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Week 2 Rankings:         Top-20 Quarterbacks   1 ) Tom Brady (NE)   2 ) Aaron Rodgers (GB)   3 ) Matt Ryan (ATL)   4 ) Drew Brees (NO)   5 ) Derek Carr (OAK)   6 ) Jameis Winston (TB)   7 ) Marcus Mariota (TEN)   8 ) Cam Newton (CAR)   9 ) Philip Rivers (LAC)   10 ) Matthew Stafford (DET)   11 ) Russell Wilson (SEA)   12 ) Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)   13 ) Kirk Cousins (WAS)   14 ) Tyrod Taylor (BUF)   15 ) Alex Smith (KC)   16 ) Carson Wentz (DAL)   17 ) Dak Prescott (DAL)   18 ) Jay Cutler (MIA)   19 ) Carson Palmer (ARI)   20 ) Joe Flacco (BAL)   Top-40 Running Backs   1 ) Le'Veon Bell (PIT)   2 ) LeSean McCoy (BUF)   3 ) Ezekiel Elliott (DAL)   4 ) Kareem Hunt (KC)   5 ) Melvin Gordon (LAC)   6 ) Jay Ajayi (MIA)   7 ) Ty Montgomery (GB)   8 ) Dalvin Cook (MIN)   9 ) Devonta Freeman (ATL)   10 ) Todd Gurley (LAR)   11 ) Marshawn Lynch (OAK)   12 ) Mike Gillislee (NE)   13 ) Leonard Fournette (JAC)   14 ) DeMarco Murray (TEN)   15 ) Jordan Howard (CHI)   16 ) Christian McCaffrey (CAR)   17 ) Jacquizz Rodgers (TB)   18 ) Isaiah Crowell (CLE)   19 ) CJ Anderson (DEN)   20 ) Tarik Cohen (CHI)   21 ) Lamar Miller (HOU)   22 ) Mark Ingram (NO)   23 ) Bilal Powell (NYJ)   24 ) James White (NE)   25 ) Terrance West (BAL)   26 ) Jonathan Stewart (CAR)   27 ) Tevin Coleman (ATL)   28 ) Javorious Allen (BAL)   29 ) Thomas Rawls (SEA)   30 ) Carlos Hyde (SF)   31 ) Kerwynn Williams (ARI)   32 ) Robert Kelley (WAS)   33 ) Theo Riddick (DET)   34 ) LeGarrette Blount (PHI)   35 ) Ameer Abdullah (DET)   36 ) Alvin Kamara (NO)   37 ) Joe Mixon (CIN)   38 ) Jeremy Hill (CIN)   39 ) Adrian Peterson (NO)   40 ) Frank Gore (IND)   Top-50 Wide Receivers   1 ) Julio Jones (ATL)   2 ) Jordy Nelson (GB)   3 ) Mike Evans (TB)   4 ) Antonio Brown (PIT)   5 ) Amari Cooper (OAK)   6 ) Brandin Cooks (NE)   7 ) AJ Green (CIN)   8 ) Odell Beckham Jr. (NYG)   9 ) Keenan Allen (LAC)   10 ) Michael Thomas (NO)   11 ) Tyreek Hill (KC)   12 ) Doug Baldwin (SEA)   13 ) DeAndre Hopkins (HOU)   14 ) Larry Fitzgerald (ARI)   15 ) Demaryius Thomas (DEN)   16 ) Golden Tate (DET)   17 ) Stefon Diggs (MIN)   18 ) Michael Crabtree (OAK)   19 ) Dez Bryant (DAL)   20 ) Martavis Bryant (PIT)   21 ) Davante Adams (GB)   22 ) Devante Parker (MIA)   23 ) Kelvin Benjamin (CAR)   24 ) Terrelle Pryor (WAS)   25 ) Jeremy Maclin (BAL)   26 ) Adam Thielen (MIN)   27 ) Randall Cobb (GB)   28 ) DeSean Jackson (TB)   29 ) Alshon Jeffery (PHI)   30 ) Danny Amendola (NE)   31 ) Cooper Kupp (LAR)   32 ) Sammy Watkins (LAR)   33 ) Tyrell Williams (LAC)   34 ) Jarvis Landry (MIA)   35 ) Corey Coleman (CLE)   36 ) Corey Davis (TEN)   37 ) Jamison Crowder (WAS)   38 ) Emmanuel Sanders (DEN)   39 ) Pierre Garcon (SF)   40 ) TY Hilton (IND)   41 ) Ted Ginn (IND)   42 ) Chris Hogan (NE)   43 ) Eric Decker (TEN)   44 ) John Brown (ARI)   45 ) Nelson Agholor (PHI)   46 ) Kenny Golladay (DET)   47 ) Allen Hurns (JAC)   48 ) Rishard Matthews (TEN)   49 ) Paul Richardson (SEA)   50 ) Brandon Marshall (NYG)   Top-20 Tight Ends   1 ) Rob Gronkowski (NE)   2 ) Zach Ertz (PHI)   3 ) Jordan Reed (WAS)   4 ) Greg Olsen (CAR)   5 ) Travis Kelce (KC)   6 ) Martellus Bennett (GB)   7 ) Delanie Walker (TEN)   8 ) Jimmy Graham (SEA)   9 ) Kyle Rudolph (MIN)   10 ) Charles Clay (BUF)   11 ) Tyler Eifert (CIN)   12 ) Jared Cook (OAK)   13 ) Austin Hooper (ATL)   14 ) Jason Witten (DAL)   15 ) Julius Thomas (MIA)   16 ) Hunter Henry (LAC)   17 ) Coby Fleener (NO)   18 ) Benjamin Watson (BAL)   19 ) Cameron Brate (TB)   20 ) Zach Miller (CHI)   Top-15 Defenses   1 ) Seattle   2 ) Arizona   3 ) Baltimore   4 ) Oakland   5 ) Carolina   6 ) Houston   7 ) Denver   8 ) Pittsburgh   9 ) Los Angeles Rams   10 ) Philadelphia   11 ) Cincinnati   12 ) Jacksonville   13 ) Kansas City   14 ) New York Giants   15 ) Tampa Bay   Top-15 Kickers   1 ) Justin Tucker (BAL)   2 ) Stephen Gostkowski (NE)   3 ) Matt Bryant (ATL)   4 ) Giorgio Tavecchio (OAK)   5 ) Will Lutz (NO)   6 ) Blair Walsh (SEA)   7 ) Dan Bailey (DAL)   8 ) Mason Crosby (GB)   9 ) Cairo Santos (KC)   10 ) Graham Gano (CAR)   11 ) Younghoe Koo (LAC)   12 ) Brandon McManus (DEN)   13 ) Matt Prater (DET)   14 ) Dustin Hopkins (WAS)   15 ) Chris Boswell (PIT)  

Fantasy Baseball 2017: Closer Depth Chart Week 16

Welcome back to the Wednesday Weekly Closer Report where I will break down and rate each team’s bullpen situation. With the Trade Deadline quickly approaching, this week’s Closer Report will have a Trade Deadline Special spin to it. Rather than going over each and every team’s current bullpen situation, we will overview which pieces should be moving by the July 31 Trade Deadline. That way we can strategically keep our eye on and pickup some key relievers floating around your waiver wire before each team trades its incumbent closer and shifts its ninth inning duties towards the backup (or even third or fourth in command). With many teams falling out of contention with highly sought after arms, I will do my best to properly forecast what should be a wild and raucous Trade Deadline, especially in regards to relievers.

American League East

Baltimore Orioles

Many reports claim that any one of the three top relievers could be on the move from Baltimore (Brad Brach, Darren O’Day, and Zach Britton), but obviously Britton is the most exciting name of the bunch. At first, reports connected him to the Los Angeles Dodgers, which would see arguably the most dominant 1-2 pairing in the league between Britton and Kenley Jansen. Those talks seemed to have died down a tad and I believe with the Clayton Kershaw injury the Dodgers focus will be more on improving their oft injured starting rotation. Another interesting team connected to Britton is the Houston Astros. Sure they have a gaggle of solid bullpen arms, but their leader (Ken Giles) does not instill all that much confidence in fantasy owners. Ultimately I do not expect Britton to be moved. However, I definitely expect one, if not both, of Brach and O’Day to be wearing different uniforms come August.

Tampa Bay Rays

Since the addition of the second Wild Card team, teams have been hesitant to trade away their top players at the deadline. And rightfully so. In order to have a realistic chance at making the playoffs with the MLB’s new structure you only need to be hovering around .500 by August 1. Currently three games above .500, the Rays do not seem like a team that will trade stud closer Alexander Colome by the deadline. Of course, the Rays currently ended a 5 game losing skid, so a few more losses before Tuesday and Tampa may change their tune. But with their powerful offense and solid starting pitching core, I would be surprised to see a team perennially out of playoff contention trade a pivotal piece to its success.

New York Yankees

This is an out there theory, so I will make it short and sweet. The Yankees seem so hesitant to hand the closer job to Dellin Betances. After all, they traded for Aroldis Chapman in 2016, traded him away that season and then re-signed him in 2017. And now they just acquired two more high-end bullpen arms in Dave Robertson and Tommy Kahnle. A very curious move given their stability in the bullpen prior to the deal and a glaring need for starting pitching. But what if that deal was merely a play to line up a big time deal involving Betances? Unlikely, but not impossible.

American League Central

Minnesota Twins

Another team hovering around playoff contention, I do not expect the Twins to trade incumbent closer Brandon Kintzler. They seemed to have lucked into something here as Kinztler has recorded 44 saves since taking over the closer’s job on June 8th of last year for Glen Perkins. It would be unfortunate to see them give up on such a good story.

Chicago White Sox

So what else can a team that already decimated its bullpen by trading away its two best arms do? Trade away its third best! Manager Rick Renteria stated newly acquired Tyler Clippard would get the first crack at save opportunities but instead that went to the much better pitcher this year, Anthony Swarzak. As a guy with more of a rubber arm and an ability to go more than one inning, Swarzak could definitely play a solid 7th/8th inning role for teams seeking depth and flexibility in the back end of their bullpen. Expect teams to go strong after Swarzak and expect Clippard to take over the ninth inning duties come August.

Detroit Tigers

As a scuffling organization in need of a rebuild (goodbye J.D. Martinez), expect incumbent closer Justin Wilson to be pursued by many teams seeking a specialist…just maybe not the kind you would expect from a lefty. Oddly enough, Wilson exhibits reverse splits seeing lefties (.251 average/.658 OPS) perform far better than righties (.203 average/.606 OPS) in his career. Either way, Wilson has performed well this year and will generate a lot of interest come the deadline. Expect fellow Wilson Alex Wilson to take over the job thereafter.

Kansas City Royals

What we all once considered the inevitable Kelvin Herrera trade seems to now have us scratching our heads. On Monday the Royals traded for Padres closer Brandon Maurer to bolster their seemingly solid backend bullpen situation. Now riding a seven game winning streak and just a half game behind the Yankees for the second Wild Card spot, the Royals seem all in on making the playoffs this year, so I do not expect any action regarding their relievers before the deadline.

American League West

Los Angeles Angels

You all know my love for Cam Bedrosian. So how does that connect here? Well he is the closer of the future for the Angels. And you know who isn’t? A veteran, 32 year old long relief journeyman experiencing the best season of his career. The Angels should deal Bud Norris and snag as good a return as they can and be thankful for his far-better-than-expected services this year. Thereafter, the organization will foster the youthful and studly Bedrosian and groom him for years to come.

Oakland Athletics

After trading away their second and third options to the Washington Nationals, the Athletics seemingly opened the door for Santiago Casilla to thrive as the closer for the remainder of the season. But much like the Angels, the ever-rebuilding Athletics do not need a veteran and should cash in while they can as they possess a very talented, young arm behind Casilla. Ryan Dull should be returning to the big league club this week after recovering from a strained knee. Upon looking at his 2016 stats (2.42 ERA, 0.87, 8.84 K/9, .186 batting average against) you will see a 27 year old primed for success as a back end stopper.

National League East

Philadelphia Phillies

Maybe the most obvious reliever to be moved this deadline season, Pat Neshek should return a decent haul after posting a very dominant 4 months for the hapless Phillies. This, however, will have no effect on the Phillies bullpen situation as Hector Neris should continue to hold down the fort in Philadelphia.

Atlanta Braves

Seemingly primed to take over the closer’s duties in Atlanta since 2015, Arodys Vizcaino should finally get his chance come August once the Braves move on from Jim Johnson. If they can. Johnson does not seem to be generating the type of buzz a team would hope their closer would the week before the deadline. But much like some of the teams mentioned above, it makes the most sense to cut bait now with their veteran and turn to the young, capable arm for a team seemingly in need of youth and fresh faces.

New York Mets

Another reliever generating much trade buzz is Addison Reed. Reed has seamlessly filled in for the injured Jeryus Familia posting a 2.49 and 1.11 ERA this year, converting 17/19 saves. With a good half dozen teams interested in Reed (including the Dodgers, Red Sox and Brewers) expect Reed to be wearing a different uniform come August. Although the bullpen situation seems somewhat fuzzy behind Reed, veteran Jerry Blevins recently recorded his first save of the season, so he seems to be the favorite thereafter.

Miami Marlins

Another team expected to unload multiple relievers, the Marlins began their deadline party earlier trading David Phelps to the Seattle Mariners. And wouldn’t you know it, this is another team with a veteran (A.J. Ramos) currently in front of a young fireballer (Kyle Barraclough) that we all want to see closing games out in Miami. Should the Marlins find a suitor for Ramos, expect them to finally hand the reigns over to the electric (12.12 K/9 career) yet wild (5.84 BB/9 career) Barraclough.

National League Central

Cincinnati Reds

As soon as I heard the reports that the Reds were thinking of moving Rasiel Iglesias to the Nationals a few weeks back I almost spit out my coffee and I wasn’t even drinking any. The 27 year old young stud starter turned reliever is experiencing tremendous success manning the ninth inning this year, striking out 59 batters in just 49.1IP, recording 17 saves in 18 opportunities and maintaining a 1.46 ERA and 0.93 WHIP. Sure, the Reds are not really building anything right now and are looking more towards the future. But why can’t a 27 year old effective reliever with big strikeout upside (and still potentially a starter) be a part of that future. Maybe Drew Storen goes for cheap, but do not expect this major league hurler to go anywhere come Tuesday.

St. Louis Cardinals

Teams in need of a lefty specialist may turn to Brett Cecil of the Cardinals (.233 average against lefties, .271 against righties) for their left-handed woes. However, this still will not clear up arguably the murkiest bullpen in the league. If you are rostering Seung-Hwan OhTrevor Rosenthal or the aforementioned Cecil, hold on and wait as you may have the guy to own…potentially.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Another journeyman with a  rubber arm that can pitch multiple innings, teams with playoff hopes seeking depth may be willing to make a deal for Juan Nicasio, but Felipe Rivero owns that bullpen now and thereafter.

National League West

San Diego Padres

After moving on from Maurer, the Padres will unquestionably and undeniably deal the most sought after reliever this trade deadline Brad Hand (of the king…for you Game of Thrones fans) to the highest bidder come Tuesday. The only question is will anyone meet the Padres lofty asking price. The latest report has 15 teams interested in Hand. I think my old softball team and a few NFL teams are also interested. As a young lefty specialist (.175 average against) who can also get righties out (.214 average against) with high strikeout upside, Hand could be the missing link for a lot of teams in the eight inning come playoff time. After the inevitable deal, expect Phil Maton to hold down the fort…unless my beloved Carter Capps finally finds himself in the Majors this season.

And that’s a wrap for the Closer Depth Chart Week 16. Be sure to scour the waiver wire for all these relievers and check back every Wednesday for the latest updates regarding the closer jobs around the league. Until we meet again, keep your eyes open and your nose to the ground.

To contact me with any questions or general fantasy baseball discussion, please email me at redsocker45@gmail.com or tweet me @AJGamballer.

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