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  • Sing it, brother. We're open! WOOOO! WOOOOOOOO! (Getty Images)

    That's right: We're live.

    The 2014 edition of Yahoo Fantasy Baseball is LIVE. Get in the game, slugger.

    As we've mentioned before, this year's game is pretty spectacular. Registration has never been easier, you can draft and mock 24/7, and our prospect pool is loaded this season — a huge win for dynasty gamers. And you can now draft on almost any gadget imaginable, including Android and iOS devices (also rotary phones, Leapfrogs, Lite-Brites, Speak & Spells, and most Etch A Sketches).

    Read More »from Yahoo Fantasy Baseball 2014 is now OPEN
  • At least from a fantasy perspective, there's a little more to get excited about in Houston this year. (USAT)

    We continue our series of MLB fantasy previews, wherein we consider 4-5 key questions surrounding each team. Baseball is coming, gamers. Pitchers and catchers report soon. Fantasy owners report immediately...

    As expected, the Astros took up residence in the AL West basement in '13, their first season in the Junior Circuit. At this time last year, there were but two Astros worth placement on mixed league fantasy baseball draft boards, those being pocket rocket second baseman Jose Altuve and closer Jose Veras. The good news for Astros fans is that, while reality still bites heading into the '14 campaign, the team's fantasy prospects have significantly improved. That was evident in a mock draft that we conducted with friends and family of Yahoo fantasy in January, where six Astros were drafted (Altuve, George Springer, Dexter Fowler, Jason Castro, Jonathan Villar, Chris Carter), and that doesn't include their expected closer to-be, Jesse Crain (more on him below).

    Because of seven consecutive years of futility (finishing no higher than third in its division, including three straight last-place finishes), Houston has been able to compile a lot of high picks in the MLB draft. That has led to one of the league's most talent-rich farms at the moment. In the past two drafts, Houston had the top pick in each, nabbing shortstop Carlos Correa and starter Mark Appel, respectively. And, after finishing with a woeful 51 wins last season (worst win total in MLB since '04), Houston will again get the top choice among the '14 amateur crop.

    So the promise of youth is the focus for Houston, and for fantasy owners looking to cash in on the team's talent offering for '14. The veteran Altuve is still the top roto commodity here, but five-tool outfield prospect George Springer is, perhaps, generating the most preseason buzz, as he was the second Houston player off the board in the above mentioned mock draft, this despite the fact that he may not see Minute Maid Park until the season is a couple months underway.

    As we dive into the team's Pressing Questions, we'll use Springer as the springboard. Let's get to it ...

    Read More »from Pressing Questions: The Houston Astros
  • Carlos Santana, soon to be unmasked (USAT)

    Although the story ran out of steam quickly in October, the 2013 Indians were a success by any measure. Cleveland improved 24 games in the standings, winning a stunning 92 matches and making it to the coin-flip party. The Indians added 78 runs to their ledger, shaved 183 on the other end, and kept Jennifer Keaton smiling all summer. Take a bow, Terry Francona. Well played, Ohio.

    The dirty regression word looms overhead, but keep in mind regression is supposed to be the beginning of a conversation, not the end of one. In other words, here's the real question with any outlier or surprise: regression to what level?

    I haven't seen a posted win total on Cleveland yet, but I suspect it will be in the mid-to-low 80s. Currently there are nine teams with more optimistic AL Pennant odds (Cleveland and Kansas City are tied for tenth); this isn't a Vegas darling by any means. Clay Davenport's first run of stats projects an 85-77 season; Joe Sheehan's January estimate calls for a 75-87 run. (Split the Davenport/Sheehan difference and that's probably where I fall in all this - before the snow melts, anyway. I could feel much differently in March.)

    I know, I know, you're just in it for the fake numbers. You'll find seven Indians in the Yahoo Top 200 to start the year, and there are some interesting player angles to consider. Let's tackle a few of them, below (use Cincinnati tackling techniques, if you please - the Browns won't be fixed for another 47 years). Bang the drum slowly.

    Read More »from Pressing Questions: The Cleveland Indians
  • Crash into me (USAT)

    Fantasy baseball is a game of opinions and disagreements. Okay, sometimes it's a game of arguments, too. That's what we try to capture for you in the Spin Doctors series; two Yahoo scribes who can't see eye to eye on numbers and potential.

    Chris Davis and Prince Fielder are blue-chip sluggers in 2014, Top 20 players on any reasonable board. But which one should you target first? Are they legitimate first-sound selections? Andy Behrens and Scott Pianowski are here to play the feud.

    Happy fake baseball, gamers. Yahoo Fantasy opens for business this week. You belong with us.

    Andy opens in Baltimore: Last season, Chris Davis out-homered Prince Fielder by 28. Davis also finished with 32 more RBIs than Prince, he scored 21 more runs, and his batting average was seven points higher.

    Are we done here? We're done, aren't we?

    What else needs to be said? Prince played all 162 last year, so it's not as if his counting stats didn't reflect his talent as a hitter. Davis and Fielder occupy different tiers on my board. The difference between these two players is substantial.

    Read More »from Spin Doctors: Chris Davis vs. Prince Fielder
  • Billy Hamilton, master thief (USAT Sports Images)

    The Reds have won 90 games in three of the past four years, so this team's fans have come to expect a certain level of regular season success ... followed immediately by postseason failure.

    Cincinnati lost in the NLDS in both 2010 and 2012, then they were blasted by the Pirates in the Wild Card game in 2013. Dusty Baker was fired shortly after last year's playoff loss, replaced by pitching coach Bryan Price. Expectations remain relatively high for the 2014 edition of the Reds, even if the N.L. Central is suddenly a minefield. Pittsburgh and St. Louis are stacked with young talent, Milwaukee should be competitive enough, and Chicago is, um ... well, not good. But the Cubs' farm system is terrific.

    If Cincinnati is ever going to win a title in the Votto/Bruce era, they should probably act fast. This year's lineup is again respectable, the rotation has a few near-aces, and the bullpen is anchored by Earth's hardest-throwing human. The biggest question facing the team, of course, is how they can replace Shin-Soo Choo, last year's leadoff man. Hopefully the kid pictured above is ready.

    And that brings us to our first pressing question...

    Read More »from Pressing Questions: The Cincinnati Reds
  • Matt Williams, big-head racing legend. (USAT)

    Though many of you are still buried under the white stuff, spring training, believe it or not, is just around the corner. To get you caught up on what happened this winter and preview the upcoming season, the Roto Arcade team will break down a team each day leading up to pitchers and catchers reporting. Our ceremonial first pitch, the Arizona Diamondbacks.

    For the Desert Snakes, 2013 ended the same way it began, at .500. Though blessed with a MVP-caliber season from Paul Goldschmidt, a dysfunctional bullpen, inconsistency in the leadoff spot, injuries and limited pop outside of the first baseman turned the NL West contender into a pretender, a lukewarm result that left GM Kevin Towers very unsatisfied.

    To wash down the bitter aftertaste of last season, Towers logged serious minutes on the blower this winter. In a blockbuster three-team deal with Anaheim and Chicago, he acquired hammer Mark Trumbo and fixed the closer problem by adding Addison Reed. Additionally, he re-signed reliever Brad Ziegler and shipped out ERA headache Heath Bell. Still in need of a top-of-the-rotation arm, the huckster may yet trade for Jeff Samardzija or acquire another high-profiled starter, potential moves that would certainly make waves in Fantasyland.

    Because everything always comes back to fantasy, what are the club’s most pressing questions entering spring training? What unheralded D’Backs should you highlight on your cheat sheet? Who’s waiting down on the farm? Here’s a rundown:

    Read More »from Pressing Questions: The Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Blake Griffin continues to get better (USAT)

    Since Chris Paul has been sidelined with a separated shoulder, Blake Griffin has averaged 24.8 points, 4.9 assists and 1.8 steals over nine games. Despite playing without arguably the NBA’s best passer, Griffin has also shot 53.9 percent from the field over this span (he’s now up to 62.4 percent from shots taken on any touch that starts within 12 feet of the basket, which one would think has plenty to do with Paul feeding him inside the paint). Weirdly, Griffin’s biggest hit since his star point guard went down has been on the boards, as he’s averaged just 7.4 rebounds (his season average is 10.0 rpg). It’s likely just an anomaly, as Griffin has bounced back in a big way from last season when it comes to corralling missed shots (he has to deal with sharing the court every night with the NBA’s leading rebounder by a wide margin), as his contested REB percentage of 38.7 is on par with Kevin Love’s (38.8), is better than Dwight Howard’s (36.9) and is much better than LaMarcus Aldridge’s (28.2). DeAndre Jordan has seen 2.3 more uncontested rebounding opportunities per game this season. Among the top-20 players who’ve averaged the most touches per game this year, only Griffin and Love aren’t point guards (Griffin ranks fifth in the league in total touches. Put differently, he’s touched the basketball 468 more times than LeBron James this season). Griffin has been a top-30 fantasy player in 2013/14 who’s surprisingly been even more valuable without Paul, as his game is evolving.

    This Paul George 360 Windmill Slam was pretty ridiculous.

    Here’s an insane (regulation) finish to a high school game.

    The Wizards’ bandwagon cam is brilliant.

    Read More »from Mostly NBA Notes: Talking Blake Griffin, Joakim Noah and a look around the league
  • Only a week away, gamers (Getty Images)

    Pitchers and catchers won't report for another 2-3 weeks, but your fantasy season begins much, much sooner.

    Yahoo Fantasy Baseball 2014 is open for business. And no, this is not a drill. ALERT YOUR COMMISSIONER. The game has launched. It's time to play ball! You might want to consider asking for a vacation day.

    If for some reason you've never played fantasy baseball — or if you're a coward like my friend [name redacted] who gave up the game in '09, because I kept beating him — then I urge you give it a spin in 2014. This year's game has a whole bunch of excellent enhancements, including...

    Read More »from Yahoo Fantasy Baseball 2014 is open, and it’s awesome
  • The Tanaka chase is finally over (USAT)

    It's been a pretty good winter for the Yankees and their Monopoly set, all things considered. The Bombers couldn't convince Robinson Cano to hang around, but GM Brian Cashman has done well with other major targets. Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran have already been fitted for pinstripes, taken their grip-and-grin photos.

    And now we make way for pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, the latest New York acquisition. The 25-year-old Japanese ace agreed to a seven-year, $155 million package on Wednesday. The deal cost New York $175 million when you factor the $20 million posting fee, and it includes a fourth-year opt-out clause for the right-hander.

    Ironically, this was the same sack of money amount offered to Cano. The Yankees aren't taking this no-playoff thing lying down.

    Read More »from Masahiro Tanaka, Bound for Broadway
  • The NFL's best rivalry (USAT)

    From: Scott Pianowski
    To: Mark Stopa
    Sent: Wed, Jan 15, 2014 5:11 pm
    Subject: Breakfast of Champions

    We didn't get much action during the Divisional Round, but maybe they were just paying it forward. The Final Four is buzz-worthy and headline-friendly. Brady-Manning is the best rivalry of our generation (any sport), and the Seahawks and Niners have the best team rivalry in the NFL right now.

    I loathe the ring-driven narrative of NFL life, but it is what it is. There's a significant amount of legacy riding with Brady and Manning over the next three weeks. If Peyton gets to a second title, the stat tailwind could push him to the Greatest of All Time label. But if he retires with just one ring, that's a light bag.

    Brady's career is a little silly in the rear-view mirror, of course. His overlord days came after the titles, not that there's any shame in the two losses to the Giants. But if he never wins that fourth title, if he takes all those swings and never connects again, that's going to be held against him, too.

    Most of the logical signs point to the Broncos (look at the receivers and try not to laugh), but I'll admit the fan in me is looking for a New England angle. Belichick over Fox, that's convenient (though Manning might overrule Fox in a key offensive spot). The Pats had a terrific game plan in the first meeting, but obviously Denver will adjust - and Aqib Talib hasn't been healthy for several weeks.

    If you were starting a team from scratch, would you take Colin Kaepernick over Russell Wilson? How many current head coaches would you take over Jim Harbaugh? Do we make too much of Seattle's home field edge?

    I guess it's obvious which game I'm more focused on. You win again, geography. Stop in both cities and let's get it going - Breakfast of Champions is served.

    Read More »from Breakfast Table: Breakfast of Champions

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