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Fantasy Focus: Seattle

SEATTLE – Joao Ricardo Vieira has a great opportunity at the Seattle Invitational to take over the world lead if he continues to ride like he has since the beginning of the first round of the Choctaw Casino and Resort, powered by Kawasaki Strong, Iron Cowboy, in February.

Vieira has gone 11-for-13 beginning with his Iron Cowboy victory in Arlington, Texas. The 2013 Rookie of the Year has earned 1,555 points toward the world standings in the last four weeks to move from 26th to second in the world standings.

Therefore, in terms of PBR Ultimate Fantasy, Vieira remains one of the strongest options in Tier A.

The No. 2 bull rider in the world takes on Bottle Rocket (0-0, BFTS) in Round 1 and Cowboy Up (3-3, BFTS) in Round 2. Oliveira rode Cowboy Up for 86 points to finish Round 2 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in fourth place.

J.W. Harris ended the Ty Murray Invitational with two consecutive buckoffs, but he still remains one of the top riders in Tier A. The No. 4 bull rider in the world has gone four for his last seven.

The four-time PRCA champion has drawn King George (0-0, BFTS) in the first round and Kat Hour (12-6, BFTS) in the second round. Saturday is Kat Hour’s season debut since being ridden by L.J. Jenkins for 84.5 points in Allentown, Pennsylvania, last October.

Kaique Pacheco admitted in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that he had been dealing with soreness following a hard buckoff against Smooth Operator in Kansas City, Missouri. Pacheco was able to dust off the cobwebs some and win Round 1 on Joe The Grinder with an 89.75-point ride, but he then bucked off his final three bulls of the event.

Pacheco will try to record his first event with two or more qualified rides in six weeks when he faces Chukey (0-0, BFTS) and Riding Dirty (0-0, BFTS).

Silvano Alves has been an average bull rider lately and has yet to string together any kind of consistency in the past two months. The three-time World Champion is the No. 3 bull rider in the world, but he has gone 9-for-21 (42.85 percent) since Feb. 1.

Alves has drawn Famous Freckles (3-0, BFTS) and Barstool Mountain (2-2, BFTS). Alves previously rode Barstool Mountain for 84.75 points in Anaheim.

Tier B: Can a motivated Marchi continue success in favorable Round 2 matchup

Guilherme Marchi believes he shed close to five pounds before the start of the Ty Murray Invitational, and the 2008 World Champion rode aggressively in Albuquerque. He finished 3-for-4 in his best performance since winning the Monster Energy Buck Off at The Garden in New York.

Marchi has drawn Say La V (1-1, BFTS) and has one of the best matchups in Round 2 against Joe The Grinder (5-4, BFTS).  Not only has Marchi previously ridden Joe The Grinder for 86.25 points, but the bovine athlete propelled Pacheco to his Round 1 win last week, and Shane Proctor (86.5 points) to a fourth-place finish in the third round.

Stetson Lawrence has gone 1-or-7 since nearly winning Iron Cowboy and has bucked off six consecutive bulls. Lawrence will try to turnaround his fortunes against Chop Saw (0-0, BFTS) and Vetex’s Get Smacked (7-3, BFTS). Get Smacked last bucked on the BFTS in September, when he took down Eduardo Aparecido in 4.91 seconds at the Oakland event.

Tier C: Crisostomo won’t be here for long

At the rate that Claudio Crisostomo is currently riding, he won’t be available in Tier C for much longer this season. Crisostomo has gone 7-for-10 since returning from a broken clavicle and is putting together 8-second rides every weekend.

The only downside for fantasy players is that he is averaging only 83.14 points per ride, but until he cools off he should be a very tough rider to leave on your bench.

Crisostomo will be met by Jumanji (1-0, BFTS) in Round 1 and Flying High (0-0, BFTS) in Round 2. Jumanji bucked off Robson Palermo in 6.9 seconds at the Chicago Invitational in January.

Shane Proctor bounced back in Albuquerque with his first two-ride performance since January in Sacramento, California. Earlier this season, Proctor was one of the most consistent riders on the BFTS and a great fantasy selection. Proctor is a good value pick in Tier C with high upside potential.

Proctor faces Calypso (0-0, BFTS) in Round 1 and Wilbur (2-1, BFTS) in Round 2. Gage Gay rode Wilbur for 86 points in Anaheim last month.

Keep an eye on Markus Mariluch this weekend. The 29-year-old was a Top 10 bull rider last year before a torn right biceps ended his season in September, and he is a good sleeper pick in Seattle. Mariluch is returning to action in Seattle and has drawn I Got This (0-0, BFTS) in Round 1 and More Big Bucks(4-7, BFTS) in Round 2. Nathan Schaper had ridden More Big Bucks for 83.75 points last weekend.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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