Wizards

Fantasy Football stock watch: Offense

Fantasy Football stock watch: Offense

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Kevin Smith, RB, Lions: There's nothing special about his skill set but Smith might wind up being Detroit's starter simply because he's the last back standing. Concussion-prone Jahvid Best is unlikely to be ready for the first third of the year, and Mikel Leshoure will miss two games because of a drug suspension. Smith knows how to play in multiple packages and he can catch the ball, and that makes him a keen fit in the Lions offense.

Austin Collie, WR, Colts: We gave him a tangential upgrade earlier this month because of our faith in Andrew Luck, and that was backed up nicely by the first Indianapolis preseason result (Luck, in particular, was outstanding). And when you consider how terrible the Colts defense looks right now, you can imagine a lot of high-scoring affairs in Indy this year. Go where the carnival is. Go where the points are.

Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers: You need to be careful with the flow of August news and training camp slants - everyone looks terrific, everyone is in outstanding shape, etc. It's a Mad Lib. But sources we trust are giving us strong reports on Gates's condition, and No. 85 is more important than ever in San Diego given that Ryan Mathews is dinged up and Vincent Jackson left town. If Gates can stay on the field, he might be able to post stats that closely resemble Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski. He's still that much of a matchup nightmare, and when you get open, Philip Rivers will find you.

John Skelton, QB, Cardinals: Cheers to the Arizona management, which is not going to hand Kevin Kolb the starting QB job simply because of his bloated contract. Skelton is a more raw prospect but he's also more exciting to us - he'll hold the ball longer and he has a better intermediate and deep arm. If you're tied to Larry Fitzgerald, you want Skelton taking the snaps that matter.

Peyton Hillis, RB, Chiefs: New offensive coordinator Brian Daboll knows all about Hillis - Daboll called the plays two years back when Hillis went off for the Browns. And Daboll was just as impressive last year, getting control of Miami's offense and turning Reggie Bush into a surprise star. While we also think good things about Jamaal Charles into the new year, we get the idea Hillis could score 9-12 touchdowns without much trouble. And if Charles ever gets hurt, Hillis might be a Top 10 fantasy back again. Last year's zero, this year's hero.

Danny Amendola, WR, Rams: The St. Louis passing game might be the worst one in the NFC right now, but someone is going to make a run at 70 or more catches, with Amendola leading the way. We've also heard very positive things about Steve Smith, the former Giant slot machine. Success in fantasy football depends on knowing all the depth charts, all the situations. Highlight these low-buzz targets for PPR formats.

Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings: Here's another modern, hybrid tight end to get familiar with, a freakish athlete who will see lots of snaps as a de-facto wide receiver. That's how you want your fantasy tight end deployed; forget the blocking and trench work, go out and run some patterns. Rudolph scored three touchdowns in the final third of the 2011 season, and he might be ready for a 750-yard, eight-score breakout as a sophomore.

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Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys: His offensive line was exposed for all to see on Monday night, and there's been a non-stop flow of bad news with the name receivers here (Miles Austin is dinged up; Dez Bryant is a wild card; Jason Witten has a spleen injury). Given the depth of the quarterback position in fantasy this year, why would you want to waste a mid-round pick on Romo, tied to this uncertain offense? The Cowboys will probably regret letting Laurent Robinson get away.

Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets: Could the setup in New York be any worse? Sanchez has a mediocre running game to help him, a spotty cast of receivers (Santonio Holmes cannot be trusted and then it drops off), and the offensive line has issues as well. And to make things even more messy, Sanchez has to share practice reps with Tim Tebow and a gadget offense. Do the Jets want their franchise quarterback to fail? Sometimes it seems that way.

Sidney Rice, WR, Seahawks: He's been slow to recover from offseason shoulder surgeries, which tells you why the club brought in aging Terrell Owens. And the most reliable wideout on the current roster isn't Rice, but rather second-year target Doug Baldwin. We're going to slot Rice outside our Top 50 on the next set of receiver ranks, which probably means we won't get him in any league. That's the idea.

Roy Helu, RB, Redskins: He's the most talented back on the Washington roster, but little good that does him now that he has a sore Achilles' and a buried spot on the depth chart. The summer dream was fun while it lasted. No one who writes off a Shanahan Backfield has regretted it in recent seasons.

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Wizards' assistant Sidney Lowe leaves to join Dwane Casey's staff with Detroit Pistons

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Associated Press

Wizards' assistant Sidney Lowe leaves to join Dwane Casey's staff with Detroit Pistons

The Washington Wizards have an opening on their coaching staff, as assistant Sidney Lowe has left the team to join the Detroit Pistons.

Lowe, according to ESPN, will be the top assistant on new Pistons coach Dwane Casey's staff. 

Lowe spent two seasons under head coach Scott Brooks in Washington. A D.C. native, Lowe starred at DeMatha High School before playing at NC State and then in the NBA.

Lowe was the head coach at his alma mater for five years from 2006 through 2011, but has otherwise been an NBA lifer. He served as head coach of the Timberwolves in 1993-94 and head coach of the Grizzlies from 2000 to 2002.

The Wizards have several coaching hires to make now. They have a new G-League team set to take the court in the fall and will need to hire a staff sometime this summer. 

With Lowe gone, they could choose to promote from within or go outside the organization.

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Nationals look to halt red hot Tampa Bay Rays in 2-game series at Tropicana Field

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USA TODAY Sports

Nationals look to halt red hot Tampa Bay Rays in 2-game series at Tropicana Field

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays, routinely using relievers as starters to deal with a rash of injuries, are pitching their way to victories.

The Rays (37-40) go into a two-game interleague series against the Washington Nationals with the momentum of a three-game sweep of the American League East-leading Yankees. New York hadn't lost three games in a row at any point all season, but the Rays pulled it off, capped with a 7-6 win in 12 innings on Sunday at Tropicana Field.

"That's the best team in the league right now, them and the Astros ... I think coming home from that we had confidence and it all carried over into that series," said Rays rookie first baseman Jake Bauers, who won the game in the 12th inning.

Since beginning their experimental use of relievers as "openers" to start games, the Rays have a 3.07 ERA, and entering Sunday's game, that edged the Yankees for the best ERA in baseball since May 19. They've won five of seven games to again challenge .500, and Sunday's walkoff home run by Bauers was their second this season, after totaling one in three seasons from 2015 to 2017.

The Nationals (41-35) had gone 3-9 in their last 12 games before Sunday night's rain-delayed game against the Phillies, dropping into third place in the National League East. They'll send out Gio Gonzalez (6-4, 3.08 ERA), who has no wins in his last four starts and his ERA has risen from a sterling 2.10 to 3.08.

Gonzalez lasted only four innings in his last outing, giving up five hits and two runs against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday. For his career against the Rays, he's 2-2 with a 5.54 ERA, though he's only faced Tampa Bay once since 2012. That was a rough 2015 start at Tropicana Field, lasting 3 1/3 innings and giving up five earned runs on eight hits, walking more batters than he struck out. For his career at Tropicana, he has an 11.25 ERA.

The Rays will have an actual starter on the mound in Blake Snell (9-4, 2.48), who is in line for an All-Star appearance after the first three months of his season. He has just one loss in his last seven starts, and while he has never faced the Nationals, he has generally fared well in interleague play, going 3-2 with a 2.33 ERA in eight career starts.

Tampa Bay, hoping to build on its current momentum, has a tough week ahead, with two games against Washington, then another four against Houston to close out the homestand.

Washington goes from St. Petersburg to a weekend four-game series at the Philadelphia Phillies before returning home for a week.

The Rays got a head start with a Sunday afternoon game and the Nationals saw their prime-time game delayed by rain, keeping them on the field beyond midnight and still needing to fly to Florida for the two-game stopover.

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