I woke up from a cold sweat this morning, and decided to hammer out some miles on the treadmill at the 24 hour gym down the road. There I was, in the shortest of shorts, gonads dangerously on the edge of exposure, watching hours of Oakland Athletics tape. When getting into the mindset to write these posts, it’s important to mimic the approach and personalities of those General Managers you’re studying. DiPoto week in the Lifshitz house is a trip! I trade the kids for three older middle aged adults with poor credit, and mounting debt. Thank god I’m given permission to cosplay A.J. Preller in order to trade back for the kids. Wow, this got off track! Oh yeah, Oakland! The Athletics modus operandi is common knowledge. Trade for controllable talents, get the most out of the arb years, move along, and do the same damn thing. After a couple of molasses slow rebuild years, things progressed nicely toward the end of 2017, as a young core led by Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, and Franklin Barreto began to emerge. With a well stocked farm system, and some top level talents on the cusp, this is another great system for Dynasty managers looking to target strong rebuild pieces. Who wants to talk about the prospects? #MeToo. It’s the Oakland Athletics Top Prospects for 2018 Fantasy Baseball.

 

1. Jorge Mateo, SS | Age: 22 | Level: AA | 2017 Stats: .267/.322/.459, 12 HR, 57 RBI, 52 SB

Just a few short years ago I never thought I’d like Mateo as much as I do. But at some point, while still in the Yankees organization, Mateo found his power, and I started to find Mateo. Though I’m not sure I lost him in the first place, but up to that point he seemed like a one category guy, the Yankees answer to Billy Hamilton. To futher complicate matters, where was Mateo supposed to play? With Didi and Didi seemingly the future would the team move Mateo into the outfield? Would he bat play there? Uncertainty chained itself to Mateo, making him an avoid for many fantasy owners. Then it happened, first Mateo was promoted to AA Trenton by the Yankees, and proceed to slash .300/.381/.525 with 4 homers and 11 steals in just 30 games. The breakout was upon us! But where would he play for the Yankees? Then the next good thing happened, Mateo was traded to Oakland. Granted it wasn’t to the best situation in the world, the A’s already had plenty of infielders with exciting offensive skills sets, but none with the speed of Mateo. He proceeded to hit AA Midland like a ton of bricks, starting all 30 games at short, while slashing .292/.333/.518 hitting 4 homers, and stealing another 13 bags. Speaking of bags, Mateo’s got plenty. How about 170 steals over the last three seasons? That’s enough, in my opinion, to dub him the premier speed prospect in the minors at the moment. Mateo will never win a batting title or bat .300, but he has the ability to produce 40+ steals with 15 homer pop. ETA: 2019

2. A.J. Puk, LHP | Age: 22 | Level: AA | 2017 Stats: 6-10 , 125 IP, 4.03 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 184 K, 48 Bb

I bet the Phillies wish they could get this one back. Puk has shown his elite stuff throughout his first full year of professional ball, leading many to dub him the top lefthander in the minors at the moment. His plus plus fastball sits 93-96, getting up to 98 when needed. It plays up even more due to the downhill angle, and Puk’s funky arm slot. He pairs that with a plus slider, that acts as a wipeout pitch, and an average changeup. Despite struggling with his control at times, Puk was effective, compiling a 13.2 K/9, and a .227 BAA across high A and AA last year. His control leaves something to be desired, but if he can sharpen up, he can unlock the top of the rotation potential that’s so obvious.  ETA: 2019

3. Franklin Barreto, SS | Age: 22 | Level: AAA | 2017 Stats: .290/.339/.456, 15 HR, 54 RBI, 15 SB

I go hot and cold with Barreto, and after more study of his game, I’m far less optimistic than I’ve been in the past. Here’s why, he has major contact issues, which is unusual if you look at his batting averages throughout the minors. But as he’s reached the upper levels the Ks have really begun to hurt him. That said, he still went 15/15 last year with a very nice slashline at 21 years old. So the fantasy skills are still there. If he can improve his plat discipline, and cut down on the strikeouts he might be able to reach the .280/20/15 player many envisioned a year or so back. Should have an impact in 2018 for the Athletics. Not sure his long term position is short, more than likely he slides over to second. Could be a 2018 breakout, but more likely a 2019 target for me. ETA: 2018

4. Jesus Luzardo, LHP | Age:20 | Level: A- | 2017 Stats: 2-1, 43 IP, 1.66 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 48 Ks, 5 Bb

I wrote up Luzardo a few days after Christmas, I was wearing the sweatpants I got from Grey. They say “Fresh” on the left cheek, and “Meat” on the right. (HELP! Grey’s a monster…). ETA: 2020

5. Dustin Fowler, OF | Age: 23 | Level: AAA | 2017 Level: .293/.329/.542, 13 HR, 43 RBI, 13 SB

An ugly knee injury, put a damper on his MLB debut, and resulted in a law suit. Fowler ran his patellar tendon directly into an unpadded electrical box in the right field foul grounds at Guaranteed Rate Field. We should file a class action suit against that awful stadium name while we’re at it #StayWokeFowler. Lawsuits and silliness aside, Fowler is back in camp, playing in game action, and at least close to 100%. When healthy, Fowler hints at an enticing set of fantasy tools. His combination of power, steals, and the ability to hit for contact make him a potential five category contributor in 5×5 roto formats. He has a real shot to start in centerfield for the Athletics this season, and could return a .270/20/20 season if his surgically repaired knee holds up. ETA: 2018

6. Austin Beck, OF Athletics | Level: Rk | 2017 Stats: .211/.293/.349, 2 HR, 28 RBI, 7 SB

Insane bat speed, raw power, and a plus runner, Beck is one of the more toolsy players in the draft class. Unfortunately he’s also one of the most raw, and he struggled at times in rookie ball. The tools are all there, but he’s going to need time. ETA: 2021

7. Sheldon Neuse, 3B | Age: 23 | 2017 Stats: .321/.382/.502 16 HR, 79 RBI, 14 SB

The prospect community as a whole is very split on what Neuse projects out to be. He strikes out a lot, has only hit for middling power, and has the sort of bad body that puts off scouts. Despite great numbers at Oklahoma, through two levels of A ball, AA, and the Arizona Fall League, Neuse still has his detractors. I’m not one of those, as it’s really difficult for me to ignore the production for what’s going on three plus seasons. His greatest assets are his plus raw power, advanced understanding of hitting, and great instincts. Neuse has that je ne sais quoi, that allows everything in his game to tick up. Severely underrated in dynasty formats, this kid can hit. ETA: 2019

8. Kevin Merrell, SS | Age: 22 | Level: A- | 2017 Stats: .320/.362/.424, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 10 SB

The SAGNOF chasers guide to the 2017 MLB draft begins with Mr. Merrell. With plus plus speed, hitting ability and average power, Merrell has a shot to be a fantasy prospect darling. His lefthanded swing draws tons of Brett Gardner comps, see below… I’m not joking when I say I’ve read that comp in nearly every scouting report dating back a year ago on Merrell. There’s major questions about his ability to stick at short, but should find a home at second. ETA: 2020

9. Lazaro Armenteros, OF | Age: 18 | Level: RK | 2017 Stats: .276/.377/.443, 4 HR, 22 RBI, 12 SB

An exciting five tool talent plucked out of Cuba for $3 million during the 2016 International signing period. Lazarito was quite a get for the Athletics organization, as he was one of the more hyped talents on the market that year. His raw athleticism and loud tools jump off the screen. A combination of plus bat speed, above average raw power, and a patient approach at the plate. While still raw there’s a ton of upside to dream on with Armenteros. A ways from contributing on the MLB level, but one to keep an eye on this year, should he continue to refine his across the board skills. ETA: 2021

10. Greg Deichmann, OF | Age: 22 | Level: A- | 2017 Stats: .274/.385/.530, 8 HR, 30 RBI, 4 SB

Deichmann just mashes! A classic lefthanded slugger out of LSU’s storied program, Deichmann slugged .579 his junior season, while connecting for 19 homers. He continued to hit for plus power in his pro debut, smacking 8 homers in 46 games during his stay in the advanced short season New York Penn League. Deichmann has been a prolific power hitter since his high school days, leading the state of Louisiana in homers three times before starring collegiately at LSU. Plus bat speed, strength, and an improving all-fields approach, there’s a lot to like here. ETA: 2020

11. James Kaprielian, RHP | Age: 24 | Level: A+ | 2017 Stats: Did Not Pitch Injured

It wasn’t that long ago that Kaprielian was discussed as a soon to the majors college arm, one with front of the rotation upside at that. Multiple arm injuries cut short his first two pro seasons, with a complete washout coming in 2017 following April Tommy John surgery. When right the former UCLA standout mixes a high-90’s fastball, a curveball, slider, and changeup, all of which earn grades of above average or better. In other words, if Kaprielian can stay healthy we might be looking at a Walker Buehler level value jump. Worth keeping an eye on early in Spring Training. If positive reports surface on the righty’s health, he might be worth asking his owner about. ETA: 2019

12. Tyler Ramirez, OF | Age: 23 | Level: AA | 2017 Stats: .304/.398/.431, 11 HR, 63 RBI, 8 SB

A true sleeper in dynasty leagues, a 2016 7th rounder out of North Carolina, Ramirez pairs on base ability with contact hitting and fringe/average power. He has a quick swing, good bat to ball skills, and he knows how to work an at bat. His patient approach boarders on too much at times, and thus is apt to get caught looking. Make no mistake Ramirez can hit, and fits in nicely as a soon to the majors 4th outfield type. He can play all three outfield positions, but best fits in left, though he doesn’t have the offensive profile usually associated corner outfielder. He reminds me of a shorter, he’s listed at 5’9, more strikeout prone Jesse Winker. Lefty contact bat, good on base skills, mixes his contact between line drives, grounders, and flys at a 20%, 45%, 35% clip. He’s moved quickly through the minors so far, logging 58 games at AA Midland in 2017. ETA: 2019

13. Daulton Jefferies, RHP | Age: 22 | Level: A+ | 2017 Stats: 0-0, 7 IP, 2.57 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 6 Ks, 1 Bb

We’ve reached the Tommy John section of this rankings, with Jefferies following Kaprielian. Another California college product with first round pedigree, Jefferies made it exactly 7 innings into his 2017 season before succumbing to the elbow succubus. When healthy, the righthander mixes a low-mid 90’s fastball, and a nasty changeup with sink and run. His slight build is a cause for concern and also feeds his relief label. Likely an elite pen arm if he comes back strong and progresses as expected. ETA: 2020

14. Renato Nunez, 1B/3B/OF | Age: 23 | Level: AAA | 2017 Stats: .249/.319/.518, 32 HR, 78 RBI, 2 SB

If there’s anything I hope for when it comes to the 2019 Oakland Athletics Minor League Preview, it’s that Renato Nunez gets his 100 at bats needed to exceed his limits in 2018. Whether it be in Oakland or elsewhere. How many more years can I call Nunez an MLB ready power bat with no defensive home? In a lot of ways Nunez is a bad version of Willie Calhoun. Because he’s not nearly as short, strikeout adverse, or frankly as good as Willie. So he’s sort of like a knock off brand of Willie Calhoun cereal, just in a larger box. His lack of a defensive home, pull happy approach, and strikeouts call his MLB future into question. There’s power there though, no question about it. ETA: 2018

15. Sean Murphy, C | Age: 23 | Level: AA | 2017 Stats: .250/.313/.410, 13 HR, 47 RBI, 0 SB

A defense first catcher with one of the better glove/arm combinations in the minor leagues. Murphy wowed spectators and scouts alike with his throws this fall in Arizona. Offensively he offers some power but only a tick above average, but his swing is simple, and he recognizes pitches well. He’ll never be a superstar for fantasy, but should be a major league catcher for many, many years. ETA: 2019

16. Grant Holmes, RHP | Age: 21 | Level: AA | 2017 Stats: 11-12, 148.1 IP, 4.49 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 150 Ks, 61 Bb

If you like mops of ginger hair, and mid-rotation upside, boy do I have the prospect for you! Reader meet Grant Holmes! An intriguing profile, but a frustrating talent, Holmes misses bats at a strikeout per inning rate, but is far too hittable, particularly when he lives middle-middle on a regular basis. Fastball command is an issue, if he can take a step forward in 2018 in that department it could be a deadly combination with his plus curveball. Holmes isn’t a player I’m chasing in dynasty, but he has value as a depth arm with upside in the right format, say 24 teams+ 250+ minors owned. ETA: 2019

17. Logan Shore, RHP | Age: 23 | Level: A+ | 2017 Stats: 2-5, 80.2 IP, 3.68 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 87 Ks, 16 Bb

A college rotation mate of A.J. Puk at Florida, Shore is a polished back end of the rotation type, with plus control, and an above average changeup. He’s currently dealing with a shoulder issue, but has progressed to playing catch, whether he’s ready for the season is still up in the air. Injuries are starting to become a story line after he missed two months of the 2017 season with a lat issue. Not a shock when you watch him pitch, as the head whack is pretty pronounced, and the delivery is violent. At the end of the day it’s a back end of the rotation profile, unless he can drastically improves his breaking ball to the point it’s a bat missing weapon. That’s not likely however. ETA: 2020

18. Alexander Campos, SS | Age: 18 | Level: RK | 2017 Stats: .290/.413/.367, 2 HR, 26 RBI, 7 SB

The other piece that came over in the Ryon Healy deal, Campos is glove first shortstop, with an improving offensive profile. He walked more than he struckout, has plus speed and all fields approach to hitting. A long off toolsy kid, not bad for a late round flier in the deepest of leagues. ETA: 2022

Next Five: B.J. Boyd, OF, Marcos Brito, SS/2B, Will Toffey, 3B, Nick Allen, SS, Yerdel Vargas, SS/2B

 

Find all of the 30 Minor League Previews, and Offseason Rankings on the Minor League Index
On Twitter as @ProspectJesus

  1. NO PEPPER says:
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    Thanks Ralph for all that you do!

    Last year I asked you who you thought the biggest home run hitting prospects would be.
    You put Renfroe first then Judge and some others that I forgot.
    When Renfroe went off the board I drafted Judge on my next pick round 15 in a 12 team keeper dynasty.
    Not bad and I thank you!
    So I have to ask again this year.
    What are your top picks for home runs from first year players?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      I hope you have the same idiot in front of you, and I hope he gets his bad advice from me! Talk about stepping in it!

      Ryan McMahon and Willie Calhoun.

      • NO PEPPER says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz:
        I mean you didnt step in it.
        Who saw the Judge thing.
        I drafted him in every league because of your advice.
        Love Willie!
        Keep it up and thanks!

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @NO PEPPER: Thanks Pep!

      • goodfold2 says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: pretty sure 1 year ago renfroe and judge were close according to pretty much every prospector, some higher on either.

  2. COJason says:
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    Hi Ralph! I’ve been offered Mitch Keller and Jorge Alfaro for Francisco Mejia in a H2H keeper league. Should I take the 2 for 1 deal? Thanks!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      I’d do the deal.

  3. OaktownSteve says:
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    I think Puk will be up early this year. I don’t think they’re going to be able to keep him down. The A’s a borderline WC contender position players and bullpen, but their rotation is really bad. I’m not a fan of Manaea or Cotton. Graveman is a 4 or 5 on most other teams.

    Susan Slusser reported that the speed has been slow to come back for Fowler. Said he doesn’t feel the same explosiveness.

    Love Mateo.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      Hey OTS! I’m less optimistic with Puk. It’s possible, but he needs to further hone his control, he was pretty raw for a college starter from a big time SEC program. It’s all there though.

      I’m willing to give Fowler some time, he’s on the field which is a good sign. Sometimes it’s just a matter of reps and comfort, he’s already ahead of Kyle Lewis or Adam Eaton.

      Me too, Mateo is a beast.

  4. Duda Want to Build a Snowman? says:
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    Don’t think Mateo snags a starting OF gig this year? I had my eye on him as a possible final-reserve-round guy in a standard keeper league for potential speed boost. Tim Anderson seems to be my guy instead!

  5. thorbs says:
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    Ralphie, great stuff as always!

    A handful of Qs on these guys:

    1. Any idea how Fowler has looked in ST? I couldn’t find any reports.
    2. How would you rate Mateo in a 10×10 league where speed would be devalued a bit? You pointed at a high ceiling, but would a floor sort of be a .270-10-30 sort of guy?

    • thorbs says:
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      @thorbs: And also, in that same league I can keep 8 of:

      Robles
      Verdugo
      Bader
      Marsh
      Fowler
      Maitan
      Riley
      Mahle
      Stewart
      Duplantier

      Stewart and Duplantier or Marsh were going to be my drops, as Stewart doesn’t really have a home defensively with Miggy/V-Mart DHing, and pitching prospects scare me in general, but am debating dropping Marsh and keeping Duplantier, as I might be able to scoop Marsh back up later in this year’s draft.

      • Ralph Lifshitz

        Ralph Lifshitz says:
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        @thorbs: Robles, Verdugo, Marsh, Riley, Stewart, Maitan, Fowler, and Dup.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @thorbs: He’s on the field, and playing. I’ve read he’s behind in terms of running, but that’s to be expected. See Oaktown’s comment above.

      He’s down a little bit for sure then, speed is his differentiator. That’s likely his floor, maybe lower average.

  6. Sport says:
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    Thanks for the write up! Really wishing I could a hold of Puk and Mateo! I enherited Barreto on a dynasty take over and can’t get anyone to take him. Gonna have to ride it out I guess.

    Jahmai Jones is working some second base? Would this move him up in your rankings?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Sport: I’d ride out Barreto, he has some questions but he’s still a good fantasy prospects.

      Jones is already so high, it’s tough to bump him anymore. Positions don’t change the rank that much of I love the bat. I love Jahmai’s bat.

  7. Chud says:
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    Great stuff Ralph! 2 ? For u:

    More impact this year:Barreto or Meadows?

    Full keeper trade offer: I get JPaxton, I give Ian Happ.

    Thanks!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Chud: Barreto

      You trying to win now?

      • Chud says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: yes but Happ could be a part of that. I guess who would u rather own for the next 3 years? Thanks

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          I’d go with Happ

  8. Yr Never Too Old for Balloons says:
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    yikes yeah 30 min presentations for 200 people is a big time suck of several hours of free (prospecting) time. hmm, glad i didn’t dick with shore in deep ass leagues (17 at OAK is pretty bad)
    i figure even with the injury risk otani the pitcher is still #1 or #2 in a league with all these available (7 man prospect list 16 team roto dynasty with 28 man active rosters besides)
    trammell/robert/r.lewis/baez/gore etc, but where would the hitter otani go in a 1st year + a few more player draft (16 teamer, not super deep, only 7 prospect slots). but with slugging/OPS/hits/total bases.

      • Yr Never Too Old for Balloons says:
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        @Yr Never Too Old for Balloons: oh shit, throw that new TEX guy jupab mart OF into roughly where he’d slot in a top 100 or so. claims BA puts him 60th overall and 3rd at TEX town behind only big willie and leody. this guy could be drafted in this league shortly as well. as long as signed before draft starts he’s legal (some twit took tebow with the last pick last year)

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          I’d have him right after Adell. If BA id that high, we should be even higher for fantasy. Two spots behind Luis Robert is serious.

          • Yr Never Too Old for Balloons says:
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            @Ralph Lifshitz:F’ing A if right behind where you have robert.

  9. Sport says:
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    Any changes in the order of Faedo, Crouse, Pearson of your FYP draft rankings? You mentioned planning on owning one of Crouse or Pearson and was curious if that came to fruition.

    I might have chance to pick up Rooker and I’m loving his 40 HR potential!

    • Yr Never Too Old for Balloons says:
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      @Sport: from what he’s been saying lately pearson has DEF moved up at least over the one spot higher crouse, likely both.

  10. Mister Magoo says:
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    Great stuff Ralph!
    Dynasty question. I have #2 pick. Ohtani is going #1. Who should i take at 2 choosing from the first year players?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      Robert

  11. Manny says:
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    Really appreciate all of your efforts. Got a 12 team Dynasty League where can keep 35 players each year. Limited to 10 total pickups all season, and free agent pool opens tomorrow. Would like to save 3-5 spots for throughout the year on potential breakout guys. With that being said, who would you make sure to grab tomorrow of the following:

    Matt Manning, Jhailyn Ortiz, Nick Bratto, Tristen Lutz, Jeter Downs, Logan Wormoth, Adam Hasely, Hans Crouse, Nate Pearson and Evan White?

    Of those 10 would like to jump on the best 5-7 of them tomorrow to lock them up now. Thoughts?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Manny: Ortiz, Pratto, Lutz, Pearson, and Crouse

  12. mattyIce says:
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    Ralph,

    Which side do you prefer in this dynasty keep forever trade (7×7 roto scoring):

    Story, Rodon, T. Trammell, and K. Ruiz for Pham, B. Rodgers, Chavis, Allard

    Thanks!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @mattyIce: Rodgers side

  13. Tedy says:
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    Would you drop Duplantier for McMahon? Keeper league. Just based on upside

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Tedy: McMahon

Comments are closed.