back to the basket and also the ability to face up his defender.  He is also a willing and good passer that average almost four assists a game, a strong rebounder, and he shows the ability to be able to defend by averaging one and a half blocks per game.  At Georgetown they ran a Princeton style offense which required the forwards and centers to handle the ball at the top of the key.  This style of offense definitely helped Monroe developed into a solid basketball player.  I am confident that once Monroe adjusts to the NBA game and adds some bulk he will be the best player of this draft class.

Cole Aldrich, Greg Ostertag, and Nick Collison All Went To Kansas. Not A Great History of Big Men.

Bust = Cole Aldrich

Cole Aldrich actually had a decent career at Kansas.  He was a good rebounder and a decent shot blocker.  It’s nothing personal against Aldrich honestly because I actually like the guy, but unfortunately I see him as nothing more than a journey man in the NBA.  If Aldrich was drafted in the second round then I would’ve never said nothing negative about him, but when a player is drafted in the first round he is automatically subjected to expectations.  A first round selection is considered a top thirty prospect and is oftentimes a team’s first selection.  When I think of a first round selection, I am envisioning a future starter for an NBA team.  Aldrich is just another run of the mill big man that will always be a role player.  I understand that he defends well and he blocks shots. That’s fine.  What about his offensive game? It’s very limited.  Aldrich possesses an elementary post game with a simple jump hook over both shoulders and he has very little face up skills. This past season he tried to develop a jumper with mediocre results.  His jump shot makes Shawn Marion’s look decent. It was very awkward, flat, and inconsistent.   Aldrich needs a lot of work for a supposed lottery pick and he only averaged about eleven points in his last year.  Sure Aldrich can prove me wrong and develop into a nice player, but he is a high risk project for an eleventh overall pick.  Besides it doesn’t help that with his buzz cut he reminds me of  another Kansas alum Greg Ostertag. He was just another example of a big man that was a journey man in the NBA.   

Huh? = Daniel Orton

Orton was the fifth Kentucky Wildcat taken in the first round.  He was probably the most interesting Wildcat as well.  In is only year at Kentucky he averaged just thirteen minutes and three points at the center position. 

The Orlando Magic selected him late in the first round so it isn’t like he is needed to be an impact player right away but still he is a first round selection? He barely played in his freshman year so that means that most of his highlights would be from high school.  Scouts have to judge his talents based off what he did against sixteen year olds?  Scouts also have to include his height and his potential.  If you have read my past blogs you would know how much I dislike the word potential.  There is just not enough information on this guy that allows him to be a first round selection.  If I were a general manger I would even question selecting him in the second round.  It’s just another example on how big men are viewed in the NBA.  Big men are constantly given so many chances when honestly most of the time they don’t deserve it.  If this was a shooting guard or point guard I would be talking about the mistake this guy made in leaving early and NOT getting drafted.

 There is no denying that the world cup is a huge event that captivates the entire globe for a month.  Countries’ battling for the world’s most prestigious cup gathers attention from everyone.  This includes the most passionate fans to novice viewers like me.

When it comes to soccer or football it is the world’s number one sport. Well its number one everywhere except here in America. To say that soccer is on the backburner of American sports is an understatement.  It really isn’t on our radar. American football, baseball, and basketball are the three sports that generate the most attention here in the states.  How can one sport be so important to the rest of the world and be so irrelevant here?  I’m not sure of the answer, but I do know that soccer has a long way in becoming even somewhat important here.

When it comes to soccer I only watch the world cup.  I can’t seem to bring myself to watching soccer during any other time.  One would think that if I could watch a month long event that I could possibly watch the same sport throughout the year, right? Well, no I can’t do it.  In my opinion there are three reasons why soccer isn’t relevant here.  These may not being the only reasons, but I know someone feels the same way I do.

The Flops

 I can’t stand all of the flopping that goes on in soccer.  Consistently in every match there are several players that dive to the ground when they feel that they were fouled in the process of dribbling the ball.  What makes things even worse is that these players roll around writhing in agony seemingly in a tremendous amount of pain.  These flop jobs are attempts to get anything from a penalty kick, to a free kick, and even red and yellow cards.  Sadly some of these referees fall prey to these bad acting jobs and give in to these players.  I can’t stand watching this when some of these flops lead to goals which come at a premium in this game.  I know that there is flopping in basketball also and it annoys me in that sport too; however there is so much scoring involved in the game of basketball that this element is a relatively small concern to the sport.  Flopping will never go away, but referees need to do a better job in seeing these plays and either letting the play go or punishing the flopper rather than the innocent party.

 Offside

 In soccer there isn’t a lot of scoring.  In some matches the teams don’t even score one goal.  What bothers me is just like when it seems that the match is going to get interesting a referee raises his hand signaling that a player was offside when he received the ball.  What’s more difficult about this call is that there isn’t a predetermined line for fans to see.  It’s all based on where the last defender is on the pitch.  I’m sure if I watched enough I would have a better understanding, but to me offside seems to take away opportunities for teams to score.

 

Matches That End In A Draw

 For the three major sports here in America there is a winner and loser for every game.  We know that regardless of what happens during the game that a winner will be determined in the end.  In soccer this isn’t always the case. If a winner isn’t determined at the end of ninety minutes then the match ends a draw.  What about the penalty kicks? That’s the one aspect of soccer that I really enjoy. It’s exciting, there is scoring back and forth, its instant action, and it doesn’t take that long.  I understand that in playoff or knockout situations there will be penalty kicks so why not transition that into an every match possibility? In America we want to see a winner.  We want to praise a winner and criticize a loser.  To me it seems that teams could simply just settle for draws if they know they aren’t as good as their opponents and they aren’t getting any opportunities to score.  I guess you can’t blame them because ultimately a draw is better than a loss.  In the end though regardless if it’s just a regular season match or not I want to see a winner.

 The sport of soccer has been around for a very long time.  These rules and principles have been in place long before I was ever thought of, however if there are some adjustments made to this game then they just might make a true fan out of me and millions of Americans.

Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals made his highly anticipated debut last night and he didn’t disappoint. He pitched seven innings, gave up four hits, two earn runs, and struck out fourteen.  What was really impressive is that he had zero walks.  For a rookie pitcher to be able to allow no walks in his very first major league start shows a lot of poise and control.

            Strasburg has been one of the most hyped baseball players in recent history.  Each and everyone one of his eleven minor league starts have gained tons of attention along with a lot of scrutiny.  This hype however began long before he stepped on a minor league mound.  He first gained notoriety while pitching for the San Diego State Aztecs. There he was known as the guy who threw fastballs at 100 miles per hour with ease and had possessed an incredible breaking ball.  It seemed liked he was toying with the collegiate athletes at times by seemingly throwing with ease.

 All of this culminated to a first overall selection by the Washington Nationals in last year’s draft.  Many experts thought that Strasburg was ready to start in the major leagues right away, however the Nationals thought that it would better for him to work in the minor leagues for a while before bringing him up to the majors.  In his eleven starts in the minor leagues he was 7-2 with a 1.30 ERA, with 65 strikeouts and had only 13 walks.

All of this lead up to last nights game with a sold out crowd on hand to watch Strasburg’s first start. For at least one night he exceeded expectations.  To strikeout fourteen major league batters in your very first major league start is impressive.  Within those strikeouts he seemed to over match the Pittsburgh Pirates with high 90s fastballs with movement and breaking pitches that buckled the knees of some of their batters.

Strasburg pitched a phenomenal game, however before he is anointed the best pitcher in baseball and before he is put in the baseball hall of fame can we just see how he pitches in his next start and for the rest of the season?  As a sports society we are so quick to put the “best” title on someone before they can establish themselves.  Please let’s allow Strasburg to have at least a few more starts before we drool all over him. 

 He had a very good game, but to play devil’s advocate for a second he did face the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Coming into last night’s game they were statistically the worst offensive team in the majors.  So it wasn’t like he faced the Yankees or the Red Sox.  The Pirates right now are the equivalent of a minor team and they didn’t pose as too much of a threat to him.  Regardless of whom he faced last night he pitched really good.  His next start is against the Cleveland Indians and only time will tell just how good Strasburg will be.

Immediately after Cotto’s victory over Yuri Foreman on Saturday night, my interest sparked next to see what would be next for Miguel Cotto.  This is an interesting situation for him.  From here on out it is either make or break for Cotto.  He claims to pay no attention to those that say he is finished, but one must really wonder how much the public whispers are really affecting him.  Miguel Cotto has a warrior like spirit and as much as he claims to pay no mind to opinion, just read this his quote after the fight with Foreman, “I think I proved this night to everybody who said ‘Cotto is finished’ that everybody has failed,” he said.  Just hearing these words makes me believe that Cotto still has a chip on his shoulder against those that say he is done. 

In his last 5 fights Cotto has gone 3-2.   His lost to Margarito can be perceived either way, but  the way boxing is set up these days, if your an elite fighter and lose a couple fights, your either considered a shot fighter or near the end of your career.  That is why it is very important who Cotto fights next.  Lets look at some options for this Boriqua bomber:

1.  Antonio Margarito –  Cotto really needs to avenge this lost and fight Margarito one more time to get his confidence back.  After analyzing Miguel’s last few fights there were times when he didnt look like his old self and faded during heated exchanges.  Against Margarito, Cotto was winning the fight all the way until the 6th round but thats where the fight ended.  As the rounds went on, Cotto’s face started to look like he was being battered with something other than gloves and then his soul finally took a knee and he lost the fight.  As much as Cotto will deny it, a victory over Margarito in a second fight will give him a tremendous mental edge and reaffirm the public’s belief that Margarito did in fact have loaded gloves.  Ask any anyone that knows boxing, 80 percent of it is mental, so if you dont have it, you dont belong in this sport.

Miguel Cotto (L) and Antonio Margarito trade blows during their WBA welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena July 26, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Margarito won by TKO in the 11th round.

2. Julio Chavez Jr. – A fight with Bob Arum’s Mexican cash cow would be an event to witness.  Mexico and Puerto Rico have rich boxing history with each other and to pit these two together would create hype reminiscent of Chavez and Camacho in the early 90’s.  Many passionate latino fans would tune into this event which in turn into a great event.  In terms of Promotion and financial rewards, this fight would do very well in PPV buys and be a big payday for Miguel Cotto.  Don’t be surprised if this happens – assuming Chavez Jr. gets past John Duddy first. 

3. Manny Pacquiao – In their last fight, Pacquiao pummeled Cotto into a 12th round stoppage which did very little to boost Cotto’s morale as a fighter.  The only exception here is that Pacquiao is the best right now and there was no way he was going to last 12 rounds trading fire with fire against this Filipino slugger.  Arum has spoke openly with the media about a possible Pacquiao rematch if the Mayweather fight does not fall through, but to me this fight is looking like it is being hyped for Miguel to lose as Bob Arum has been saying recently as this being Pacquiao’s chance to set history by winning his 8th title in a record 8th different division.  If this fight does happen, I can’t forsee Cotto winning, but if he does pull of an upset, I would like to see Cotto retire while he is on top. 

Manny Pacquiao celebrates his 12 round TKO victory against Miguel Cotto as Cotto is consoled by referee Kenny Bayless after their WBO welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on November 14, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

4. Paul Williams – Paul Williams is considered by many as the most feared fighter in boxing.  His freakishly long arms, height, and highwork rate creates matchup problems in any fight hes in from 147 to 160lbs.  If this fight can be made, Miguel further solidifies his reputation that he does not duck anyone.  More so, a win would get him right back in the p4p discussion. 

Now sure Miguel can drop down to 147 and fight Andre Berto or maybe even rematch Sugar Shane but there really isn’t any meaningful fights for Cotto to continue fighting at that weight unless your nickname is “money” or “pacman.”  Truth is, Miguel should stay at 154lb and embrace it as his next division to conquer much like how he did at 140 and 147.  If he can continue his winning ways like he did in the past he would dismiss all his naysayers that he is shot..