Fantasy Forecast: Springfield

Markus Mariluch is a strong selection in Tier B this week. Photo by Matt Breneman /

PFIWESTERN.COM INVITATIONAL: The Built Ford Tough Series returns to action this weekend in Springfield, Missouri, for the Invitational. Don’t forget to set your lineups, and if you haven’t already, sign up now for your chance to win.

The Nashville Dream Team included Silvano Alves (Tier A), Markus Mariluch (Tier B), Cody Nance (Tier B), Chase Outlaw (Tier C) and Brady Sims (Tier C), as well as Asteroid, Mick E Mouse and Bushwacker.

RIDER RUNDOWN: Tier A is becoming one of the most inconsistent tiers to predict. Every week there seems to be a different rider rising to the occasion. In terms of riding the hot hand, fantasy players may be willing to select Alves, following the two-time World Champion’s 3-for-3 performance in Nashville, Tennessee. It is his first three-ride performance since going 4-for-4 in Billings, Montana, back in April. Not only did he cover all of his bulls, but Alves also flashed that champion glare he has been know to demonstrate after his first 90-point ride of the season – a 92.25-point showing on Rango. Alves has drawn a rematch with Diesel in Round 1 just four weeks after the bull bucked him off in 6.21 seconds in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Alves should be expected to rebound against him. Alves takes on Dead Calm in Round 2, a Canadian bull making his BFTS debut.

Fabiano Vieira is making it hard to not be tempted into selecting him for your lineup because he has been able to ride just as good as any rider in Tier A when he is able to maintain stability in his unstable right shoulder. Vieira posted his seventh Top-5 finish in Nashville and leads Tier A with a 59.65-percent riding average. He has a fantastic matchup in Round 1 when he takes on One Shot. Fellow left-handed bull rider Kody Lostroh covered One Shot for 88 points in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and rookie Gage Gay also made the whistle on him for 89 points in Kansas City, Missouri.

Guilherme Marchi heads into Springfield with at least one ride in 19 of 21 BFTS events this year. Mike Lee fell one spot shy of qualifying for the championship round last week and has drawn Lil’ Z (Round 1) and Donardo(Round 2). Lil’ Z was rode by Emilio Resende in Thackerville, Oklahoma, for 87 points. Joao Ricardo Vieira has a solid Round 2 draw and gets a rematch with Little Kombat, who he rode for 87.5 points at the 2013 Built Ford Tough World Finals. However, the bull did buck him off in 4.05 seconds earlier this season in Chicago.

Mariluch quietly notched a career-high ride last week in Nashville. Mariluch was able to overcome an elbow injury in his riding arm to conquer Jack Daniel’s After Party for 90.25 points. However, the celebration was short-lived as Alves followed with his Rango ride and Outlaw went on to win the event. Mariluch ended an 0-for-4 skid to start the second half by also ridingBrown Sugar for 89.5 points in the first round. He has a tough task in Jo Joon Friday night. Jo Jo bucked off two World Champions (Marchi and Renato Nunes) and Kasey Hayes, this year. However, J.W. Harris rode the bull two weeks ago for 86.75 points. Mariluch then faces an unknown bull called Big Time Saturday night.

L.J. Jenkins leads Tier B with an average score of 85.08 points, but he is 1-for-6 in the second half. He also switched to an American bull rope last week.Eduardo Aparecido will try to bounce back after going rideless in Nashville by facing Snap Back, who is 6-0 against known right-handers, in Round 1 and Big Rock Star in Round 2 in Springfield. Valdiron de Oliveira is stuck in a 3-for-24 slump.

It is always tempting to select a bull rider after he wins an event and such is the case this weekend with Outlaw. The 22-year-old is coming off his first BFTS event win in over two years, and he even posted an 87-point ride at a Touring Pro Division event in Pendleton, Oregon, on Monday night. Be wary though, as he has a tough foe in Closing Time (4-0 on the BFTS) on Friday night. He has an inexperienced BFTS bull, General Lee, in Round 2.

Sims heads into Springfield with Top-10 finishes in two of the past three BFTS events, and the Holt, Missouri, cowboy has ridden five bulls in three second-half BFTS events. He still struggles in the championship round, but the rookie is gaining confidence in the early rounds at BFTS events. In Round 1, Sims can get off to a good start in Springfield against BFTS-debut bull Twist of Fate. In Round 2, Sims will look to make 8 seconds on Buck Wild in the bull’s first BFTS out since Mariluch rode him for 86.5 points in Billings, Montana.

This week’s sleeper pick is Scottie Knapp. The 23-year-old faces Bruiser in Round 1 in a rematch after the bull bucked him off in 6.8 seconds in Tulsa. However, Bruiser has been known to provide good scores when ridden and he has rewarded Joao Ricardo Vieira (88.75 points) and Lee (91) for their efforts.

BULL BITS: There is no Bushwacker or Mick E Mouse this weekend in Springfield, meaning Asteroid, Jared Allen’s Air Time and Shepherd Hills Tested will headline the short round. Asteroid has posted three straight outs with 45.5 or more points, while it will be interesting to see how Air Time reacts to a BFTS-career-low 43.25-point outing in Thackerville. Shepherd Hills Tested (44.8 average bull score) will be looking to show he can compete with some of the leading contenders for World Champion Bull. Keep an eye on Margy Time, a rising ABBI star that has impressed PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.

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