DES MOINES, Iowa – World leader Joao Ricardo Vieira will attempt to maintain consistency and high-scored rides to build upon his word lead – helping PBR Ultimate Fantasy players in the process – this weekend at the Des Moines Invitational.
Vieira comes into the weekend with two or more qualified rides in seven consecutive events. The 30-year-old leads the Built Ford Tough Series in qualified rides (29) and has a 58 percent riding average, which leads all active riders on tour.
Vieira will face Super Cella (1-3, BFTS) in Round 1 on Saturday night. Super Cella has been ridden in three of his past four outs for 85 points or more.
Kaique Pacheco is potentially one of the healthiest riders among Tier A fantasy options. Pacheco enters Des Moines following a 4-for-5 performance in Billings. Pacheco’s four-ride performance was the first of his career.
The rookie has drawn Blame It on Mexico (1-1, BFTS) in Round 1. Stormy Wing rode him for 85.25 points in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Guilherme Marchi is second on the BFTS with 26 qualified rides and opted out of last weekend’s championship round with a minor riding hand injury. He will look for 8 seconds aboard Fire Bender (5-2, BFTS). Silvano Alves rode Fire Bender for 83.25 points at Iron Cowboy.
Be wary of Valdiron de Oliveira this weekend after the No. 3 bull rider in the world standings suffered a left MCL sprain. Oliveira will test the knee against Do Wacka Do (6-3, BFTS) in Round 1. Chad Berger’s bovine athlete has bucked off five in a row.
Matt Triplett returned from his torn MCL last weekend in Billings, but the No. 2 bull rider in the world is still in search of his first qualified ride since returning. Triplett faces Mr. Clark (7-1, BFTS).
Tier B: Can Schaper continue hot streak?
Nathan Schaper has a chance to extend his consecutive ride streak to six on Saturday when he faces Air Bender. It is the only rematch in the first round, and Schaper successfully made the 8-second mark on Air Bender for 85.25 points in New York at the Monster Energy Buck Off at The Garden.
The rider to watch in Tier B is obviously J.B. Mauney. The 2013 World Champion is third on the PBR’s all-time list for 90-point rides since 1998 and he is returning to action for the first time since tearing his left ACL in Fresno, California.
Mauney takes on Celling Bioscience’s Jukebox Hero (4-10, BFTS) in Round 1. Mauney could not have asked for a better draw than this in Round 1.
Jukebox Hero is 3-8 against left-handed riders, making Mauney a very strong option for fantasy players.
Tier C: Can Gay, Roy and Palermo thrive for second week in a row?
Gage Gay, Aaron Roy and Robson Palermo are three riders that had confidence-building performances in Billings last weekend.
It will be the first time since arguably the beginning of the season that Gay can ride without the worry of being cut from the BFTS. Gay, who went 3-for-4 last week, is ranked 26th in the world and has drawn Spitball for Saturday night. Chase Outlaw rode Spitball (2-3, BFTS) for 84.5 points in St. Louis earlier this season.
Roy, who is ranked 35th in the world standings, is coming off his first three-ride performance since February 2013. Roy takes on Ray Charles (3-0, BFTS) in Round 1. Ray Charles bucked off Mason Lowe in 3.03 seconds in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in his last out.
Palermo is dealing with a left shoulder injury, but his 88.25-point ride on Fire & Smoke during last weekend’s championship round was his highest-scored ride since riding Tarantino for 88.25 points in March 2014.
He has drawn Wreck Em Red (0-1, BFTS) for Round 1. Shane Proctor rode Wreck Em Red for 82.25 points in Oklahoma City.
This weekend’s sleeper pick is Tyler Harr. The No. 39 bull rider in the world standings was a late addition to the Des Moines draw. Harr went 2-for-4 in Billings, including an 85.25-point ride on Good Cop. However, both of his buckoffs came beyond 6 seconds.
Harr faces Pretty Reckless (1-2, BFTS) in Round 1. Brady Sims rode Pretty Reckless for 81.25 points in St. Louis last February.
Bull Power: Welcome back Air Time
Jared Allen’s Air Time is set to buck during the 15/15 Bucking Battle on Saturday night following Round 1 and it will be his first out since bucking off Renato Nunes in 1.6 seconds in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Air Time is averaging 45.25 points in three outs this year and will square off against J.B. Mauney for the first time in his career.
Other top bulls competing in Des Moines include Boot Jack (44.48 points per out), Mississippi Hippy (44.56) and Spotted Demon (44.45).
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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