BALTIMORE – The 2015 Built Ford Tough Series officially kicks off on Friday night in Baltimore with Round 1 of the Baltimore Invitational at Royal Farms Arena.
Here are some notes and things to keep in mind when setting your PBR Ultimate Fantasy lineup this week.
TIER A: Alves and Mauney coming off strong 2014 World Finals performances
While it is a new season and a new year, it is safe to say that at the conclusion of the 2014 Built Ford Tough Series, the hottest riders in Tier A were Silvano Alves and J.B. Mauney.
Alves heads to Baltimore this weekend having ridden 13 straight on the BFTS. He hasn’t been bucked off since Panterror took care of him in 5.86 seconds in Oakland, California. Alves takes on Little Red in the first round.
Mauney kicks off 2015 following a strong 5-for-6 showing at the Built Ford Tough World Finals where he posted three 90-plus rides. The 27-year-old has a rematch against Ranga in Round 1 in Baltimore. Mauney rode Ranga for 87.5 points last season in Colorado Springs, Colorado, before Ranga bucked him off in Laughlin, Nevada.
Fabiano Vieira returns for his sixth season on the BFTS after leading the PBR’s main tour with a riding average of 54.55 percent in 2014. He faces Dirt Deals on Friday night. Cody Nance rode Dirt Deals for 83.5 points in his only out on the BFTS last year in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
TIER B: Tanner Byrne looks to transfer over consistency from 2014
If fantasy players like the idea of consistency, then Tanner Byrne is a top selection for Tier B. He is the only rider other than Alves and Vieira to have posted a riding average of 50 percent or higher last season on the BFTS. Byrne will look to start the season 1-for-1 when he takes on Hillbilly.
J.W. Harris is another potential popular choice for Tier B following his 4-for-6 finish at the World Finals. Harris did suffer an MCL injury at the National Finals Rodeo last month during a wreck on Johnny Ringo, but he is expected to compete in Baltimore against Alternator, who has been ridden in four consecutive BFTS outs.
TIER C: Choices galore
Tier C is loaded with talent and plenty of riders that could become Top 10 bull riders in the world standings by season’s end. Three-time World Finals event winner Robson Palermo, 2009 World Champion Kody Lostroh, 2009 Baltimore event winner Kasey Hayes, Shane Proctor and Nathan Schaper are just some of the riders at fantasy players disposal.
Sleeper picks within Tier C this weekend include Ben Jones, who is an alternate after winning the BlueDEF Velocity Tour event in Clovis, New Mexico, last month and Josh Faircloth, who posted two Top-10 finishes in the final five regular-season BFTS events last year.
Mississippi Hippy (Tier A) and Percolator (Tier B) are two of the bulls highlighting the short round this week, PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert told Slade Long in this week’s In the Bull Pen. Mississippi Hippy posted an average bull score of 44.52 points per BFTS out last season and bucked off nine of his 10 challengers.
Percolator was marked an average of 43.69 points last year on the BFTS and went 11-5 last season. Mauney rode Jeff Robinson’s bull for 94 points during the sixth round of the 2014 World Finals.
Stanley FatMax brings a 21 consecutive buckoff streak into Baltimore. 2014 World Champion Bull contenders Fire & Smoke (44 points per out in 2014) and I’m a Gangster Too (44.53 points) are also in the short round on Saturday night.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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