Cubs

Start 'emSit 'em: Week 10

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Start 'emSit 'em: Week 10

The guys stayed close in Week 9 and enter Week 10 with just two points separating all three.

This week features four teams on a Bye -- Washington, Green Bay, Cleveland and Arizona -- meaning quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Robert Griffin III and Brandon Weeden are out of commission for one matchup. Though, if you're counting on old man Weeden as your No. 1 fantasy QB, your team has more issues than just a simple Bye week.

So many QBs are on the bubble as starter-worthy fantasy guys, but we attempt to sift through the mess this week, touching on six different signal-callers. We even toss in a few RBs and WRs, too, just to keep things interesting.

Just a reminder for those keeping score at home (though we'll do it for you), for players who each analyst starts, these are the points they will receive:
Start 'em:5 points if a player scores 25 points4: 20-243: 15-192: 10-141: 5-90: negative-4
Sit 'em:5 points if a player scores negative points to 4 points4: 5-93: 10-142: 15-191: 20-240: 25
Without further adieu, here are our picks for Week 9. Good luck!
Tony Andracki (Week9: 14 points; Season total: 99)
I didn't have the best week, but still maintained my lead over these jokers. My biggest mistake was one that I will correct below. As I told my cousin after the first half of the Broncos-Chargers Monday night game in Week 6 -- Never count out Peyton Manning.

It pains me to see C.J. Spiller with a rough day, but at least I called it. I like Fred Jackson, and I know Spiller isn't exactly the picture of health, but the Bills would be a much better team if they gave Spiller 20 touches every game. He needs to be the focal point of that offense.

Jamaal Charles probably would have had a better day if he didn't get hurt, but such is life. Rivers would have been better, too, if he didn't go all Philip Rivers at the end of the first half of that Thursday Night Game.

Start 'em:
Carson Palmer, QB -- Raiders (@ BAL)
Normally, you wouldn't start many fantasy guys against the Ravens defense if you can help it. But here's the thing -- Baltimore's D has been ravaged by injuries and they should go up big early. Palmer is among the league leaders in passing attempts, topping out at 61 last week. Most of that is due to the fact Oakland is trailing often, and this week will be no exception. By sheer opportunity, Palmer is a must-start this week.

Reggie Bush, RB -- Dolphins (vs. TEN)
Bush looked like fantasy gold after the end of last season and the first two games of this season (totaling 890 yards from scrimmage and 4 TDs in that six-game span), but has trailed off in the six games since (393 yards, two tuddies). I bet he gets back on track this week against a Titans defense that has been gashed for more than 130 yards on the ground in all but two games this season.

Eric Decker, WR -- Broncos (@ CAR)
It wouldn't be a StartSit without Eric Decker huh? I made a mistake last week in including him in my Sit. Never. Count. Out. Peyton. Manning. Even while his teammate, Demaryius Thomas, ranks fourth in the NFL in receiving yards, Decker has become a must-start in any game with Manning under center. Don't ever doubt him again.
Sit 'em

Joe Flacco, QB -- Ravens (vs. OAK)
Once again, I blame myself for Flacco's struggles. Well, that and the fact that Flacco is just not an elite fantasy quarterback. (I said fantasy, people. Don't need an "elite" quarterback debate on our hands, here.) Flacco won't need his laser-rocket arm this week. Expect a heavy dose of Ray Rice (have you seen how bad the Raiders are at defending the run?) and a big lead early. No need for the Flac man to release the Kraken.
Matt Forte, RB -- Bears (vs. HOU)
It hurts me to sit one of the Bears, especially in arguably the biggest game of the season. Forte will be a focal point of Chicago's offense this week, but his contributions may be limited to the passing game. Houston has not allowed a rushing TD this season, and they've given up more than 82 rushing yards just once this year. Forte will be bottled up early and often.
Hakeem Nicks, WR -- Giants (@ CIN)
This has nothing to do with the matchup, especially since the Bengals were torched for 38 standard-league fantasy points by Denver's wideouts last week. Warm up a spot on your bench for Nicks. He's been bogged down by a knee injury all year, and it's apparently gotten worse, with more swelling this week than last. Nicks has had just one good fantasy day this season (Week 2) and hasn't even come close to being relevant the other five games. Until he proves you can trust him, bench Nicks like a third-string quarterback.

Mark Strotman (Week 9: 13 points; Season total: 97)
It's really impressive how close the three of us have been all year long. That's a testament either to how good or how bad we've been in our predictions, but if you're reading this, you must like something we're doing. This week, I'm riding the coattails of players who have been hot the last few weeks, and I'm benching waiver wire pickups that looked a lot better in your head than in your lineup.

Start 'em:
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB -- Bills (@ NE)
Fitzpatrick hasn't lit up the fantasy world this year, and has posted double-digit points just once since Week 5. But these are the Patriots, and he has had plenty of success against his division foe in six meetings. He threw for 350 yards and four touchdowns against the Pats in Week 4 (4 interceptions, too), and I like him to have success through the air on Sunday as well.
Brian Hartline, WR -- Dolphins (vs. TEN)
Ryan Tannehill is starting to put the pieces together, and Hartline is going to benefit most from that. After three ugly games in a row, Hartline caught eight passes for 107 yards last week in Indianapolis. With the Titans' 27th ranked pass defense coming to South Beach on Sunday, I expect Hartline to have a big day through the air.
Sidney Rice, WR -- Seahawks (vs. NYJ)
The Seahawks are boring, they play on the West Coast and generally don't draw a lot of national attention unless replacement refs are gift-wrapping them victories (still a bitter Packers fan), but Sidney Rice has quietly scored three touchdowns in the last four weeks. He has gone from a nice potential flex play to a WR2 in that span, so make sure he's in your lineup against Tim Tebow--I mean--Rex Ryan and the New York Jets.
Sit 'em:
Jonathan Stewart, RB -- Panthers (vs. DEN)
I was ecstatic to have picked up Stewart in two of my fantasy leagues two weeks ago, only to be disappointed, to say the least. Stewart is "the guy" in Carolina, there's no debating that. But Carolina's offense is such a mess that there's no telling when they'll stick to the ground, or try and let Cam Newton win a game with his arm. Stewart has upside because he's going to get the carries, but he's back on my bench in both those leagues.
Jay Cutler, QB -- Bears (vs.HOU )
The Bears keep rolling along and Cutler continues to find chemistry with Brandon Marshall (three TDs last week), but this isn't the Titans' secondary he'll be going up against Sun day night. Aaron Rodgers was able to torch Houston's defense for 6 touchdown passes, but the Texans have allowed just seven other passing TDs all year. The Bears have a chance to win at home, but Cutler isn't going to have a repeat performance of Tennessee.
Pierre Thomas, RB -- Saints (vs. ATL)
Everyone's favorite waiver wire pick-up received just six carries last week, while Chris Ivory and Mark Ingram were also used in the run game without Darren Sproles. Thomas has a good matchup with Atlanta this week, but for now, I'm staying away from the RB situation in New Orleans. Thomas is worth a stash, but not a start.

Scott Krinch (Week 9: 17 points; Season total: 98)
Well, thanks to the "MuscleHamster" I finally had a strong week and due to Doug Martin going HAM,we've decided that nobody is allowed to start Dougie Fresh in our weekly StartSit.I thought I should have been awarded bonus points, but Tony and Mark weren'thaving any of that. Hey Mark, how did Donald Brown work out for you? That'swhat I thought.

Anyways, I scored big last week on Willis McGahee not findingpay dirt and Marques Colston's low yard total. Somebody tell me why I startedHakeem Nicks though?? The guy had ONE catch; going forward this will be thelast time I mention his name.

Last week, I threw allstrategy out the window and went with my gut feeling and it paid off. I doubtthat will happen again, so I'm mixing it up a little this week. Tone Zone hasbeen running his mouth about being back in the lead, so it's time to knock himoff his pedestal. Don't sleep on my picks this week, it may just win you a fantasymatchup. If it doesn't, well just blame Andy Reid. He seems to be taking a lotof heat in Philly this week anyways.

Start'em:

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB -- Bills (@NE)

I started Fitzy a few weeks back and it workedout, why not give it a go again? In six career games against the Patriots, theHarvard-grad has thrown 16 interceptions. Don't let that number scare you.Despite the high turnover-ratio, Fitzpatrick has 11 touchdowns and has averaged284 yards per game. I see Buffalo being behind all game, which will force theBills to air out. What does that mean for you? Garbage time points and fantasyowners love their garbage points. Just hope you're not playing against him.

Mikel Leshoure, RB -- Lions (@ MIN)

Iknow, I may be jumping the gun a little bit on Leshoure. The formerIllinois standout found the endzone THREE times against the Jaguars on only 16carries. With the Lions' redzone struggles, he may see a lot more carriesgoing forward. Minnesota, who at one time this season was one of the best rundefenses, has been miserable lately. In the Vikings' past four games, they haveallowed 166 rushing YPG for an average of 4.6 YPC. I don't see any reason whyLeshoure doesn't hit double digit fantasy points on Sunday afternoon.

Torrey Smith, WR -- Ravens (vs.OAK)

After starting off the season on fire, Smithhas been quiet as of late. He caught a touchdown last week, but just barelycracked double-digit fantasy points with 10. Vincent Jackson and Mike Williamshad a field day on Oakland's secondary in Week 9 and I believe Smith will dothe same. Smith has seen four redzone passes this season and caught all ofthem and the odds of being in the redzone are in Baltimore's favor against theRaiders. BOLD PREDICTION: Smith catches a TD pass for over 65 yards on Sundayafternoon.

Sit'em:

Cam Newton, QB -- Panthers (vs.DEN)

Newton has been better as of late, finding anice balance between the run and the pass, but Denver is not a good matchup forhim. The Broncos' secondary has been rock solid lately and kept Drew Brees andAndy Dalton in check. Carolina ranks 30th in the NFL (2.5 percent) intouchdowns per pass attempt. Those statistics don't bode well for Mr. Newton.Sit him with confidence on Sunday and search your league's waiver wire for abetter option.

Arian Foster, RB -- Texans (@CHI)

Sitting Foster?!?!? I must be insane. On myactual fantasy team, I wouldn't do such a thing, but that's because I don'thave any other viable options. Each week, I sit a player who's going up againstthe Bears' ferocious defense. Chicago is only allowing 9.1 fantasy points pergame to opposing backfields and hadn't allowed over 100 yards to a running backall season until Chris Johnson broke off a huge scamper on Sunday. Rememberthough, that was against backups. For the first time all year, I think Fosterwill finish under double-digit points.

VincentJackson, WR -- Buccaneers (vs. SD)

There's reallyno reason to sit Jackson, who's been a beast as of late, but I'm doing it. Ithink V-Jax is going to be way too pumped against his old team on Sunday and itcould diminish his fantasy value. Yes, it could be the complete opposite, but Iwill take my chances. With Martin being the focal point of the offense in TampaBay now, I think Jackson will see less and less targets each game.

The low-key move that may pay dividends for Cubs in 2018 and beyond

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USA TODAY

The low-key move that may pay dividends for Cubs in 2018 and beyond

The Cubs-Cardinals rivalry is alive and well and this offseason has been further proof of that.

The St. Louis Cardinals haven't made a rivalry-altering move like inking Jake Arrieta to a megadeal, but they have proven that they are absolutely coming after the Cubs and the top of the division.

However, a move the St. Louis brass made Friday afternoon may actually be one that makes Cubs fans cheer.

The Cardinals traded outfielder Randal Grichuk to the Toronto Blue Jays Friday in exhange for a pair of right-handed pitchers: Dominic Leone and Conner Greene. Leone is the main draw here as a 26-year-old reliever who posted a 2.56 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 10.4 K/9 in 70.1 innings last year in Toronto.

But this is the second young position player the Cardinals have traded to Toronto this offseason and Grichuk is a notorious Cub Killer.

Grichuk struggled overall in 2017, posting a second straight year of empty power and not much else. But he once again hammered the Cubs to the tune of a .356 batting average and 1.240 OPS. 

He hit six homers and drove in 12 runs in just 14 games (11 starts) against Joe Maddon's squad. That's 27 percent of his 2017 homers and 20 percent of his season RBI numbers coming against just one team.

And it wasn't just one year that was an aberration. In his career, Grichuk has a .296/.335/.638 slash line against the Cubs, good for a .974 OPS. He's hit 11 homers and driven in 33 runs in 37 games, the highest ouput in either category against any opponent.

Even if Leone builds off his solid 2017 and pitches some big innings against the Cubs over the next couple seasons, it will be a sigh of relief for the Chicago pitching staff knowing they won't have to face the threat of Grichuk 18+ times a year.

Plus, getting a reliever and a low-level starting pitching prospect back for a guy (Grichuk) who was borderline untouchable a couple winters ago isn't exactly great value. The same can be said for the Cardinals' trade of Aledmys Diaz to Toronto on Dec. 1 for essentially nothing.

A year ago, St. Louis was heading into the season feeling confident about Diaz, who finished fifth in the NL Rookie of the Year race in 2016 after hitting .300 with an .879 OPS as a 25-year-old rookie. He wound up finishing 2017 in the minors after struggling badly to start the season and the Cardinals clearly didn't want to wait out his growing pains.

The two trades with Toronto limits the Cardinals' depth (as of right now) and leaves very few proven options behind shortstop Paul DeJong and outfielder Tommy Pham, who both enjoyed breakout seasons in 2017.

Meet the Prospects: Blake Rutherford

Meet the Prospects: Blake Rutherford

The White Sox rebuild is in full swing. While it might still be a year or two before the big league team is expected to start competing for championships, the minor leagues are stocked with highly touted talent fans will be eagerly following in 2018. With that in mind, it's time to Meet the Prospects and get to know the future of the South Side.

Blake Rutherford

Rutherford, the 20-year-old outfielder, was the highest-rated piece of the return package that came back to the White Sox in the seven-player deal that sent Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to the New York Yankees last summer.

A California native, Rutherford was the 18th overall pick in the 2016 draft. After only playing rookie ball post-draft in 2016, he played 71 games with Class A Charleston last year before the trade, slashing .281/.342/.391 with 20 doubles and 30 RBIs to go along with a pair of home runs. After the trade, Rutherford played in 30 games with Class A Kannapolis, slashing .213/.289/.254 with 26 hits and 13 walks.

As of their most recent rankings, MLB Pipeline had Rutherford rated as the No. 4 prospect in the White Sox organization.

Get to know Rutherford in the video above.