Week 17 Waiver Wire Wonders

So here we are – the last week of the NFL season and for the lucky lot of us, the Fantasy Finals. The rule of thumb in the fantasy playoffs is to always ‘start your studs.’ I certainly cannot disagree with that. You have to trust the guys that got you this far. There are a quite a few difficult matchups this week and there are not many studs left on waivers, but there a few waiver claims that could help you lift the title.

 

**All owning percetange is based off of ESPN Standard Leagues**

 

QB

Johnny Manziel – Cleveland Browns – Owned in 2.0% of leagues

He had a rough game through the air last week against Kansas City, but he still managed to do damage on the ground piling up over a 100 yards on eleven carries. He faces off against a Pittsburgh secondary that he torched 372 yards and score in Week 10. You may have your doubts, but even in a must-win situation a quarterback playing against the Steelers secondary is good news for fantasy. In two-quarterback leagues he’s worth taking a look at.

RB

Isaiah Crowell – Cleveland Browns – Owned in 36.3% of leagues

He’s got a tough matchup against a solid Steelers run defense, but you can’t ignore his numbers over the last three weeks. Since he’s breakout against San Francisco Crowell has compiled 256 yards on 45 carries with three scores; not to mention he’s averaging 5.6 yards be carry. His point total this week may be touchdown dependent, but his current hot streak shouldn’t be ignored.

Donald Brown – San Diego Chargers – Owned in 12.2% of leagues

Brown is a volume-for-value addition. He had a dismal 17 yards on 14 carries last week against Oakland, but with Melvin Gordon out for the season he will be the Chargers’ lead back in their season finale against Denver. Similar to Crowell his fantasy points will very likely hinge on touchdowns this week.

WR

Dontrelle Inman – San Diego Chargers – Owned in 6.4% of leagues

He’s established himself as the go-to receiver in what has been an injury-plagued season for the Chargers’ offense. Despite a very tough match up against Denver’s secondary the plus side is Inman is the number one target on a pass-first offense. Considering he’s on a hot streak – 11 catches, 160 yards, and a score – over the last two games and Denver’s defense has given up 246 yards and 3 touchdowns to number one receivers (AJ Green and Antonio Brown), Inman could be a Week 17 surprise.

Kenny Britt – St. Louis Rams – Owned in 1.8% of leagues

I like Britt simply as a touchdown threat against a weak San Francisco secondary. For leagues that offer bonus points for big-plays, he is certainly worth a flex play. After all, he is the Rams main deep threat.

TE

Zach Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles – Owned in 57% of leagues

I know Ertz isn’t exactly a waiver wire wonder with his owning percentage, but if he is available in your league snag him. He’s one of Bradford’s favorite targets and he is playing against the porous New York Giants secondary. I like his chances for a Week 17 explosion.

 

Tough Matchups to Consider in Week 17

Mike Evans vs. Josh Norman

Evans typically worthy of a WR1 spot, but this week’s matchup against Norman and the Panthers defense may have you reconsidering your options. If you have the depth to bench him, I’d recommend it.

Sammy Watkins vs. Darrelle Revis

The Jets are coming off a big win and Revis has been lights out must of this season. A few number one guys (i.e. DeAndre Hopkins) have been able to blow up Revis’ coverage this year, but examples like that have been few and far between.

San Francisco’s Runningback Situation

With Shaun Draughn’s nagging injury and a stable of so-so backups it will be tough to see what the 49ers do against the Rams in their season finale. It is likely they’ll use a committee approach to see which backs they’ll look at keeping for next season. This is exceedingly the case if Draughn sits, so do not buy the DuJaun Harris’ hype quite yet. I’d avoid 49ers RBs this week.

 

Good luck this week!!

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The Art Of Comic Book Collecting

The art of comic book collecting has been around for decades. Yet, with the recent success of comic book-inspired movies and television shows it seems that the hobby has become increasing more popular over the last few years.

HISTORY

Originally, comic books started out as illustrated novelties many with adult-orientated themes focusing on action, suspense, betrayal, fantasy and blonde bombshells. This era is often referred to as the Pulp Comic era of the early 20th century. However, in the late 1930s with the introduction of superheroes the comic book came to life. When Action Comics #1 hit stands in 1938 the world was introduced to Superman, the rest – as they say – is history.

Over the course of the next two decades the comic world would be flooded with a plethora of new super powered heroes and villains. The comic juggernaut at the time was of course DC Comics (formerly National Allied Publications), who’s writers helped introduce the world to characters like Superman, Batman, The Spectre, The Flash, Wonder Woman, and so many more. DC would continue to have a stranglehold on the industry up until 1961, when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby formally introduced themselves.

 

 

Marvel Entertainment Group was present throughout the 40s and 50s, debuting Marvel #1 in 1939, but it wasn’t until the fantastic quartet appeared that Marvel began to seriously challenge DC. But in 1961 when Fantastic Four #1 debuted it not only changed the superhero landscape, but it was also the catalyst for the comic book industry today.

Fantastic Four #1 was the beginning of what is commonly known as the Marvel Universe. Since then the comic book industry has been dominated by the two heavyweight identities, DC and Marvel. Their rivalry has helped fuel the comic book industry. And together they’ve produced some of the greatest works of comic art and characters the world has ever seen.

COMIC AGES AND GRADING

Since the creation of the superhero the concept of collecting comics as valuable art forms has taken shape. The creation and appearances of new characters combined with the artwork of each comic help make them valuable, but how exactly are comics graded? What makes one comic worth more than the other?

For starters, like any collectable, the easiest way to decipher the worth of a comic is by starting with its age. Uniquely, comics are broken into ages, based on their of publication, to help catalogue them.

  • Golden Age 1935 – 1956
  • Silver Age 1956-1970
  • Bronze Age 1970 -1985
  • Modern (Copper) Age – 1985 – Present

Golden Age comics are considered to be extremely rare nowadays and majority of collectors, stores, and vendors will focus on Silver Age and Bronze Age classics.

 

 

Naturally, Golden Age comics are the most expensive, but the actual price of a comic varies depending on its specific grade. Grades are based on a 10.0 scale and comics are graded on their overall physical condition. Meaning torn cover pages, torn back cover pages, page creases, watermarks, ink and color fading, missing pages/covers, missing staples, all contribute to the overall shape of the comic and affect their possible grades. The most notable grading system is the Certified Guaranty Company (CGC) whose rating scale is as followed:

  • 10 Gem/Mint
  • 9.9 Mint
  • 9.8 Near Mint/Mint
  • 9.6 Near Mint +
  • 9.4 Near Mint
  • 9.2 Near Mint –
  • 9.0 Very Fine/Near Mint
  • 8.5 Very Fine +
  • 8.0 Very Fine
  • 7.5 Very Fine –
  • 7.0 Fine/Very Fine
  • 6.5 Fine +
  • 6.0 Fine
  • 5.5 Fine –
  • 5.0 Very Good/Fine
  • 4.5 Very Good +
  • 4.0 Very Good
  • 3.5 Very Good –
  • 3.0 Good/Very Good
  • 2.5 Good +
  • 2.0 Good
  • 1.8 Good –
  • 1.5 Fair/Good
  • 1.0 Fair
  • .5 Poor

 

As most collectors and vendors will admit there are very few comics that will actually receive a 10.0 rating. A CGC grade of 9.8 is considered to be the highest realistic value considering even freshly distributed comics can have rips in their covers or the faintest creases that could diminish their values.

Both the comic’s specific age range and its condition will affect its market value. For example, a Golden Age comic like Batman #1 (1940) in fair condition (missing pages, torn cover, faded ink, etc.) will cost less than say a copy of X-Men #1 (1961) in mint condition due to the physical state of the comic book. However, if both are in mint condition (graded as a 9.8) than Batman #1 will be significantly more valuable due to the fact it is a much rarer commodity.

 

 

Granted some vendors/collectors do not agree with CGC or even the grading process.

“Most people will only believe the CGC,” says Tim, owner of Nodicor Hobby in Trafford, PA, “There’s other grading systems.”

While he is correct, other grading systems do exist especially online through independent sellers/graders, the CGC remains the dominant opinion in the world of comic grading and collecting.

Independent vendor and collector, Jeffery Bruce owner of Baby Boomer Rebellion in Cincinnati, Ohio, believes comics are “meant to be read.”

“(That) Whole grading system started in baseball cards and that’s fine because you could see baseball cards on either side and that’s all you need to see. But when you seal a book and say, well OK it is this grade and you can’t read it, but if you take it out you’ll have to get it graded again – that seems like a scam to me.”

 

Other collectors like, Joel Comstock of Western Pennsylvania, admits there are, “positive and negatives to make a fair evaluation. A graded comic certifies the condition not the value.”

 

 

Interestingly enough grading is still person-specific. One comic realistically could be graded by three different examiners and come out with three varying grades. Thus, with such variances there are a number of pro and anti-comic grading opinions. Regardless of what side of the fence you find yourself on there is no arguing that age is the first prerequisite for value (assuming the comic book is in good or above condition). If a comic is ungraded this tends to be the motivating factor for an established price between buyer and seller.

For more information on grading and values visit Certified Guaranty Company webpage.

COMIC COLLECTING CULTURE AND THE AFFECT OF FILM/TELEVISION

As mentioned the 10-point scale and specific comic ages help determine a comic’s overall perceived value, but prices and demand for a particular comic will change with the culture.

“Whenever a movie is announced, first appearances of a character skyrocket,” said Lauren Becker of Comic Pop Collectibles based out of Michigan.

Situations like this are ever increasing nowadays. Following the announcement of the upcoming 2016 movie, Deadpool, based off Marvel’s anti-hero Wade Wilson, a number of vendors agreed his comics have become the hot item right now.

“Hard to see a book go for $300 that was just in the 50¢, $1 bins a few years ago,” said Jacob Yuele owner of Jacob’s Comic Den.

Deadpool isn’t the only character that has witness an exponential growth in his comic sales. The cast of Marvel’s 2014 hit, Guardians Of The Galaxy, have all seen their comic prices explode.

Becker mentions how Incredible Hulk #271 (Rocket Racoon’s first appearance) used to be a 50¢ comic and now it is selling for over $200.  Rocket Racoon’s counterpart and the unofficial leader of the Guardians, Starlord is also on the shortlist for popular titles among collectors right now.

However, titles like Spider-Man, Batman, and Superman still dominate the scene.

“You can never have too much Spider-Man or Batman,” admitted Yuele. Yuele continued to add that he believes the first appearance of Spider-Man in Amazing Fantasy #15 will likely be the first Marvel Comic to finally break the $1,000,000 threshold. The only current comics to sell for over a million dollars thus far have all been DC titles.

First appearances are also sought after comics especially when Golden Age characters make their Silver Age debuts. As noted in Figure 3, a number expensive Silver Age titles like Showcase #4 or The Brave and The Bold  #28 are exceedingly valuable due to Golden Age characters making their first appearance in a new age of comics. In Showcase  #4, Barry Allen makes his first Silver Age appearance and in The Brave and the Bold #28 the Justice League (a band of Golden Age characters) first comes together.

Consequently, with the success of comic book character inspired films and television shows particular characters and titles are becoming increasingly more popular.

There are also comic book series that draw a large amount of interest. Many of the series can be purchased as a collection or graphic novel. According to graphic novel-only seller, Mark Tamorski of Gem City Comics in Dayton, Ohio popular graphic novel titles are, “Marvel’s Civil War, Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: The Killing Joke, Secret Wars, Infinite Crisis, and Infinity Gauntlet.”

As pop culture helps influence comic book collecting the actual culture itself is beginning to evolve. As Jeffery Bruce pointed out, “It is different than it was ten years ago. It isn’t just comics anymore – its everything.”

Bruce means that with the success of films not only are interest in comics increasing, but also the demand for memorabilia, toys, the ultra-popular Funko Pop collectables, and even Manga – Japanese comics/graphic novels.

“We’re all nerds here,” said manga-only dealer, George Macas of the Chicago-based, Comic Wreck. Macas is an adamant believer that pop culture has had a huge impact on nerd culture, shows like the Big Bang Theory have had a “positive impact” on nerd culture and the acceptance of it as a whole. Maca also admits that TV has had a large influence on his collection of manga. Popular anime shows in the United States, like Attack on Titan, Death Note, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Fairy Tale are not worth stocking because “they never stay on the shelves.” Instead, Macas finds it financially more beneficial to cater to hardcore anime and manga fans. Or as he calls it, “A niche inside a niche.”

The popularity of various titles and creative works has helped attract a new demographic to the nerdy world of comic book collecting – women. As Bruce previously recalls the only women he’d see at conventions were the wives of vendor; it was as he called it a “guys club for just us geeks.”

However, with so many options nowadays more and more people from all different backgrounds are beginning to surface. Like many others in the industry, Bruce believes the change is a good thing for both the collecting and comic book community as a whole.

WHERE TO LOOK AND BEGIN COLLECTING COMIC BOOKS

As a comic book collector myself, I strongly advocate the practice of reading and collecting comic books. As owner of the Virginia-based Jersey’s Comics and Comics, Bryan Salerno, puts it, “Nothing beats the tactile sensation of having a book in your hands.” Throw in the fact each of these comics is jam packed with action, intricate storytelling, and phenomenal artwork, what isn’t to like?

Yet, starting a collection can be cumbersome. For starters it is best to start with titles and characters you like and enjoy. From there you can expand onto series or trying to find first appearances of favorite characters.

“Look all over. You never know where or when you’re going to find it,” Joel Comstock, suggested. Despite being on the business side of things Comstock admits he has been trying to find a solid copy of Marvel Spotlight #5, the first appearance of his favorite character, Ghost Rider.

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Other vendors and comic store owners admit that despite being the industry there are number of comics they wish to add to their own personal collection. Majority concur with Comstock’s theory of searching everywhere. One vendor, who chose to remain anonymous, admitted he found an Incredible Hulk #181 (Wolverine’s first appearance) at a yard sale.

Pleasant Hills native, George Geis, who started collecting after his mother left a number of mint-conditioned comics in their attic, had this to say about being a vendor, collector and a fan, “Its an interesting thing to do. Everybody seems to respects everyone’s opinion.”

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start collecting!

 

Sources:, Diamond Comic Distribution, Sell My Comic Books, and CGC

 

 

 

 

Upcoming Works

Just wanted to publish a post about some upcoming articles. Next week I’ll be finishing up and posting my comic book collecting project – a multimedia piece all about the art of collecting comic books. I’ll also continue with my weekly fantasy advice in my ‘Waiver Wire Wonder’ articles.

I’ll likely do another live blog this month during my Star Wars marathon session leading up December 18 release The Force Awakens. As always love the feedback from all you fans out there and look forward to bringing you more awesome nerdy goodness in 2016!

Week 13 Waiver Wire Wonders

It is do-or-die time in the fantasy football world. Most of you out there are in your last week of the regular season, some may have another week (or two) left, but the goals are all the same – win and you’re in. There were a few injuries round the NFL this weekend making for some juicy late-season pick-ups, but for the most part the waivers this week hinge on match ups and necessity.

**Owning percentages are based off of ESPN standard leagues**

 

QB

Alex Smith – Kansas City Chiefs – Owned in 38.7% of leagues

Smith and the Chiefs have been reeling. Smith hasn’t thrown a pick since Week 3 and he’s coming up against a rather soft Oakland secondary. Depending on your QB situation, Smith offers a significant amount of upside especially in two-quarterback leagues.

Kirk Cousins – Washington Redskins – Owned in 26% of leagues

I like Cousins simply because it is a Monday Night match-up at home. In six games at FedEx Field this year Cousins has averaged 272-yards with 11 touchdowns to 2INTS. In five road games he’s averaged 231-yards with 5 touchdowns and 8INTS. Bottom line – he’s been a monster at home this season.

RB

Shaun Draughn – San Fransisco 49ers – Owned in 35.3% of leagues

Let’s face it Carlos Hyde likely isn’t coming back this year and if you’re a Hyde owner you need Draughn. He’s averaged over 86 all-purpose yards the last three weeks against three top defenses (Atlanta, Seattle, Arizona). He’s got a great match-up against Chicago this week and should find pay dirt for the first time since taking over.

David Johnson – Arizona Cardinals – Owned in 23% of leagues

Handcuff and injuries make Johnson a priority. Chris Johnson is done for the regular season, if not the year. Andre Ellington is still banged up leaving Johnson as the likely owner of Arizona’s backfield this week. He’s been a touchdown machine, finding the endzone eight times to date.

Brandon Bolden/James White – New England Patriots – Owned in 4.1% & 32.9% of leagues respectively

Pick your poison. It is tough to decipher which one of these pass-catching backs is better to own, let alone start. However, both are worthy of roster spots especially considering the recent slew of injuries to New England’s receiving core. White played significantly more snaps this past weekend than Bolden, but Bolden made the most of his play-time compared to White. Treat both with caution.

Jay Ajayi –Miami Dolphins – Owned in 14% of leagues

Ajayi is simply a handcuff addition at this point. He has been receiving a bit more action in the Dolphins offense, but he isn’t worthy of starting unless Lamar Miller goes down with an injury.

WR

Anquan Boldin – San Francisco 49ers – Owned in 48.5% of leagues

Back-to-back 93-yard games (5 and 8 catches in those games). It is clear to say that Bolden has a great QB-WR relationship with Blaine Gabbert and should continue to see a steady rise in his numbers the rest of the season.

Dorial Green-Beckhaam – Tennessee Titans – Owned in 12.2% of leagues

He’s a big-play, boom-or-bust type of receiver, but it is very difficult to go against his matchup this week against the Jaguars. They give up loads of fantasy points to wide receivers and DGB could finally see that breakout game we have all been waiting for.

Devin Funchess – Carolina Panthers – Owned in 23.8% of leagues

He’s a touchdown threat going against the hopeless New Orleans defense. Cecil Shorts and Nate Washington just carved up the Saints defense last week and this rookie is significantly more talented than both of those wideouts; expect a big day from Funchess.

TE

Jacob Tamme – Atlanta Falcons – Owned in 23.7% of leagues

Any time a TE leads his team in receiving yards it is always a good sign. Such was the case last week (69 yards). Tamme has established some solid chemistry with quarterback Matt Ryan and could prove to be a viable TE1 going into the fantasy playoffs.

Scott Chandler – New England Patriots – Owned in 2.6% of leagues

The unthinkable happened – Gronk got injured. If you’re a Gronk owner once you recover from that mild heart attack, go ahead and snag Chandler. He’s no Gronk, but Chandler is 6’7’’ and is a huge redzone target. Not to mention, he piled up 58 yards on five catches and score against the stout Denver defense this past weekend.

Vance McDonald – San Francisco 49ers – Owned in .6% of leagues

Worried you’re going to lose the Chandler sweepstakes? Don’t worry McDonald will be available and quite frankly is the better option. He’s the number one TE1 and he’s had back-to-back games with a touchdown; fair to note those games came against Seattle (4 catches, 65 yards) and Arizona (6 catches, 71 yards). Mcdonald has a solid relationship with Gabbert and could provide solid TE1 numbers the rest of the season.