Each race week, we recap the previous weekend's fantasy highlights, provide top-secret fantasy training tips and make "expert" predictions for the coming race.
Weekly Tip: Tweet, Tweet.
At first glance, social media seems most useful as a place to see the latest presidential beef or your fourth cousin's over-edited photo of a three-star meal. Following reliable moto sources, however, can make social media arguably the best source for breaking news. Twitter is the loudest platform in the moto industry. Other applications have great content as well, but a majority of the fresh stuff is tweeted. If you want to be better at fantasy, get yourself a Twitter. We all need another social profile like Roczen needs to see his Anaheim crash video played during every race broadcast. Though if you keep your follows moto related, you'll find a healthier social experience. I follow and tweet more moto people I've never met than my own friends. While that may be a little sad, I prefer it this way. My Twitter is all moto. A "motoasis," if you will.
The most legit sources come from the major publication accounts. Sources such as this usually even live tweet qualifying and races. When you're stuck at the Saturday Market with your boo instead of crushing Coronaritas at Buffalo Wild Wings and cheering on your poor, neglected moto fantasy team, Twitter comes in handy. While she (or he) is buying avocados and turquoise jewelry, you can sneak into a dark alley to binge on qualifying times, rumors and race results.
Personal accounts from riders and others in the heart of the industry can prove to be just as useful. There is much to glean from a rider's tweets: injury updates, bike improvements, general morale, result expectations, etc. Those mystery privateers with high qualifying results, I'll find their Twitter profile to look for past results, how solid their program is, if they ride much during the week and how motivated they are to actually finish the race with a solid result. Industry insiders like journalists, team managers and retired pros are great for unofficial news and hot takes.
If you're not already on Twitter, here are some great follows to get you started:
- Publications: @racerxonline, @vitalMX, @swapmotolive, @pulpmx
- Riders: @KenRoczen94, @filthyphil_, @AdamCianciarulo, @coleseely14, @CRtwotwo
- Industry Insiders: @MotocrossFantasy, @MAAntonovich, @DavidVuillemin, @JasonWeigandt, @Jason66Thomas
Each week, I ask a guest for their previous week's picks as well as their predictions for the coming weekend. I'll show my cards as well. Guests can be a fellow MotoSport.com employee, a customer, a top finishing player in the game or basically anyone who knows dirt bikes have two wheels and that Travis Pastrana has retired from pro racing. Regardless of their score, there's always something we can learn.
I bring you a guest this week who's spent some time at the heart of the industry. Until its untimely demise, Austin Rohr was the managing editor for legendary motocross publication, Transworld Motocross. Fun facts about Austin:
- It's his rookie fantasy season
- Started riding 14 years ago
- A quad guy most of his life, he's become a bit "bike-curious" the last two years
- Restored a beautiful 2004 Suzuki RM125
- Former gear model
- Claims James May is his spirit animal
- Strong advocate for proper lever position and 125cc two strokes
"I've never really gotten into the whole fantasy moto thing until Cody talked me into it. Three rounds in, I'm getting a better feel for how it works. Unfortunately, I tend to overthink my choices and eventually end up sort of winging it. The strategy behind my picks isn't really sound, so take this all with a grain of salt - maybe even the whole saltshaker."
Team Name: austinrohr397
Real Name: Austin Rohr
Rd. 3 Score/Finish: 387/106th
Season Points/Rank: 1,053/208th
450 Class: 143 points
Henry Miller (12) 76 points: "I saw a handicap of 12 for Henry Miller and felt like there was some real potential there. With an actual overall score of 15, this pick really saved me from a total disaster in the 450 class. His handicap dropped to a 9 for this weekend, so he's a riskier pick this time around, but I see him being a good choice all summer long."
Justin Bogle (3) 56 points: "For some reason, I was really feeling like Bogle was going to be a top 10 guy last weekend, and as an underdog with a handicap of three, I had to go with it. Much to my joy, he did exactly what I'd hoped for at Thunder Valley and it really paid off for me. He's not as good of a pick for this weekend because of his handicap of one, but I'd keep an eye on him all year long. Remember, he's been a contender at the front before, especially late in the season."
Cody Cooper (14) 11 points: "Cody Cooper was running inside the top 20 a lot last year, and I thought for sure he'd continue to do so this year. When I saw a handicap of 14 next to his name, I was certain this pick was going to do big things for me. Instead he scored 32nd overall and I'm an idiot. I hope he gets back to the level he was at last year, but until there's some proof of that, I'll have to pass on picking him for a bit."
Dylan Merriam (7) 0 points: "I picked Dylan Merriam for basically the same reasons that I picked Cody Cooper. Solid guy, finishes top 15 quite a bit, and really seemed like a good pick for points. Where did he finish, you ask? Right behind Cooper, in 33rd place. Ouch..."
250 Class: 206 points
Michael Mosiman (1) 84 points: "I felt like picking Michael Mosiman at a handicap of just 1 was one of the biggest risks I took last weekend, but man was it worth it. At some point we all knew that he was going to break through and get on the podium. I can't say that there was anything leading me to believe Thunder Valley would be that weekend, I just figured the odds were pretty good. Looking at the numbers, he's not a great pick for this weekend and might not be for the rest of the summer, but you never know. Either way, I think he's got the potential to score some more podiums here soon."
Brandon Hartranft (10) 66 points: "Maybe it's just me, but it seems like Hartranft flies well under the radar given his capabilities. He's easily a 10-15 guy and has the potential to do even more. Needless to say, as an underdog with a handicap of 10, I couldn't pass him up. He delivered with a 14th overall finish at Thunder Valley and I'm content with my decision. He's down to a 6 this weekend, but I wouldn't be too quick to write him off. If you just need a guy in your fantasy picks who you can count on in the 250 class, Brandon should be at the top of your list."
Shane McElrath (2) 56 points: "When in doubt, you can always rely on Moody for a good result. An underdog with a handicap of 2, I felt confident that he'd be able to score inside the top 10. Shane's also one of the nicest people in the pits and probably anywhere for that matter, so I'm a little biased here. His ninth-place score was good enough to get me exactly what I was looking for and I think he'll continue to be a reliable fantasy contender."
Bradley Lionnet (15) 0 points: "In theory, Lionnet is a guy who's plenty capable of coming close to 15th place. In reality, he didn't even make the top 40. I'll stand by my decision and say that this should have been a good pick, but clearly it didn't work out. Both classes this year are tough to predict, and it seems like the guys who typically finish inside or around 20th place are having a tough time. If there's a takeaway from this one, it's to pay attention to the trends now that we're a quarter of the way through the season. You can probably throw last seasons results out the window for a lot of these guys."
- Austin Rohr (austinrohr397)
Team Name: Cody105
Real Name: Cody Hockema
Rd. 3 Score/Finish: 422/43rd
Season Points/Rank: 1,140/10th
Henry Miller (12) 76 points: "The Minnesotan averaged 16th place in the nine 450 nationals he entered in 2018. Despite a gnarly crash before the first round (in his motorhome), Miller is finding that same speed this season. He's worked up to a reputation as a great starter and a reliable fantasy pick. He went 13/20 for 15th last weekend so his handicap dropped to a 9, which would be a rewarding pick if he gets another score like his first moto."
Derek Kelley (18) 72 points: "I had never heard the name Derek Kelley until I picked him for this line up. I believe this is his rookie pro motocross season. He qualified 22nd which I liked at an 18 handicap. Unless he picks up his qualifying times, I'm not interested in him this week at a 15."
Ben Lamay (7) 31 points: "Thunder Valley was a bit off what Ben is capable of. This is what he had to say on Instagram: 'Rough day at Lakewood, straight up didn't have the speed. Disappointing because usually I love the ruts but this time I just couldn't get a flow. 17th to end the day, just gonna keep on keepin on.' He's an 8 this weekend which I would probably pick if I could."
Joey Savatgy (2) 0 points: "Well, that didn't go so well. It would have been really nice to know before the race that Joey was going to use the day as an in-race test session. He only had six days of riding before Thunder Valley after coming back from a supercross injury. He crashed after a good start in the first moto and admittedly used the second moto as a test session, earning his fantasy team owners a big, fat doughnut for the weekend. However, this is where pick trends really come into play. About 40 percent of players picked him, meaning the zero doesn't hurt so bad for me because 40% of teams this round had a zero from Joey. Of the top ten in the Pro Series, only two didn't have him. And it's no coincidence it was chrislynnmx and Nelso, the top two on the weekend."
Michael Mosiman (1) 84 points: "Mosiman has made a major improvement this year. Since his rookie season in 2017, he's been a top 15 guy most of the time. In 2019 supercross, however, he's been consistently in the top 10. Michael has even flirted with the top, getting career best finishes in supercross with a fourth in Seattle and fifth in Denver. His third in Thunder Valley last weekend was his first ever podium. I expect him to be a consistent 5-10 guy who can get a podium here and there."
Jordon Smith (5) 70 points: "Smith is arguably the best guy on the Troy Lee Designs KTM team. He's contended for championships in the past but 2019 has been awful. Injuries have been his downfall, making his most recent return from injury at the first motocross round at Hangtown. His 17th and 21st finishes at the first two rounds killed many fantasy teams. It was Josh Grant or Zach Osborne all over again. Each weekend we think they'll finally pull it off. Smith broke many hearts in the first two rounds and then made it happen at Thunder Valley."
Zane Merrett (14) 50 points: "I'll be real, I only picked Zane because he qualified 19th with a 14 handicap. This is what I know about him: it's his rookie season and he looks like a mini Stank Dog (Stank Pup?). Zane didn't knock it out of the park but I can't be mad at this solid 50 points."
RJ Hampshire (-1) 39 points: "This future Husqvarna rider occasionally showed a wheel to the top guys at the first two rounds. He beat points leader, Adam Cianciarulo, for second place in the first moto at Fox Raceway. Disaster struck in the second when he hit a cattywampus Alex Martin, busting his water pump. That first moto is why I chose RJ at Thunder Valley."
Round 3 - Thunder Valley - MotoSport.com Pro Series
MotoSport.com Pro Series Points Standings
Top Rider Scores
450 Class - Round 3 - Thunder Valley
250 Class - Round 3 - Thunder Valley
Picks of Interest
Our guest gives me an interesting pick in each class for the coming weekend and I throw my picks into the mix as well. These are by no means a guarantee, just some guys to consider.
Austin Rohr (austinrohr397):
Tyler Bowers (9) "Look, Bowers is a rad dude. That's all I can really say about this pick. Do I think he can get around ninth overall? Probably. High Point is the first east coast race of the season and it's going to come with the usual humidity and rough track conditions. There are already a lot of guys riding the struggle bus early this season, but even as a privateer, Tyler is hanging in there and staying in the fight. I can see him putting in a consistent result this weekend."
Fredrik Noren (5) "On any given weekend, if you've got an opportunity to pick Freddy, you might as well do it. He's fast, consistent, and a reliable pick. I don't love that his handicap is a five, but I think he'll score right around the top 10 and that should lead to some reliable Fantasy points. I'm really thinking about the long game here."
Joey Savatgy (4) "Whatever happened last weekend with Monster Energy Kawasaki and Joey Savatgy is very unlikely to repeat itself at High Point. Joey is unproven on the 450 outdoors, but I'm willing to take the risk here and I hope that he's as good outdoors as he was in Supercross. Depending on how things go, this could be one of the few opportunities to select him as an underdog too. C'mon Joey..."
Lorenzo Locurcio (10) "He puts in solid points-earning results, and the numbers look good for him this weekend. He's another guy that I think has avoided major struggles so far this year and he's got good experience under his belt racing in these conditions. Every weekend I try to balance riskier picks with ones that I feel fairly confident in, and Locurcio falls into the latter category for me. Dare I say he's almost on a Freddy Noren level?"
Alex Martin (0) "Okay, so Alex's handicap isn't awesome this weekend and he hasn't been the same guy that he was last year, but hear me out. There are two things going for Martin in particular. First, he's strong in these east tracks and he's got more experience racing on them than most of the other guys in this class. Second, I watched him crash multiple times last year at High Point and still manage to pull off a top ten result. When he wasn't on the ground, he was ripping. The troll train hasn't derailed yet, dammit."
Cameron McAdoo (6) "I'm aware that I'm taking a fairly big risk on this one, but I'd like to imagine that Cameron is fired up about this new opportunity and will ride the wheels off of that KTM to prove that he deserves the spot. He could also struggle with adjusting to the new bike and getting into the rhythm of things, and that's probably a more realistic outcome. I'll still take my chances though."
Yusuke Wantanabe (16) "Never heard of Yusuke Wantanabe? He's a Japanese racer who made his way over here to contest in the outdoor series this summer. While he's definitely not going to be winning a race any time soon, he's been hanging out right around the 20th place spot quite a bit. With a handicap of 16, my gut tells me he has the potential to deliver some great fantasy results this weekend as long as he doesn't have a hard time adjusting to the tough east coast conditions."
Wilson Todd (7) "I really don't know anything about Wilson Todd, except for the fact that he's been a surprisingly good rider so far this season in the 250 class. He's also been killing it in fantasy as well. When I look at the entire list of riders available, his numbers are really enticing. I can't add much else because I have no clue what to expect out of him. I just need him to keep doing what he's been doing."
Cody Hockema (Cody105):
450 Class - Kyle Chisholm (10) "This just in! Kyle Chisholm to fill in at JGR Suzuki after Justin Hill suffered a practice crash, putting him on a week by week basis as to whether he'll race or not. Chiz has been on the sidelines enjoying some time off after supercross, so the big question mark is how race ready he will be off the couch. There are some factors in his favor. Kyle raced the entire supercross season with HEP Suzuki, so he will be right at home on the factory RMZ450. The JGR team is also familiar to Chiz, as he raced for them in previous seasons. His fitness base is strong as can be. The guy has been grinding motos for like, ever. He's always been a workhorse and seems to bring home a 10-15 finish nearly every race he enters. He coined the phrase "Chiz gonna Chiz" because of his consistency. At a 10 handicap, I kinda feel like picking him then smashing my computer and phone so I can't change it."
250 Class - Mitchell Oldenburg (5) "A gnarly crash at the Vegas Supercross caused Mitchell to miss the first three rounds of this season. Though he's been on the sidelines for most of outdoors the past couple years, Freckle has performed well in the races he has entered. I couldn't believe this, but he's only really raced one national since his last full season in 2016. Oldenburg grabbed a 9th at Hangtown in 2017, then would injure himself again at the following round at Glen Helen. In the final four rounds of 2016, Mitchell finished top ten at every race with 10-6-8-8 overall finishes. He also got a fourth at the Daytona Supercross this year, the most outdoorsy of the supercross rounds. I say picking him this week is a gamble, but gambles sometimes pay off."