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11/30 - "Strick"-en!

I used my last SW Hoops trade yesterday morning to drop Griffin and add Erick Strickland. I figured Griffin would decline in price over the next week (light schedule, and a lot of restless owners), and with only 2 games in the next 10 days, I could also pick up some meaningful extra SW points. Well, that trade looked good on paper for about 8 hours. I was even watching the Kick-Mavs game when Strickland dove for a loose ball and sprained his shoulder. I don't know who felt more pain, Erick or me.

Oh well, you've got to play the hand you're dealt, so the key is to figure out the best moves to make from here. At least I have 3 days to cogitate. Of the 379 RotoGuru-listed SW Hoops teams, 44% owned Strickland. And more than half of the Strickland owners still have trades left. So I'm expecting another Iverson-like bloodbath.

We're now 4 weeks into the NBA season, and today will complete four full weeks of price changes. After 4 weeks of price changes last year, 37% of the RotoGuru listed teams were valued above $70 million, and 15% were worth over $75 mil. As of yesterday, only 15% were above $70 mil, and less than 1% were above $75 mil. While gains generation seemed to be pretty brisk for the first couple of weeks, a lot of teams have stalled out lately. And that's actually good, I think. Makes for a more interesting and varied game. Frustrating, though, isn't it?

In football, we have another Thursday game this week, so rosters will freeze early once again. Be prepared.

The best result for week 12 in Football Pickoff was 904 points for entrant PO1, who picked 13 correct winners. I had one of my better efforts, with 12 correct winners, but my season performance has been pretty mediocre. The overall standings tightened up a bit this week, as the top 2 teams both had lackluster results. The average score for week 12 was 505 (or +5, ignoring the 500 point bonus). Excluding the first week's bloodbath, the average weekly score has been 487, pretty close to break even. This past week was the best for picking winners, however, as the average entry had 9.1 winners picked.

11/29 - Mondays are tough days to return from vacation. With two sports to generate stats for, there's not much time for morning thinking. And when football stats are screwed up (as they were this morning), the workload is magnified. I think I have pieced together yesterday's football points accurately, although a lot of manual intervention was needed this week, so anything is possible. Let me know if something looks wrong.

In football, it could have been a good week to differentiate from the traditional studs. Although Marshall Faulk was solid, most of the other top players had mediocre days. A team with Jeff George or Chris Chandler or Eddie George or Cris Carter or Jimmy Smith could have made up some nice ground. And all of those guys were potential "differentiators". None of them are complete longshots.

In Hoops, there were only two games played on Sunday. I had only two players active on my SW team - Gary Payton and Ruben Patterson. And yet my SW ranking still improved by about 400 spots. That suggests that Payton must not be all that widely owned, since I suspect Patterson is. It also suggests that teams are still pretty bunched up around the #1000 WW rank mark. (It also suggests that I haven't gotten off to a stellar start this season.)

I think of SW Hoops trades as either offense or defense. Dropping a player who seems to have peaked in price in order to move into a relatively undervalued player, or swapping players to increase games played - these are offensive moves. Defensive moves include dropping a player who just got injured, or bailing on someone who has had a recent run of subpar performances. When the season starts, most of us are focusing on offensive moves - at least once we have the draft "mistakes" eliminated. But depending on how well we've been able to conserve trades, the balance can shift. Lately, I've been in a sustained defensive mode. In fact, I haven't really had enough trades to make all of the defensive moves I've wanted to make. (I wish I could take back some of the marginal offensive trades I made in the first couple of weeks. Some of them are looking decidedly "offensive" now, with 20/20 hindsight.) So here I sit, tradeless, with fingers tightly crossed for the next four days. I know a lot of you are in the same position. One of these days, I'm going to get back on offense.

Some of you have commented on occasion that you preferred the "olden days" of SW trading, when you had all of your season's trades available to allocate over the season as you wished, rather than getting a weekly dole. The supposed advantage was that this rewarded the managers who had the self discipline to plan and ration trades over the season. But right now, it feels like optimum management with only 4 weekly trades requires even more discipline. Somewhere along the way, I need to build up a trade "nest egg". But this wasn't the week.

It's already time to process the new prices. Gotta run. Welcome back.

11/24 - "What now?" is right.

On the court, Chris Webber had a monster triple-double, good for 88 SWP and 318 EBP, both season highs. But it isn't the on-court activities that have the attention of many SW Hoops managers.

As of yesterday morning, things were going pretty smoothly for a lot of teams. 24 hours later, many of those same rosters look like MASH units. Allen Iverson out for 3-6 weeks. Robert Pack out with a sore hamstring. Cedric Ceballos still out with the flu. Ay carumba! All these roster slots that I figured were set for the next few weeks. If this week doesn't drive home the benefits of trade conservation, nothing will.

I noticed that the top player lists were finally posted at the CNN Hoops site. They also posted a note at the CNN site that all price changes would occur as "schedualed" this week, and then immediately failed to process yesterday's price change. Go figure. (Maybe I don't understand what the word "schedualed" means.)

Let's change the subject. We've now completed 100 games in the Football Pickoff game, and I figured it was time to take a look at how the selection percentages have corresponded to the eventual outcomes. Admittedly, 100 games is a pretty small sample. But regardless, here are the results:
Win Pct.
90%+ 3 2 60%
80-89% 12 3 80%
70-79% 13 11 54%
60-69% 17 11 61%
50-59% 16 12 57%
Totals 61 39 61%

The 90+% results are heavily skewed to the first week, when people were still learning the game, and when emerging selection percentages were not disclosed in advance. Four of the five 90+% games occurred that week, and favorites lost 2 out of 4. The only other game that was this lopsided was in the second week.

The 80-89% games seem to be working out about right. The 70-79% range looks like the best place to add scoring punch, as the other two deciles seem to be working out about right as well.

I'll be away for the Thanksgiving weekend. Don't worry - I'll have my laptop with me, as usual, and stats and prices will continue to be updated. I'll probably dispense with daily blurbs for the rest of the week, though - unless the spirit moves me. Message forum activity has already been very light this week, undoubtedly a consequence of early holiday travel. If you'll be on the road this weekend, drive carefully, and be patient. You've got enough NBA injuries to deal with. No sense adding your own to the list.

11/23 - The Monday Night Football Pickoff curse continues. Once again, a potentially perfect weekend entry was spoiled by the Monday night game. As a result, there were 3 entries this weekend with 14 correct picks - a formidable result.

Last night's overtime game prompted a question about the Pickoff scoring for a game that ends in a tie. I guess I never addressed this in the rules, but it seems to me that the only fair solution is to award no points for that game. So far, there haven't been tie games to deal with.

I think I have correct stats for week 11 now. Presumably, Smallworld will get theirs straightened out before week 12 scoring emerges.

There were only three NBA games last night, and the twin towers took down top fantasy point honors. Stockton and Malone also combined for some strong numbers.

I updated the SW Hoops team rankings yesterday. It looks like roughly 2/3 of the top teams have already used all of their trades.

I got word from Smallworld that Hoops price changes will occur as scheduled on Thursday and Friday this week. No Thanksgiving hiatus.

11/22 - Monday mornings are hectic.

Football stats for yesterday are up, but not without some improvisation. In particular, stats from the Cleveland/Carolina game were missing from my normal feed, so I had to develop them manually. I see that Smallworld is also missing stats for that game, and ESPN still lists the game as being only 6 seconds into the first quarter, so there is obviously a problem at the source. Hope I did 'em correctly.

Defense appears to have been the trickiest pick this weekend. From message board discussion, Jacksonville and Baltimore were two of the more popular picks, but neither worked out very well. And if you were looking for a receiver to replace a Viking, Jimmy Smith turned out to be "the man".

In Football Pickoff, it was a tough week for the Consensus Underdogs. By definition, then, I suppose most of you should have done pretty well. It certainly was for RotoGuru Hall of Famer "Endangered Species", who correctly picked all 14 games yesterday. Thus far, the best picker on Sunday has had tough luck on the following Monday. And no one has yet posted a perfect weekend. But if Oakland wins tonight, he'll be the first.

There are two Thursday NFL games this weekend, which means that the Smallworld and Echelon roster freezes come early. In Pickoff, you must enter your Thursday picks by the start of the first game on Thursday, which is 12:40pm EST. The remaining games can be selected anytime prior to 1pm EST Sunday.

Ray Allen was the big kahuna in SW Hoops yesterday, while Shaq claimed the Echelon honors. That's about as deep as I've looked into the NBA stats for yesterday. But you know where to find 'em.

11/20 - A quick Saturday blurb.

Big night for Shaq: 41 points, 17 boards, 7 blocks, and 19-31 from the charity stripe. Elton Brand also came up huge, more than doubling his previous average. Meanwhile, Kevin Garnett had his worst night of the year. Granted, 48 SWP & 177 EBP aren't too shabby. But they aren't what we've started to expect from him.

A lot of managers racked up big dollar gains yesterday, with Robert Pack leading the charge. SW Hoops team rankings were updated yesterday afternoon. Echelon basketball rankings will be updated later today.

11/19 - SW managers who opted to go for Othella Harrington yesterday rather than Shaq got a nice reward. Othella was only outpointed by 1 SWP, and I'm sure the savings of $6.5 million can easily recoup that shortfall.

Today we get to see the results of some pent-up SW trading demand. Todd Macculloch should certainly get clobbered again. But the more interesting maneuvers will be the ones that managers use to get Kevin Garnett. While I'm sure some managers will pass, many will find the means to pick him up, probably dampening the price performance of some of the other higher priced players.

After musing about the impact of heavy schedules on point expectations a couple days ago, I got several responses, but nothing definitive. So I bit the bullet yesterday afternoon and pulled together some analysis from the 1998-99 season. The result is posted in my latest Hoop Pointers article, Back-to-Back Backsliding. No earth-shaking surprises here, but it is relatively short, and puts some hard data behind the intuition.

With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, I thought that some of you might have limited web access next week. So, I added the capability at Football Pickoff to make your picks in advance of game week. You can now make early picks for the rest of the season, if you wish. I don't expect many to take advantage of this, but given the harsh opportunity cost of skipping a week, I wanted to make sure everyone had ample opportunity to continue to compete the rest of the way.

As I was coding up the NFL schedules for the remaining weeks, I was struck by the fact that the next 3 weeks all have a Thursday game. For SW and Echelon, that pushes the roster freeze up to Thursday as well. Those of you who usually wait until Sunday morning are going to have to alter your style for awhile. In Football Pickoff, you only have to get your Thursday picks locked-in before game time; Sunday games can continue to be selected until Sunday.

11/18 - Kevin Garnett is reminding me of Pedro Martinez about 7 months ago. He's started off on a pace that has no precedent in the past 2 years. Two years ago, the best regular season SWP/G averages were for Karl Malone and Shaq, both at 45+. Last season, the best SWP average belonged to Jason Kidd, at just over 47, with Chris Webber second at 46. After 5 games, Garnett is averaging 59 SWP/G. There certainly have been 5-game periods in the past few years which have been as solid. But so far, his worst game is 49.5, which exceeds the best averages for the past 2 years. Can Garnett maintain this pace, or is he bound to revert to normal stud results? We will see. Meanwhile, it may be expensive on both fronts (points and dollars) if you avoid him. It is said that "experience" is what allows to you recognize a mistake every time you repeat it. I ducked Pedro for too long. Hmmm....

Garnett wasn't the top producing forward last night, though. That honor belongs to Derrick Coleman, with 62 SWP & 238 EBP. Four other players topped the 50 SWP mark.

SW Football price gains seemed more spread around this week, compared with prior weeks. This may be because there were only 2 NFL teams with bye-related trade motivations. Or it may be that many managers are now pretty fully valued, and they are searching for that "sleeper" pickup that can provide some roster differentiation. 25 of the RotoGuru ranked teams are now worth more than $100 million. Only 5 of those teams are ranked in the worldwide top 1000, though.

The new poll question should be interesting. It may be a bit early to make an informed judgment, as I don't think we've fully experienced the essence of the new format yet. Maybe I'll rerun the poll later in the year.

I'll go on record as saying that I prefer the new format. Perhaps that is because I have the time to watch daily changes. But I also think that daily price changes will ultimately reward the best long term planners, and not necessarily those who seek the quick buck. It also removes the technical advantage enjoyed by those who were clever enough to do some computerized trade sampling in advance of price changes. And having only 4 trades per week will reward those with more discipline. Since we had an extra 4 trades to work with in the first 3 days of the season, I think we're only starting to understand the impact of having only four trades per week. On the other hand, I see a lot of zeroes in the trade column on yesterday's updated SWH team rankings, so I suspect many of you are already feeling pinched.

If you have trouble controlling your urge to trade, you ought to try the Echelon game, where more active trading is necessary. Even if you start out 2-3 weeks late, you have a chance to catch the field, since you have a fixed amount of cash to spend over the full season, regardless of your starting date. You just get to spend at a higher daily rate than everyone else. True, you have missed out on the opportunity to lock in some of the most significantly underpriced players. But if you seek a more active management challenge, that may be a good place to turn. And, if Echelon uses this format for baseball, you'll have this "experience" to help you recognize your repeated mistakes in baseball.

11/17 - I've been contemplating my trading strategies for the last hour or so, and I almost forgot to put together a blurb.

Michael Finley took top SW scoring honors last night, while Shareef Adbur-Rahim topped the Echelon list. Perhaps the most significant story involved Steve Francis, who was ejected in the first half after tackling Dirk Nowitzki. It's uncertain whether a suspension will follow. He evidently tried to throw a punch, but missed.

Yesterday, I mentioned that you should be considering scheduling implications at least 3 weeks forward when considering Smallworld trades. In the Echelon game, the outlook should usually be much shorter. All other things being equal, the most favorable players to add are those with 4 games in 5 days, and close behind is 5 games in 7 days. Those provide the best ratio of games per dollar spent, assuming you plan to dump the player at the end of the heavy game sequence. (You can use the new filters for the sortable stats to make the search very convenient.) Of course, you also need to consider the likely points per $ spent. A cheap player with a lighter schedule might be more efficient than one with a favorable schedule who is overpriced.

Which leads to an interesting question? When players have a bunch of games in a short period of time, do they tend to continue to produce their average points per game, or does the extra activity have a dampening effect? I guess if anyone has the numbers to evaluate this, it's me. Haven't ever looked into it, though. I'll put it on my list of things to do. Unless any of you have already studied the issue?

11/16 - The Jets sure screwed up a lot of Football Pickoff scoresheets last night. 80% of them, in fact.

I've started an Echelon team rankings for basketball. If you want to be added, send me an email with your team name and team ID#. And please mention that it is for Echelon basketball. Some of you just send in a team name and number, and then I have to guess the sport and game.

I'll try to adhere to the following timetable for hoops rankings: For SW, I will update the rankings on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, after the price update. For Echelon, I'll update on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. For the columns which show changes in points, rank, and value, I'll show the last week's change (rather than the last day's). For the Echelon game, it will take a week to accumulate historical data, so the weekly lookback won't begin for that game until next week.

Please get your Hoops team ID's in to me by the end of November. I reserve the right to exclude any post-November submissions from listing, and from consideration for RotoGuru Hall of Fame qualification. I think some of you Gurupies like to hold back. That's understandable, but part of the value of the rankings is to allow everyone to see how they stack up against other Gurupie teams. If you hold back your best teams, it is unfair to those who are willing to show theirs.

The rule changes in this year's SW Hoops have really changed the game in ways I hadn't necessarily envisioned. Two years ago, we had daily pricing, but 50 trades to allocate over the whole season, and considerably more daily price volatility, especially early in the season. Last spring, with weekly pricing and 5 trades per week, the game was generally one of watching the weekly schedules, and managing to maximize game exposures. But this time, with price changes occurring more gradually, and with only 4 trades per week, it's beginning to feel much more like a chess game, where you need to be anticipating your moves several weeks ahead. If you trade with an eye just toward maximizing current week exposures, you can easily get stuck without enough trades to maneuver through injuries or subsequent weeks.

Since you have 4 trades per week and 10 roster slots, you need to hold players an average of 2.5 weeks. Assuming that you want to keep a few trades socked away for unforeseen contingencies, then it make sense to be looking out at least three weeks when making your trade decisions. If you can't afford to hold on to a player for three weeks, then you'd better have some other player who can hang in there even longer.

I did some quick schedule counts, just to see what a three week schedule outlook should look like to be attractive. On average, on any given day, there are only 2 NBA teams with as many as 12 games scheduled over the subsequent 3 weeks. An average of 10 teams have 11 or more games, roughly one-third of the league. So if you can consistently line up players that have 11 games in 3 weeks, you should be in good shape. Many times, you'll have to settle for 10, which is about the average.

Last year, a three game week was a bad omen for price changes. This year, I don't think 3 game weeks are going to be so bad. If a player is producing well, and is positioned reasonably well on the top 50 lists, I don't think we'll see the automatic price dips. 2 game weeks are probably somewhat dangerous. Seattle will provide a nice test case next week, as they have only 2 games during the week from Friday-Thursday. Golden State also has a light week, but Seattle players are much more likely to be owned, given Seattle's favorable early schedule. To add further intrigue, Seattle's two games are both on the weekend.

And oh, by the way, Shaq made up for lost time yesterday, with 73.5 SWP and 290 EBP! Both are single game highs so far this year. He had 34 points, 18 boards, 8 blocks, 4 assists, and only 8 missed free throws (6-14). Shows what can happen when Luc Longley has to guard him.

11/15 - Roster differentiation. Yech. I swapped from Stephen Davis into Fred Taylor for the weekend. Cost me 314 SWP. Without that trade, I'd have probably improved my ranking. With it, my ranking declined slightly. Oh well.

Looks like the best differentiation moves would have been into Rich Gannon or Jacquez Green. Either one of those moves would probably have netted you more than 200 SWP. Cris Carter could also have worked well, depending on who you sold.

In Football Pickoff, it was a good week to stick with underdogs, although going with all the home teams would have done even better. Once again, we had one entrant who missed only one game. "derek39" missed only the Philly/Washington game, an expensive miss, but still gained 481 points in excess of the 500 point bonus. For the full year standings, Consensus Underdogs made a strong recovery, pulling into 2nd place.

On the Hoops side, Marcus Camby returned to play 30 minutes last night, probably prompting a sigh of relief from a lot of owners. It will be interesting to see what his price does this afternoon. I have an opinion, but I think I'll let you make your own judgments.

11/13 - Filterable hoops stats are now up!

I released the new version of the Hoops sortable stats. I've added several new features, including:

  1. The ability to filter out players based on a variety of selection criteria, and
  2. a Schedule Outlook field at the end of each player's row, which depicts the game dates over the next 10 days (incl. the current day).
You can ignore the filters if you wish, but I suspect there will be times when screening out the players with light schedules will be helpful, if nothing else. For those of you with slow modems or short attention spans, filtering can also reduce the time for each report to download. Enjoy.

Smallworld snuck in a couple of IPOs sometime on Thursday. It was after the daily repricing, because they weren't listed when I did my daily update. The new players were guard Adrian Griffin and forward Tony Farmer. Griffin is certainly worth a look, as he is currently in the top 10 guards in total points, and was priced extraordinarily low. Farmer's price also looks a bit on the low side, but good cheap forwards are plentiful, while good cheap guards are harder to find. And, in spite of the lack of any announcement of the new player listings, Griffin already rose $320K yesterday, the top gainer among SW guards. That certainly shows the power of the SW top 50 lists. Meanwhile, Farmer already dropped $30K, as price gravity must have immediately taken hold. By the way, neither player is listed at the CNN site yet. Frankly, the CNN site is evidencing a disturbing lack of attention, as there are still no top 50 lists, nor are there any team standings. Tsk, tsk.

My next project will be to get a team rankings posted for Echelon Basketball. I think I can automatically grab all teams in RotoGuru Divisions, but if you aren't in one of them, I'll need your team ID#. Send me both the number and the team name, so I can verify that I've got the correct one. (About 10% of all id submissions list the wrong number, with transposed digits being the most common problem. Perhaps dyslexia afflicts 1-in-10 Gurupies.).

Speaking of Echelon, I see they have posted a ranking list based on "Efficieny". They define the stat as "points per dollar spent", but it is distorted by any ad clicking bonuses, since "dollars spent" appear to be calculated as $25 million (unadjusted for click bonuses) less dollars remaining. So, if you want to improve your efficiency ranking, just click on an ad. Over time, this distortion will be less impactful, but for now, it is very material, so caveat emptor.

11/12 - I neglected to note yesterday that there were 11 new players added to SW football eligibility yesterday. I just realized that Terrence Wilkins is listed at WR at the SW site, but he's listed as a kick returner at the CNN site. What's up with that? (Actually, KR is the more appropriate position.) I have him correctly "positioned" in my sortable stats reports, but there is no convenient way for me to adapt the Assimilator, as I didn't contemplate having to keep track of different positions for the two SW versions (and I'm not going to accommodate it now, for just one player). But if you are playing at the CNN site, be advised that you have him as a KR option, a position where he is the leading point producer. (If you want to load him into the Assimilator's KR slot for CNN, just toggle the roster type to "watchlist".)

I did a tally of the players on each of the 282 teams listed in the RotoGuru Hoops Rankings yesterday afternoon. The four most popular players are all forwards, and in fact, 20% of all the teams owned all four of them. Here's the list of all players owned by at least 10% of the teams:

Name                     Pos  Pct
Ceballos, Cedric          F   79%
Marion, Shawn             F   68%
Camby, Marcus             F   57%
Patterson, Ruben          F   56%
Cassell, Sam              G   55%
Oneal, Shaquille          C   44%
Lenard, Voshon            G   42%
Payton, Gary              G   36%
Outlaw, Charles "Bo"      C   31%
Mourning, Alonzo          C   30%
Odom, Lamar               F   28%
MacCulloch, Todd          C   28%
Strickland, Erick         G   24%
Rice, Glen                G   24%
Pack, Robert              G   22%
Armstrong, Darrell        G   22%
Lafrentz, Raef            F   21%
Francis, Steve            G   21%
Duncan, Tim               F   16%
Baker, Vin                F   16%
Houston, Allan            G   15%
Maxwell, Vernon           G   12%
Kidd, Jason               G   12%
Fisher, Derek             G   11%
Declercq, Andrew          C   10%
Jones, Eddie              G   10%
Sprewell, Latrell         G   10%

You probably shouldn't assign too much significance to this list. Clearly, Gurupie rosters are not symptomatic of the universe of Smallworld rosters, so these percentages should not be construed as representative of the worldwide penetration. On the other hand, if you own players near the top of this list, you should be wary of the potential for price declines if performance or scheduling begins to wane. In particular, note Shaq's lofty position on the list. We saw evidence of some Shaq-for-Zo swapping in yesterday's repricing, and with a one-game suspension looming, the Shaq attack will undoubtedly persist.

Work on the upgrade to the Hoops sortable stats is going well, and I expect to have released it this weekend. I'll probably have some of the message forum Gurupies do some beta testing this afternoon, so if you're chomping at the bit, stop by the message forum later today for the temporary URL. This version will provide the ability to filter players based on salary, point average, games played, or upcoming schedule intensity. I'm also adding a 10-character string at the end of each line that depicts the upcoming schedule for the next 10 days. I think you'll find these enhancements to be useful in bringing together a lot of information in a flexible format.

11/11 - Price gravity. That term has been used to define what I've been referring to as the "drift" in Smallworld price changes for relatively unowned players. I think "gravity" is a better term, since it appears that prices will tend to fall unless there is some force (i.e., buys or ownership) to hold them up. And gravity took hold of the SW football prices yesterday. It looks to me like every football player without support dropped about $100K in price yesterday. That's not as significant as the recent $60K daily impact in hoops pricing. With only 7 football repricings to go, and with many teams already flush with cash, a cumulative half-million dollar price correction isn't really going to matter. But the concept is good, and it looks like it may be here to stay.

RotoGuru team rankings were updated for both Football and Hoops yesterday. We had the first two teams cross the $100 million barrier in football yesterday. In Hoops, the median daily gain has been running between $500K and $1 million, although almost a quarter of the listed teams have been averaging north of $1.5 million per day. That's a pretty healthy clip, since it translates into $7 million per week. At that pace, they'll reach $100m around Christmas. Based on point averages over the first 9 days of the NBA season, the most productive roster currently costs about $98m, and the most expensive team costs just under $115m. So although it may seem like the price increases are unusually tame, it looks like "the usual" in terms of when the wealthiest teams will be able to afford a "Dream Team".

I automated the generation of the 4-week NBA schedule grid yesterday, so you'll no longer need to rely on me to remember to bump it forward by a week. I also accommodated those of you whose printers were incapabable of squeezing the printable version into two page widths. Meanwhile, I am working on the new filtering mechanism for the sortable hoops stats, but it is going a bit slower than I expected when I suggested a midweek completion. I'm now gunning for "late week", again nebulously defined.

11/10 - Missed free throws really kill SW points. On paper, a missed FT is worth -1. But on the margin, it's really worth -2, since once a player steps to the line, the result is either +1 or -1. And if Shaq had just shot 57% from the line last night, he'd have had an extra 10 SWP.

Alonzo Mourning took stud--of-the-day honors list night - and even if Shaq had shot 100% from the FT line he'd have still been finished behind 'Zo. Strong point totals were also posted by Tom Guggliotta, Tim Hardaway, and Jason Kidd.

There was once again a downward drift in yesterday's SW and CNN prices. While it was moderately less than the prior day, it was still significant. And it still differs materially from one site to the other. For example, there are currently 184 listed player with zero games played. Of these, about 80 are priced above the minimum of $500K. At the SW site, the average price drop for these players was -$60K on Monday, and -$48K yesterday. At the CNN site, the corresponding drops were -$98K and -$72K.

Another interesting observation: If you consider all players who are priced above the minimum, the average price changes at the SW site were -$30K and -$24.5K for Monday and Tuesday, respectively. These are roughly half of the average declines for the inactive players. The same holds true at the CNN site, where the averages were -$51K and -$37K. One plausible explanation is that the negative drift is being applied to only about half of the players at each site.

I have no hypothesis as to why the drifts appear to be different at the two sites, nor why the declines were less on Tuesday vs. Monday. The latter could be related to the likely lower total trade count on Tuesday vs. Monday, although I would have guessed that the dropoff in total trades would have been greater.

Frankly, I don't think it's that important to understand the daily mechanics of this apparent change in formula. Nor is there any particular reason to adjust your current trading tactics, since it appears that the price changes for actively traded players might not even be impacted. But the longer term implications are favorable, since this should ultimately bring a wider spectrum of players into play.

11/9 - If you avoided Randy Moss this week because he would be facing Deion Sanders, you shouldn't have. Moss topped all reveivers in SWP scoring this weekend (although he ranked only 4th in Echelon scoring). I went to bed just as the 3rd quarter was starting (after 11pm EST), so I missed most of the Minnesota fireworks. Sounds like a completely different game in the second half.

Congrats to entrant Flake who, with 13 winners, finished 135 points ahead of the second place finisher this week in Football Pickoff. Once again, it was a week where none of the passive formulas (all favorites, underdogs, etc.) did very well - although the "Random Dart" finished 34th for the week, and the "Smart Dart" was only a little dumber, finishing 51st. I thought this was a tough week to pick 'em, but those darts sure seemed unfazed by it all!

Three NBA players topped the 50SWP/200 EBP threshold last night, with Nick Van Exel leading the parade on the strength of 23 points and 20 assists. Marcus Camby took advantage of an overtime period to boost his stats, and Allen Iverson added 9 rebounds(!) to his 37 point outburst.

There was a subtle yet potentially significant "feature" in yesterday's prices for SW and CNN. In the past, the average price change each day is very close to zero, as gains and losses approximately offset. Yesterday, there was a noticeable negative drift in prices. Excluding players who are at the minimum price of $500K, yesterday's average price change at the SW site was -$30K, and at the CNN site it was -$50K. While it is always possible that this is attributable to a programming snafu, it could also reflect an attempt by Smallworld to allow the prices of unowned players to gradually drift downward. In the past, a player's price could only drop if he was sold, and if a player started the year at a relatively high price, it was virtually impossible for him to be sold since he was never owned by anyone to begin with. Long time Gurupies will recall that this has been a frequent criticism of the SW repricing formula, as it effectively keeps a number of players "out of circulation." While we'll need awhile longer to monitor whether this appears to be the explanation, it is a very welcome change if it is appropriately done. Hopefully, the drift applies only to players who appear to be overpriced (i.e., underbought), and not to all players across the board. (An across the board adjustment wouldn't be very useful to correct relative price imbalances.) I'll be watching this closely. Without detail on underlying trade data, it will be difficult to accurately assess the mechanics of any such change, but I'll work with what we have to see if I can figure out what might be going on "behind the curtain".

11/8 - Based on a number of similar comments at the message forum, some Gurupies are now trying to differentiate their teams from the crowd, picking up players other than those that are most widely held, in hopes of making up ground on much of the field. If you are in that mode, I hope you didn't drop Kurt Warner or the Jacksonville defense, or else the moves probably backfired... especially if you took Seattle as your alternate defense. That move would have cost 460 SWP. And I know some of you did just that.

On the other hand, if you deviated from the consensus backs or wide receivers, you had a much better chance of success. Aside from Edgerrin James, none of the most popularly held backs appear in this week's top ten, and the top ten receivers all look like they are possible alternatives to favorites like Harrison or Bruce (although Albert Connell was the 6th ranked receiver, and he had the third best cumulative price gain among receivers this year, so I presume he's on a lot of teams.)

If your eyes popped when you pulled up your Football Pickoff score this morning, make sure you take note of the scoring change I mentioned in Saturday's blurb, and also on the news page at the game site. Effectively, I added 500 points to each team's score, converting the wimp penalty from -50 per game (if you made less than 10 picks) to a bonus of +50 per pick for up to 10 picks per week. Reasons for the changes are stated elsewhere. I considered reducing the bonus from 50/game to something less, like 25-30 perhaps, but decided to stick with the 50 for the rest of this year to preserve week-to-week consistency. Next year, I'll undoubtedly make some tweaks to that element of the scoring.

In Hoops, Kevin Garnett took the early season lead as the preeminent stud, averaging 60 SWP and 211 EBP in the two Japan games. However, he follows that long road trip with only 2 games in the next 10 days, so it's unlikely he'll show up on many teams for awhile. Come mid-November, though, he looks like someone you may want to make roster room for.

Today's project is to add a few more items to the individual Hoops player stats pages, including minutes played per game, and a 7 day schedule outlook. That should be completed sometime this afternoon. Next, I want to add some new selection options to the sortable stats tables, including the ability to screen out players above a certain price, or below a specified point average, or based on certain upcoming schedule minimums. I think these will be very popular enhancements. I don't know when I'll have these completed, but hopefully by midweek at the latest (whatever "midweek" means).

11/6 - A rare Saturday blurb!

Kevin Garnett had a real stat-stuffer in Japan last night (or should I say this morning?), with 34 points, 17 boards, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 3-5 in 3-pt shooting, good enough for 66 SWP and 237 EBP, the season's best game so far.

I added an extra column on the "Yesterday" page which shows the CNN price next to the SW price. This is the only place you can see the two prices side-by-side. So far, the largest gap is for Bob Sura, who costs an extra $800K at the SW site. Other significant differences are Shawn Marion (+$590K), Andrew DeClerq (+$580K), and Voshon Lenard (+$430K). All of these guys probably owe their SW advantage to the top 50 player data which appears at the SW site, but is not yet available at the CNN site. In the other direction, the players with higher CNN prices are Zydrunas Ilgauskas (-$270K), and Wally Szczerbiak (-$260K). Perhaps SW managers have a greater aversion to Eastern European names.

Don't forget to make your Football Pickoff selections. There are some difficult choices to be made this week. Five games are currently listed inside of 60/40, with Tennessee/Miami now standing at a dead heat.

Starting with the next set of Pickoff standings, I'm going to make a retroactive cosmetic scoring change. Instead of penalizing 50 points for each pick under 10, I'm going to award 50 points for each pick entered, up to a max of 500 points per week. This will have no impact on the relative rankings, but it will make everyone's score (and scoring averages) roughly 500 points higher. The reason for doing this is that it makes the appropriate score for a "bye week" equal to zero. This way, when a new team registers, I don't have to start it out with a score of -500 per week missed. And when an entry skips a week, its score for the week is just zero. A negative score will still be possible, though unlikely.

Balancing the demands of football vs. hoops coverage (and team management) is proving to be difficult. I just realized that this is the first time I've had to deal with those two sports simultaneously. I started the web site almost two years ago with coverage of basketball only, and last year, the NBA didn't start until after the Super Bowl. I did have to juggle basketball and baseball last April and May, and with daily action in both of those sports, that should have been even trickier. But I'm finding that the lack of football activity during the week makes it more difficult to stay focused on that game. Or maybe it's just that my football teams are far enough down in the rankings that my interest is waning. Either way, I'll do my best to maintain an appropriate balance. But with the constant statistical updates and daily repricing, it's likely that hoops will get the lion's share of my attention.

11/5 - I'm a little slow in getting this blurb assembled today. I spent a good bit of the morning doing some quality-control crosschecking of player data from various sources, just to make sure everything looks like it's appropriately linked at the outset. I've been using the boxscores from as my primary stats source, but I'm not very impressed with their accuracy so far. Their format is the easiest to work with, as everything is formatted in a table - even blocked shots. But I found a few errors in their data for Tuesday's games, and several players were missing from last night's boxscores. This morning, I reconciled every player's data against stats from Yahoo, and I think everyone is now correct.

I've also got individual player stats pages set up, with links from all reports. I'd like to add game-by-game minutes played to this table, and should have that done within a day or so.

Many of you noticed that I introduced the new RotoGuru SW/CNN Hoops rankings yesterday afternoon. I "seeded" the rankings with teams that were in my own divisions, as well as teams which were being collected at the message forum. So check first to see if your team is already listed. If not, and if you would like it to be included, then please follow the submission instructions at the bottom of the rankings table.

I will also be providing a team rankings for the Echelon game. Give me a few more days to get that one started. I need to figure out the best information to capture and report, since a pure point total is a very misleading indicator of progress in that game. I'd like to show something like the efficiency stat that is posted on each team's page, but there is a flaw in that stat as currently reported, since it doesn't compensate for ad-clicking bonuses. I don't know if I can correct for that problem or not.

I sometimes wonder why I usually get off to a slow start every season. I think it's probably because I spend so much time getting the web site up and running that I don't do a conscientious job of running my own teams at the outset. Fortunately, as Ray Allen says, there are still 80 games left. More importantly, there are still 167 days left until the season ends. Especially with daily pricing, there will be plenty of time to catch up... although I feel like I've gotten my teams off to a reasonably good start this year. Just not as strong as many of you.

A few more questions regarding repricing have been answered. In Echelon's game, it looks like a player's price will only change the day after a game is played. That has important consequences in deciding when to add or drop a player. And at the CNN site, we're continuing to see a little less focus in trading patterns (vs. the SW site), which is probably explained by the lack of ranked player data at that site. (There is a link for the data, but it isn't functional yet.) Meanwhile, price changes and stats updates at all sites have gone very smoothly. Congrats to both Smallworld and Echelon!

11/4 - A few observations on yesterday's repricings:
  1. Smallworld's price changes were announced to occur at 11am CST, but one minute prior to that (on my computer's clock), new prices were already posted. This suggests that the trade cutoff comes sometime earlier. Even though stats (including top 50 player lists) were posted at the SW site by early morning, it isn't clear whether any of that information was available for repricing-related trades. It may be that most (or all) of yesterday morning's trades will be reflected in today's new prices.

  2. CNN/SI prices are different than Smallworld's. This is consistent with the recent treatment for football and hockey as well. However, probably due to the late launch, there are only 86,000 teams currently registered at the CNN site (which is still up by 10,000 over yesterday's tally). The SW site lists roughly double the number of entrants. The SW site also provides better supporting stats. (At the SW site, you can see that Bob Sura has the early point lead among guards. You can't determine that at the CNN site.) Given the disparity in numbers and information, it will be interesting to see how the relative trading patterns develop at the two sites.

  3. Echelon's price changes appear to be capped at $600/day. Players who did not play on the first day did not experience a price change. Whether this will continue throughout remains to be seen. Since prices are supposed to be partly based on demand, it would seem that prices could change after off-days. Today may provide the answers on that issue.
I suspect Bob Sura may provide some early clues on trading patterns. His early combo of high points and low price should make him an attractive buy. And he will start the next trading week with a pair of games on Friday and Saturday. But that will be followed by four consecutive off days. In fact, over the 3 weeks starting Sunday, Cleveland plays only eight times, the lightest schedule of any team. He could have a bumpy week, if "the masses" are paying attention. And if you decide to jump on him early, you should keep a trade available to jump off next week. Today's stats look great, but that advantage will quickly dissipate, regardless of his on-court performance.

Smallworld Football repricing occurred yesterday as well. I didn't detect any major surprises, although I'll confess I didn't spend much time looking them over. I was just happy that my servers all stayed up and running throughout the day!

I'm still adjusting some minor glitches in my various basketball reports, but I haven't had to make any major adjustments. Hopefully, I'll have a preliminary game-by-game player report ready by the weekend.

11/3 - This will be a busy day. Hoops stats for the first day are up, and repricings will begin shortly. Kudos to Smallworld for having Hoops stats posted and top 50 players leaders already up.

Six players topped the 50 SWP mark last night, which is a lot. Four players topped the 200 EBP mark, and another 3 were in the 190s. The early trick will be to decide which of these performances portend of things to come, and which will just turn out to be head fakes. I'll let you look up the various stats yourselves. I've got to get my reports ready for new prices.

There is an inevitable shakedown period for statistical reporting in any season, and this will probably be no exception, although I was better prepared than usual to deal with the first day results. If you notice things that need to be addressed - even insignificant goofs like incorrect column headings - please report them. It may take a few days to get individual player pages up and running, but the sortable stats, the Assimilator, and the "Yesterday's points" pages are all up and running.

11/2 - There are too many untimely deaths lately!

Brett Favre had his second negative game in the last three weeks, a Monday Night stinker lowlighted by 4 interceptions and 2 fumbles. What's up with that?

And in Football Pickoff, team Goslar found out how tough it is to go 14-0.

Get your Hoops team(s) drafted? I finally buckled down and did mine yesterday afternoon. Server responsiveness was excellent at both SW and Echelon. Hope that applies today as well, because it looks like there's still a lot of last minute drafting to be done, if the other teams in my divisions are any indication.

Judging from preseason comments at the message forum, there are a few "obvious" draft picks this year. Suffice it to say that some of these picks won't seem so attractive a few games from now. (Wish I knew which ones!) And there will be a few players who come from out of nowhere to post some big early numbers. (Ditto!) But, the waiting is almost over, and we can now turn our attention to watching how the two covered fantasy games develop.

11/1 - Judging by some of the chatter at the message forum Sunday night, week 8 was a big week for a lot of teams. SW totals in the vicinity of 3000 SWP are not uncommon, especially if Levens and/or Freeman have respectable games tonight. For a change, I had my stats posted before Smallworld, so check out the Assimilator if you're still waiting to see your official team tally.

We finally had a week in Football Pickoff in which none of the passive formula entries fared particularly well. The "Smart Dart" was the best of the lot, placing 65th for the weekend so far. Going with the consensus favorites would have gotten you in the top 100 for the weekend, but it was a weekend in which knowing which favorites to pick was definitely important. Probably the most impressive feat for the weekend is from entrant goslar, who picked all 13 of Sunday's games correctly! So far, 60% of the active entrants this weekend have positive scores, with the median score in the middle 50's.

Let me interject an administrative note. I decided to close out one of my alternate server accounts, and replace it with another. If you stored an old bookmark to the Football Pickoff game, you ought to update it to the current link, which you can find in the left menu on this page. I'll also be doing some relocating of some of the football and basketball reports, in an effort to evenly distribute the load across servers, and to provide for quicker recovery if and when a server goes down. Most of these changes will be transparent to you, but if you ever find that your saved links aren't working, try accessing the report directly from the links on a fresh version of this page.(I suspect most of you do that already, but I know some of you save a number of rotoguru links for quicker access). I think I have a server configuration in place that will hold up to the load on Wednesday (when both SW football and SW basketball reprice - which has recently created the most significant resource strain), but I'm still going to cross my fingers just in case.

We're coming down to the wire for your basketball drafts. My final basketball tip of the day echoes the same advice as the final football tip:

  • Double check your official roster in each game, and make sure it includes the players you expect. I'm sure many of you have changed your minds several times during preseason, and it can't hurt to make sure you've actually processed those final adjustments.
  • Check out RotoNews and the injury lists one last time to make sure there's no new negative info about any of your players.
  • Don't forget the advertising inducements. At the SW site, you can earn $10,000 per day by clicking on a banner ad. At Echelon, you can earn $50,000 for up to 50 daily ad clicks over the season.
Incidentally, I collected all of my preseason basketball tips in one place, which you can access from the Hoop Pointers index. You may also want to review some of the articles from 1998, when SW repricing was also done every weekday.

Finally, the CNN/SI version of the Smallworld Hoops game was finally released late last week. The format is exactly the same, other than the ad-clicking bonus, which is not present. I suspect they will have separate price changes, as is currently the case in football and hockey. And the prizes are separate. Given the late launch, if you can get a team up and running at that site by tomorrow, you might have a jump on much of the field there.

Click here for prior daily blurbs, by month:

1999: 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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