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

12/31 - Lamar Odom had the only triple-double of the night. But 22 players outpointed him in fantasy point production. Marbury, Duncan, and Nowitzki all had 60 or more SWP.

I'm aware that the Football Pickoff game site has been inaccessible for the last day or so. I can't get to the site or my files, and I can't find out anything about the status. I'll be returning home today, and I may have better luck troubleshooting the situation from there. I have no idea how many people have been able to enter picks thus far. But if the situation isn't resolved by tomorrow, I may have to void this week.

12/30 - No triple double for Kidd last night. Shaq came pretty close, falling 3 assists short, but still posting the best night with 66 SWP & 257 EBP.

The CNN Hoops site never had prices updated yesterday. That's the second time that site has gotten stiffed for a daily price change this year. Unfortunately, that's where my better team has been this year, but with two missed repricings, late IPO offerings (Griffen was added there about a month later than at the SW site, and at a price $3m higher), and no ad-clicking bonuses, it's hard to compete effectively against the teams at the SW site. But I'll keep plodding along. No message at the CNN site either. I wonder if SW even realizes that the price change was skipped?

12/29 - Top honors for the night belonged to Alonzo Mourning, with 58.5 SWP and 225 EBP. Three other players topped the 50 SWP mark.

I customarily update the SW Football team rankings immediately after the Wednesday repricing, but due to travel conflicts this week, the update will probably be delayed for several days.

12/28 - A new leader in Football Pickoff. The third in the last 3 weeks, as PO1 took hold of the top spot. Quite a contest in the works.

Football Pickoff will continue throughout the NFL playoffs. The 50 point per game bonus for up to 10 picks per week will not apply during the playoffs. Only the pure game scoring will apply.

No early NFL games this week, so you can wait until Sunday for all football roster freezes. That hasn't happened since before Thanksgiving.

Triple-double machine Jason Kidd had another last night. I've lost track of how many that is. Kevin Garnett was the big producer of the night, however, with 74 SWP and 274 EBP.

12/27 - I was up at 3:30 am this morning to download stats. Processing took place at 25,000 feet, and everything has now been posted. I'm bushed, and thus, you'll have to provide your own witty blurb repartee today.

12/25 - The first part of today's blurb was emailed to me this morning from RotoGuru hall-of-famer Rich Paganelli:

This Christmas blurb is dedicated to you and your web site. All of us RotoGurupies decided to put our thoughts and funds together to give a little something back to someone who gives to us all so much throughout the year. The statistics and their significance, the colorful schedules, the daily blurbs, the Assimilator, the message boards, and your own sharp insight (not to mention your often dry humor), all make up just a small part of what we all know is THE #1 place on the internet for fantasy sports help and information. Period. I could ramble on & on about the great things about both you and the web site but I would like to add in a few of the numerous kind things other fellow Gurupies had to say. Here are just a few of them:

"Guru, it's great to see how your site has grown over the past two years. I fondly remember the lengthy emails where we attempted to reverse engineer the Smallworld pricing scheme. I also remember saving daily price data and sending it to you in excel spreadsheets when you were on vacation. Ah yes, the kludgy good-ol'-days. The site has definitely come a long way since then, and so have I. I got a job, which means my particpation has been cut back. On the other hand, I now know enough about databases and web programming to create the entire RotoGuru or Smallworld site from scratch (given sufficient time)! I mention this just so you can be as excited about my learning and growth as I have been about yours. And, of course, I am proud to be one of the lucky few who have been enshrined in the RotoGuru Hall of Fame. =-) Anyway, just wanted to say hi, and thanks, and congrats. I'm glad to see you doing so well." - Doug Taylor

"It was by accident that I stumbled upon Guru's site. But that accident turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I was one of the original members when Guru started the boards and I quickly responded to his request for moderator help. Since that time Guru's advice has made it possible for me to be very competitive in all aspects of fantasy sports, not just my favorite (football). So to Guru a special thanks and a very Merry Christmas." - Gary Simon Jr.

"Thanks Guru. You've managed to make my hobby my obsession. Your hard work is appreciated." - darkside

I just started playing these SW games this year starting with baseball, then football. I've always won my divisions and made lots of SW $$$, but could never crack the top 1000 WWR. That was until a month and a half ago when I discovered Guru's website. I find the site truly addictive. His daily blurbs have been insightful, his team rankings keep me motivated, I love the idea of the message boards where we all try to help each other out and I've got 4 teams saved on his Assimilator which makes managing them all a lot easier. But what I find most useful is his 4-week schedule and the Sched-O-Matic. I think his site is the only place that breaks down team schedules in this easy to read format. I use them both as my main trading resource. So, I guess I use basically everything Guru has to offer, except the sortable tables. His schedules tell me which teams are good long term and I find it funner picking those players on my own. Happy Holidays again!" - KB8ers GM

"I have become hooked on fantasy basketball since my son's roomate got me to sign up this year. I am on every night and also reading the message boards where I receive more than I give. I love the schedule makers for trying to make my trades. I am still not very good, but since finding RotoGuru I have gone from about 20,000 WWR to 9,100 WWR in 2 1/2 weeks. I don't think I could have done as well or had near as much fun as I am having. The kind of makes you feel like you are in a new family, even though you do not know anybody personally. - The Edmans

"I don't exactly know when or who brought to my attention but I do know that I started playing fantasy sports about 2 years ago and did ok (ranked liked 10,000th in SW baseball after starting the season about 10 days late). This without the help of Sometime during the 1998-99 basketball season I came upon your site. I was literally giddy. All of the calculations I had been working out by hand were in one easy to read sortable table!!!! I couldn't believe it. Was this even fair?? Get this: the stats were updated daily. Unbelievable!! Needless to say I won the Echelon Hoops competition last year. As your site began to grow, both literally and on me, I needed my daily fix of "Guru", whether there was much sports going on or not. I find your sortable stats, your color keyed schedules, and daily blurbs among my favorite things about your website. The message boards are a whole other story. As is the case with Michael Jordan, I am more impressed with the "man", than what the "man" does on the court. The same holds true for you, "GURU". For as much as you provide us statistically (which is a ton), your honesty, integrity and candor are the most shining lights of this web site and you. I have a very strong admiration for your ability to hear issues from all sides and offer non-biased views. You have shown me there is often more than one way to get your point across without having to be a jerk about it. I just wanted to say Thank You for all that you have taught me, and will teach me. I am very passionate about my hobby and you provide the tools for me to be able to excel in it. Thanks." - Richard Paganelli (What about Bob)-

Finally, to draw this tremendously long blurb to a close I would just like to personally thank all of the donators to the "Guru Gift Fund", they include in no particular order:

Matt S, Gary Simon Jr, Steve Houpt, Jason(J), The Edmans, Aaron Frick, Ken Whitcomb, Endangered Species, darkside, Jessica (The real one), Mark Leitner, Dan Mirgon, Punishark, PileWort, yo, skinneej, walk (who has no idea what this Christmas thing is, but donated anyway), jb(netman), hollywood heat (aka Willix), and jumpball.

I feel I must make special mention of 4 donators who I think went above and beyond the call:

  • Mike Jennings sent a bank draft all the way from Ireland
  • Jonathan White contributed from Dublin,
  • and 2 people - Fred Courtright (aka permdude) & Mike Vivian (aka Dilligads) - sent in rather large contributions.
My thanks to all who made the effort. I'm sorry if I left anyone off the list by accident.

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to all!!!!!

My response: I'm flabbergasted by your generosity and thoughtfulness! The gift - a Cleveland Indians jersey signed by six members of the 1997 Tribe - is so cool! I understand you even bought it through eBay, one of my best sponsors. Thanks so much!

Since almost none of you have seen it, here I am holding it on Christmas Eve, just after opening it. The signatures on the left (top to bottom) are Sandy Alomar, Matt Williams, and Marquis Grissom. On the right are David Justice, Jim Thome, and Manny Ramirez. Matt Williams has the best penmanship, by a long shot. Alomar's looks more like "Sandy Claus", a nice seasonal touch. All were on the '97 Indians, which came within a "micro-Mesa" of winning it all. There's also a certificate of authenticity. When I get it framed (I hear that there is some framing money on the way), I'll take another photo for you all to see. It will hang in a very prominent place in RotoGuru World Headquarters.

I've said all along that I produce because I enjoy it. Good thing, because it's certainly not a financially lucrative venture. But the ability to share our common fanatical interests, and the camaraderie that we've all developed at the message forum have made this a superb way to spend my early retirement - and certainly lucrative in ways that are far more important to me. I had developed an active email dialogue with a number of you prior to starting the message forum, but it's been even more fun (and enlightening) watching you all interact with each other. Thanks to the global accessibility of the internet, the sun now never sets on Gurupiedom. Won't be long before we have some competitive Klingons included in the fold, I suspect.

Special thanks to Rich for coordinating this effort. Thanks also to my son Jason, who I understand helped with some of the logistics. (Believe it or not, I really did stay out of all of those "GURU - STAY OUT" message threads.)

Most of all, thanks again Gurupies everywhere. You're the best!

And oh, by the way, the SW Hoops team rankings were updated this morning.

12/24 - Season's greetings!

I'll be vacationing for the next week, in NJ today-Sunday, and then in Ohio from Monday-Friday next week. As always, my laptop is with me, and stat updates will occur normally. Blurbs may be lighter than usual, and team rankings will probably be updated less frequently, but I'll do my best to maintain the essential tools. It was nice of the NBA to schedule no games today, because that means I won't need to do any updates on Christmas morning. I understand that a guest blurb will be contributed tomorrow, so there will be life signs at the site in spite of the lack of statistical activity.

Dikembe Mutombo gave his Shaq-swappers a nice gift last night, making up for his subpar outing against the Celtics the prior night. Michael Finley had the night's best outing with a triple double, good for 74 SWP & 277 EBP. And Jason Kidd continued to produce big numbers as well. All three posted better than 70 SWP.

With a light NBA schedule, take some time away from your computer to enjoy your family and friends. Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

12/23 - I have some last minute Christmas errands to run this morning, so the blurb will be early and brief. You can look up last night's scoring for yourself.

The Football Pickoff server is finally recovered - sort of. Actually, it has been transferred to a new server. If you aren't able to access it, wait awhile, as the new IP address may not yet have taken hold. If you do get in, you may find that your previous picks don't seem to be saved. I'm pretty sure I have all of the prior picks saved on my machine, but there may be some confusion during the server transition. I hope to have it all sorted out later today. Patience.

I added a new feature to the sortable hoops stats tables. You can now activate a brand new "projection mode". You select the projection mode by clicking on the bottom item in the filter menu (way at the bottom). If you click on "projected point totals", then the following assumptions are used:

  1. The projection period is the schedule filter period
  2. The per-game average is the historical average over the period specified in the "point period" drop-down menu. The default is always YTD averages, but if you select the last 15 days, then 15 day averages will be used in the projection.
  3. Projected points are rounded to integer values
  4. The data for projected points, games, pts/game, and pts/$ will appear in the table upon execution. Note that the 4th projected column is pts/$, not the usual pts/G/$. I think the revised average is more useful in this context.
Since the points are projected over the schedule filter period, you can use any start date, and any number of days. The only meaningful restrictions is that you must use one of the "canned" historical pts/game averages: YTD, 30 day, 15 day, 7 day, or prior year.

I should probably include some better instructions in the table definitions, but I haven't gotten around to it. A few Gurupies at the message forum field tested it yesterday, and most found it to be reasonably intuitive.

Maybe I'm making this all too easy. Or maybe I'm making it more difficult. Sometimes, more information leads to more confusion. In any event, use it with the same degree of skepticism that you should have with all statistical projection tools. Hopefully, this will provide some new insights, or at least simplify some calculations you would otherwise be doing manually. My Christmas present to all of you - hopefully helping to make the world's best fantasy sports players even better..... or at least more efficient!

12/22 - Yesterday provided a good example of what a trading "theme of the day" can do on a light SW trading day.

Speaking of light, Jason Kidd put up one of the lightest scoring triple-doubles that I can recall. Chalk it up to 6-26 FG shooting, I guess. Still, that's his third triple-double in his last four games, and the other one was a near miss, falling short by only 2 boards.

The Football Pickoff server is still un-updatable. New picks for week 16 are being successfully recorded, however (just click on the link for advance picks). As of 8 am this morning, 76 entrants have logged selections for this week. The most lopsided game is Indy-Cleveland, currently at 92%/8%. Four games are currently tighter than 60/40, including Jax/Tenn, Minn/NYG, KC/Seattle, and Jets/Miami. If I can't get updates posted today, I'll post the complete list of percentages in tomorrow's blurb.

12/21 - At least with Cris Carter sidelined, it's not so tough to figure out which Vikings receiver to own. And guess who was last night's top SWP producing Green Bay quarterback?

Football Pickoff scoring updates for the Monday night game are delayed. The server which hosts that game is undergoing an upgrade, and although it is still operational, I can't update any tables until the upgrade is completed. Hopefully later today (although it was supposed to be completed yesterday morning, so there must be complications.) Meanwhile, you can start making picks for week 16 - but you'll have to skip ahead from the week 15 pick page, which is still the default (and is caught in the same update embargo.)

The NBA schedule was pretty full last night, and a lot of players put up decent numbers. 19 players produced 40 SWP or better, including 11 guards. No "monster" games, however. Today we'll see the extent of the schedule-related Shaq attack. My prediction is that his SW price will fall less than his sellers are hoping for, but will fall more than his keepers are expecting. I'm holding him on one team and dropping him from the other, so I'll probably be doubly disappointed, according to my outlook.

12/20 - The inspired football trades of the week would appear to be picking up the Carolina trio of Beuerlein, Muhammad, and Jeffers against the hapless 49er pass defense. I suppose Cade McNown and his favored target Marcus Robinson would also have been highly successful pickups, but the Carolina prognosis was probably easier to foresee. Congrats if you got it right. I considered it, but failed to follow through.

Football Pickoff had some pretty strong results yesterday, as 6 people got 13 games correct. With the top weekend so far, team PO1 vaulted into contender status, and could take over the #1 spot with a Packer win tonight.

We have a Friday and Saturday game in the NFL this week. SW and Echelon freezes will be on Friday. You may make your Sunday pickoff selections until 1pm EST Sunday, but the early games will be locked out at their respective game times.

I guess the biggest Hoops story over the weekend was the back-to-back triple doubles from Jason Kidd, who seems to be enjoying the penniless Suns backcourt. And on the other end of the news, Allen Iverson set himself up for some likely profit taking with a poor weekend both on and off the court.

This will probably be a light trading week for SW Hoops, due to the holidays. But that doesn't necessarily translate into smaller than normal price changes. If anything, it may lead to heightened price volatility, since each individual trade will have a more potent price impact. This hurt Iverson during Thanksgiving week, as his price dropped almost $2 million in 2 days. It could hurt Allen again this week, especially if tonight's game is another disappointment. I know a number of managers are also contemplating dumping Shaq after tonight, given his light upcoming schedule. While I doubt that Shaq sales will be widespread, keep in mind that it won't take widespread sales to produce material losses this week. It's a tough call. I feel strongly both ways.

12/17 - Last night's top gun? Nick Van Exel. He tripled Shaq's output.

Since many managers use a good portion of their trades immediately after receiving their weekly dole, it's interesting to look back at the past seven days to see who the top producers over the prior week were. Here's the "top ten" list for the week of 12/10-16:

Pos SWP Name
 F  206 Malone
 C  204 Mourning
 C  192 Shaq
 F  191 Webber
 C  185 Mutombo
 G  162 Payton
 G  159 Kobe Bryant
 F  159 Garnett
 G  158 Van Exel
 F  154 Grant Hill

If you want a properly configured roster, then drop Mutombo and add Cassell, with 153. That team produced a total of 1734 SWP over the past week. All of these players played 4 times with the exception of Garnett, who had only 3 games, so the team average per game was 44.5 SWP. And you could have had that team last week for the measly sum of $110.2 million! Today, it's only worth $110.3 million, which demonstrates that the top producers are certainly not the top value gainers.

The top possible roster value gain, assuming no midweek trades?
(Using prices from the SW site)
Guard: Iverson, Rider, Sura, Pack
Forward: Ceballos, Artest, Feick, Carlos Rogers
Center: Shaq, Oliver Miller

This group appreciated just over $7 million during the past five days. A week ago, you could have picked it up for just over $43 million. It produced 1038.5 SWP during the past week on only 33 games played, for an average of 31.5 SWP/G. That works out to an average of 7.3 SWP/G/$mil at the beginning of the week.

What's also interesting is that only 4 of these players were among the top ten gainers last Friday. It's a common perception that to maximize gains, you need to jump on the big gainers on Fridays, when the trading activity is heaviest. Last Friday, the top ten gainers appreciated a total of $2.4 million. That collection only rose an additional $670K for the rest of the week.

Food for thought.

12/16 - There weren't any quadruple doubles or 30 rebound performances last night. But there were a number of interesting results that will set up a confused trading week.

  1. Allen Iverson played well on national TV, not only scoring 37 points, but even leading Philly to a win while doing so! Those who jumped on Allen several days ago are probably feeling pretty good about it right now, as he's already enjoyed a nice price run-up, and now it looks like there should be more follow-through next week. For those who didn't pick him up, the question is whether the train has already left the station. With $1.3m in gains through 3 days this week ($1.9m at the CNN site), he still has some room to go, but how much?

  2. There are a lot of cheap forwards begging for attention. Scott Williams cranked out 37.5 SWP last night, and is priced barely over the minimum. Austin Croshere is under $1.5m, and has put up a total of 64.5 SWP in the last two nights. Ron Artest has put together some nice games, and the Bulls finally have a schedule that's worth buying into. Corey Maggette has 60 SWP in his last two games, is dirt cheap, and Orlando has as heavy a schedule as anyone over the next 3 weeks. Carlos Rogers has some upside for those who want to speculate on the post-Barkley Rockets regime. And Wally "The Consonant" Szczerbiak has now played 55 minutes on consecutive nights, and his upcoming 5-game week is going to be enticing to many. Tough choices, if you're looking for a cheap alternative.

  3. There are 4 teams with 5 games next trading week: Cleveland, Minnesota, Orlando, and Phoenix. That will enhance the interest in expensive guys like Jason Kidd and Kevin Garnett, as well as slightly cheaper guys like Shawn Kemp, Darrell Armstrong, Brevin Knight, and Terrell Brandon. I haven't noticed a strong schedule-based trading trend, but we haven't had many 5-game weeks, either. Of course, from a price standpoint, they'll all get in each other's way.

  4. And then there's Shaq. Starting next Tuesday, the Lakers play only 3 times in 14 days. During the same stretch, 7 teams play at least 6 games, and another 18 teams play 5 games. Will there be a meaningful "Shaq attack"? Given the number of rosters that now have him, and the fact that his light schedule starts on a light trading day, it wouldn't take much Shaqtivity to produce a meaningful price drop. But, 3 games from Shaq could still easily match 5 games from other stud-caliber players, and any selloff would probably be short-lived. Another decision.

That should give you plenty to think about as you work out your trading strategy for the next week.

12/15 - Perhaps there was something unusual in the Atlanta water supply last night. If you watched any sports highlight shows last night, you've obviously heard about the monster numbers put up by Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean Jacque Wamutombo. It overshadowed a near quadruple double by Kevin Garnett, who fell 3 steals short of the feat. Karl Malone managed a (ho-hum) 62 SWP. Four other players produced north of 50 SWP last night.

And then there were the Clippers. Three points for the entire team in the second quarter. The Lakers led 80-36 after three quarters, which cost Shaq some playing time. He produced 55 SWP in just 29 minutes. Had he produced at the same pace for his usual 40 minutes, he'd have been in the mid-70s as well.

12/14 - Last night's football game was a good one, in spite of the inclement weather. But if you had many roster slots involved, you may have been disappointed. In particular, neither Mark Brunell nor the Jax defense achieved triple-digit SW scores. I suppose if you had Brian Griese you were quite satisfied, but does anyone still have Brian Griese?

I made a scoring adjustment for the Football Pickoff standings. The full season scores are unaffected. But the full season and mulligan averages were being distorted by the lack of the 500 point bonus in the first week. So, for the determination of these averages only, I added 500 points to each contestant's score for the first week, as long as at least one game was selected that week. This means that an average of 500 points is now the "break-even score".

Only one game in the NBA last night. The most notable happening was that Derek Anderson sprained his ankle in the 4th quarter, and is doubtful for tonight. If you were planning to swap him for Iverson, you might as well do it now.

12/13 - The best trade of the week was probably dropping Tim Dwight to pick up Qadry Ismail. His 684 SWP tied for the second best individual performance this year. Hakim had the same total in week 4, and the Pittsburgh defense tatooed Cleveland for 720 SWP in the first week. On the Echelon side, Ismail was the first player to break the 2000 point mark, eclipsing the previous single game high (Jimmy Smith, week 11) by more than 300 points. Quite a day. Quite a quarter, actually, since most of his points were produced in the third quarter.

Moving from Emmitt Smith into Eddie George or Corey Dillon would also have been a winner. Steve Beuerlein would have been a good sleeper pick at QB. And picking the Washington defense would have been psychic.

There were some pretty big individual scores in football yesterday, so I'm sure many of you feel pretty good about your weekend. Many also have a lot riding on tonight's game as well, with Brunell, Smith, and the Jacksonville defense likely to be on a lot of rosters.

In Football Pickoff, no one has more than 12 wins out of the first 14 games. The top weekly score so far belongs to the "Smart Dart". This is a formula entry, using random numbers to make each game's selection, with the relative probabilities equal to the week's selection percentages across all entrants. For example, if Atlanta was a 60/40 consensus favorite (over the 49ers), then the Smart Dart had a 60% chance of picking the Falcons, and a 40% chance of picking San Fran. The Smart Dart has Denver tonight, and no matter what the outcome is, it's already locked up the top spot for the week. (It is also ranked 20th for the full year!) Meanwhile, a Jacksonville win tonight would produce a new YTD leader, with Sludge passing MAZMATAZZ for the top spot with 3 weeks to go. (A Denver victory leaves MAZMATAZZ in the top spot.)

In Hoops, the big question at the message forum relates to the proper timing to pick up Allen Iverson. He returned to action on Saturday, which will probably stimulate some weekend buys. But he played only 21 minutes, and his output was pretty low, which may cause some managers to wait. Also, he doesn't play again until Wednesday, so a prompt pickup will probably sacrifice a game or two in the interim. And historically, Monday-Thursday gains have not been as great as Friday gains.

However, the Mon.-Thurs. shortfall is not as great as it may seem. I did a quick analysis of the SW price results for the season to date. I used the changes at the SW site only, and excluded last Monday's change (which was botched by SW). So far, the average gain for the top gainer on a Friday is $523K. That is the best of all days. However, the top gainer Mondays has averaged $470K, which isn't that much less. Tues-Thurs. have each produced a top gain averaging about $400K.

I also looked at the average of the top 4 gainers each day. The top four gainers on each Friday have an average gain of $395K. For Mondays, the comparable average is $341. The top four on Tuesdays average $255K, Wednesdays average $282K, and Thursdays average $319K. So Fridays do produce the best gains. But the advantage is not striking. Reliance on Mondays being typically light days for gains would seem to be wishful thinking.

Tough call.

12/10 - It looks like Eddie George has already established himself as the pick of the week at running back. 550 SWP, and 1356 EBP. Monster scores, especially for a running back.

Speaking of monster scores, Tim Duncan had 70 SWP on the strength of 42 points and 14 rebounds. Meanwhile, Wally World followed up Wednesday's return with another DNP. Hopefully, you heeded my advice yesterday and waited before deciding to add him. He's got a nice upcoming schedule, but that only helps if he actually plays.

I've finally decided to make no trades today for my CNN/SI Hoops team. First time that's happened this year. There are a couple of moves I was tempted to make - and I'm sure they would improve my $ gain today - but I'm not convinced there will be any big gainers today, and it's about time I started socking away some trade capacity.

I'm going out for most of the day to do some Christmas shopping the old fashioned way (i.e., waiting in line, not online). Hopefully, nothing will break down while I'm out. Updated SW Hoops team rankings should be posted sometime this evening.

12/9 - He could be a royal jerk at times, but he was genuine, and he had talent, and he was an entertainer both on and off the court. You always hate to see a career end this way. Here's hoping Sir Charles lands somewhere where we can continue to enjoy his wit and candor.

The top center last night was once again the big guy from LA. No, not Shaq. Shaq only ranked third among California centers. Last night, Clippers center Michael Olowokandi was the top producing center. But five guards outpointed him, including 60+ SWP nights from Gary Payton and Eddie Jones.

Hope you've all got your football rosters set for the week. The freeze is today. You can continue to make/change your Football Pickoff selections for Sunday's games until Sunday at 1pm EST, but tonight's game must be locked in by 8:20 tonight.

New SW Hoops trades are doled out this afternoon. Last night's return to action by Steve Francis and Wally Szczerbiak may save you some trades. If you've been waiting until now to bail, it may not be necessary anymore. I assume they'll start to recover lost ground - although you may want to see how Wally does in consecutive games, since he plays again tonight.

SW Team rankings were updated yesterday for both Football and Hoops. In Hoops, it's interesting to note that the median gain in roster value for the last week (5 repricings) is only about $1.5 million. Roughly 25% of the listed teams are now worth more than $70 million. The best producing roster (maximum SWP/G) would currently cost just under $115 million. Looks like most of us won't be able to afford that collection until the All-Star break, at best. And that "dream team" will undoubtedly cost more by then, too.

12/8 - Two years old! first went online on December 8, 1997. Same Guru. Same computer! But the site has certainly been growing and changing in those two years. Still, I'm sure it's far from "grown up". Now it's time to begin the "terrible twos".

The last day of my second year was certainly a frustrating one. The server which hosts Football Pickoff was down for most of the day (hardware problems). It was up for awhile last night, and again earlier this morning, although at 10am I was no longer able to get a pulse. And I also did some online Christmas shopping. While the "lines" weren't long, a lot of the things I wanted to buy were already out of stock. Hopefully, today' success rate will be better on both fronts.

The SW Hoops price change seemed OK yesterday, after a one-day glitch. A few Gurupies at the message forum think it included the impact of weekend trades. While I suspect prices aren't exactly what they would have been without the Monday problem, they must be pretty close. Time to move on.

Once again, the dominant force last night was Shaq, with 69 SWP and 259 EBP. So far this season, there have been 27 individual performances of 60 SWP or greater. Shaq has 7 of them. The next highest total is 3 for Kevin Garnett, but all of them occurred during his first 5 games of the season. Darrell Armstrong and Chris Webber are the only players with two. Webber still owns the best game, though, with 88 SWP on 11/25.

12/7 - If you thought that repricing for both the SW and CNN/SI Hoops games was unusual yesterday, you're right. Super sleuths at the message forum quickly figured out that the wrong trading period was used - in fact, it appears that perhaps all trades since the beginning of the season were used. The counterintuitive result was that price changes for most active players were negligible, both up and down. (Price gravity still applied to the inactively traded players.) If you made some moves to avoid likely price hits, or take advantage of expected increases, you were screwed. If you were stuck with some players who were probable decliners, you lucked out. I've been assured by Small World that today's repricing will be "back to normal".

In general, SW Hoops administration has been pretty good so far this season, so I'm not going to dwell on this snafu - although it continues to be an irritant when blatantly obvious price change irregularities get processed with no effective quality control. If you want more details, check out the message forum.

There was a triple double in the NBA last night. But if your only clue is the listing of yesterday's fantasy points, you'd be hard pressed to pick out the player, because he wasn't even among the top five in either fantasy scoring format. Derek Anderson had 16 points, 10 boards, 12 assists, and not much else. Good for 48.5 SWP/182 EBP. Unusually low totals for a trifecta. But a good night for Derek, nonetheless.

65% of you blew the MNF game in Football Pickoff. The game's server has been intermittently up and down for the last 12 hours, so you may not be able to check your ranking this morning. Hopefully everything will be straightened out later today. Be aware that once again, there's a Thursday game to deal with this week. That may be good for TV exposure, but it sure screws up the roster freezes for fantasy football. This is the last week with a Thursday game, although there are Saturday games in week 15, and a Friday game in week 16.

12/6 - I thought my Hoops fortune might have started to turn upward last Friday. I was prepared to pick up Wally Szczerbiak on Friday, but when he got a DNP on Thursday, I was glad that he hadn't waited until after I picked him up to disappear. So instead, I picked up (can you guess?....) Shawn Marion! With Wally, I'd have had only one DNP over the weekend. With Marion, I got two - and a trip to the injured list.

I've always believed that top finishes in any fantasy game require a great deal of skill and a great deal of luck. I'm not sure which is more important. But this season, I've made a few moves that I now question with 20/20 hindsight - using too many trades early to duck expected losses that turned out to be not as bad as anticipated. And then my injury troubles started. And of course, with a lack of enough trades, I've been fighting (and losing) an uphill battle ever since. I fully realize that a lot of my early season problems have been self inflicted, so don't get me wrong - I'm not blaming my early problems on bad luck. But I have certainly dug a whole for myself. The challenge for the year is now just to see whether I can ultimately struggle back to top 50 status. Fortunately, my better team is the one at the CNN site, where the competition is not as stiff, and where my web site exposure is not as good. Since I've never had any articles posted at that site, top 50 status is the only direct source of visibility that I have.

I had more football stats challenges this morning. I think I have them in pretty good shape, although I also there are probably still some lingering errors. I'm on the verge of cracking the top 1000 in SW Football this week, depending on tonight's results. I've never had a three-digit ranking in football, so this would be a breakthrough.

The football pickoff results this week are mixed. The best record so far is for Rainmen, with 12 winners and 1010 points. My 8-year-old daughter Melody ranks #13 for the week, with 11 winners and a score of 823 (which would have been 12 winners and 840 if she had remembered to make her picks before Thursday). Some contestants have bemoaned that YTD frontrunner MAZMATAZZ seems to rely almost solely on picking underdogs, and once again he has 663 points with only 5 winners. But you'll also note that the Consensus Underdog formula entry only has 4 winners and 386 points this weekend. So while he has been heavily picking underdogs, that's obviously not his only strategy. So quitcherbitchin!

I made a minor change to the sortable hoops stats entry pages. Now, instead of defaulting to a complete player listing, I just bring up the report menu first. This allows you to customize your first report without having to wait for a lengthy download.

12/3 - If you watched the Jax-Pitt NFL game last night, you're probably surprised to discover that the Jax defense only earned 220 SWP. The reasons? No turnovers was the primary culprit, and Pittsburgh also racked up some yards near the end of the game, after gaining only 38 for the entire first half. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh defense suffered its second consecutive negative SWP outing. A far cry from their first week monster against the Browns. More than 28% of their entire season's defensive points came in that first week.

Mark Brunell (338 SWP), Jimmy Smith (288), James (don't call me Jimmy) Stewart (286), and Keenen McCardell (216) all had good games. Kordell (don't call me Jimmy either) Stewart produced 36 SWP as a wide receiver.

In Hoops, about 2 dozen IPOs were added yesterday to both the SW and CNN sites. The most notable was the addition of Adrian Griffin at the CNN site. At a price of $5 million, he not as egregiously underpriced as he was at the SW site a few weeks ago, but there are no players with higher point totals or averages that are priced lower. Beyond Griffin, I didn't notice anyone that seems noteworthy, but they're all included in the sortable stats and the Assimilator, so you can make your own assessments - if you can even figure out who they are. SW used to announce them, but so far this year, they've just snuck them in.

I made one minor change in the Hoops Assimilator yesterday, switching from listing the full year Pts/game average to the last 15-day average. There's no magic in the 15 day period; I just thought something a bit more current than YTD was desirable.

I noticed yesterday that ad clicking has really fallen off over the past few months. Please try to remember to support RotoGuru's advertisers. Ads provide my only source or revenue, and with recent upgrades to my alternate servers, I'm just barely taking in more than I spend. And clicking on ads is the best way you can show your support. If just half of the site users would click on one ad each day, total clicks would more than quadruple. Recently, I'm getting only one click for each 300 page views, which is not a very good rate. All I'm asking for is "a click a day". And to those of you who have been diligent all along, thanks. Thanks also to Mark Brunell for providing such an appropriate quote of the day.

12/2 - About 2 weeks ago, I commented that I had failed to pick up Pedro Martinez soon enough in SW baseball last spring, and I wasn't going to repeat the comparable mistake in SW Hoops. Unfortunately, I misdiagnosed who the Hoops version of Pedro was. I picked up Garnett, when it should have been Shaq. At least, that's what it now looks like. Oh well, I get a chance to rectify that this afternoon.

I did some Q&D roster optimizations a few days ago, searching for the best possible rosters at different value levels to maximize SWP/G. There are all sorts of issues that this type of optimization fails to address, such as scheduling considerations and recent trends in productivity, but it can still often identify some ways to more efficiently construct a roster. If you want more detail, check out the thread titled "General Strategy" in the Basketball section of the message forum.

Here are a few of the highlights, though. For rosters valued from $50m and up, Shaq was always selected. The reason isn't so much that his production is better than anyone else's; it's that the cheaper alternatives at center tend to be less attractive than the cheaper alternatives at other positions. In general, the optimizer preferred expensive centers, mid-priced guards, and cheap forwards. At $70m, the optimizer had upgraded to a second "stud" center, and to Payton, but had no forward priced higher than Odom, at $6m+. Garnett was added to the $80m roster.

Anyone who has spent some time working with the sortable stats realizes that there are a lot of good options among lower priced forwards. There are 40 forwards with averages exceeding 25 SWP/G, and 15 of these are priced at better than 5 SWP/G/$million. Comparable options at guard and center are not nearly as abundant - not even combined. If you need some cheap alternatives (and all of us still do), forwards provide a plentiful crop from which to harvest. Of course, the downside is that, with so much internal competition, the price appreciation potential of each individual cheap forward is probably dampened - although five of them have appreciated more than $1 million since the season started.

Something to ponder as you consider your trading strategy for the coming week.

12/1 - December already?

Michael Finley had a triple-double, playing all 48 minutes for the roster-depleted Mavs. But Darrell Armstrong was the top fantasy point producer last night. And Shaq chipped in with a very average game for him - only 52.5 SWP, and not quite 200 EBP.

I've got a bunch of outside errands today, so I'll be in and out all day. All of the price changes will get posted this afternoon, but some might be 1-2 hours later than usual. In fact, gotta run right now. Later...

Click here for prior daily blurbs, by month:

1999: 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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