Bulls

Fantasy Baseball Category Killers: Steals

Fantasy Baseball Category Killers: Steals

By Rob Steingall
CSNChicago.com Contributor

Andres Torres, Mets: On a bit of a tear on the bases, stealing five during the past week, and a total of seven the previous two weeks. His batting average stinks, as does just about everything else he does, but he deserves a shot to help you while he's on a good run.

Jon Jay, Cardinals: He's never been a burner in the minors, but did steal 20 bases back in '09, and has consistently reached double figures during his career. With six already on the season, a run at 15 seems possible, along with his steady batting average and production.
Gregor Blanco, Giants: Blanco is getting extended playing time this season, and is really making the most of it on the bases, accumulating 14 steals to this point. If he keeps his job moving forward, he could double that total during the second half. You'll suffer in batting average with him in your lineup. But if you can afford to take the hit, he's a nice cheap option.
Drew Stubbs, Reds: Stubbs returned from his stint on the disabled list and promptly stole three bases in his first week back. The batting average is still abysmal, but you're going to live with that due to his tantalizing power and speed combination. If he stays healthy, there could be another 20 steals in his legs during the second half.

Alex Presley, Pirates: Not a burner by any stretch of the imagination, but he did swipe five bags in June and a combined 31 bases in '11 between Triple-A and the majors, so the pedigree is there for him to be a category asset. His total sits at eight on the season, but could easily rise to 20 by the time the season comes to a close.

Lauri Markkanen celebrates 21st birthday with a spot on the NBA's All-Rookie First Team

Lauri Markkanen celebrates 21st birthday with a spot on the NBA's All-Rookie First Team

Lauri Markkanen’s celebration for his 21st birthday coincided with another major honor, being selected to the All-Rookie First team.

Markkanen received 76 of 100 possible first-team votes to join Utah’s Donovan Mitchell, Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons, Boston’s Jayson Tatum and the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma on the first team. Mitchell and Simmons were unanimous selections and Tatum was one vote short of joining Mitchell and Simmons.

Markkanen, acquired on draft night in the package of players for Jimmy Butler, showed he was far more advanced than many expected. His 15.2 points per game ranked third among rookies and his 7.5 rebounds were first.

Markkanen was a constant in a topsy-turvy season for the Bulls, scoring 30-plus twice and hitting the 25-point plateau another three times. As a perfect fit in Fred Hoiberg’s offensive system, Markkanen had eight games where he hit four triples or more, including a game in New York where he drilled eight 3-pointers against the Knicks.

Only 15 rookies have hit more than 140 triples in NBA history, with Markkanen accomplishing the feat in 68 games—he was joined by Mitchell and Kuzma from this year’s star-studded class.

As the season progressed and Markkanen took hold of the power forward position, the Bulls began maneuvering personnel around him, trading disgruntled forward Nikola Mirotic and making a concerted effort to put Bobby Portis at center to pair Portis with Markkanen as a spread-shooting duo.

As the most impressive rookie the Bulls have employed since Derrick Rose, he’s also the first rookie since Taj Gibson in 2010 to make All-Rookie First Team.

Bears backfield ranked fourth-best in NFL

Bears backfield ranked fourth-best in NFL

The Chicago Bears have a really good problem in their backfield. Both Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen will demand touches in 2018 and are each starting-quality running backs. Howard is the more traditional first and second-down back while Cohen offers top-tier playmaking ability.

The duo is so talented that they were recently ranked the fourth-best backfield in the NFL.

The Chicago Bears' Jordan Howard has emerged as one of the NFL's top rushers. He finished his rookie season with 1,313 yards, second-most in the NFL. Last season, he rushed for 1,122 yards and 4.1 yards per carry even though Chicago had the league's least threatening passing attack (175.7 yards per game).

Howard isn't the only standout back on the roster, though. Tarik Cohen is a supremely talented runner and receiver and a perfect complement to Howard. Last season, he amassed 370 rushing yards, 53 receptions and 353 receiving yards.

The Bears' backfield was behind only the Rams, Saints and Chiefs.

Howard set Chicago's rookie rushing record with 1,313 yards in 2016 and became the first Bears running back to start his career with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. He should be the Bears' primary back, but coach Matt Nagy expressed genuine excitement over Cohen's skill set which suggests he plans on getting him the ball quite a bit this season.

Regardless of how the touches play out, the Bears will present opposing defenses with one of the most challenging ground games in the NFL.