Thursday, January 10, 2019

MLS SuperDraft 2019: Big Board

MLS SuperDraft 2019: Big Board

I think the top-three players in this draft draft are interchangeable. Amaya has, perhaps, the second highest upside of any player, and is safer and more polished than Buchanan, even as the youngest player in the draft. Amaya can probably play anywhere in the midfield, and he'll probably get moved around before he settles into a particular role.
Buchanan has a higher upside than any player in the draft. He has a good combination of pace, skill, and size. I think he can help a team from the get go due to his speed and ability to take on defenders 1 v 1. His final product needs work though, and he can get lost on the pitch for long stretches.
Haji is good on the ball, is a good passer, and does a good job picking out teammates. He has a very high upside, and should be able to contribute off the bench right away. I'm not convinced he has the athletic ability to be a star on the wing, so it remains to be seen what his best position will be in MLS.
Montgomery is a composed and solid defender. He's clearly the best defender in the draft, and as a domestic CB he'll be coveted at the top of the draft.
He shined in his one game at the combine. He's very good on the ball, and is the best finisher in the draft. I believe he can play as a center forward, or on a wing. He and Montgomery are the two most polished players in the draft. His skill and pace remind me of Chris Mueller from last year's draft but Shiniyashiki is much better finisher.
Jones is the fastest player in the draft, and he will be able to stretch defenses from day-one. He also shows some could control, and finishing ability.
Williams is a big striker who had a very productive year at Kentucky. Due to his size and projection, he has a very high upside. However, I don't think he's close to reaching it, like say, Cyle Larin. Some may try to compare Williams to Mason Toye, a Generation Adidas prospect from a year ago, but Toye is much better on the ball, and I think Williams will best be served as a traditional target forward.
Nelson looks like he can be an above-average two-way fullback. I have him listed as the best fullback in the draft, but it's very close between he and the next two. Nelson will be coveted as a Generation Adidas player.
Patino had a good combine. He's a traditional number nine, that I compare to Bobby Wood. Patino is physically strong, and has good hold up play. He's also tenacious getting after the ball in the box.
Ward is a great athlete with tremendous recovery speed. I think he's the best defensive fullback in the draft. He's versatile, and able to play on both sides.
Dorsey was deployed as a fullback in his lone combine match, and I think he fits the part. He reminds me of Brooks Lennon--which may seem like a lazy comparison. Dorsey will have to work on the defensive end, of course, but he'll become a threat from the right side.
Gaul looked better defensively in the second combine game, but I still think he'll need to work on that end more before he's ready for MLS. Gdula and Dorsey have higher upsides than Akeem Ward, but the latter is ready to contribute.
Rivas is one of the best playmakers in the draft. However, it's very difficult for college-tens to transition to MLS. I'm not sure Rivas has enough athleticism to play on the wing, but he did show more grit and tackling ability than I expected, which gives me hope he can play centrally for the right team.
From now on, every draft needs to have that guy we anoint as the "next Julian Gressel." I think Riley could be that type of player. He has attacking qualities, but showed at the combine he'll be able to adjust as an eight or a six in MLS. Some, Ives Galarcep, say Riley will eventually land as a ball-playing CB.
St. Clair had an abysmal combine. However, I'm only willing to drop him so far. Goalies in the draft are very hit-or-miss, but there's still hype behind St. Clair, and he'll be taken by the fifteenth pick due to his Generation Adidas and domestic tags. On upside alone, St. Clair is a top-five pick.
Asiedu looks like a player who can step in and contribute immediately. He's the best ball-winner in the draft, and I may have him too low. I like Asiedu a lot, but I don't think there's much projection left in him. He's never going to offer much going forward, but he should carve out a role for several years. He'd do great coming on late in games to break up plays.
Prosper Figbe is a player who impressed me a lot in the combine. He's a very physical center back, who bullies attackers off the ball. He's also significantly faster than I'd expect. He had the second fasted 30-yard dash time at the combine. I was also impressed with Figbe's passes out of the back. He's the second best center back on my board. I have him as a more athletic Lalas Abubakar.
Miller has good range, and is definitely a good passer out of the back. However, I have rated behind a couple others on the actually defensive part. So, I don't have him as high as others.
Dunwell did not have the best combine. He played as a lone number six, but wasn't able to show he could dictate play from the back. Going into the week, I wasn't sure Dunwell was a ball-winner, but he made a couple nice tackles, including one in the box against Tajon Buchanan on Wednesday. Dunwell has slipped, but he's a player I think can still contribute next year (ala Ken Krolicki).
Gasper doesn't do anything special, but he's a solid two-way player. He's left-footed and domestic. Pencil him in as a first round pick.
McCabe slipped behind Asiedu and Riley this week, but he still looks like a solid six or eight. He can win the ball in the midfield, and has solid distribution.
Comsia is a player I was very impressed with in the combine, and I have him higher than anyone else. He's excellent positionally. He can win the ball. He's a leader. He's a fair passer. He's a little undersized for a center back, but overall, I think he can play. He reminds me of Michael Parkhurst, and that's high praise.
Hauser-Ramsey wasn't able to participate at the combine, but I think he has all the tools to be a center back in the MLS. He may be a little bit of a project, and need time in USL for a year.
Sejdic is one of the best playmakers in the draft. However, he's not going to play as a number ten in the MLS. I don't think he has the athleticism to play out wide. So, he will have to play as an eight. He was better as a holding midfielder in the second game of the combine than he was in the first. He's not nearly as good defensively as the center mids listed above (even Sergio Rivas), but his passing is a plus skill, and I think he'll be able to break lines from deep.
Loebe played as a left back in the second combine match, and I bet that's where his home is professionally. He has good attacking attributes, and is a better than average athlete.
Bone is very good on the ball. He played as a free-roaming ten at the combine, but he's going to have to start out wide in MLS. He showed good vision and the ability to take on defenders.
Bone and Bashti are very similar. I think Bashti's final ball is sharper, but Bone is the better on the ball.
Boateng is a good athlete if a little undersized. I think he can be a no-frills center back.
Borges struggled in the combine, but has flashed the ability to be a good two-way player on the left side. He may get hurt in the draft, because the position is so deep, and others have surpassed him.
Mohamed is a good athlete on the right hand side. However, he looked very below average on the defensive end, and didn't forward enough during the combine to show his strengths. I think he has some upside, but will be a project.

*Generation Adidas player

Monday, January 7, 2019

MLS Combine 2019: Winners and Losers of the first days

The combine is well on it's way.  Yesterday afternoon all four teams played in a double header.  Today we'll examine which players won and lost in those scrimmages.  Four key players were not present yesterday.  Generation adidas prospects: JJ Williams, Frankie Amaya, and Griffin Dorsey, as well as top senior, Andre Shinyashiki, missed the first games, but will be present for Wednesday's kickoff.  It's important to note that this is not a big board.  I'm not ranking these players just yet.  I'm listing who made a favorable impression, and who did not.  Of course, there were many players who made no impression at all--you might as well call them losers too.  I am factoring performance in yesterday's games, as well as performance in the athletic drills (60-yard dash, agility drill, and vertical leap) that MLS posted yesterday.

The All-First Game of the MLS Combine Team:

G Ben Lundt

D Akeem Ward

D Prosper Figbe

D Alex Comsia

D Chase Gasper

M Anderson Asiedu

M Sergio Rivas

M Amir Sejdic

F DeJuan Jones

F Santiago Patino

F Amir Bashti

^ All college seniors, no generation adidas players


M Sergio Rivas

College #10s don't find the field in MLS.  So, I'm still not sure what Rivas' role will be in the league.  However, he was one of the best players Saturday, and out-shined (in my opinion anyways) the consensus top play maker in the draft Siad Haji.

F Amir Bashti

Bashti looked great on the left in the attack. He's a skilled winger who has the ability to take on defenders. To no surprise, after watching the match, he scored very well in the agility testing. I'm convinced Bashti can fill a role on the bench in MLS. He's not as physically talented as Chris Mueller, but I think they have similar qualities on the ball.

M Anderson Asiedu

Asiedu boosted his stock more than any other player at the combine. He was a one man army in X's midfield. He looks like the best ball-winner in the draft. Either David Gass or Bobby Warshaw said on commentary that Asiedu reminds them of Mo Adams from a year ago, and I completely agree. Not only do they have a similar stature (Asiedu is just 5'6"), but they are gritty, unselfish ball-winners. Asiedu was downright dominate, and the two players above, Bashti and Rivas, benefitted.

D Callum Montgomery

Montgomery, a left-footed senior center back who won't take up an international roster spot, entered the combine as a likely high draft pick. He wasn't terribly tested, but he didn't do anything to hurt his stock. That makes him a winner.

D Chase Gasper

Gasper was not on my radar entering the combine, and he showed good two-way ability on the left. He played a beautiful ball through the penalty area that Ikoba should have put away. As a left-sided defender (fullback), Gasper plays a position that will be valued in the draft, but this draft is very deep at fullback, and Gasper makes it even deeper.

D Roy Boateng

Boateng only played in the second half of his match Saturday, and he didn't draw too much attention (which isn't necessarily a bad thing). However, Boateng showed well in the performance drills. He has the best vertical leap of any player at the combine (which he needs as a 6'0" center back), and was also the tenth fastest player in the 60-yard dash. I'll have a closer eye on Boateng on Wednesday when the combine kicks off again.

D Akeem Ward

Ward put in a good shift on the left in his game. He looked like the best athlete on the pitch, showing great recovery speed. I think he's a good 1 v1 defender. He also showed he can pass with either foot. I believe he's naturally right-footed, but proved he can play either way. Ward is the top fullback in the draft right now.

D Alex Comsia

Comsia had a heck of a game. He showed leadership, composure, and the ability to win the ball. He's only 6'0", but I think Comsia has a place in MLS as a third center back. Comsia was the second best CB on Saturday, and has a shot to be a first rounder.

D Prosper Figbe

Alex Comsia was the second best CB on Saturday, because Prosper Figbe was far and away the best. If Anderson Asiedu boosted his stock more than any other player, than Figbe was right behind him. Figbe was excellent on the defensive end, bullying attackers with his unmatched physicality. He also flashed some special passes out of the back, including an assist to Santiago Patino. Figbe also proved to be one of the best athletes in the draft. He finished second in the 60-yard dash, and also has the second best vertical leap. I see Figbe as a more athletic Lalas Abubakar, who rode an excellent combine in 2017 to a top-five selection.

M Amir Sejdic

Sejdic had a goal and an assist in his match. His pass to DeJuan Jones was special. He's a very good college play maker. I don't know what that makes him in MLS though. Sejdic played as a #10 in the first half of his match, but he was brought back in in the second as a #8, and Team Copa immediately scored on a counter attack upon his return. I watched Sejdic leisurely track back, and was absolutely disgusted. I don't know if he can be an eight in MLS, and that's worrying. I could have listed Sejdic under "winner," "loser," or "neither." However, I think he showed very good attacking ability, and game-changing passing. He has yet to show me he has a place on an MLS roster though.

M/F Tucker Bone

Tucker Bone entered in the second half of his match, and was an absolutely difference maker. He showed good ability on the ball, and plays quick. It was not surprising to see Bone had the second fastest agility time in the performance drills.

F/M DeJuan Jones

DeJuan Jones was one of the biggest risers from the first game of the combine. I mentioned prior to the match that Jones may have to transition to fullback in MLS, but he played very well as a right winger. Jones scored the opening goal of the combine, beating the back line with his game breaking pace, controlling the pass, and finishing well. Jones was a constant threat on the right. Jones was the big winner in the performance drills. He had the fastest time in both the 60-yard dash, and the agility drill. Expect Jones to be a top-ten pick.

F Santiago Patino

With JJ Williams missing, Santiago Patino was the best #9 on Saturday. He's very physically strong, and showed very good hold up play, even if he wasn't always able to connect with teammates. Patino reminded me of Bobby Wood. Not only due to his strength (and average height), but his runs through the seams.

D Sean McSherry

McSherry was not on my radar. Now he is. He was one of the best two-way fullbacks on Saturday, and showed well in the physical drills.

F Nils Bruening

Bruening was another player I wasn't watching entering the draft, but had a very good match on Saturday. Bruening played on the wing, and looked surprisingly fleet of feet for his size (he's 6'3").

D John Nelson

Nelson was one of the few Generation Adidas players who made a positive impression on Saturday. he has a reputation as an attacking full back, but looked good both ways.


G Dayne St. Clair

St. Clair had a dismal match, and he made a mistake that directly led to (Maryland teammate) Sedjic's goal. He'll still be a first round pick as a generation adidas goalie, but I think the top-five buzz has cooled.

D Abdi Mohamed

This draft class is deep at fullback. Mohamed looked poor defensively, and failed to make an impact going forward.

M Brad Dunwell

Dunwell wasn't terrible, but he needed to be better. He's not a ball-winner, and he couldn't make a game-changing pass often enough

F Sebastian Elney

Elney looked absent.

M Hassani Dotson

Dotson was dominated in midfield, and made some simple mistakes.

M Geoff Dee

He was the #6 for Team Nemeziz, while Sejdic dropped to the #8. That's a bad midfield pairing. They got burned on a couple of plays.

Neither, but still on my Radar:

D Marcello Borges

Borges saw a lot of the ball, but he wasn't a difference maker. He struggled defensively. I still think there's more to him than what he showed, but other fullbacks are overtaking him.

F Janos Loebe

Loebe scored. He also showed to be one of the fastest players at the combine in the 60-yard dash. However, he made some bad decisions going forward, and missed players running into space.

M Camden Riley

I'm still not sure what Riley is in the midfield. He didn't make an impact in his match.

F Don Tchilao

Threatened a little bit on the right, but was completely overshadowed by Rivas and Bashti.

F Eduvie Ikoba

Ikoba was most notable for leaving his jersey at the hotel, meaning he had to wear a black-T on the pitch. He should have scored on a cross from Gasper. He did well in the performance testing proving to be one of the more athletic players at the combine.

D Logan Gdula

I've seen many people say Gdula was one of the most impressive fullbacks, but I disagree. First, he entered the combine as the second or third best fullback to begin with. Yes, he showed good ability going forward--that is not a surprise. He scored a really nice goal as well. He even proved to be quicker than I expected in the performance testing. However, I don't know how good of a defender he is right now, and was my greatest concern entering the combine.

M Tommy McCabe

McCabe was supposed to be one of the best holding midfielders in the draft, and possibly the best ball-winner. He was neither on Saturday. McCabe had a quiet match.

M Andrew Samuels

Samuels had a terrible first half at right back. Amir Bashti and Chase Gasper owned him. He did better in the second half when he was moved to his more natural holding midfield position. Keep him there.

D Wouter Verstraaten

Verstraaten suffered because the midfield in front of him was terrible, and could not control the ball. He's a potential first round CB, and I'll give him a pass.

D Kamal Miller

Miller is a left-footed "domestic" center back, meaning teams will want to draft him. He was just ok in his match. He did not look spectacular, and may have been responsible for Bashti's goal.

M Siad Haji

Haji was alright, but didn't look particularly special in this match. It's always difficult for creative players to enter the combine and stand out with a cast of players they've never played with.

F Ryan Sierakowski

Sierakowski suffered due to poor service. He's a second tier #9 in this draft.

F Tajon Buchanan

Finally, Buchanan failed to connect with teammates, and seamed a little lost out there. He's young, and he's fast, and he has good size. Buchanan has all the tools to be a special player.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

MLS Combine 2019: Evaluating the teams

The MLS Combine is one of the sports events I am most invested in each year, even though, it matters very little in the grand scheme of things. Any evaluation of the combine needs to begin with caveat that even the best of players this week will play very little in MLS next season, if at all. With more allocation being allotted to teams, and consequentially, more young, promising international players coming into the league, as well as, homegrown signings becoming a prominent mechanism for college players to join clubs, the draft is becoming less-and-less important. Still, success stories remain. Julian Gressel and Miles Robinson were taken by Atlanta United two drafts ago, and played a role in their MLS Cup run. Gressel has become a key player on the league's best team in fact. Jeremy Ebobisse, also a member of the 2017 draft, established himself as a starter for MLS Cup challenger, Portland. On a quick look (very quick), it appears only three players finished the season playing more than 1,000 minutes: Brandon Bye, Ken Krolicki (who had a dismal combine, and slipped out of the first round), and Chris Mueller. The latter topped the three, and was a contender for MLS rookie of the year (won by RSL homegrown, Corey Baird.

This is my, now annual, look at the MLS combine teams. These teams will face each other over the course of two matches, beginning tomorrow. I'm looking to evaluate which players are best served by their assignments, and pick out the players who could shine.


Team X has no Generation Adidas (talented underclassmen, handpicked, and signed by MLS with special contractual perks) players on it. However, it does feature three of the draft's four most talented seniors. Andre Shiniyashiki was one of the best college players last year, and led the league by scoring (and points) with 28 goals. However, he's undersized at 5'9", and plays a premium position that MLS teams usually look elsewhere for. He needs to have a good combine to prove that he has the ability to score at the next level. Luckily for him, he'll have the best senior playmaker behind him, Sergio Rivas. Rivas was a  very good college player, but college central playmakers aren't often valued in the draft. He'll have to prove he can handle a position on the wing, because I don't think he has the grit to slide into a box-to-box role. Callum Montgomery completes the elite senior triumvirate. He's the best defender in the draft, and he's left-footed. That means his named will be called very early the day of the draft. He'll look to stabilize an otherwise solid, but less than spectacular defense, which includes center backs Roy Boateng and Brendan McDonough, right back, Rece Buckmaster, and left back, Chase Gasper. Boateng is likely the best prospect in that group. In the midfield, Camden Riley is an interesting prospect to watch. TopDrawerSoccer's Travis Clark describes him as, "a talented attacker who can score and create goals" while, Ives Galarcep (of and SBIsoccer) lists him as a defensive midfielder on his big board. Without the athleticism to play wide, Riley will probably have to make it as a #8 in MLS. Riley is one to keep an eye on for the next week, I think there's some similarities between he and Julian Gressel. Anderson Asiedu is likely to be the defensive midfielder in a 4-3-3 lineup. Joining Shinyashiki up front is a trio of decent prospects: Amir Bashti, Don Tchilao, and Shinya Kadono. Bashti and Tchilao are former Pac-12 rivals (Bashti attended Stanford, Tchilao went to Oregon State). They both had good seasons (Tchilao had seven goals and nine assists,  Bashti had seven goals and six assists); Tchilao is the bigger and more physical of the two.

*It looks like Andre Shinyashiki has been signed by MLS. That makes me really excited, because it makes me believe at least one team believes Shinyashiki is good enough to make their roster this year. Shinyashiki is from Brazil and would use an international roster spot.

Top players on my watch list:

  • D C.Montgomery
  • F A.Shiniyashiki
  • M S.Rivas
  • M C.Riley
  • M/F A.Bashti
  • F D.Tchilao

Team Copa is highlighted by two Generation Adidas forwards, the best senior midfielder in the draft, and a solid defense, which includes the most interesting goalie in the draft, Dayne St. Clair. St. Clair just won a national title with Maryland, and has signed with MLS as a Generation Adidas contact. His position as a GA goalkeeper is an interesting one. I heard Bobby Warshaw on the podcast, ExtraTime Radio, say that it would be very advantageous for a team to take St. Clair as a GA player, and take advantage of his contract exceptions, and he would retain GA status basically until he was ready to become the starter. JJ Williams and Griffin Dorsey will be the players to watch on the frontline. Both are Generation Adidas players. Williams is a massive striker (6'4) from Kentucky. He will garner attention for his size and ability to lead the line. He scored 18 goals last season. Dorsey is a winger from Indiana, and has played with the youth national teams, and has been called up to the U-20 team by Tab Ramos. Dorsey should be in a good position to provide service to the best target man in the draft. Another forward worth watching is Sebastian Elney, who was a teammate of St. Clair at Maryland. Janos Loebe could lineup on the left side of the midfield, but Ives Galarcep has him listed as a LB on his big board. It'll be interesting to see where he's placed on the team. Loebe finished last season with seven goals and eleven assists. The midfield will revolve around Brad Dunwell. Dunwell could be a top-five pick. He was the leader of one of the nation's best teams, Wake Forest. Dunwell sets the tone and pace of play for his team in the midfield, but he doesn't have great ability going forward. He'll have to prove he has the ball-winning ability to be a #6 in MLS. Playing beside Dunwell will be Joey Piatczyc. Piatczyc is a #10 out of West Virginia who will have to prove he can play as a #8 in MLS. He's in a good spot playing with Dunwell, as Dunwell will give Piatczyc the freedom to go forward. The backline is anchored by James Hauser-Ramsey and Scott DeVoss. The 6'3" Hauser-Ramsey is the better prospect of the two entering the combine. Abdi Mohamed will flank the two center backs on the right. He's one of several really good right back prospects in the combine, and should get opportunities to go forward. On the left is one of the best LB prospects, Marcello Borges. I see this team as a 442. I think Williams should succeed with good attackers like Dorsey and Piatczyc. The fullbacks should be able to move forward freely with a pair of good center backs, and Dunwell providing cover. I'm a little worried about Loebe. LB could be his best shot of a MLS career, but he has Borges and Dylan Greenberg fighting for minutes there already. 

Top players on my watch list:
  • F JJ Williams
  • M B.Dunwell
  • G D.St. Clair
  • F G.Dorsey
  • D A.Mohamed
  • M J.Piatczyc
  • D M.Borges

Team Nemeziz lacks a truly exciting prospect (they may not have a top-10 player according to many draft boards). However, they are solid throughout. The best prospect entering the combine is left back, Akeem Ward. Fullback is a position of strength in this draft, and Ward will need to show his two-way potential to emerge from the pack. Speaking of that fullback depth, Nemeziz may have the best set of fullbacks of any combine team. Logan Gdula, Wake Forest, will start on the right, opposite Ward. Gdula will be one of the best fullbacks going forward in the draft. He tallied fourteen assists during the college season. He has the talent to be the first fullback taken in the draft, especially if he proves himself on the defensive side during the combine. Playing in central defense will be some combination of Alex Comsia, Prosper Figbe, and Lennart Hein. Figbe and Lennan would cost a team an international roster spot, so don't expect either to be on an MLS squad next season. Comsia is a little undersize for a center back, but a good combine could boost his stock. The midfield should be very solid for Nemeziz. Tommy McCabe is the best ball-winning midfielder entering the combine. Then there's Amar Sejdic, the captain of the national champions, Maryland. He's another college #10 that will have prove he can be a #8. Sejdic is a player who could fly up boards over the next week. He's good on the ball, and has the intangibles; if he proves effective playing in a deeper role he (like Joey Piatczyz for "X") could make a Gressel-esqe impact in MLS. Geoff Dee and Hassani Dotson are both more holding midfielders, and will look to separate themselves in the combine. DeJuan Jones is the archetype speedy winger that gets moved to a fullback position at the combine, i.e. Brandon Bye and Mark Segbers in 2018. Jones is another player who could drastically improve his draft stock if he shows defensive acumen (and if his speed proves to be the best in the draft). Unfortunately or Jones, Gdula is also on his team, and I don't know how many minutes at RB the coach will take from him. The front line will be led by Santino Patino. Patino is a #9, who scored twelve goals during the college season. He'll be the primary focus on offense, so we should get a good look at him during the combine. Patino is joined upfront by Abdou Mbacke Thiam of UConn. Thiam scored fourteen goals during the season. Thiam is behind Patino on experts' draft rankings right now. Tucker Bone is a winger. He should get ample playing time, and has a couple of productive #9s to feed. Nemeziz lacks a Generation Adidas player, but they are a balanced team. I expect them to play 433. They're fullbacks and central midfield are strengths. 

Top players on my watch list:

  • D A.Ward
  • F S.Patino
  • M T.McCabe
  • M A.Sejdic
  • D L.Gdula
  • F/D D.Jones
  • F/M T.Bone
Team Predator

Team Predator leads all teams with four Generation Adidas players, which means, there will be a lot of focus on this team. They may have the three best prospects currently in the draft in fact: Frankie Amaya, Tajon Buchanan, and Siad Haji. Frankie Amaya is the youngest player in the draft, but he's supremely talented, and has played for the youth national teams. Again, Amaya is very young (he won't turn 19 until September), and he's also very small (just 5'4"). A team probably isn't drafting Amaya for this season. Said Haji is one of the best playmakers in the draft. He's capable of playing on the wing in addition to playing centrally. He should go very high. Tajon Buchanan is the man who stands to benefit from Haji's skills. Buchanan is a sophomore from Syracuse. Syracuse has now produced a Generation Adidas player in each of the last five years (Buchanan, Mo Adams, Miles Robinson, Julian Buscher, and Alex Bono). Buchanan will be tried out both in a central role and out wide. He's one of the most versatile strikers in the draft. Predator's fourth GA is left back, John Nelson. Nelson seems like the overshadowed member of the GA class, but MLS teams always need domestic left-footed defenders. Joining Nelson on the backline are center backs, Kamal Miller and Wouter Verstaaten. Those two are solid CB prospects who will be trying to emerge as the top center back after Callum Montgomery. Andrew Samuels is yet another national championship winner at Maryland. He's a defensive midfielder that may be called in to play right back. Joel Rydstrand of Creighton and Javi Perez of Pittsburgh will round out the midfield. Ryan Sierakowski  is a #9 from Michigan State, and he may get the opportunity to play between Haji and Buchanan at some point; that could be very beneficial to his draft stock. Team Predator has some of the most exciting players at the combine. However, I'm little worried that this team will be outmatched in the midfield. Thankfully the backline should be steady with two of the better center backs at the combine. 

Top players on my watch list:

  • F T.Buchanan
  • M S.Haji
  • M F.Amaya
  • D J.Nelson
  • D K.Miller
  • D W.Verstraaten
  • M/D A.Samuels
  • F R.Sierakowski
That's my take on how these teams look. I'll check back in after the games today. It's a double header beginning at 12:30pm EST (Youtube, Facebook, Mlssoccer).

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Chatter: Week 3

Last week was a 3-3 week for me, bringing my yearly tally to 8-4. Here’s a look at this week’s slate.

Premier Matchup: 2 Redeemed Renegades vs 3 Newby

Aaron Rodgers is still banged up, but there’s no question he is going to play. He plays Washington who have been tough against the pass this year. David has dropped Russell Wilson from his lineup in favor of the Buccaneer-red-hot Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has a great matchup against the Steelers. Matchup makes this close, but I’m still going to give the edge to Tony and Rodgers, even on one knee.
This matchup boasts several excellent receivers. David’s Michael Thomas has averaged 15.5 ppw through two, and looks the part of an every week top-five WR. David’s three other starters: Fuller, Cole, and Engram are all coming off successful weeks. Tony’s receivers are led by Davante Adams. Adams is Rodger’s go-to target at this point, and should be a WR1 each week. He is also starting, Allen Robinson, who is yet to find the endzone this season, and Tyler Lockett, who is averaging 9.5 ppw, and is Seattle’s #1 in place of Baldwin. Tony’s TE is Jimmy Graham, who has struggled to stand out in Green Bay. Both squads of receivers are good, but David’s are a little better at each level.
Tony has the better RBs, and it’s not close. ‘Zeke has scored 15 points in each of the first two weeks, and Christian McCaffrey is getting a lot of work, and piling up yardage though he’s yet to reach paydirt. David’s David Henry and LeSean McCoy have struggled. He’s starting Chris Thompson this week in place of McCoy. Thompson will see snaps and touches, but he’s receiving TD dependent in our league.
David and Tony have some of the most reliable defenses and kickers, and they’re fairly even, though I’d lean slight to Tony.
Tony will move to 3-0.

4 Old School vs 5 Zach Attack

This is a “not a rivalry” matchup. Gary should do well with Tom Brady facing the Lions. He should also enjoy another nice game from Tyreek Hill, who has enjoyed an exceptional start to the season. Gary still needs more from his RBs. Lamar Miller has been underwhelming, but he could get a boost from Corey Clement. Clement has been doing well with the touches he’s gotten, and should see an increased role in the Eagles’ offense. Gary spent an early pick on Greg Zuerlein, but he’s injured.
Zach has his own QB with a good matchup, Kirk Cousins at home against the Bills. Thien and Hopkins are WR1, OBJ needs to get things going this week. At running back, Zach has Melvin Gordon who has enjoyed a great start, but has a tough test against the Rams. Dalvin Cook has struggled and is nursing a hamstring injury, but the Vikings are facing the Bills.
This is a close matchup. I’ll take Gary in a mild upset.

7 Show Your Horns vs 8 Joshua Tree

Jason has ol’ reliable, Drew Brees, going again this week. He’ll have a pair of Lions receivers, Tate and Jones Jr, starting. The pair have been solid this year despite Detroit struggling, and neither of them being Kenny Golladay. Larry Fitzgerald has not been so great (but maybe someone off his bench could do better. Maybe someone who’s name starts with “Nels” and ends in “lor”). Each of Jason’s RBs, Barkley and Hyde, are averaging 13 ppw.
Jeff is still starting Case Keenum, whom he picked up last week when Ryan Fitzpatrick was available, just saying. He struggled last week, and has a tough matchup against the Ravens. He’s finally starting Desean Jackson after two great weeks (and of course this will be the week Jackson gets shut down). He’s doubling up on Bucs receivers, starting Chris Godwin as well. Both of his RBs have averaged double digit points as well. Though, I lean to Jason’s pairing this week.
With the better QB and RBs, I think Jason takes this matchup.

1 Fantasy Failures vs 10 McNabbers

Mahomes is ridiculous, and we can all just hope his play regresses. Gurley and Kamara are both playing like top-five RBs right now. Aaron’s receivers have had mixed results. AJ Green looks to be in top form. Gronk might be a little banged up this week. Keenan Allen faces the Rams, who’ve swallowed up every offense they’ve faced. Woods and Hogan are toss ups, though I like Hogan against the Lions with Gronk potentially limited.
Cam Newton came alive in the second half of last week’s game. He has a fine matchup against the Bengals. Kareem Hunt has struggled to get going this year. Last season, he was the most volatile RB1. Jordan Howard has also struggled, but at least Tarik Cohen has as well too, and Howard will get a chance against the Cardinals who have given up the most points to RBs. David’s receivers have struggled.
I don’t see Aaron slowing down yet. Kamara and Gurley are tough enough to contend with, but we need to see a chink in Mahomes’ armor before I pick against him.

6 In the Pits vs 12 The C’s

Philip Rivers has been great, averaging 31 ppw. However, he faces the Rams, who have given up the fewest points to QBs. Unfortunately I don’t see a QB worth spelling him this week. David Johnson has struggled to get involved, and faces Chicago, the defense that has given up the fewest points to running backs. Alex Collins looked good in spurts last week, and should be more involved. My receivers have been excellent, and they have good matchups this week. I especially like Mike Evans vs Pittsburgh. I picked up Dan Bailey this week (thanks everyone).
Looks like it’s Stafford’s turn again. He laid an egg week one, then scored 29 last week. He faces the Patriots this week, who were burned by Bortles. Even with my weak matchups, Jared has the inferior running backs. Marshawn Lynch has been a high RB2, but Bilal Powell is barely RB3 territory tonight. Jared’s receivers have been better than I expected them to be. He has Minnesota’s D vs the Bills.
Due to poor matchups, I’m vulnerable, and Jared has a real chance to pick up his first career win. I tend to win more games where I pick against myself. So, I’ll roll that way: Jared wins.

9 St. Louis Cardinals vs 11 Syracuse Lake Effect
Bryon is missing Le’Veon Bell and Joe Mixon. He lacks quality RB depth. I feel bad. Andy wins, no contest.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Chatter: Week 2 Predictions

I went 5-1 in my predictions last week. I only mispredicted my own matchup, typical. So, remember, you should always take this post seriously.
Interestingly, every team that won last week is playing a team that lost last week. It’s the winners vs the losers. There’s a chance we’re all 1-1 at the end of this week, a slim chance. I promise Jason and I will do our part to make it happen though!
While looking at the standings this week, I noticed it appears the first tie breaker is division rankings, before points. Is this the way it’s been in the past? Is that what we want? Does anyone have a problem switching to points?

Premier Matchup: 1 Show Your Horns vs 7 In the Pits

This matchup involves two of the more successful QBs last week. Drew Brees and Philip Rivers were top-5 QBs last week. They could be again this week. I have Rivers facing Buffalo, and the Bills made Joe Flacco look like Johnny Unitas last week. Brees faces the Browns, though the Browns have a good secondary and Myles Garrett is no joke. We’re even at QB factoring matchups.
Yahoo projects my running backs to outscore his, but I’m less optimistic. Both Barkley and Hyde played well last week, each scoring more than my pair. I also like their matchups better. David Johnson, as will always be the case, is the x-factor. He only received fourteen touches last Sunday, and is now dealing with a minor back injury. Collins barely touched the ball following his TD on the first drive. He didn’t produce on the few carries he was given, and it didn’t help that his best run (a 12 yarder) was called back. He has a tough matchup against the Bengals. I’m considering making a switch at RB, but I’m not thrilled by my options this week.
I do have an advantage at WR and TE. Mike Evans looked as though he’d recaptured his WR1 form, and Desean Jackson looks injured, which should give Evans more looks. Hilton was adequate last week, and I believe he’s still on the rise with Luck getting back into the swing of things. I’m benching Amari Cooper this week, and turning to Mike Williams, who is getting targeted by Rivers, and faces the Bills. He’s their redzone target anyways. Ertz led the Eagles in targets, hopefully there’s more production to come. Golden Tate was the only positive wide receiver for Jason, though Kyle Rudolph also scored. Larry Fitzgerald, and more importantly, his QB Sam Bradford, face the Rams this weekend. Edge my way.
Kickers and defense seem a wash.

This is a tight one. I’m not feeling confident in my RBs right now. So, I’ll give it to Jason.

5 St. Louis Cardinals vs 9 Zach Attack

Alex Smith and Kirk Cousins scored the same number of points last week: 23. I think Alex Smith has the better matchup for Andy, facing the Colts. Cousins is in Green Bay, and Green Bay’s secondary looks much improved though they’re far from an elite unit. I’d still call their QBs even.
Zach has the advantage at RB. Melvin Gordon scored a solid 14 last week, and gets Buffalo this week. His second RB, Dalvin Cook, struggled last week though, and Green Bay was pretty good at shutting down the Bears’ Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen last week. Andy may be without Devonta Freeman this week. If Freeman misses, he’ll have to turn to rookie, Kerryon Johnson, who was worthless, along with most of the Lions, last week. Jay Ajayi had a good week by virtue of his TD. He will still have to share snaps with Clement and Sproles.
This matchup features three of the five best wide receivers in football. OBJ is the best this week against the Cowoys. DeAndre Hopkins and Adam Thielen are also WR2 or better receivers. Andy has Julio Jones, but Corey Davis and Cooks are definitely a tier or two below Zach’s second and third receivers. Andy’s tight end is also worse. Advantage goes to Zach.
I like Zach’s kicker and defense better this week.

They’re even at QB and Zach has it everywhere else. I have Zach winning and moving them both to 1-1.

6 Newby vs 10 McNabbers

This matchup features two of the better rushing QBs in the league, Cam Newton and Russell Wilson. Wilson had a good week 1 performance, 25 points, and he faces the Bears who were torched by Aaron Rodgers in the second half of their week 1 meeting with the Packers. It does look like Wilson has lost another weapon in WR1, Doug Baldwin. Newton was more pedestrian for David H, scoring 19 points. I would have considered the Falcons a more difficult matchup, but the Falcons’ secondary is hurt, and I think they’ll be missing two starters. I’m leaning David’s way in this one, David Beehner that is.
PD has the better RBs, though neither Hunt or Howard, had a fantastic opening week. Lesean McCoy was not effective at all, along with the entire Bills offense. He has a chance to bounce back though facing the Chargers rather than the Ravens. Chris Thompson will see snaps, but I think he’s a little too receiving TD dependent in our league. Speaking of the Redskins, when will PD put his faith in AP?
The receivers are fairly even, but I’ll lean slightly to David Beehner. Michael Thomas is the only true stud in the bunch. He’s a WR1. Josh Gordon’s performance was encouraging for him as well. He has the better tight end, since PD is missing Greg Olsen. David’s Broncos receivers both benefited from Keenum’s play week 1, and they get a better matchup this week. They should be solid WR2s. Devan Funchess was not impressive week 1, but he’s still the best receiver on the Panthers.
Defense and kicker are even. PD has to like what he saw from Chicago last week.

This is a close matchup. It could go either way. David Hertweck needs Kareem Hunt (the archetype “boom-or-bust” player) to have a bounce back game. I’m going to play it sage and take Beehner.

4 Old School vs 11 Joshua Tree

With New England playing the Jaguars, Gary will turn to Deshaun Watson against the Titans. Watson had a crappy first game, but Gary’s betting he bounces back, or he believes the Tom Brady is washed up, and the Jaguars are a vastly superior team to the Patriots. Jeff kept Marcus Mariota instead of Alex Smith. Now, he’s dumped Mariota after just one game for Case Keenum. Keenum was a QB1 in our league last week, throwing for 3 TDs. He also threw three interceptions though. I think Keenum is volatile, but he doesn’t have a bad matchup this week. This is an interesting individual matchup, and could greatly influence the game. Watson has a higher upside this week, while I think Keenum’s 25 point effort a week ago is the best you’re going to get from him. I’d lean Watson’s way, but either could struggle, and Watson isn’t a sure-thing to be a worthy starter.
Jeff has the best RB in this matchup, James Conner, and he may have the best two if Leonard Fournette proves to be healthy. Fournette missed time in last week’s game with a hamstring injury, and it remains to be seen if he’ll play this week. He’s a fringe RB1 if he does. Gary’s weakness is still at RB. Lamar Miller still can’t find the endzone, and Royce Freeman finds himself in more of a timeshare than I’d anticipated. Advantage Jeff.
Gary has the better receivers and it’s not close. JuJu, Tyreek Hill, and Kenny Stills are all capable of big performances. Jeff may have the better tight end, Kittle, and Diggs is a real WR2 though. Jeff’s final two positions will be taken by players he added this week, Ted Ginn and Chris Godwin. Those are good pickups. Gary has an advantage if his guys show up, but as I’ve said all along, they’re as likely to bust as boom.
Gary has the better kicker and defense.

This is an extremely close matchup, and it may be determined by Fournette’s availability. I think Jeff made some wise moves at receiver and defense this week. I’m still going to lean Gary’s way though, since I trust his QB more.

3 Fantasy Failures vs 12 Syracuse Lake Effect

Aaron grabbed Patrick Mahomes, while other more established QBs were still on the board in the draft. Mahomes rewarded him with the third best QB performance, 36 points, of week 1. The Steelers let Tyrod Taylor score 26 points last week, so I like Mahomes to be a top-half starter again. Bryon will once again give the ball to Jared Goff. Goff gave an average, 21 point, performance last week. I think we’ll see consistency from Goff this year, regular 19-24 point performances, but I don’t think he’s going to often light it up. I’d say Mahomes is a top-half QB1, while Goff is a back-end QB1.
Aaron has better running backs and it’s not close. Both of Aaron’s running backs are top-3 this week. Alvin Kamara is coming off an extraordinary game, and faces the Browns who were just torched by James Conner. Bryon is still without Le’Veon Bell, and it’s not looking good. Joe Mixon could be a back-end RB1, but he has a tough test against the Ravens. Austin Ekeler is a starter in PPR leagues, but his production in our league is dependent upon a receiving touchdown. Aaron has a big advantage here. Standard Donald Trump rhetoric wouldn’t be an exaggeration to the describe the advantage Aaron has at running back.
Aaron also has an advantage at receiver, but it’s closer. Bryon at least has the best receiver in the matchup, Antonio Brown. However, Keenan Allen and AJ Green aren’t far behind. Aaron also has the superior TE, Gronk, though Kelce is just behind with Gronk facing the Jaguars. Bryon has a second solid receiver in Jarvis Landry, but Sammy Watkins may be in trouble. Patrick Mahomes threw  4 TD passes last week, and none of them were to him.
Bryon’s defense, Chargers, scored -3 last week, but they face the Bills this week, so maybe it’s worth Bryon giving them a second chance. Kickers and defense are even.

Bryon may be in some trouble as Bell’s absence continues. Aaron wins again.

2 Redeemed Renegades vs 8 The C’s

Tony was bailed out by Aaron Rodgers’ second half last week. As he and the Packers leaned on the discount double check return to lead them to victory. Rodgers is questionable, but I don’t think there’s any way he isn’t playing. That said, it’s going to be a tough test against the Vikings. Jared has hopefully learned his lesson. He should be starting Andrew Luck after Matthew Stafford was embarrassed by the Jets last week. He scored 22 points last week, and has an easier matchup against the Redskins (as opposed to the Bengals secondary). It’s hard to pick against Rodgers, but with the matchup and the injury, I think he’s even with Luck this week.
Tony has the two best RBs in this matchup. Ezekiel Elliott leads the way, and he’s a top-5 RB this week against the Giants. McCaffery has a good matchup, and is always a threat to break off a big play. Jared’s best RB is Lynch. Lynch scored last week, but wasn’t particularly effective on the ground apart from that play. He has a tough matchup Monday night. Jared will also start Bilal Powell again. Powell received 12 carries last week, and average 5 yards per carry. Unfortunately for him, teammate Isaiah Crowell was a beast.
On the bright side, Jared’s three starting receivers: Kenny Golladay, Michael Crabtree and Randall Cobb, all played well week 1. Unfortunately they have tougher matchups this week. Tony’s receivers were pretty good as well last week. Davante Adams is still the receiver to own in Green Bay, Allen Robinson looked decent with Chicago, and Tyler Lockett will be replacing Doug Baldwin as Russell Wilson’s go-to guy. Tony has the better TE, Jimmy Graham. I think Tony only has a slight edge here.
Tony definitely has the better kicker and defense. However, Jacksonville has to face New England, which could tick Tony’s defense down. Jared’s defense, Houston, plays Tennessee, and there’s question marks around the Titans’ QB.

Tony should win this, but Jared’s team is performing better than expected. He needs an upgrade at RB2 though.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Chatter: Week 1 Predictions

Premier Matchup: (c) Redeemed Renegades vs McNabbers

Both teams have top-5 QBs this week. Tony will have the advantage at QB most weeks; except those weeks he chooses to start Roethlisberger over Rodgers, which he does have a tendency of doing. But, Newton isn’t far behind this week with a favorable matchup against the Cowboys at home.
Tony has a slight advantage at RB as well, but it’s also close. Tony’s running backs will be playing each other. Ezekiel Elliott is a top-five RB this week, and most weeks. McCaffery is a fringe RB1 himself this week against the Cowboys. David will start Kareem Hunt and Jordan Howard. Hunt is a RB1 this week against the Chargers; Howard is a solid RB2 for me against the Packers Sunday Night.
Tony has the better receivers this week, but it’s another small advantage. His group is led by top-five WR this week, Davante Adam, and tight end Jimmy Graham. The Packers duo has a good matchup against rival, Da Bears, in Green Bay. Allen Robinson is also in that game, facing the Packers. He’s a WR2. Tony is starting Tyler Lockett over fellow Seahawk, and usual WR1, Doug Baldwin. Baldwin is banged up I guess, and facing the Broncos. We’ll see if that move pays off. David also has two receivers in that Denver-Seattle matchup. Thomas and Sanders face the Seahawks, and I’m sure he’s hoping one of them can score. David will start two more teammates, Devan Funchess and Greg Olsen who have a good matchup against the Cowboys.
I’ll take Tony to take his first step to reclaiming his title this year.

Syracuse Lake Effect vs Newby

David should have a small advantage at QB. Russell Wilson is at Denver, and has to deal with their pass rush, but he’s still a fringe top-five, sure top-ten QB this week. Goff I have as a back-end starter this week, playing in Oakland.
Bryon may have a problem on his hands in Le’Veon Bell. Bell continues to hold-out, and the prospect of him starting this week doesn’t look good. That is a gamechanger in this matchup. I still think Bryon has the best overall RB between these two teams: Joe Mixon. Mixon should be a fringe RB1 against the Colts. Both McCoy and Derrick Henry are solid RB2s this week for David. If Bell is unavailable this week, Bryon may have to turn to Seahawks rookie, Rashaad Penny, and I don’t think he’s ready to contribute. That would give David an advantage at RB. If Bell plays, and I heard somewhere he wii. Bryon will have a sizeable advantage at RB.
David and Bryon each have a top-five receiver this week: Michael Thomas and Antonio Brown, respectively. Brown probably is still the slightly better matchup though. Their other wide receivers are pretty even. Bryon has the better tight end, Travis Kelce. Bryon has a slight advantage here.
David has an advantage at kicker and defense.
It’s looking more and more like Bell won’t play, so I’m inclined to take David.

Zach Attack vs Fantasy Failures

Zach will have a small advantage at QB, even with Wentz out. Cousins is one of the best backup QBs in our league. Aaron has tapped first-year starter, Patrick Mahomes to be his starter. I like Mahomes, but I want to see what he can do away and against a tough division rival.
Aaron will have an advantage at RB all season. This week, he has two top-five RBs. Gurley is no.1, obviously. Kamara will benefit from a matchup with Tampa Bay, and Mark Ingram’s absence. Zach potentially has two RB1s as well. Melvin Gordon and Dalvin Cook could score a lot of points this week, but they’re a cut below Aaron’s pair.
This matchup hosts the two best groups of receivers in our league. I lean slightly Aaron’s way, and that’s mostly due to Gronk’s advantage over Trey Burton. OBJ has to face Jacksonville as well. Though, I do believe Hopkins will have a big game for Zach as a top-three WR against NE. Aaron’s wide receivers are all top-fifteen receivers this week.
This is a huge early matchup in our league. Both teams may come into the week believing they’re the best team. I think Aaron comes away as the leader in a high scoring affair.

Joshua Tree vs St. Louis Cardinals [do not] Rule

This QB matchup should be fairly even. I have Matt Ryan as the worst QB of the two that could start this week. I would not start him against the Super Bowl winners. Andy’s Alex Smith and Jeff’s Marcus Mariota are fairly evenly matched though. I would lean slightly to Smith.
Both of Andy’s RBs are going thursday night. Devonta Freeman is a fringe RB1 at best against the Eagles, and more likely a mid-high RB2. Ajayi I have as a solid RB2 as well. Jeff meanwhile has the best RB in the matchup, Leonard Fournette; he’s a rock solid RB1. However, he may struggle choosing a viable second running back. Sony Michel is expected to miss this week. Tevin Coleman has a tough matchup, the Eagles, and there’s Freeman. Right now, Jeff is going all in on Nyheim Hines. Advantage goes to Andy. Things have changed. Jeff picked up James Conner, and Le’Veon Bell still hasn’t reported. I’m swinging Jeff’s direction at running back, assuming he starts Conner. Wait, Coleman plays in a few hours, and Jeff is still starting him; I doubt he’ll flip it before the game starts. Sigh. Back to Andy.
Andy as better receivers, and it’s not close. It will be interesting to see Ridley go head-to-head with Julio tonight though. Actually, there a lot of interesting Falcons in this game. Andy has the superior RB and WR: Freeman and Julio, while Jeff has a RB and WR as well, just the inferior two: Coleman and Ridley. Andy also has Atlanta’s TE.
I have Andy taking this one. Conner could make things interesting if Jeff starts him, but I still think Andy has a much more balanced team.
In the Pits vs Old School

Gary has his choice of top-five starters at QB. Either will have a good advantage over Philip Rivers. Rivers is a Top-12 QB this week though; he’s home against the Chiefs. I expect that to be a competitive, and likely high scoring game.
The greatest advantage in this matchup is held by me at RB. I have the two best running backs between Gary and I. David Johnson is back [along with my championship aspirations], and is a top-three RB this week. Alex Collins should be a solid to high end RB2 against the Bills. Gary meanwhile, has some options at RB. He’ll start Royce Freeman, who I have a few spots below Collins. Then he’ll start either Lamar Miller or Peyton Barber, likely Miller. Miller’s a back end RB2 this week.
My wide receivers are better, but they have tough matchups. The most productive receiver might be tight end, Zach Ertz, who plays tonight. Gary has a bunch of big-play players: Hill, JuJu, and Stills, and is always dangerous. Our receivers are even this week, but Gary’s have more potential.
This one is close. I think my RBs will prevail over Gary’s QB

The C’s vs Show Your Horns

I don’t mean to positively reinforce Jared’s first round selection, but I think Stafford is the best QB in this matchup. I like him at home against the Jets to be a solid QB1. Brees also has a good matchup at home against Tampa Bay. Luck should be a third QB1 in this matchup but I have him a little behind Stafford and Brees.
Saquon Barkley is the best RB in this matchup. He faces Jacksonville, but should still be a fringe RB1 in his first career game. Jason will also likely start Carlos Hyde against the Steelers, rather than root for Alfred Morris against his beloved Vikings. Either would be a reach as a second RB this week. Jared’s best running back will be Marshawn Lynch, who has a tough one against the Rams. He’s a fringe RB2. Bilal Powell will be the worst RB starting this week. I take that back, Jeff may still start Nyheim Hines.
I think Jason has better receivers. It will be interesting with three Lions receivers going: Jones and Tate for Jason, Golladay for Jared. Crabtree is a wildcard, as he is always a threat to score, and we’ll see how quickly Doyle reconnects with Luck.
I’ll take Jason.