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Daily blurbs from the Guru
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Go forward to more recent blurbs.

9/30 - Here in New England, there are no shortages of “what happened” post mortems regarding the Red Sox. It sounds like Terry Francona may be out as manager – and one rumor already has him heading to the White Sox. If so, I wonder if they’ll make him wear the team jersey. Given his ample girth, the fleece pullover is probably a good idea.

Jose Reyes has been taking a lot of guff for pulling himself from the final game after one at bat in order to solidify his chances to win the batting title. Some analysts have contrasted him unfavorably to crosstown rival Derek Jeter. But this article at suggests that maybe the two share some related traits. I’m just sayin’…

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9/29 - Well, that was fun!

It’s not often you get the equivalent of four “game 7s” all occurring at the same time. And while St. Louis put their game away early, the other three all turned in the ninth inning, with two extending into extra frames. It was convenient of the rain to arrive in Baltimore just in time allow for a channel-click to the watch the Rays come back from 7-0 deficit in the 8th. That delay also allowed the endings of the two A.L. game to dramatically synch up, as the walk-off homer in the Rays game followed the stunning Red Sox collapse by only a few minutes. Baseball couldn’t have scripted that any better - and if it was a movie script, would anyone really believe it?

Congrats to Gurupie Uptown Bombers, who finshed on top in a dominating season of the RIBC, sweeping all five hitting categories, and also topping two of the pitching cats - while tanking saves! After nipping at his heels for the second half of the season, my team ran out of gas in the final ten days, and the margin of victory turned out to be rather comfortable-looking. Congrats to all of the qualifying league champions as well. If the NBA season is a washout, we may be planning for next year’s baseball action before you know it!

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9/28 - Much has been said about the Red Sox' dismal September, and their attempt to blow a 9-game lead over Tampa Bay. But in the senior circuit, Atlanta is doing a pretty good rendition of the same tune. The Braves entered the month with an 8½ game margin over the Cardinals, and have since posted a 9-17 record. And they now find themselves in exactly the same predicament – tied heading into the final day. For a season in which the division crowns were locked up without much drama, the wild card races have both been something to behold.

You’ve no doubt heard of the “Madden Curse”, whereby the player on the cover of the EA Sports Madden NFL game seems to be jinxed in the ensuing season(s). This year’s cover boy is Peyton Hillis, who sat out last Sunday’s game with strep throat. Now, when was the last time you heard of a player missing a game due to strep throat? Presumably, he’ll return to action this week, and maybe he’ll go on to have a stellar season. But if you have him on your roster, be afraid… be very afraid.

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9/27 - Red Sox Nation is now officially apoplectic. If Boston does complete the collapse, everyone will point to their dismal record in September, which is currently 6-19. But just as damaging will be that 2-10 start back in April. If they had simply started 5-7, they’d already be resting players for the postseason. Regardless, they’re providing good theater in this part of the country.

Football Pickoff produced relatively balanced scores this week, with 51% of active slates generating positive scores. Congrats to long-time Gurupie Perm Dude, who posted the top score of weekend with 13 correct picks and 459 points, including a double of Buffalo over New England.

I know it’s early, but imagine a Super Bowl between Buffalo and Detroit. Curiously, that almost happened once before. In January, 1992, Detroit lost to Washington in the NFL Championship game. Had the Lions won (and it wasn’t close), they’d have played Buffalo in the Super Bowl that year, and history would have been significantly changed. Either Buffalo would have interrupted what was otherwise an 0-4 Super Bowl in four consecutive years, or the Lions would have dropped off of the short list of teams that have never appeared in a Super Bowl (Lions, Browns, Texans, Jacksonville.)

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9/26 - The baseball playoff races have come down to the two wild card finishes, and both are aptly named “wild.” With three games remaining, both Boston and Atlanta have magic numbers of 3. Tampa Bay and Atlanta get to play at home, while the Sox and Cardinals are on the road. Tampa Bay and Atlanta play teams that are prepping for postseason (Yankees and Philly), while the other two play teams going nowhere (Baltimore and Houston). Either race could be sewn up by the end of Tuesday; either could result in a one-game playoff. Admittedly, the Angels are still mathematically alive, but they must now win out and need both Boston and Tampa Bay to lose out. Not likely. But stay tuned.

It’s not often that one of the top QBs in a given weekend tosses four interceptions, but Tom Brady added 4 TDs and 387 passing yards to his four picks, and – depending on scoring system – that generally ranked him in the top 10-20% of QBs for the day. The four interceptions were particularly notable because that matched his total for the entire 2010 season.

The 2011 GuruGolf season has come to a close. Congratulations to the two full-season champions:
Best ball champion: Fever Pitch (25 stroke margin)
Worst ball champion: Knights (60 stroke margin!)

Also, here are the winners of the FedEx Cup Contest:
Best ball: Apollo Hookers
Worst ball: Team !

Prize determinations for the entire season will be researched and resolved shortly, and emails will be sent to all winners sometime in the ten days. Thanks to all for a great season! GuruGolf will resume with a new season in early 2012.

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9/23 - The baseball season has just six days to go. Traditionally, the MLB season ends on a Sunday. But this year, the entire schedule was pushed forward a few days, ending on a Wednesday – presumably to get the playoffs off to an earlier start (and finish). There are no more scheduled off days for any team – although for fantasy purposes, teams already in the postseason will continue to give their regulars more rest than usual. If you’re in a pennant race yourself, you’ll need to pay attention! You can’t just “set it and forget it.”

Sortable stats are now up and running for Daily Joust, and I think I now have completed my football stats analytical tools for 2011. If you notice anything in any report or tool that looks incorrect, please send me an email, because I’m probably not aware of it.

Typically, this is the time when I’d start turning attention to fantasy hoops, with an eye toward reactivating all of the related statistical tools. But at this point, it doesn’t even seem to be worthwhile to produce the 2011-12 NBA schedule - although I may do it anyway, since nature abhors a vacuum. The latest news from the labor talks gives no indication that any resolution is even remotely “on the table.” I may have to find other pursuits in October (and November, December, …)

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9/22 - Maybe it’s because of the east coast media bias where I live, but it seems that the L.A. Angels have quietly put themselves in position to sneak into the A.L. wild card spot. Boston and Tampa Bay are both backpedaling as fast as they can, and the prevailing attitude in Boston seems to be (or have been) that as long as the Rays are losing, the Sox can limp in. Tha Angels haven’t exactly been on fire, but they have been creeping up from behind, and now find themselves only two games behind the Red Sox, and even with Tampa Bay. If recent trends persist, the Angels could be in a dead heat heading into the final series of the season. Could be interesting.

The PGA Tour Championship is now underway. Each of the 30 golfers appears on at least one GuruGolf roster this week, although the two cheapest golfers in the field (Mark Wilson and Jonathan Byrd) dominate, each on about 40% of rosters. More importantly, only about 30% of all foursomes have four active golfers this week. Richard Zokol, who is priced at the minimum of $500, appears as a placeholder on 21 rosters. Other notable cheapies include Michelle Wie (9 foursomes), Jack Nicklaus (4), Arnold Palmer (2), David Feherty (2), and individual appearances by Nick Faldo, Gary Player, Billy Casper, and Seve Ballesteros. I’ll bet you won’t find any other fantasy golf game that features those names in competition this week!

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9/21 - I added a new feature to my statistical football tools. As you may know, I’ve been provide “opposing player by position” stats for some time. For example, this report shows FanDuel points for opposing running backs. Though two weeks, Minnesota has allowed the most points to opposing RBs, followed by Buffalo and Philly. If you drill down by clicking on the linked Minnesota opp RB, you pull up a table that shows point details by position for all four of the covered game formats. This page has all been available in previous years.

The new feature is this: If you hover the cursor over any point value, you will now see the underlying player details. For example, scroll down to the FanDuel table and hover over the 47.90 for week 1 running backs. You should see that Tolbert got 31.8 FDP, Mathews got 13.3, and Jacob Hester 2.8. Dropping down to week 2 shows similar details for that week’s opponents. This can be helpful if you are trying to assess the “validity” of the data, which is always a challenge when data is limited, as is often the case for football. It may also help point out some data anomalies. For example, opposing kicker data for Minnesota shows zero in week one, which was the week that Keading got injured on the opening kickoff. Mike Scifres actually did kick a FG and a few extra points, but since he’s listed in the database as a punter, he doesn’t count in the opposing (place) kicker tally. Noting these types of anomalies should assist in your interpretation of the data.

GuruGolf tees off for the final event tomorrow, the Tour Championship. You’ll need a decent amount of cash to afford four active golfers. Any team with less than $4420 will need to resort to at least one inactive golfer, which can be added on the general “price list” page. Whatever you do, don’t enter with a vacant slot this week, or your team score will be zero. Every year, that seems to happen to one or two teams.

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9/20 - Football stats processing is rounding into shape. Weekly point summaries are now available for FireLeague Elite, FireLeague Standard, FanDuel, Draft$treet, and Daily Joust. The format is a bit different from prior years, bit I think this one is slightly cleaner, and also includes a link to the statistical details underlying every point calculation. Sortable stats are also updated, although I do not yet have Daily Joust sortables up – hopefully later this week.

NFL favorites had a pretty good week, so Football Pickoff results were generally favorable, with 73% of all slates generating positive scores. The top score was by Pensfan, with 559 points on 14 correct picks, including a double of Tennessee over Baltimore. Eight different slates had 14 correct picks this week.

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9/19 - It’s hard to figure how Cam Newton morphed from a rookie who seemed overwhelmed during the preseason to a composed QB with more than 850 passing yards in his first two NFL starts. Admittedly, the Panthers are 0-2, and Newton has 4 interceptions compared to 3 passing TDs. But if you ventured a late pick on his in your fantasy draft, you have to feel thrilled. He’s obviously no Ryan Leaf!

At the other extreme, Jamaal Charles owners – who undoubtedly used a 1st round pick to get him – are certainly less than thrilled. Charles tore his ACL and his 2011 is done.

In GuruGolf, Cyberwahoo2 claimed a 2-stroke victory in best ball competition with a -47, while a pair of teams posted a +60 in worst ball scoring. The GuruGolf season closes after the upcoming Tour Championship. The races for both the bestball and worstball championships look to be pretty securely in hand, but the FedEx Cup Contest is still up for grabs in both scoring formats.

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9/16 - As football ramps up and baseball winds down, it’s difficult to stay focused on fantasy baseball matters unless you’re in the thick of a league championship race. And even then, you are generally looking for September call-ups who might make a short-term impact. So I’ll confess I haven’t been paying much attention to the top hitters of late.

But this morning, I decided to take a look at YTD hitter rankings using several different ranking and scoring formats. And the three names that tended to consistently sort to the top of the lists were Matt Kemp, Curtis Granderson, and Jacoby Ellsbury. All three of them will finish with triple-digit runs and RBIs, 25+ SB, and an OPS north of .900. Arguably, Ryan Braun and Jose Bautista have had even better seasons on a per-game basis, but each has missed just enough playing time to rank marginally below those top three on a full season basis.

Now let’s look at their average draft picks for the RIBC leagues:
Braun (9)
Bautista (28)
Kemp (30)
Ellsbury (53)
Granderson (115)

It’s no wonder that the top team in this year’s RIBC drafted Granderson in the 9th round. He also drafted Kemp in the 2nd round. And he’s currently crushing the league in all five hitting categories, with a perfect hitting rank of 80 (5x16). That’s quite unusual.

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9/15 - The Tigers have been hotter than a pistol over the past month, winning 12 in a row, and 22 of their last 26. That’s certainly reminiscent of the Seattle pace in 2001. But Carlos Guillen had better hope his comparison in today’s quote only goes so far. As I recall, the postseason didn’t work out so well for that Seattle team (losing the LCS to the Yankees in 5 games.)

The BMW Championship is just teeing off as I write today’s blurb. The 11:20 ET first tee time owes to the smaller field (70) and the central time zone. George MacNeill is the most widely owned GuruGolfer (>25%) – and that’s solely due to his low price.

I have the weekly point listings now posted for the FireLeague and FanDuel fantasy football games. Scroll down to click on the appropriate links in the left menu. I hope to have Draftstreet points and prices loaded and available by the end of the day.

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9/14 - I’m still working on getting football stats ship-shape. The work I’m doing now is related to the underlying statistical architecture, but I think it will lead to more timely and accurate fantasy points once I’m done – and less manual work for me – which is always a good thing!

Meanwhile, GuruGolf returns tomorrow for the final two tournaments in the FedEx Cup. There are no more 2nd round cuts, so all active golfers should complete 4 rounds, unless they withdraw. There are also limited low-priced golfers available. If you don’t have at least $3850 to work with, you can’t afford an active foursome – but you can still add a min-priced inactive golfer (like Richard Zokol or Michelle Wie) and then go with three actives. Whatever you do, make sure you have four golfers, as a team with a vacant slot will not score anything for the tournament.

I’m fumbling a bit on how to approach the fantasy hoops season. Normally, I’d be getting ready to invite & recruit managers for the RIHC and the related qualifying leagues. But with the start of the NBA season so doubtful, it seems kind of silly. On the other hand, if I don’t line up leagues in advance, there may not be time to fill up leagues and carry out a draft before any eventual season starts. In any event, I’ll probably wait until the end of baseball before deciding how to approach the issue.

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9/13 - With the first NFL week in the books now, we have multitudes of data to over-react to. That’s not a factor specific to football, although in football we do have almost a full week to muse over whether an opening outlier performance – good or bad – was just a random outcome, or a leading indicator. Good luck with that!

I posted week #1 sortable stats for FireLeague (the old TSN game) and FanDuel. In each case, these stats are my own calculation, and have not been comprehensively compared with the host site calculations. In fact, neither host site has posted any updated list of points for week #1. I have not yet posted the weekly point summary page – and I may be totally reformatting that report. For now, you can use the sortable stats page, since the YTD stats are equal to the week #1 stats.

Week #1 results for Football Pickoff show unusual balance, with about half of all slates posting positive scores. Congrats to yea with the top score of 529, although he/she came back to the pack by missing two of the last three games, after surging to a big early lead.

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9/12 - Only two games remain in NFL Week #1. I’m working on getting fantasy point scoring updated, although it may be tomorrow before I can confidently post anything. Being away for all of last week really set me back a bit.

Here is my plan: update points for FireLeague and FanDuel by tomorrow. (Note that those point calculations are my independent determinations, and I may or may not be able to fully reconcile with the host sites.) I then plan to work on getting sortable stats set up for the Draftstreet and Daily Joust games. Those will probably take a few more days. Fortunately, football provides a chance to breathe between games, so I should be able to get something posted well in advance of Sunday’s games. At least, that’s the plan.

Of course, baseball processing continues apace, as we approach the endgame. I feel a bit out of touch there too, although at least my statistical processing routines are pretty well fleshed out by this point in the season. I just need to avoid brain farts. That’s not always so easy.

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9/2 - The four RIFC football drafts are coming to a close, with three completed and the 4th set to wind up later today (I hope). Rationales for each pick in the RIFC are posted here, and a consolidated tabulation of the four drafts will be posted in the forum once the final draft is complete.

I plan to have Football Pickoff launched later today. The rules will be the same as in recent years. Registrations do not carry over from year to year, so you will need to reregister for 2011 – up to three entries per person.

J.J. Henry is the most popular GuruGolfer for this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship, no doubt owing more to his bargain price than his recent performance. As the FedEx Cup field gets pared down, many GuruGolf teams are going to have trouble affording four active golfers. Some of the more value-challenged teams couldn’t quite pull it off this week.

I will be away on a mission trip to Biloxi, Mississippi next week, so blurbs will be suspended until Sept. 12 – at which time NFL week #1 will be almost complete! Enjoy your long weekend, and then get ready for some football!

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9/1 - Draft$treet has launched their NFL football contests. For existing customers, they are currently offering a 25% deposit bonus on deposits up to $400 (use deposit bonus code NFL2011 – valid through Sept 15). This means that for a deposit of $400 you would receive an extra $100 in bonus money that can be applied to enter Draft$treet Contests. I believe that 20% of each contest fee is paid for with bonus money, so as long as you have bonus money in your account, your payouts have an implied “negative rake.” For example, a $5 2-team contest pays a prize of $9, but since a bonus money customer pays only $4 cash (plus $1 bonus money), that entrant gets better than a 50/50 payout potential on a head-to-head contest. For those who don’t like the implied odds of daily contest sites due to the “rake”, this provides a way to play with significantly better payout ratios.

If you have not yet registered at Draft$treet, you have en even better opportunity. New registrants who sign up using this link are eligible for a 40% bonus on their first deposit. This bonus is limited to $100, which would be earned with a $250 initial deposit.

I’ve been a limited player at Draft$treet this year, generally playing $5 contests when I have the time and inclination. On a gross basis, I’m slightly ahead – winning about 3% more than the total fees invested. But net of deposit bonuses, my winnings are more than 25% over my true cash investment. For the casual player interested in limited stakes contests, this seems like the way to go!

For details on roster configuration and scoring formulas, see the rules page at the Draft$treet site. Draft$treet football player data (salaries, points, etc.) will be provided at RotoGuru in the Sortable Stats, although probably not until after the first NFL weekend. For now, if you want to see the player salaries, once you are registered at Draft$treet you can enter a free football contest to see them.

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2011: August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2010: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2009: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2008: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2007: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2006: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2005: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2004: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2003: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2002: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2001: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2000: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

1999: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

1998: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March

RotoGuru is produced by Dave Hall (a.k.a. the Guru), an avid fantasy sports player. He is neither employed by nor compensated by any of the fantasy sports games discussed within this site, and all opinions expressed are solely his own. Questions or comments are welcome, and should be emailed to Guru<>.

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