Bears

Fantasy baseball batter stock watch

Fantasy baseball batter stock watch

By David Ferris
CSNChicago.com contributor
Buy 
Chase Headley, 3B, Padres: He's been fantasy's best hitter over the last month (.336-20-9-34-2), crushing on the road and doing just enough at home. And maybe the Petco Park giveback will be less next year; there's talk of the club moving the fences in. Headley deserves to be a Top 35 pick in redrafts next year, and the cornerstone of many keeper-league clubs. 
Norichika Aoki, OF, Brewers: He's been around .290.350 for the majority of the year - playable in the leadoff spot - and he's become more aggressive as he learns the NL, scooping 12 steals in the second half. Aoki might be partially screened by the summer of Milwaukee drama; he should be owned in roughly 40-50 percent of mixers, but the current tag is far below that. 
Jordan Pacheco, 1B3B, Rockies: He doesn't offer traditional pop for a cornerman, but a .313 average is always usable in a 5x5 league, especially at this time of the year when you're trying to manipulate categories. The Rockies return home next week, where Pacheco has a zippy .874 OPS. Thin air is always your friend.
Hold 
John Mayberry, 1BOF, Phillies: Most of his damage comes against left-handed pitching, but the overall second-half line (.289.344.503, eight homers in 149 at-bats) is good enough to justify full-time ownership in standard formats. It's a shame more of Mayberry's teammates aren't going along for the ride; the Phils are a mere 23rd in runs scored since the break, even with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard back. 
Drew Stubbs, OF, Reds: Why give him a strike when he'll gladly hack away at anything (141 whiffs)? That established, Stubbs at least fills three categories well (71 runs, 14 homers, 28 steals), so you can take the batting-average hit in some contexts. And Dusty Baker doesn't seem worried about the low average, so Stubbs will keep his regular spot in the outfield. 
Sell
Dan Uggla, 2B, Braves: The 17 homers and reasonable run-production stats weren't enough to keep Uggla installed at second - the Braves got tired of his Mendoza Line flirtation and mediocre defense in the field. While the benching isn't necessarily permanent, it's money time for fantasy baseball - there's no reason to play the waiting game on anyone. Move on. 
Curtis Granderson, OF, Yankees: There are a lot of moving parts to his swing, and now he has a hamstring problem to worry about as well. Granderson's 11 homers in the second half are the extent of his fantasy value - he's not hitting for average (.200) or getting on base (.429), and he's only attempted two steals. In some shallow formats with daily transactions, you could conceivably slide Granderson into a platoon role.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: How hot is John Fox's seat?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: How hot is John Fox's seat?

Seth Gruen (Bleacher Report/”Big Ten Unfiltered” podcast), Chris Emma (670TheScore.com) and Matt Zahn (CBS 2) join Kap on the panel. If the Bears lose badly to the Lions, should Sunday be John Fox’s last game? 

Plus Bulls Insider Vincent Goodwill joins the panel to talk Bulls as well as the Niko/Portis cold war.

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here:

Collecting some final thoughts on if Tarik Cohen isn't getting enough snaps for the Bears

Collecting some final thoughts on if Tarik Cohen isn't getting enough snaps for the Bears

John Fox on Friday sought to clarify some comments he made earlier in the week about Tarik Cohen that seemed to follow some spurious logic. Here’s what Fox said on Wednesday when asked if he’d like to see Cohen be more involved in the offensive game plan:

“You’re looking at one game,” Fox said, referencing Cohen only playing 13 of 60 snaps against the Green Bay Packers. “Sometimes the defense dictates who gets the ball. I think from a running standpoint it was a game where we didn’t run the ball very effectively. I think we only ran it 17 times. I believe Jordan Howard, being the fifth leading rusher in the league, probably commanded most of that. I think he had 15 carries. 

“It’s a situation where we’d like to get him more touches, but it just didn’t materialize that well on that day. But I’d remind people that he’s pretty high up there in both punt returns, he’s our leading receiver with 29 catches, so it’s not like we don’t know who he is.”

There were some clear holes to poke in that line of reasoning, since the question wasn’t about Cohen’s touches, but his snap count. Cohen creates matchup problems when he’s on the field for opposing defenses, who can be caught having to double-team him (thus leaving a player uncovered, i.e. Kendall Wright) or matching up a linebacker against him (a positive for the Bears). The ball doesn’t have to be thrown Cohen’s way for his impact to be made, especially if he’s on the field at the same time as Howard. 

“They don’t know who’s getting the ball, really, and they don’t know how to defend it properly,” Howard said. “… It definitely can dictate matchups.”

There are certain scenarios in which the Bears don’t feel comfortable having Cohen on the field, like in third-and-long and two-minute drills, where Benny Cunningham’s veteran experience and pass protection skills are valued. It may be harder to create a mismatch or draw a double team with Cohen against a nickel package. It's easier to justify leaving a 5-foot-6 running back on the sidelines in those situations. 

But if the Bears need Cohen to be their best playmaker, as offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said last month, they need to find a way for him to be on the field more than a shade over one in every five plays. As Fox explained it on Friday, though, it’s more about finding the right spots for Cohen, not allowing opposing defenses to dictate when he’s on the field. 

“We have Tarik Cohen out there, we're talking about touches, not play time, we're talking about touches so if they double or triple cover him odds are the ball is not going to him, in fact we'd probably prefer it didn’t,” Fox said. “So what I meant by dictating where the ball goes, that's more related to touches than it is play time. I just want to make sure I clarify that. So it's not so much that they dictate personnel to you. Now if it's in a nickel defense they have a certain package they run that may create a bad matchup for you, that might dictate what personnel group you have out there not just as it relates to Tarik Cohen but to your offense in general. You don't want to create a bad matchup for your own team. I hope that makes sense.”

There’s another wrinkle here, though, that should be addressed: Loggains said this week that defenses rarely stick to the tendencies they show on film when Cohen is on the field. That’s not only a problem for Cohen, but it’s a problem for Mitchell Trubisky, who hasn’t always had success against defensive looks he hasn’t seen on film before. And if the Bears are trying to minimize the curveballs Trubisky sees, not having Cohen on the field for a high volume of plays would be one way to solve that. 

This is also where the Bears’ lack of offensive weapons factors in. Darren Sproles, who Cohen will inexorably be linked to, didn’t play much as a rookie — but that was on a San Diego Chargers team that had LaDanian Tomlinson, Keenan McCardell and Antonio Gates putting up big numbers. There were other options on that team; the Bears have a productive Howard and a possibly-emerging Dontrelle Inman, but not much else. 

So as long as Cohen receives only a handful of snaps on a team with a paucity of playmakers, this will continue to be a topic of discussion. Though if you’re looking more at the future of the franchise instead of the short-term payoffs, that we’re having a discussion about a fourth-round pick not being used enough is a good thing.