Andy Behrens

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Andy Behrens is the editor of Roto Arcade, the Yahoo! Sports fantasy blog. Andy has been writing about fantasy sports for the past decade and playing them much longer. He's won his share of experts leagues and accuracy titles. He's also the author of three novels for young readers. He also consistently beats the Evans-Pianowski team in barroom shuffleboard, no matter who he's paired with.

  • Juggernaut Index, No. 12: The Detroit Lions

    It takes a special player to disappoint everyone, in a 4900-yard season (Getty Images)

    Things did not exactly end well for the Detroit Lions last season. The team lost its last eight games, often in improbable and excruciating fashion. In Weeks 11-13, the Lions managed to lose three straight home games in which they held leads inside the final 2 minutes of regulation. That ain't easy.

    Detroit had nine single-digit losses last season, dropping five of those games by margins of four points or less. They lost a game when the head coach threw an illegal challenge flag, following a brutal non-call. They lost another game because they botched an opportunity to kick a chip-shot OT field goal on fourth down. The Lions went 0-6 within the division last season and 2-6 at Ford Field, posting the worst home record in the NFC.

    Without piling on any further, let's simply say that 2012 was a messy year for this franchise, loaded with near-misses.

    Even the incomparable Calvin Johnson, in the midst of an all-time season, had a weird habit of not quite breaking the plane when he got himself near the goal line. Johnson was tackled at the 1-yard line five times last year, and he was brought down inside the 5 on eight separate occasions. So while Megatron managed to establish a new NFL record for single-season receiving yardage, his fantasy production actually dipped by nearly 40 points in standard leagues from 2011 to 2012.

    Read More »from Juggernaut Index, No. 12: The Detroit Lions
  • Exhibitionist: Houston rookie DeAndre Hopkins shines in preseason debut

    DeAndre Hopkins (USAT Images)

    So yeah, the Texans may have finally found a dangerous receiving complement to Andre Johnson.

    DeAndre Hopkins LAUGHS AT YOUR SINGLE-COVERAGE, Minnesota.

    Hopkins feasted on Vikings defensive backs in Friday's preseason win, hauling in four passes on five targets for 52 yards. The highlight play was this 34-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter, which brought shame to back-up CB Bobby Felder (pictured). Click that link, friends. Hopkins out-jumped the coverage, high-pointed the ball, then held on through the landing. Nice throw; better catch. "Strong hands" was part of the pre-draft scouting report on Hopkins, and you can see why.

    Read More »from Exhibitionist: Houston rookie DeAndre Hopkins shines in preseason debut
  • Juggernaut Index, No. 13: The New York Giants

    Giants fans in simpler, happier times (Getty)
    If you're an optimistic Giants fan, then it's easy to spin the team's failure to make the 2012 postseason as a fluke. After all, New York still finished with a winning record and a +85 point differential — and, of course, the club is only a season removed from a Super Bowl win.

    But if you're a Giants fan inclined toward pessimism, then you're probably still carrying around the pain of those December beatings. New York was absolutely smoked by Atlanta and Baltimore in back-to-back road games down the stretch, outscored 67-14.

    The Giants are obviously an extraordinarily resilient team with a veteran head coach, a seen-it-all-before quarterback, and plenty of talent at the skill spots on offense. There's a lot to like here. This team is hardly a lock to return to the playoffs in the loaded NFC, but there's little question New York will again provide the fantasy community with plenty of assets.

    Read More »from Juggernaut Index, No. 13: The New York Giants
  • Danny Salazar, brilliant for the first 23 outs (USA Today Images)Before we get into the details of Danny Salazar's second major league start, go pick him up. Now. GO. We are not gonna have this conversation again.

    Salazar was wickedly good on Wednesday night, striking out 10 Tigers over 7.2 innings while issuing only one walk. He hit 99 mph in the eighth, 100 in the seventh — and it looked easy. The kid allowed just seven Detroit hits on the night, nearly all on off-speed pitches. He whiffed Prince Fielder twice and Miguel Cabrera three times.

    And then Miggy chased him from the game with this 7,000-foot bomb, hit deep into the night. Thanks for playing, kid.

    (When you watch that clip, note the sky-point by Salazar after Cabrera connected. As if Kipnis was gonna catch that thing.)

    Still, despite the no-decision and the sloppy finish, you really had to be impressed by Salazar's performance. He was throwing pure smoke.

    Salazar has piled up Ks in the minors, striking out 129 batters over 93.0 innings across two levels this year, walking only 28. He hasn't given up a run in his last three Triple-A appearances, fanning 25 hitters over 14.0 frames. Salazar's innings aren't scary-high, so there's no reason to think there's a shutdown on the horizon. Again: Make the add. He's owned in 15 percent of Yahoo! leagues at the moment. Not sure if he'll get three starts, or four, or six. But Salazar's next turn should be on Monday at Minnesota, a friendly match-up. Let's see where the story goes.

    Read More »from Closing Time: Danny Salazar dominant* vs. Detroit (*until Miggy’s fourth at-bat)
  • Fantasy Football Live poll: How much do preseason results matter?

    We can probably all agree that in the NFL, preseason excellence does not guarantee regular season greatness. In some cases, exhibition excellence doesn't even guarantee a job. But it's also true that preseason performances, both good and bad, can influence depth chart positioning.

    On Thursday's edition of Fantasy Football Live, we'll be discussing (among many topics) the relative importance of August results. We'd like to hear your thoughts on the subject, so please share 'em below, or connect with us on Twitter or Facebook. What are you looking for in the preseason? What do you ignore? Who are you watching? Or are you not watching anyone at all?

    This is a conversation, you guys, not a lecture.

    Read More »from Fantasy Football Live poll: How much do preseason results matter?
  • Juggernaut Index, No. 14: The Cincinnati Bengals

    Not sure if he's really No. 1, but he's almost certainly top-10. Maybe top-3 (Getty Images)

    If you value continuity, then Cincinnati is your squad. Marvin Lewis is one of only two NFL head coaches who have held their current jobs for 10 seasons, and coordinators Mike Zimmer and Jay Gruden have been alongside since 2008 and 2011 respectively. The Bengals have made the playoffs in back-to-back years, too, so this staff has demonstrated a degree of competence.

    Cincinnati is solid in the trenches on both sides of the ball, with a particularly ferocious D-line —Geno Atkins is basically a Balrog playing three-technique. The Bengals' offense features freakishly talented third-year receiver AJ Green, plus it added a pair of high-upside rookie playmakers in Giovani Bernard and Tyler Eifert. Bernard was the first running back selected in the 2013 draft (deservedly so), and Eifert was the top tight end.

    Really, there are no glaring weaknesses on this roster. Bengals fans should expect a multi-game postseason run. If they don't get it, they have every right to complain.

    Read More »from Juggernaut Index, No. 14: The Cincinnati Bengals
  • Juggernaut Index, No. 15: The Carolina Panthers

    Cam prepares to sign his face, his action figure. And we wonder why athletes sometimes go third person (Getty)

    The Carolina Panthers have fielded a top-10 rushing offense in each of the past two years without actually producing a top-20 fantasy running back. That may seem like a difficult feat, even in the backfield committee era, but Cam Newton makes it possible. Newton ran for 741 yards last season at 5.8 per carry, becoming the first NFL quarterback to lead his team in rushing since Donovan McNabb in 2000.

    If things go perfectly according to plan for the Panthers in 2013, then Cam won't repeat as the team's top-rusher. But plans blow up all the time in the NFL, so it's nice to have an indestructible do-everything athlete behind center, just in case.

    Under new offensive coordinator Mike Shula, Carolina is expected to run a somewhat more conventional attack this season, perhaps dialing down the read-option without eliminating it entirely. Basically, the team will attempt to pick up where it left off at the end of 2012, when the Panthers closed the season by winning five of their last six games. Cam threw 10 touchdown passes and just two picks over those final six weeks, rushing for four scores and fumbling only once. Newton also had more carries in the second-half of the season than in the first (68 vs. 59), so fantasy owners won't complain if the November-December playbook finds its way into 2013.

    Read More »from Juggernaut Index, No. 15: The Carolina Panthers
  • Juggernaut Index, No. 16: The Indianapolis Colts

    Andrew Luck, still a fantasy value (Getty Images)

    By any reasonable standard, Andrew Luck had a successful first season — in many ways, historically successful. Luck led the Colts to an 11-5 record and an unexpected playoff appearance, while establishing new NFL rookie records for passing yards in a season (4374) and game (433). He directed seven game-winning drives, which is insane.

    True, his efficiency numbers weren't exceptional last year — 76.5 passer-rating, 54.1 completion percentage — but you really need to understand the system and team context. Last year, under then-coordinator Bruce Arians, Luck led all quarterbacks in deep pass attempts, and by a significant margin. According to Pro Football Focus, 101 of Luck's throws targeted a receiver at least 20 yards downfield. Those are generally low-percentage attempts with high potential yields.

    We should also note that Luck was sacked 41 times, the fourth-highest total in the league, and he was hit while throwing another 14 times, which tied for the NFL lead. Indianapolis receivers dropped 50 of his pass attempts, the most in football (again, per PFF). The Colts running game wasn't particularly effective (3.8 YPC), and the team's defense ranked 26th overall, allowing 374.3 yards per game.

    So let's not pretend Luck was dealt exactly the same hand as Russell Wilson or RG3, or whoever else. He was placed in a unique situation and performed unreasonably well. Andrew Luck, in a nutshell, is a damn good quarterback coming off a phenomenal year.

    Read More »from Juggernaut Index, No. 16: The Indianapolis Colts
  • Juggernaut Index, No. 17: The Philadelphia Eagles

    Be of good cheer, Bird (Getty)

    The Juggernaut Index is our annual preseason ranking of NFL teams for fantasy purposes. Repeat: FANTASY PURPOSES. This isn’t your standard power ranking. Here, we care only about yards and points, not wins and losses.

    The Eagles are by far the most difficult NFL team to preview, because all we really have at this stage are assumptions and guesses and extrapolations. And questions — zillions of questions. Some about head coach Chip Kelly's playbook, others about personnel. Philadelphia is installing a radically different offense and an entirely new defense. Everything is different, it seems. Even the punter.

    There's basically only one thing we can say with confidence about this team's offense in 2013: The Eagles will play fast. Land-speed-record fast. No huddling, no rest for opposing defenses. The worry in Philly is actually that NFL refs may not allow the Eagles to play as fast as they'd like.

    Under Coach Kelly last season, the Oregon Ducks ran a ridiculous 82.8 total plays per game, ranking second in FBS in scoring (49.6 PPG) and fifth in yardage (537.4 YPG). Gameplans were tilted heavily in favor of the run — 52.7 attempts per game — as the Ducks finishing third in the nation in rushing yards (315.2).

    If we assume that Kelly won't abandon the guiding principles of his crazy-tempo spread offense, then we can expect an inventive, run-heavy attack in Philadelphia this season. LeSean McCoy is such an obviously strong fantasy play that we shouldn't even need to discuss him. Shady's current Yahoo! ADP is 9.6, solidly in the first round, worth every auction penny. He's just a year removed from a 20-touchdown season, a terrific threat on the ground and as a receiver. Enough rushing scraps should be left over for fumbly-but-talented Bryce Brown, too (ADP 121.3). Philly will likely run all day when things are going according to script.

    Read More »from Juggernaut Index, No. 17: The Philadelphia Eagles
  • Hugs for Bud (Getty)

    If you've ever attempted to make either Ian Kennedy or Bud Norris the centerpiece of a fantasy trade, then you understand how difficult Kevin Towers and Jeff Luhnow have had it this week. You may not love the returns these GMs received for their recently dealt pitchers, but you know the trade negotiations were difficult.

    Kennedy was flipped within the N.L. West on Wednesday, moving from the D-Backs to the Padres in exchange for left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher, minor league closer Matt Stites and a draft pick. As most of you know, Kennedy was having an ugly season for Arizona (3-8, 5.23 ERA, 4.59 FIP) — bad enough to make everyone but Josh Byrnes forget about his 2011 success.

    "He is a very legitimate starting pitcher," said the Pads GM.

    Yeah, OK. Technically true.

    Read More »from Pre-Closing Time: Kennedy, Norris on the move as trade deadline passes quietly

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