Bears

Fantasy Baseball Batter Stock Watch - 831

Fantasy Baseball Batter Stock Watch - 831

By David Ferris
CSNChicago.com Contributor

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Yasmani Grandal, C, Padres: He's finally all the way back from his oblique injury - Grandal has been hitting line drives all week - and he's a super plug-and-play this weekend, working at Coors Field for three games. Grandal already has three homers in 16 at-bats against the putrid Rockies pitching staff this summer, and he went deep twice during his first MLB start, which came late June in the thin air. Gravity always wins.

Josh Rutledge, SS, Rockies: A sore quad cost him a handful of starts this month, though Rutledge still gave us a homer and a steal as a regular pinch-hitter. He's finally back at shortstop, adding to a splashy 40-game debut (.350 average, seven homers, five steals). Don't worry if Troy Tulowitzki eventually returns to the fold - the Rockies want to see Rutledge at second base anyway, a position he played in the minors.

Trevor Plouffe, Utility, Twins: Thumb injuries are known for their ability to sap power, but Plouffe has finally gotten back to full health and he was locked in during the Seattle series, even if the results don't show it (3-for-13). See the forest for the trees here: Plouffe had a homer, four RBIs and three walks against the Ms, and hit a couple of rockets right at defenders. Look for 4-6 homers in September, along with a useful four positions of eligibility in Yahoo! leagues.

Sell

Mike Aviles, SS, Red Sox: He only started one game at short during the Anaheim series, in part because the Red Sox have turned their final quarter of the year into community auditions. And while the Boston lineup was a fun place to be for most of the summer, it's a ghost town now: no more Gonzalez, Ortiz, Youkilis or Crawford. This probably won't be a Top 10 offense the rest of the way, and Aviles won't be a full-timer besides.

Matt Joyce, OF, Rays: He's fallen into some bad habits during the second half of the year (.217.293.342, 32 strikeouts, just three homers), and now a forearm injury has crept into the picture. The Rays also know Joyce can't be exposed against too many left-handed starters - he has a puny .620 OPS against them. In mixed leagues, you need someone more reliable (and someone who plays more often).

Joaquin Arias, SS3B, Giants: Manager Bruce Bochy is going to ride the hot hand with Arias, but anytime you see a .429 average tied to a .450 on-base percentage, be skeptical. Arias is an ordinary journeyman with a .280.318.389 line over 202 MLB games (just four homers). He might be worth holding if you need a push in batting average, but otherwise there's nothing to see here.

Many Machado, SS3B, Orioles: The opening weekend against Kansas City was a blast, but since then Machado has gone 9-for-50 with 14 strikeouts (and just two walks). Baseball is still hard, especially for a teenaged Double-A prospect who was having a so-so year in the minors. We still love the future for Machado, but we're not going to bet on his present. Growing pains are here.

Hold

Todd Frazier, Utility, Reds: He's turned into a surprising Rookie of the Year candidate, posting a handy .294-49-18-62 line and qualifying at three positions in standard Yahoo! leagues. Some gamers are worried about Frazier for the final month - Joey Votto is coming back soon, which means Frazier doesn't have the first-base slot to himself anymore - but we can't imagine Scott Rolen being hale for the balance of the year. Dusty Baker can also slot Frazier in the outfield if he wants. Trust the skills here, and have faith that Frazier will keep a spot, somewhere.

Nate McLouth, OF, Orioles: He's still zipping around with plus wheels, even at age 31, which is why McLouth has 15 runs and six steals during a snappy month with Baltimore. And while McLouth isn't going to threaten the warehouse too often at Camden Yards, he still can knock a ball out of the park now and then (two homers over 80 at-bats). Buck Showalter is a believer; he's using McLouth in the No. 3 slot against right-handed pitching. McLouth is a solid No. 5 outfielder or utility play in deep mixed formats.

Bears-Lions prediction: Will special teams continue John Fox's NFC North woes?

Bears-Lions prediction: Will special teams continue John Fox's NFC North woes?

Only three of John Fox’s 12 wins as Bears coach have been against NFC North opponents, while 12 of his 29 losses have come against divisional opponents. 

That’s a recipe for back-to-back-to-back last place finishes in the NFC North. And if the Bears can’t beat an Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers team, why could it beat a Detroit Lions team that has a healthy franchise quarterback?

The positive end of that answer is the Bears do have wins over two playoff teams (Pittsburgh and Carolina) while six of their four losses have been by eight points or fewer. Sunday’s game will probably be close, again (if it’s not, and the Bears are on the losing end of it, it would raise some significant concerns about the state of Fox within the locker room). 

So if the game is decided by one possession or less, this could be the difference: Detroit has one of the best special teams units in the NFL, ranking second in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, while the Bears are 28th by the same measure. 

Getting Sherrick McManis back this week should help solidify Jeff Rodgers’ special teams units, but Jamal Agnew has two punt return scores and is averaging 18.3 yards per return. 

“Tough guy — he’ll return inside and outside,” Rodgers said. “He’s got multiple longer returns against people this year. it’s not just, ‘I had a long return in Week 2 or Week 1,’ and kinda held onto that. he’s been productive in a lot of games. certainly a guy that we’ve gotta do a good job against.”

If the Bears don’t do a good job bottling up Agnew, though, he could be the reason why the game flips to Detroit — or, at least, why the Lions keep the Bears at arm’s length. 

Prediction: Lions 24, Bears 16

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

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Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, and Kevin Anderson react to a breakout game from Kris Dunn against the Hornets Friday night. They’ll discuss his development and how it impacts rookie Lauri Markkanen. Plus just how long will both the Wolves and Bulls be judged on the Jimmy Butler trade? Is Dwight Howard a hall of famer? And a new era in Philly with Simmons and Embiid. That and more on this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast.