Replacing a lengend certainly isn’t an easy task.
That’s going to be the spring training chore for Atlanta Braves third basemen Juan Francisco and Chris Johnson this season as they’ll attempt to succeed the recently retired Chipper Jones. I’m sure neither player expects to come even close to Jones’ worst season in this position battle, but both players are above-average options to take over Atlanta’s hot corner. The Braves have to love that both players are under 30 years old. It’s also a plus that the pair had their best seasons at the MLB level in 2012. Regardless of what Francisco and Johnson have done in their pasts, their future will probably be determined by what they do in 2013.
There’s a lot of speculation that this hot-corner duo will platoon for the Braves at third base this year. And while it would be nice to have a permanent starter penciled in on the everyday lineup, the fact is that these two players compliment each other quite nicely simply because Francisco bats from the left side and Johnson bats from the right. However, neither player can hit lefties very efficiently and their defense won’t win them any golden gloves soon. The question marks around both players are easily noticeable by one glance at their career statistics and their splits. That’s why I personally believe this will be a position battle. So who will emerge as manager Fredi Gonzales’ favorite? To truly understand the answer to that question, one must take a deep look into the pros and cons that Johnson and Francisco will bring to the Braves: (more…)
BY ZACK KELBERMAN. Feedcrossing.com syndication
Recently, Chris Johnson graded out as the No. 100 player by NFL Network’s popular segment, “Top 100: Players of 2012.” Considering his paltry 2011 campaign, many thought he wouldn’t make the cut, and the fact that he did drew some criticism.
Whether he is deserving of the ranking is a matter of opinion, though the Titans running back formerly known as ‘CJ2K’ still thinks pretty highly of himself.
“I feel I am still the best back in the league, and I have no problem saying that,” Johnson told the Tennessean, via NFL.com. “None of the active backs have done anything that I have done in the first four years, even though I had a bad year last year. So I still feel like I am the best back in the league.”
That is certainly up for debate. Some guy named Adrian Peterson says “hello,” as does the league’s reigning rushing champ, Maurice Jones-Drew. However, Johnson has totaled more yards than any other back over the last four seasons, and seemed a little peeved that the statistic doesn’t warrant more respect. (more…)
BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor
Well, it’s 2012 and we’re a little behind.
You might have seen a lot of top-10, top-20 or top-50 lists swarming the internet either reviewing the good and the bad of 2011 or ones previewing what’s coming up in 2012. We at Couch Side haven’t made it that far, but my first new years resolution while I was stumbling drunk in a warm, cozy cabin during New Year’s Eve was to make such a list.
Last year was an amazing 12 months of sports. It wasn’t all glamour and good news, but 2011 was an exciting year in sports nonetheless. There was lockouts in the NBA and NFL. The Major League Baseball season literally came down to 162nd game of the season and the Texas Rangers came out on top for the first time in franchise history. Yes, 2011 was full of thrills. But, of course, the year also had its fair share of athletes that didn’t quite live up to their expectations. So without any further holdup, here’s Couch Side’s top-10 list of overhyped athletes for 2011:
Tebow came out of the gates blazing, but the fire didn’t last forever. The second-year quarterback out of the University of Florida started his campaign with a 6-1 record as a starter with a handful of those wins coming in the fourth quarter. His late-game heroics became known as “Tebow Time” and it seemed whether you loved or hated the guy, everyone rooted for him. “Tebow Time” didn’t last forever, though. Since his immaculate start, Tebow’s record as a starter dipped to 1-3. He still “led” the Broncos to the playoffs, but one could blame an incredibly weak division for Denver’s success. Tebow will be taken off this list quick if he can beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Wild Card round of the playoffs. I don’t know if that will happen though, considering that he’s only thrown for 675 yards and a dismal two touchdowns with five interceptions in the final four games of the regular season.
CJ2K was an absolute bust in 2011. There’s no way to argue it the other way. In fact, the only reason the Titans were playoff contenders during the final two weeks was because of Matt Hasselback and the Titan defense. No one can tell me or the average NFL fan that Tennessee was successful because of Johnson. After the third-year pro landed his over-the-top contract, which made him the second-highest paid running back in the NFL, he rushed for barely more than 1,000 yards. That was one year after he ran over opposing defenses for an unbelievable 2,006 yards. Talk about not living up to the hype.
BY DEREK BARSNESS, Couchsideshow.com writer
If you are fortunate enough to still be contending in a fantasy football league, chances are you had a little bit of good fortune this season.
For some managers, the benefit of a healthy team with minimal injuries is a recipe for smooth sailing into the league championship. For others, it could be the result of drafting a sleeper or combing the free agents throughout the season. Here’s a look at some of this year’s fantasy sleeper studs that likely have you playing in the championship and a few duds that may have ruined your season early.
• Cam Newton: The rookie has had a sensational fantasy season. Passing for over 3700 yards and running for another 600. He has nearly as many rushing touchdowns (13) as passing (17). Outside of a small percentage of leagues, Newton was drafted near the end of most drafts or picked up on the waivers after week 1. Just to show how good of a bargain Newton has been this season, take a look at these stats from a quarterback drafted in substantially higher rounds. 3900 yards passing and 30 total TDs (29 passing, 1 rushing). Any guesses? Anyone? Bueller? These stats belong to none other than Tony Romo. So Newton owners, you got your money’s worth.
• Fred Jackson: Before going down in week 10 with a broken leg, Jackson had amassed over 900 yards rushing, 39 catches for over 400 yards receiving, and 6 TDs. These are solid numbers for any back, especially if your league is PPR.
• Rob Gronkowski: Are you kidding me? Gronk and his partner in crime Aaron Hernandez both have the capabilities to put up solid fantasy numbers. The trouble that most fantasy owners saw in Gronk is whether or not he would be Brady’s go to guy on short yardage downs, or if Hernandez would get priority. This scared most owners away from taking either him or Hernandez. But those lucky enough to have gambled on Gronk saw huge dividends in over 1100 yards and 15 TDs. These are much better numbers than the highly valued Antonio Gates who has just 600 yards and 6 TDs this season. In our auction draft Gronkowski went for $5, Gates for $29.
• Victor Cruz: The NFL sophomore out of UMass has put up great numbers for many fantasy owners. His almost 1200 yards and 7 TDs put him in the top 10 in points scored for WRs, just behind Roddy White and AHEAD of Larry Fitzgerald.