Bulls

Week 16: Start 'em, Sit 'em picks

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Week 16: Start 'em, Sit 'em picks

If you have made it to the fantasy football championship, congratulations and you're welcome for the free advice. If you're out and have come to see us mess up again, our bad and we'll try and do better next year. It's finally Week 16, which means the final week of the fantasy football year. Injuries continue to bite teams, and others are fighting for playoff position and will be using their stars accordingly. Take that into account when you set your rosters, and take these options into account, too.
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 5 points4: 5-93: 10-142: 15-191: 20-240: 25
Without further adieu, here are our picks for Week 16. Good luck!
Mark Strotman (Week 15: 19 points; Season total: 195 points)
With just one week to play, it feels good knowing I can take home the crown with just a marginal week. But we're here to help, and that means making the right picks that will help win you your fantasy league championship. If you're reading this and aren't in the fantasy championship, we appreciate the clicks. As always, I'm looking for high-upside guys in the playoffs. You need your rock-solid starters, but if you have a toss-up you had better play the guy who can explode for 20 instead of the one who will for sure get you 9-10. Just go with it.
Start 'em
DeAngelo Williams, RB -- CAR (vs. OAK)
How about this? Williams has scored 16 and 18 points the last two weeks, respectively, yet hasn't found the end zone. Ever since Jonathan Stewart's ankle injury sidelined him, Williams has been the guy the Panthers were hoping he would be all year. I like him to find the end zone at home this week, as the Panthers' offense has rolled the last few weeks.
T.Y. Hilton, WR -- IND (@ KC)
Welcome to your boom-or-bust play of the week. Hilton is quickly becoming Andrew Luck's favorite receiver and, while his receptions don't do him justice, he's got deep-ball threat written all over him and should get behind the Chiefs' secondary multiple times this week. If Hilton is somehow on the waiver wire or on your bench, change that.
Jermichael Finley, TE -- GB (vs. TEN)
Rare to see a tight end in here, but Finley is really starting to turn it around and probably not in your starting lineup. With two regular season games left to prove his worth (either for the Packers or another team), you can bet Finley is going to "magically" pick up his production. He showed a bit of it last week, and with Jordy Nelson questionable again he'll have some targets come his way. I like him as a TE1 with, yes, high upside.
Sit 'em
Andy Dalton, QB -- CIN (@ PIT)
Dalton has thrown for four touchdown passes in three career games against the Steelers, and I don't see those numbers getting much better this week. It isn't a great matchup, but Dalton is also playing below-average for a QB1. Furthermore, BenJarvus Green-Ellis looks fantastic as of late. If there's a Matthew StaffordRussell WilsonColin Kaepernick on your bench, Dalton may have to ride the pine in a tough road contest.
LeSean McCoy, RB -- PHI (vs. WAS)
I really have no idea why the Eagles, playing for nothing, are risking the only player on their roster with real All-Star potential for the future. That being said, it looks like he'll play but will be splitting time with Bryce Brown, who hopefully you handcuffed. Owners will be excited to plug McCoy into lineups, but don't expect a big game from him.
Jeremy Maclin -- WR -- PHI (vs. WAS)
Outside of a fluky 104-yard, touchdown-receiving performance against the Bucaneers, Maclin can't seem to produce with Nick Foles. It's hard to blame anyone for the Eagles' woes at this point, but I'm staying away from Maclin, even against an average Redskins' secondary. Find a better upside player like, oh, I don't know, T.Y. Hilton.
Scott Krinch (Week 15: 15 points; Season total: 183 points)
Well things haven't gone according to plans for me. I dropped even further behind Mark and after a first-round bye in one of my fantasy leagues, I was ousted in the semifinals. Oh and the Packers celebrated once again at Soldier Field. With Christmas less than a week away, hopefully Santy Clause will help me turn my luck around.
With all of that being said, -- I know you could care less about my misfortunes -- I think I have a good sense of who to startsit this week. I've done my research and hopefully my picks will lead you to fantasy glory...that's if you decide to listen to me.
Start 'em
Russell Wilson, QB -- SEA (vs. SF)
Week after week, Wilson is proving he belongs in the same category as his rookie counterparts Andrew Luck and RGIII. Lately, the former minor league baseball player has been doing it in the air and on the ground, scoring a career-high three rushing touchdowns against the Bills. Normally I'd be against starting a QB against the 49ers defense, but after Tom Brady torched them, they're starting to look vulnerable. The Seahawks NEED this game and expect Wilson to play a large role in a Seattle upset.
Matt Forte, RB -- CHI (@ ARI)
I was wrong about Forte last week. Sorry if you listened to me. But this week, I have faith in Forte's matchup against a Cardinals defense who are allowing 136.5 rushing yards per game. That's not the only factor in No. 22's favor. Michael Bush was just placed on the IR and it looks like all those goal-line touches -- that's if the Bears offense finds the red zone -- will belong to Forte. The Bears are in a must-win situation and will need a monster day from their lead back. Start him with confidence and you will be reaping the rewards.
Danny Amendola, WR -- STL (@ TB)
Amendola showed no signs of a foot injury after catching six passes for 58 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings. This week he will get the opportunity to feast on a Brutal (emphasis on a capital B) Tampa Bay secondary. Opposing wide receivers have totaled 3,059 yards and reeled in 16 touchdowns against the Buccaneers. I see Amendola as a must-start this week. I'm thinking at least 10 catches, 100 yards and a score for the rich man's Dane Sanzenbacher.
Sit 'em
Matthew Stafford, QB -- DET (vs. ATL)
What has happened to Stafford this season? You're probably regretting taking him in the first-round in your fantasy drafts by now. He's still putting up the yards, but the touchdowns just haven't been there. After seeing the Falcons dominate Eli Manning and the Giants, I don't have any faith in Stafford putting up a stellar game. Search your waiver-wire, there are much better options still out there. HINT HINT...Russell Wilson.
Knowshon Moreno, RB -- DEN (vs. CLE)
Moreno has come out of the doghouse (no pun intended for the former Georgia Bulldog) and has been running with a purpose the last two games with Willis McGahee out. With that said, I still don't trust Moreno in a fantasy championship matchup. The Browns have been playing better lately and I see this being a low-scoring game. I could be completely wrong on this one, but I just have a hunch that Moreno won't have another double-digit performance.
Mike Wallace, WR -- PIT (vs. CIN)
My first sit of the year was Wallace and I find it only fitting that I end our startsit with the disappointing Steelers wideout. You probably think I hate Wallace and you may be right. The last few seasons he had been my favorite wide receiver in the league, I drafted him on all my fantasy teams and I was furious the Bears didn't draft him back in '09 out of Mississippi. I really soured on him after his holdout in the offseason and it looks it's hampered his play in 2012. Only two 100 receiving games, not something you want out of a No. 1 wide receiver. This week he'll go up against a Bengals defense that's been dominate as of late. If you want to start a Steeler, go with Andre Brown or Heath Miller.
Tony Andracki (Week 15: 15points; Season total: 175)
It's championship week. Do or die. If you're still reading this, hopefully it means you're going for it all, and not just some consoltion prize. Though, I'm a big fan of leagues having some sort of reward (or punishment) for such spots as third place, winner of the consolation bracket, or loser of the dreaded Sacko Bowl.
At this point in the season, you probably don't need much prodding on who to play. It's obvious Michael Turner's value relies solely on touchdowns and Randall Cobb has become a bonafide option as a receiver. You don't need us to tell you that. But we all know that second-guessing that goes on before your biggest matchup of the season. So we're just here as another voice, telling you which guys might be the best plays...and which are not.
Eli Manning, QB -- NYG (@ BAL)
Eli has been the ultimate hit-or-miss fantasy quarterback thsi year -- he's scored five or less in four games, and 20 or more in four games. The Ravens have not been playing well lately and the Giants need to win out to get into the playoffs. It's make-or-break time for the New York Football Giants, too, so they're in the same boat as you. They need Eli as much as you do. Trust him this week.
Stevan Ridley, RB -- NE (@ JAC)
We've all seen what this Patriots' offense can do, even against the league's best defense. So how will they handle one of the league's worst Ds? New England figures to be up by a lot in this game, and fast, so Tom Brady won't have to throw so much. Or, at least that's what I'm hoping since I'm playing Brady for the 'ship. Ridley had scored in six straight games before that Sunday night game, and expect him to get back into that rhythm this week.
Cecil Shorts, WR -- JAC (vs. NE)
Shorts has emerged as a must-start wide receiver, which he proved by catching six balls for 101 yards in Week 15, which came after he missed a game with a concussion. The Patriots certainly give up points in the passing game, and the Jags will definitely have to throw. Start Shorts with confidence, and keep an eye on him next year, especially if Jacksonville figures out its quarterback situation.
Sit 'em
Ben Roethlisberger, QB -- PIT (vs. CIN)
Roethlisberger has been on fire since he returned to the field, with at least 285 yards and 2 TDs in both games. Couple that with the fact it's a must-win game for the Steelers and you'd think Big Ben would be a must-start. But he hasn't played the Bengals well the past couple of years and Cincy needs to win, too, so they'll be focusing on slowing down Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh passing game.
Chris Johnson, RB -- TEN (@ GB)
It's a lost season for the Titans, and they have nothing to gain by giving Johnson 25 touches in each of the final two games. Plus, his fantasy value is almost exclusively tied up in whether he can break a long run or not. The Packers will probably score early and often, which could see the Tennessee gameplan stray away from the run, as well. Start somebody else if you have a better option.
Torrey Smith, WR -- BAL (vs. NYG)
Two catches in the last two weeks? That's ridiculous. Smith has just three games this year with more than four catches and the Ravens offense has been horrible, especially lately. Don't worry about starting Smith. There are better options.

The Bulls offense goes as Zach LaVine goes, and right now Zach LaVine is tired

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The Bulls offense goes as Zach LaVine goes, and right now Zach LaVine is tired

He’s far too competitive a player and far too patient a teammate to use it as any sort of excuse, but if the past six games are any indication it’s not something he had to admit to be seen: Zach LaVine is tired.

The Bulls shooting guard had another high-volume performance in their Monday night loss to the Dallas Mavericks. And in another 41 minutes LaVine once again struggled with his shot and made a handful of careless turnovers that doomed a Bulls offense that’s asking as much as they can from him.

Facing a Mavericks team ranked 24th in defensive efficiency and missing perhaps its best perimeter defender in Wesley Matthews, LaVine shot 8 of 23 and missed all six 3-point attempts, finishing with 26 points and the seven turnovers. With his most recent inefficient outing, LaVine is now shooting 44.8 percent from the field.

“I’m tired, I’m alright. Doing everything I can,” he said. “I’m making mistakes, missing shots that are real easy. Didn’t hit any threes today. I’ve got easy things I can do better at. I always ask more of myself but I’m doing everything I can.”

LaVine’s streak of scoring 20 or more points reached 14 games, the second longest Bulls streak behind Michael Jordan, but it came in far different fashion from earlier in the season. LaVine, clearly the focal point of a Mavericks defense that rushed him, blitzed him and pushed him out on the perimeter whenever possible, missed his first five shots, threw up two uncharacteristic air balls and was just 2 of 14 outside the painted area.

True, he went to the free throw line 11 more times and made 10 to help offset the ugly shooting. But it wasn’t enough on a Bulls team that simply can’t find a consistent second scorer and seems to feed off both LaVine’s prowess and his struggles. The Bulls struggled on Monday as LaVine did, shooting below 40 percent, making just eight 3-pointers and finishing with more turnovers (17) than assists (16).

It was yet another performance to add to a troubling trend for both LaVine and the Bulls. In his last six games LaVine is shooting 50 for 134 (37.3 percent) and that includes a 13-for-25 outing against the Knicks. Take out that performance and he’s shooting 33 percent. He also has 27 turnovers and 27 assists and is shooting 25.6 percent from beyond the arc.

The Bulls, not coincidentally, haven’t fared much better. They ranked 16th in the NBA in offensive efficiency through eight games (108.3), but since the Golden State debacle have plummeted to 29th (100.3), and their last three games have come against bottom-six defenses (New Orleans, 25th; Cleveland, 29th; Dallas, 24th). The Bulls are 2-4 during this stretch, winning games in which LaVine shot well in New York and the one-point win over a 1-10 Cavaliers team.

Though LaVine has had eight- and seven-turnover nights during the stretch, he also had two combined turnovers in 77 minutes against the Pelicans and Cavaliers. LaVine needs to shoot through his slump because the Bulls offense requires it, but he’s also making the right play more often than not. He had three first-quarter assists on Monday when the Bulls offense looked its sharpest.

“I give Zach a lot of credit for as much volume as he has on the offensive end right now, as much as we’re playing through him, he is growing on making the simple play and getting better with that. It needs to continue. He needs to make the right play.”

It’s a tall order to ask of him. Off nights from LaVine, and even slumps like the one he’s in now, would be fine if issue if Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn, Bobby Portis or any combination of the three were available. But he’s averaging more than 40 minutes per game in that stretch and continues to rank among the NBA’s highest usage rates.

Regression from his early-season performances when he shot 51 percent from the field in eight games to begin the year was expected. That early stretch was a healthy, rested LaVine, not an aberration. What we’re in the middle of is a tired LaVine taking on a ridiculous burden for an offense that needs all of him every night. When he doesn’t perform, so too does a Bulls offense that got 6 of 17 shooting from Jabari Parker and seven points from Wendell Carter Jr.

Reinforcements are still weeks away. For now, LaVine will need to pick and choose his spots, make the right play and yet still find a way to score near 30 points each night. It’s a lot to ask, but he’s ready for the challenge.

“It’s a tough situation,” LaVine said of the defensive attention he’s receiving, “but I still have to be aggressive. It’s more me figuring out when’s the right time to attack and when’s the right time to just get off the ball.”

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: The Blackhawks losing streak extends to 8

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Blackhawks Talk Podcast: The Blackhawks losing streak extends to 8

The Blackhawks losing streak extended to eight games with an overtime loss in Carolina, but there were some signs of improvement with the team. Pat Boyle and Steve Konroyd discuss Jeremy Colliton going to the “nuclear option,” pairing Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on the same line. It seemed to work, but how did the other lines fare?

Plus, how close are we to seeing some calls made to Rockford and how important are the next two “winnable” games?

0:45 - Mindset of the team after their 8th straight loss

2:00 - Opposition getting quality chances against hawks goalies

4:00 - Toews and Kane playing on the same line

5:00 - Nick Schmaltz needs to take more shots

5:45 - Colliton's lines during overtime

8:00 - DeBrincat playing on a line with Kampf and Kahun

9:45 - Debrincat with more goals than Kane or Roenick through 100 career games

11:45 -  How close are the Blackhawks to making some callups from Rockford to give the team a boost?

14:00 - Hawks get a chance against 2 other struggling teams in Blues and Knights

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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