Fantasy Forecast: Laughlin

Guilherme Marchi says he likes his Round 1 matchup against Boot Jack.

DESERT SHOWDOWN: The Built Ford Tough Series returns to action this weekend in Laughlin, Nevada, for the Desert Showdown. Don’t forget to set your lineups, and if you haven’t already, sign up now for your chance to win.

Friday’s action from Laughlin also features a 15/15 Bucking Battle, marking the return of the 15/15 Bucking Battle Pick ‘Em game. Make your selections here.

LAST WEEK: The Springfield Dream Team included Fabiano Vieira (Tier A), L.J. Jenkins (Tier B), Cody Nance (Tier B), Chase Outlaw (Tier C) andRyan Dirteater (Tier C), as well as Bruiser, David’s Dream and American Hustle.

RIDER RUNDOWN: Fabiano Vieira surprised many people last week with his selection of Asteroid in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round. Even though he was bucked off in 6.88 seconds, the fact that he even chose to face Asteroid has to be a good sign for fantasy players. It is visibly apparent that his unstable right shoulder is certainly altering the way he has to ride, but his confidence seems to be improving with each bull he climbs upon. He faces Royal Hawaiian in Round 1, a bull that is making his BFTS debut and has a relatively unknown past.

Joao Ricardo Vieira was the only other rider along with Fabiano Vieira in Tier A that recorded a qualified ride in Springfield, Missouri. Things will be tough for him on Friday night against Apollo Stripes. Chad Berger’s bull has plenty of potential and has bucked off 23 of 24 opponents at various levels. He is 11-0 on the BFTS this year. Guilherme Marchi, who did various yoga exercises this week to rehab his injured right knee, said that he really likes his Round 1 matchup against Boot Jack. It will be the second meeting between the two. Boot Jack won the first match in 1.25 seconds. Mike Leehas drawn Flint in the first round, and Silvano Alves takes on Rockerfeller Center, who Matt Triplett rode for 91 points in Pendleton, Oregon, this summer.

Fantasy players will be excited to see the return of J.B. Mauney in Tier B. If healthy, Mauney is always capable of posting a big score. He sees Little Phil, who is making his BFTS debut, in the first round. Kasey Hayes rode him for 90 points in Pendleton. Eduardo Aparecido (47.54 percent) still leads Tier B in riding percentage and is coming off a 1-for-4 performance last week. He sees Old School, another new BFTS bull, in Round 1. L.J. Jenkins takes his hot streak into Laughlin and will take on Full Tilt, who has bucked off Mauney and Ryan Dirteater.

Keep an eye on Chase Outlaw. The Hamburg, Arkansas, bull rider nearly rode Dakota Style’s Hy Test last week in the championship round. He has finished first and second in the event average the past two weeks. Friday will mark his second meeting against Open Season after the bull bucked him off in 2.31 seconds two years ago in Pueblo, Colorado.

Tier C also features a strong potential pick returning to competition this weekend. Tanner Byrne (riding hand) is back after missing the last month and he faces Gerald Dean. When healthy, Byrne has ridden 53.57 percent of his bulls. He previously faced Gerald Dean in Fresno, California, and lasted 1.25 seconds. Ryan Dirteater’s 88.25 points on Tracker last week was the third highest-scored ride for him this year, and on Friday he will try to make 8 seconds on Price is Right, the same bull that Outlaw rode for 86 points at the 2013 Touring Pro Division Finals.

This week’s sleeper pick is Cooper Davis. The rookie bull rider returns to the BFTS after qualifying for the championship round two weeks ago at the Jack Daniel’s Invitational. He faces Hard Knocks, a bull that Billy Robinson rode for 80 points last year.

BULL BITS: Two-time World Champion Bull Bushwacker returns following a week off and he gets a second meeting against Marchi in the 15/15 Bucking Battle. The last time Bushwacker bucked off Marchi (at Last Cowboy Standing), he was marked 46 points. He has been marked 46 points or higher in three consecutive BFTS outs. I’m a Gangster Too heads into Laughlin to face Lee in the 15/15 Bucking Battle with an average bull score of 44.76 points, and he earned 45 points in his last out for bucking off Zane Lambert in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1.76 seconds. Fire & Smoke will look to earn his first 45-point or higher score of the second half after finishing the first half with four consecutive BFTS outs that were marked 45 points or higher. He has been marked 44.75 and 44.5 points in two outs since the BFTS resumed last month in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He takes on Fabiano Vieira.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.

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