Fantasy Focus: Anaheim

By: Justin Felisko
January 29, 2016

Paulo Lima draws Strong Heart in Round 1 in Anaheim, California, this weekend.

Paulo Lima draws Strong Heart in Round 1 in Anaheim, California, this weekend.

THE ANAHEIM INVITATIONAL: The Built Ford Tough Series (BFTS) resumes this weekend in Anaheim, California, with the Anaheim Invitational. Don’t forget to set your lineups, and if you haven’t already, sign up now for your chance to win.

TIER A: Can Paulo Lima maintain world lead?

Paulo Lima nearly had two qualified rides in Oklahoma City if not for a 7.72-second buckoff against JJ’s Pride. Now, Lima will try to maintain his 30-point world lead on Joao Ricardo Vieira when he faces Strong Heart.

This should be a favorable matchup for Lima as Strong Heart is only 11-5 against left-handed riders at all levels. Overall, Strong Heart is 14-7 on the BFTS level, and Mike Lee rode him for 86 points in his first out of 2016 in Chicago.

Joao Ricardo Vieira still has to be a favorite to pick in Tier A. Vieira is riding as well as anyone right now on the BFTS and currently leads the tour with 10 qualified rides and an 83.33-percent riding average.

Vieira, who has ridden five in a row, takes on Swashbuckler (1-1, BFTS) in Round 1. Silvano Alves rode Swashbuckler for 87.25 points at last year’s Built Ford Tough World Finals.

Oklahoma City winner Fabiano Vieira starts his weekend off against a relative unknown bull. Vieira faces Super Duty (0-0, BFTS), who only has one known out on a record – a 2.56-second buckoff against Cody Casper at the Santa Barbara, California, Touring Pro Division event last August.

Robson Palermo has been strong through the first three events, but he did sustain an ankle and back injury in Oklahoma City. Palermo has dealt with endless injuries the past three seasons so it will be worth noting how he responds in Anaheim. Palermo has a Round 1 matchup against Jump Street (1-0, BFTS).

If Wallace de Oliveira is going to be in the Top 5 of the world standings, he needs to be able to convert on such bulls as Cash Ya Out (10-7, BFTS). Oliveira has only gone 2-for-6 since going 3-for-3 to win the season opener in Chicago.

TIER B: What is next for Lowe and Mauney?

Mason Lowe and J.B. Mauney surpassed the 90-point threshold on their final rides in Oklahoma City to cap off very impressive weekends.

Lowe heads into Anaheim having gone a career-best 4-for-4.

However, Lowe needs to brush off the disappointment he had in coming up short of his first career victory.

Lowe showed a similar reaction last season in Nampa, Idaho, after finishing second to Guilherme Marchi and fell into a 4-for-10 stretch.

The second-year pro will take on Minion (0-0, BFTS debut) in Round 1.

Meanwhile, J.B. Mauney rode three straight, including SweetPro’s Long John for 90.25 points, after hyperextending his left riding elbow in Oklahoma City.

Mauney has learned over the years how to compensate when his chronically injured riding elbow flares up. If he can stay forward on his bulls, he normally will not feel much stress or pain on his elbow.

The No. 6 bull rider in the world standing has a somewhat tough test in Round 1. Mauney has drawn Jeremiah, who has underperformed in his last two outs, but has only been ridden once in 16 BFTS outs. Guilherme Marchi rode Jeremiah last week for 80.75 points.

Gage Gay has been either really on or really off this year. He is tied with Mauney for the most rounds wins on the BFTS (2), but he has only gone 4-for-10.

Gay has a rematch against LL Cool J (14-3, BFTS). LL Cool J bucked Gay off in 5.35 seconds during the Bulls on the Beach event in Huntington Beach, California, two years ago.

J.W. Harris is returning to competition after missing the Oklahoma City event. The four-time PRCA champion was out because of multiple injuries, including a right elbow and forearm strain, chest contusion and upper back rib sprains, he sustained attempting to ride Mishap in New York.

He has drawn Little Man (0-0, BFTS) for Round 1.

TIER C: Davis regaining form

Cooper Davis rode 50 percent of his bulls over the final three months of last season and went 2-for-4 in his first action since undergoing surgery on his riding wrist last November.

Davis appeared to have stayed in shape in the offseason after losing 25 pounds before the World Finals the second-year pro looked as confident as he was in Las Vegas.

The 21-year-old will battle Grandpa Joe (3-5, BFTS) in Round 1. Grandpa Joe has been ridden in five of his past six BFTS outs. Brady Sims rode him for 86.75 points in Chicago.

Kaique Pacheco has gone 6-for-11 this season, which isn’t bad by no means. However, a close look at Pacheco’s numbers shows he has been even closer to the 10 qualified ride marks. Three of his five buckoffs have been at 6.79 seconds or higher. So in other words, take advantage of Pacheco being in Tier C for as long as you can.

Pacheco faces Smooth Sensation in the first round. Smooth Sensation (0-0, BFTS) is making his BFTS debut and is 31-3 at all other levels. Only four of those outs came at PBR-sanctioned events.

If you think Pacheco’s close calls are tough cookies, then you better go give Reese Cates some Real Time Pain Relief.

Cates is 1-for-9 this season, but five of his eight buckoffs have come beyond 6 seconds. Cates is this week’s fantasy sleeper when he takes on Big Cat (7-0, BFTS) in Round 1. He also has a rematch against Chin Music, who he rode for 85.75 points in 2014 in Chicago, in Round 2.  Chin Music has been ridden in 15 of his 20 outs.

Three-time World Champion Silvano Alves has gone 1-for-5 since beginning the season with five consecutive rides. Alves has a rematch against Joe The Grinder in Round 1. Joe The Grinder bucked him off in 6.23 seconds in Charlotte last season.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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