Fantasy Football: Players to Draft or Pass

The NFL’s preseason is upon us and with that, it’s time to identify fantasy football sleepers and busts. The following table identifies one player (mostly) per team and whether you should put them on your fantasy radar or let them be another owner’s problem. As you’ll see below, Christian McCaffrey is one of the players I think might end up being on their share of winning fantasy teams!

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Continue reading “Fantasy Football: Players to Draft or Pass”

August Mailbag: My D-Backs ‘hate’, the Territorial Cup rivalry, multiple favorite teams, my dating life, and more!

We haven’t done one of these in a year – so might as well address some things I’ve received via email and Twitter before football season kicks into high gear. If you have questions for future editions, don’t hesitate to email me at ecohen@1580thefanatic.com.

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You come off as such a hater of the local major sports teams, especially the Diamondbacks…what gives?

As of the time of this writing, the Diamondbacks are in first place in the National League West and I’m happy for their fans. But I’m a Cubs fan through and through…so I’ll never be loyal to Arizona’s MLB team.

To me, Arizona sports fans as a whole are fair-weather…that even includes my fellow UofA fans, who simply boycott football games even if they’re winning! Some D-Backs fans annoy me though because I don’t find them realistic…sure I can be a homer just like anyone…but when my Twitter feed is littered with continuous praise of the acquisitions of two relievers with ERA’s of 3.69 (Jake Diekman) and 3.98 (Brad Ziegler), it just adds fuel to my fire!

To those of you who are loyal and REALISTIC fans, I sincerely apologize for the diatribe above. But to those fans who root for the team when they’re good and turn their backs when they aren’t, you’re exactly why I feel the way I do.

Relating to the other teams in town:

Cardinals: I don’t have anything against them and in fact, I’d like to see a surprise season from what Vegas predicts is one of the worst teams in the NFC. Don’t expect a ton of ‘hate’ from me here throughout the season. I’ll objectively praise and critique on-air and online what I see from the team on the field.

Suns: I used to be a big Suns fan when I was younger but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve soured on the NBA as a whole. I’m intrigued by the offseason additions of DeAndre Ayton, Mikal Bridges, Elie Okobo, Trevor Ariza and more so if I was to choose a favorite team in the NBA, it would for sure be this one.

Coyotes: I used to love going to games in the late-90s, early-2000s when I actually recognized players on the team…Keith Tkachuk, Jeremy Roenick, Teppo Numminen, etc… Since the move to Glendale, attending weeknight games are next to impossible and considering I can’t name more than 5 players on the roster, I just don’t care about them for now. Wake me up when they become relevant in the Western Conference again.

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Speaking of hating things, do you really dislike anything and everything Arizona State as much as you say and write?

YES! If ASU football went 0-12 every season and/or turned into the Pac-12 equivalent of Kansas football, I wouldn’t complain one bit. While basketball coach Bobby Hurley was one of my favorite players as a kid, his constant gyrations on the sidelines annoy me and make me dislike the basketball team that much more.

As I’ve said before (to much criticism), I believe that UofA-ASU is one of the most HATED rivalries in college athletics, especially football. There’s a natural dislike between Tucson and Phoenix and to be perfectly honest, it’s very uncomfortable for either side’s fans to go in their opponent’s stadium. Though I’ve been to every Territorial Cup football game since 2001, I absolutely detest stepping foot in Sun Devil Stadium wearing anything UofA because some jackass usually starts running their mouth unprovoked.

My favorite example of this was from the 2005 contest. Arizona led 20-5 in Sun Devil Stadium midway through the 3rd quarter. There was a moronic kid talking smack to my friends and I almost resulting in fisticuffs between one of them and him in the first quarter. As soon as the Wildcats took command, he disappeared…for hours. Yet as Terry Richardson returned a punt and ASU successfully executed a 2-point conversion in the fourth quarter to tie the game, guess who returned? The Sun Devils went on to win by a field goal with 6 seconds left and I wanted to literally punch the bandwagoner kid in the face (good thing I’m not a fighter in the least).

I’ve heard stories from my ASU buddies of hostile times in Arizona Stadium and that also disgusts me. Boo people all you want for rooting for the opposite team in your stadium…but don’t unnecessarily antagonize them.

Former ASU and Dallas Cowboys QB Danny White (and notorious UofA hater) once told me that he’d root for the ‘University of Iraq’ over UofA. Well I wouldn’t go that far on the opposite side…but the strong dislike is certainly there in my blood.

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Some people like to choose multiple teams to root for in every sport – if you were to rank your top-3 favorites in each of the major sports, who would they be?

Good question. I’ve been outspoken as to fans ranking their favorite teams and truly the answer is this – if I bet on a team, I’ll root for them on a given day. Outside of that, I don’t have a top-3 in any sport. Call it the ‘fantasy football mentality’ of sorts. My parents are University of Miami graduates so that was my college team as a kid…so they’re clearly my #2 in football behind UofA. Outside of that, can’t answer this one.

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Last year you put together a list of Sports Watchability Rankings. After seemingly enjoying the World Cup in June/July, does soccer move up your updated list.

Surprisingly, no…in fact soccer slipped behind tennis.
Here are the updated rankings (with rankings from last year in parentheses):

20. MMA (Last year: 20)
19. Boxing (19)
18. WNBA (17)
17. LPGA (16)
16. Women’s College Basketball (18)
15. IndyCar (14)
14. College Hockey (15)
13. College Softball (12)
12. College Baseball (13)
11. Men’s and Women’s Soccer (10)
10. Men’s and Women’s Tennis (11)
9.  NHL (8)
8.  NASCAR (9)
7.  NBA (6)
6.  Horse Racing (7)
5.  PGA Tour (5)
4.  MLB (4)
3.  College Basketball (3)
2.  NFL (2)
1.  College Football (1)

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You’ve run your own fantasy football league for 22 years without winning it. Why should I listen to your season-long and weekly advice?

Simple: Do as I say, not as I do.

Is your dating life really as bad as you portray it every weekday on The Daily Blender?

Over the course of time, it’s had its moments. But remember, we’re a comedy radio show so some things are a schtick. That’s all I’ll say for now.

Four Downs, 7/27: A handful of Bold Predictions for the NFL in 2018

With training camps underway, here’s a four pack of NFL predictions that some of you may agree with and others…well…not so much:

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FIRST DOWN: The New England Patriots WILL NOT make another Super Bowl with Bill Belichick and/or Tom Brady.
How to describe the Patriots’ offseason – I don’t know, does complete and utter disfunction ring a bell? After a stunning defeat in the Super Bowl to the Eagles which included Belichick benching one of his best defensive players, CB Malcolm Butler for an inexplicable reason, the hits just kept on coming. WR Brandin Cooks was traded to the Rams and his compadre Danny Amendola left for Miami. Julian Edelman, who was supposed to be Brady’s primary pass-catcher while returning from a torn-ACL, was suspended for the first four games due to PEDs. Butler and RB Dion Lewis left for Tennessee while defensive coordinator Matt Patricia took the Lions head job. Oh, and top offensive tackle Nate Solder bolted for the Giants. And I haven’t even mentioned behind the scenes discord between Brady and Belichick due to the QBs professional relationships.

Continue reading “Four Downs, 7/27: A handful of Bold Predictions for the NFL in 2018”

2018 Pac-12 Football Predictions: Washington runs away with the North but the South should be fun

Since Fall camp is right around the corner and with it the best time of the year approaching, it’s time to break down how I believe the Pac-12 conference will shape up in 2018.

Below I’ll project each team’s record (overall and in-conference) and give a bold prediction (at least I hope so) for each team.

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Continue reading “2018 Pac-12 Football Predictions: Washington runs away with the North but the South should be fun”

My Top 10 Favorite Underrated Play-by-Play Calls of All-Time

(Posting this again in 2018 for the purposes of 1580thefanatic.com. One of my absolute favorite columns to write in the last year – hope you’ll watch the clips and enjoy!)

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One thing that makes sports on radio and TV great are the play-by-play calls. As someone who dreamed of once becoming a play-by-play announcer as a kid, I appreciate greatness when I hear it. While Al Michaels’ “Do you believe in miracles?” call is legendary, there are so many more incredible moments in sports that go unappreciated. Here is a list of my favorite under-appreciated sports calls of my lifetime (pre-1983 is excluded)…hope you enjoy:

Continue reading “My Top 10 Favorite Underrated Play-by-Play Calls of All-Time”

My NBA Mock Draft – The Top-16 Picks (with projected trades)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…the best part of the NBA season is the draft. The regular season, with the exception of the occasional notable game is BORING and PREDICTABLE. The playoffs were thoroughly BORING and predictable.

Last year I wrote this in my draft column about the 2017-18 season:

For now here’s what I do know (yes, know not think):
-Golden State will win the 2017-18 NBA Championship.
-Boston or likely Cleveland will again face the Warriors in the NBA Finals.
-Next Summer, LeBron James will leave Cleveland for a destination in Southern California.

Two of those predictions came true and the third one is an extremely good bet at this stage.

Now it’s the fun time for Suns fans who once again can dream about a light at the end of the tunnel for their team. My predictions this year are a bit out there (from picks 2-16) but we’ll see how correct I end up…

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1. PHOENIX SUNS: Deandre Ayton (C, Arizona)
It’s a great thing when you land the #1 pick and a potential franchise center is in the draft. Ayton is a home run pick for the Suns franchise who hasn’t been relevant in terms of winning in nearly a decade. Please tell me they won’t screw it up… Continue reading “My NBA Mock Draft – The Top-16 Picks (with projected trades)”

Friday, June 15th Quick Hitters: Arizona Sports Teams Edition

I haven’t written a Quick Hitters column in month so time to bring it back this time with an Arizona sports-only theme!

-First, let me commend the Diamondbacks for turning things around quickly after it seemed like their season was going in the absolute dumpster. It also helped that Paul Goldschmidt hit .620 last week. Assuming A.J. Pollock comes back and produces at a solid level by the All Star Break, it might be an exciting 2nd half for this squad.

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-But if you think I’m picking them to win the division, as of now, well…yes I am. I have a feeling they’ll make a move in July for starting pitching help and potentially another bat. The Dodgers are playing well but I’m still not bullish on their hitting minus Corey Seager, who’s out for the season.

-I’ve said it many times but just to refresh…if the Suns don’t select UofA center DeAndre Ayton in next Thursday’s NBA Draft, I’ll relinquish whatever fandom I have left! To pass on a potential franchise player, a 7-footer with a polished inside and outside game would be a borderline travesty. I’ll literally jump on the bandwagon of any other team in that case. Fortunately I don’t think I’ll have to worry about that.

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-I’ll do a full mock lottery next week but for now my top 5 would be:

1. Phoenix: DeAndre Ayton (C, Arizona)
2. Sacramento: Marvin Bagley, III (F, Duke)
3. Atlanta: Luke Doncic (F, Slovenia)
4. Memphis: Mohamed Bamba (C, Texas)
5. Dallas: Jaren Jackson, Jr. (C, Michigan State)

Let me also say how NOT confident I am in ANY of those picks as of now.

-I also plan on predicting that the Suns will trade pick #16 and the Heat’s #1 pick in 2021 to move up into the late lottery to select a PG. Find out whom in this column next week…

-4 years, $32 million for David Johnson, $20 million guaranteed. Who says no, his agent or the Cardinals? One way or another, this contract will get done within 30 days.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Arizona Cardinals

-If you’re one of those people who thinks Josh Rosen will start Week 1 over Sam Bradford, I have a private island to sell you in the Caribbean! How do you bench a guy, right away, that is making $20 million if he’s healthy? The answer: you don’t!

-What do I want to see from the Arizona Coyotes this offseason? Maybe just bring in a scorer or two whose name I might recognize. Seriously this team is full of so many young, unknown players that it’s hard for me, the casual hockey fan, to get excited about them.

I wrote a column last month predicting the UofA football season. But I failed to mention how I thought ASU would fare. So game-by-game, here goes nothing:
(Home teams underlined)

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9/1: ASU 33, UTSA 17
9/8: Michigan State 27, ASU 17
9/15: ASU 26, San Diego State 23
9/22: Washington 34, ASU 16
9/29: ASU 41, Oregon State 21
10/6: ASU 38, Colorado 34
10/18: Stanford 30, ASU 17
10/27: USC 30, ASU 20
11/3: ASU 27, Utah 20
11/10: ASU 38, UCLA 27
11/17: Oregon 41, ASU 28
11/24: Arizona 35, ASU 31

There you have it…6-6 with a trip to the Cactus Bowl at Chase Field. Would you be happy with that Sun Devils fans?

-Let me also go on record and predict and NCAA Basketball Tournament appearance for Sean Miller and the Wildcats. Bobby Hurley and his improved ASU team…well, throw them in the First Four again this year.

-And finally, a bit off topic…but here are my projected championship game / matchup predictions in all major sports:

MLB: Houston vs. Chicago Cubs
NFL (2019): Pittsburgh vs. New Orleans
College Football (2019): Alabama vs. Michigan
College Basketball (2019): Duke vs. Gonzaga
NHL (2019): Pittsburgh vs. Nashville
NBA (2019): Golden State vs. Boston

To read previous entries of my blog, click here. Also make sure to follow me on Twitter @eacohen83.