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

10/30 - The email-box was really hopping yesterday, and a lot of them made it to the feedback column. There's a bit of a late week lull between the Wednesday repricing and the Sunday games, and many of you seem to be filling your time thinking and writing. In particular, you've got to check out Steve Houpt's excellent analysis of leading receivers' performance by opponent. He's produced some surprising results. Keep it up, Gurupies - it sure makes my job easier!

Smallworld announced four new IPOs yesterday. None of them look like their worth pursuing, but I've already got them incorporated in my various reports. Deion Sanders looks particularly overpriced at $4 mil, when virtually all of his points came in one game. In fact, his price is almost 4 times the combined prices of Dallas WR's Ernie Mills and Billy Davis, even though that tandem outpoints "Neon Deion" by almost 190 SWP/G. Go figure.

One of the feedback letters suggested that with the bye weeks now behind us, teams may be more diligent in keeping their cash balances low. I haven't been keeping historical records on cash for the teams in the RotoGuru rankings, but I do have the current balances available. As of yesterday afternoon, the average cash balance was about $3 million. (The average roster value was roughly $75 million.) The highest cash balance was $29 million, for a team with only $56 million in roster players. It's possible that this team still has some empty slots to fill, I suppose. A total of 45 teams (roughly 8%) are lugging more than $10 million in current cash. I'll check this again next week - remind me if I forget.

Unless something occurs to me, I'll probably go blurbless over the weekend. However, the feedback column and the MLM tables will continue to be updated. Next week, I think I'll dust off my optimizer, and try to assemble the best $50 million draft possible based on SWP over the first half of the season. I'll put out a list of player, prices, and points (through week 9) early next week, and let you all take a first crack at figuring out what that perfect draft might have looked like. From my basketball and baseball experience, I know some of you enjoy that.

10/29 - Several Gurupies have expressed surprise at the new lofty price of Terrell Davis, now topping $15 million. It shouldn't be that surprising, though, given this year's tendency for big price gains to occur in the 2nd price change following a bye week. Remember Randy Moss and Randall Cunningham last week? Terrell may hold his gains better than Moss has, however, since he's producing at a level that can't be matched or exceeded by anyone other than Steve Young. If you've got enough bucks - and a growing number of teams do - then you can't afford not to own Davis. At almost any price. Moss, on the other hand, produces at a level which can be matched by a number of other players, both at WR as well as at other positions. So his price is more susceptible to "comparison shopping". And there's the inevitable question as to whether Moss can even continue to produce at his first-half pace.

In general, I thought this week's price moves were pretty predictable. Eric Moulds benefited from the convergence of three key factors: a very low price, a high ranking in the YTD points at his position, and (most importantly) a breakout game on Monday Night Football. Don't look for him to be able to hold his gains, however, unless he continues to excel. Nonetheless, he may still show a second pop next week. There has been a tendency for big gains to be followed by a second week of gains, at least for players who were not heavily owned to begin with. Carl Pickens and Michael Westbrook are two good examples at WR from earlier this year. It must be related to the significant trading which still seems to occur late in the week, rather than prior to Wednesday. So, if gains are still an important motivator, hold on to Moulds for another week.

That said, five RotoGuru teams did sail by the $100 million mark yesterday, and more than 100 of these teams are now over $90 million. At that value, your roster alternatives are already pretty flexible. Even with both Young and Davis on my $90m roster, I don't feel at all constrained. Since there's no need to spend much on kickers, defense, or tight end, this leaves a lot of room to pick up quality RBs, WRs, and a 2nd QB. So while I won't turn my back on gains opportunities, that is no longer my first priority. I need POINTS.

One other interesting change: Arizona replaced Oakland as the cheapest team defense. Anyone who picked up Oakland when they hit bottom at $770,000 and held on has been very handsomely rewarded, with $2.6m in price gains, and an average game of better than -150 SWP. Whoa!

BTW, at both SW sites, the "buy a player" lists for Kickers and Defenses show prices from two weeks ago. When you click on a player's name, the correct price appears, but you can get faked out by the incorrect listing if you're not alert. I had these bad prices in my first version of yesterday's updates. Thanks to several Gurupies who quickly pointed it out to me. Smallworld's top 50 listings by position look OK. And I think I've got all the correct prices populating all of my various pages now, too.

I don't think the missing bye charge for last weekend's Arizona defense has yet been corrected in team scoring, so the newly updated RotoGuru Rankings are undoubtedly off in that regard. If the scoring is fixed before the weekend, I'll try to rerun corrected standings.

10/28 - Today, I've posted a new research piece, Money Isn't Everything. Even if the information is second nature to many of you, I think you'll find the graphs to be interesting.

In thinking about how much value is enough, I did some quick tallies yesterday, and the results were enlightening. Using current prices, and stats through week 8, the cost of the roster with the highest average SWP/G (including only players who are currently active) is $94.4 million. And the most expensive roster you can assemble only costs $105 million. I imagine that some of the leading teams in the RotoGuru rankings are going to pass the $100 million mark with today's repricing. That doesn't seem like such a lofty standard compared with other recent SW games, where the most expensive roster would typically start the season around $120 million and rise from there. But when you consider that the "dream team" is already affordable by some teams, I guess it's "deja vu all over again." Of course, the trick is figuring out what the best roster really is. Affording it is only half the battle. But once you've reached this level in franchise value, you're better off buying the players you want to own, rather than chasing the players that you expect to appreciate the most. And the sooner the better. Time's a wastin'.

I didn't update the Team Rankings page yesterday, because I heard that not all bye teams (Arizona, for sure) had been charged the obligatory -325 SWP. (A Gurupie who has been tracking the top worldwide teams detected this - I didn't.) SmallWorld has been notified, and is hot on the case. So, I decided to wait until after today's repricing to update the list. Hopefully, the missing points will have been applied by then.

10/27 - Kordell Stewart may be 5-2 as a starting QB this year, but he sure has been a disappointment in SWP terms. This year, he's averaging only 151 SWP/G, while last year's average (using this year's formula) was 268 SWP/G. He ranks 34th this year in SWP/G among quarterbacks, just behind Billy Joe Tolliver and just ahead of Danny Wuerffel. Ouch!

We're down to the last bye week, with only two teams on the sidelines this weekend - Chicago and San Diego. The biggest impact player on those two teams is Natrone Means, who will probably give up a fair share of his cumulative $1.6 million in price gains tomorrow. Bobby Engram will cause some roster shuffling at WR. And, if managers are bothering to swap kickers, John Carney will probably take a hit. But the most interesting aspect of tomorrow's repricing will be whether Randy Moss suffers some profit taking.

The new poll question is to help a Gurupie who is writing a paper on Charlie Hustle.

10/26 - A few observations on yesterday's performances:

  • For the first time this season, Steve Young was not one of the top two quarterbacks. Still, his 293 SWP, while only 7th best of the day, is better than any other QB's season-long per-game average. Not bad for an off day.
  • Terrell Davis picked up right where he left off before the bye, with a monstrous 532 SWP effort.
  • Randy Moss garnered only 24 SWP, lowering his season average from 220 to 192.
  • Doug Flutie gave Bills' fans more reason to hope for a slow recovery for Rob Johnson. And Flutie's favorite target of the night, Eric Moulds, burst onto the Wide Receiver landscape with a 400 SWP effort on national TV.
  • On the injury front, Fred Taylor produced a strong 192 SWP effort at Denver, in spite of not being fully recovered. Meanwhile, on again/off again Isaac Bruce was off again, reinjuring his hamstring in the first quarter, and missing the rest of the game.
  • Jason Elam booted an NFL record tying 63 yard field goal in the rarified Denver air.
  • The Seattle defense confounded many a Smallworld manager yesterday with a turnoverless -581 SWP stinker vs. the Chargers. Meanwhile, the Oakland defense continued to perform like the bargain of the year, generating a -75 SWP game against Cincinnati.
Not a very good day for my own team, largely due to the performances of Bruce and Seattle. Oh well. . . .

10/23 - Let's start with Wednesday's repricing. I feel a little vindicated a week after my "crow eating" prediction. It is now clear that a good deal of Moss and Cunningham buying did actually occur after that repricing. There was just enough buying before last Wednesday to keep them from sinking first.

Randy Moss becomes an interesting case study now. At his current price of $8.3 million, he's looking pretty fully priced- even if he continues at this current pace, which is questionable as well. Here's my reasoning:

  • He is currently averaging 220 SWP/G. For the 1997 season, no wide receiver averaged that many points over the entire season. The best average last year was Rob Moore's 217, and the second best was 193 by Yancey Thigpen. Could Moss keep up a 220 SWP/g average over the final 10 games? Sure, but I've got to think there's a greater chance for some slippage than there is for any improvement.
  • Even with a 220 SWP/g average, his current price works out to 26 points per game per $million. I usually figure that 25 SWP/g/$m is about lower bound for acceptable relative value for a quality player. And there are plenty of other wide receivers who cost less on this basis.
  • Moss has now appreciated $4.5 million since draft day, and he was probably on a good many draft rosters as well. Only Steve Young and Randall Cunningham have appreciated more. And Young and Cunningham were probably not as widely drafted as Moss, given Young's early bye, and Cunningham's early backup status. So Moss is probably found on as many rosters as anyone, making his price very vulnerable to negative news. In fact, some managers will probably dump him just to grab the gains.
  • Mind you, I'm not expecting a Moss collapse, either on the field, or on the price charts. I just think he's pretty vulnerable at this point.

    Moving on, I redetermined the best possible rosters for each week, this time using the correct number of wide receivers. Now the best weekly total is around 3500, rather than the 3800 I mentioned previously. Steve Young is clearly "the man", showing up in the top 2 QB's all six weeks he's played. The next best showings are three appearances each by Jamal Anderson and Terrell Davis.

    Erik Barmack, Smallworld Sports' honcho, passed along a letter to me for all Gurupies. I've posted it on my feedback page. It's interesting to read Erik's perspective on where Smallworld has been and is going. I also have a backlog of other letters, some which are going to be feedback-worthy as well, so keep checking that page over the next few days for more additions.

    Finally, although many of us would like to see the NBA situation resolved so we could get some fantasy hoops underway, it seems likely that a prolonged stalemate will not generate the same sort of fan anxiety that the 1994 baseball strike produced. The simple reason is that there are plenty of alternatives, not only in competing sports, like football and hockey, but most importantly college basketball. The quality of play is high, the enthusiasm higher, and many basketball fans prefer to watch college games even when the NBA is in season. This could easily turn out to be the sports shutdown that nobody cares about - which obviously hurts both the players and the owners. So unless the two sides reach some agreement quickly, I think they'll both be hurt significantly in the long term.

    10/22 - I'm taking today off, if you haven't figured that out. I was up late last night trading MLM baseball stocks before the final curfew, then up early this morning to play 18 holes. I fixed the Best Roster pages last night as well, so they now have the proper number of receivers. I've gotten a lot of emails in the last 24 hours, and I have some observations to share about yesterday's price changes, but I'm just too tired (it's 6pm) to do it tonight. After all, I'm an old fart retiree!

    I'll be back tomorrow, Gurupies.

    By the way, it looks like my poll needs to be changed. Any bright ideas?

    Many of you have pointed out that I erroneously included one too many wide receivers in my weekly "best rosters". Dohhh! I'll have this corrected within the next day.

    10/21 - If the Yankees win tonight, their full season winning percentage will be .714 - which most of you should recognize as a number of Ruthian significance. Sounds like this one is predestined, doesn't it?

    Meanwhile, it's football season. I added a new feature to the weekly SWP listings which shows the best possible roster for the week, as well as its cost for that week. I reran prior weeks as well. I'm doing this as a preliminary step in some research for my next article. It's interesting to note how stable the best possible score is from week to week. And also how unattainable it seems to be, based on actual RotoGuru team rankings, where the very best teams are averaging about 50% of the highest possible score each week. Stay tuned for more analysis on this.

    If you're playing the MLM baseball game, you should be aware that trading may end tonight. According to the rules, the contest ends at 11:59pm Pacific time on the date of the final World Series game. You don't want to be owning any team stocks at that time, since there are still plenty of player stocks which are priced at a level that will provide a 250% return at delisting. Of course, if the Padres win tonight, then we live to see another trading day. However, even with Kevin Brown facing Andy Pettitte, that potential .714 winning percentage looks pretty eerie.

    10/20 - It sure is nice to have the site responsive again. I felt lost when it was down. Glad to get it restored before the next repricing.

    This seems like a tricky trading week. There are some big names coming back from their byes, and although the tendency has been for bye players to drop the week after, the bigger names have not necessarily followed the pattern. Add last week's early roster freeze to the decision equation, and you have a real mess. No bets this week. The crow still has a lingering aftertaste.

    In response to my request for SW roster tampering stories, I got quite a variety of emails. I'm not going to post them, since I don't think it serves any purpose, but I'd say the dominant themes are:

    • The problem is pervasive, but could be a lot worse. Many managers found themselves unexpectedly at the helm of a "foreign" team, and took the high road.
    • Smallworld generally got good marks for their efforts to restore damaged rosters, although some managers were unsatisfied.
    • No one seems to have a clue as to what the cause is. Just yesterday, shortly after logging in to my own team, I was "switched" to another team. I logged out, and then tried logging in to my second team, but the same foreign team emerged there too. The correct team name appeared in the upper part of the left menu frame, but the wrong roster appeared in the "Manager Statement" and "Buy and Sell Players" pages. After I completely shut down my browser and restarted it, I was able to navigate correctly. By shutting down my browser, any temporary cookie files are deleted, which is probably somehow related.
    Again, the watchword is to be alert when you're making roster moves.

    If you're playing SW hockey, several people have offered stats. Check the feedback page for the details.

    Finally, I've been trying to figure out what term to use to refer to all of you collectively. "Guru users" is pretty bland, "Roto-Rooters" has an interesting double-connotation, but still isn't quite what I was looking for. This morning, I had a burst of inspiration, and the term came to me in a "vision". Gurupies! (pronounced gu-ROOP'-ees, sounds almost like "groupies" ). Seems perfect to me. Consider yourselves all Gurupies from here on.

    10/19 - Welcome back!

    After several days of hideous site response, download times now seem as zippy as they've ever been. Hopefully, the problem is licked for good.

    I think I've got everything updated now.

    10/16 - Stats for last night's game are posted, both in the Yesterday page as well as in the Assimilator.

    Sorry about the recent slow response of the server. I'm having it looked into.

    I've gotten a bit backlogged in responding to email, so if you've sent me something in the last few days and are expecting a response, just be patient. Today is shaping up as a slow day, so maybe I'll get to it. I also want to do some research for my next essay.

    10/15 - Although neither Moss nor Cunningham were the big losers yesterday (by the way, crow tastes pretty much like chicken), the general bye-trading pattern continued. Players coming off a week-6 bye still dropped 1.1% on average yesterday, notwithstanding the increase for Moss. And week-7 bye players dropped 3.7%, which is the largest we've seen yet for a "bye cohort" of players. Of course, with both Denver and Kansas City represented in this group, there were a lot of players to dump.

    In spite of my failure to pick up Moss, I did pretty well yesterday, since I picked up Carl Pickens instead. And I nabbed Robert Edwards instead of Fred Taylor, given the uncertainty of Taylor's injury status. I also waited until after the repricing to pick up Mark Chmura, which saved me $680,000. So I may have lost the battle, but I won the war, so to speak. Now, hopefully these guys will all perform on the field. Remember, you've got to get this week's trading done this morning. I'll bet a lot of managers will get caught napping.

    I heard from a number of you about trade "vandalism", both actual and potential, and I don't detect any patterns. Several of you reported that you found yourselves unexpectedly logged into some other team, which I know is possible, since it happened to me once, too. The problem is obviously widespread, and in general, people felt that Smallworld had treated them fairly, though the anxiety levels were also high. My purpose in relaying this is not to sling arrows at Smallworld - I'm sure they are doing the best they can, and this sounds like a very tricky, technical problem. Given some of the Assimilator idiosyncrasies I've had to deal with, I can sympathize with their plight. My purpose is solely to ask you to remain alert when you're trading. Make sure you don't inadvertently start selling someone else's players. And if your roster has unauthorized activity, report it to Smallworld. Hopefully, this will get solved before much longer.

    Finally, I'm restoring my MLM baseball coverage starting today. MLM has fixed the major trading problem, although their response to this episode has been very dissatisfactory from my perspective. Nevertheless, I think that continuing my "blackout" serves no useful purpose at this point, and MLM does state that the prize contest is still in effect. I'm reserving judgment on my longer term posture with MLM games, however. I need to see more commitment on MLM's part.

    My lunch  

    10/14 - Hats off to the Yankees. I'm pleased that the Tribe gave them a battle, and disappointed that they couldn't prevail, but there's no doubt that the better team won. And, as I said earlier in the season, this Yankee team is harder to hate than most of its predecessors. Other than Steinbrenner, the worst thing about it is that its the Yankees. As an American League fan, I'll probably even root for them in the Series - though I'll have to wait until after the first pitch to see how my stomach feels about that!

    I know a lot of you are waiting with baited breath (yep, that must be what the smell is) to see what happens with Moss, Cunningham, and Taylor in today's repricing. Here's my prediction: Taylor up, Moss and Cunningham down. And that's how I positioned my rosters, holding Taylor on one, and not picking up either Moss or Cunningham on either. In fact, I might as well go out on a limb and predict that either Moss or Cunningham will be the biggest price loser today. I'm 51% confident of that. And if I'm wrong, I'll eat crow. Stay tuned, birdwatchers.

    I've continued to receive a few horror stories each week from managers who have sustained unauthorized trading "vandalism" to their teams. Does anyone have any ideas on how to best protect against this, or is it just pot luck? For example, does leaving your team logged in for an extended period increase the risk? And, has Smallworld's response to specific episodes been satisfactory, in your opinion? Please keep me informed of the good, the bad, and the ugly - especially if you have constructive advice to share.

    10/13 - The remote control for my TV got a good workout last night, trying to keep tabs on both the football and baseball games, both which were exciting and entertaining right to the last moment.

    Fred Taylor presents a conundrum now. He's a virtual certainty to rise in price tomorrow, but with last night's injury putting his next start in limbo, it's a tougher call - especially for those of you without enough trades to be able to make a last minute shuffle if need be. Also, since this week's roster freeze happens on Thursday, you can't wait until Saturday to decide whether to pull him. And even if he does play next weekend, will he be as effective? If you concentrate to much on price gains, but get saddled with underperformance on the field, it can be less than satisfactory. Hmmm...

    Randy Moss and Randall Cunningham present trading questions this week as well. Recent history would suggest that they are likely to decline in price tomorrow. Moss only gave back a small portion of his YTD price gains last week, and Cunningham was unchanged. My head says that waiting until Wednesday night to buy is the best approach. My stomach says, if you really want them, better safe than sorry. I'll let you decide which body part you should listen to.

    If you buy into the "worst offense" approach to picking team defenses, then the San Diego - Philly matchup looks like a winner. But either defense is capable of blowing it. Tough choice. Maybe I'll just stick with Oakland's bye.

    Football stats are all updated already. Team rankings will be updated shortly, I hope. I had a pretty good week, garnering about 2200 SWP. My WW ranking jumped from 11,000 to 4,000. There's hope after all! Thanks, Oakland.

    10/12 - There were a number of notable performances yesterday, both good and bad:

    • As today's quote indicates, just about everything was good for New England. Drew Bledsoe, Robert Edwards, Ben Coates, Adam Vinatieri, and even the Patriot's defense all had stellar point production. On the flip side, just about everything for K.C. was equally bad - especially the K.C. defense's worst-of-the-day -793 SWP, as well as Donnell Bennett's -23 SWP. It's going to be a long bye week for the Chiefs.
    • Steve Young and Terrell Davis continued to distance themselves from the rest of the field. If Young puts up his average game against Indianapolis next weekend, he'll lead his closest competitor - Davis - by more than 1000 SWP, since Davis has a bye this week. And yet Davis is virtually 2 games ahead of his nearest rival. En fuego!
    • Neil O'Donnell showed his former team that he's still got some zip left in his arm. Carl Pickens was his primary target, with 13 catches for 204 yards and a TD.
    • Chris Chandler and the Falcons continued to pile up the points, with his 449 SWP instrumental in the team scoring 34 against the Giants, one week after scoring 51 vs. the Panthers.
    • Glenn Foley just didn't get it done in his first game since his rib injury. Neither did any of the Jets, for that matter.
    • The defenses of Oakland and San Diego benefitted from each other's pathetic offense, combining for only -179 SWP. In spite of this, Natrone Means still put up a good game, accounting for 167 of San Diego's 195 total yards.
    • Even Indianapolis had a respectable offensive effort - for them, at least. Although they still lost to the Bills, they at least stuck the Buffalo defense with a worse performance than the -325 bye threshold, the first time Indy's offense has done that this season.
    There are probably other performances that I could point out, but I've had enough. Do your own digging. All stats from Sunday are now posted - Assimilator, summary tables, individual player pages - even the new Opposing Defense averages, which will be accessible from the regular summary stats pages for the rest of the season. (Be sure to read my latest research on this topic if you missed it on Saturday.)

    Finally, be aware that there's a Thursday night game this week. That means that the roster freeze period for next weekend's games occurs Thursday morning. If you plan to do some trading after Wednesday's repricing, don't wait too long!

    10/10 - Today I posted a new Field Goals essay which looks at team defense averages as a function of the opposing offense. I've also added a new set of tables which can be accessed from the sortable stats reports. And on each team defense's individual game listing, I've added an extra column which shows the game-by-game defensive SWP for the opposing team (see, for example, Oakland). Pretty cool, eh?

    Meanwhile, in while I'll admit is a rather heavy handed, draconian decision, I've suspended my statistical coverage for MLM's baseball game until certain critical pricing dysfunctions are resolved by the game's sponsors. I've been an avid supporter of that stock market simulation since its beginning, and have provided critical daily statistical support throughout, with no compensation or strings attached. But, as the season heads toward its climax (and this simulation continues through the postseason), the game has sustained critical software difficulties which have generally been unresolved - even unacknowledged. Until this situation is rectified, the game is a farce. And there is no reason for me to devote my time and energy to support it. Further, if the problems are not corrected within a relatively short time, I'll terminate coverage of MLM's football game as well. As the saying goes, "fool me once, shame on you... fool me twice, shame on me!" If you are a participant in these games, I'm sorry to have to take these actions, but it is important for me to associate with games that show some effort to maintain their quality and integrity.

    10/9 - Before you get confused, be aware that I've flipped the sequencing of the left menu. Football links now appear above the baseball links, since the only baseball pages which are still active relate to MLM. It will take a few days to get most of the actively used pages switched over to the new menu sequence, so forewarned is forearmed.

    Speaking of MLM, I've added the five new IPO player stocks to today's listing. For now, I'm listing them at a price in the middle of the announced range. Once they start trading freely next week, I'll obviously start capturing their actual prices.

    I'm working on a piece of research which evaluates team defense points as a function of the opposing offense. Initial results look very interesting. I'll try to get this assembled and posted in the next day or so.

    10/8 - About the only thing more lame than Knoblauch's failure to quickly retrieve the ball was his post-game explanation. C'mon Chuck - just say you blew it and move on. Unless, of course, crowd noise limits your vision...

    Meanwhile, yesterday's football repricing was quite interesting. Just looking at some of the more notable players, it's possible to come up with all sorts of rationales about bye-week trading. So this morning, I did some quick analysis, and the results are fairly clear. Excluding the first repricing, which covered trading activity for two weeks, there is a distinct downtrend in prices of players who are on either side of their bye week.

    Here's the background: for each weekly repricing, I grouped all of the players by their bye week, and subtotaled the price changes for each group, then expressed the price change as a percentage of the pre-change salaries. For example, in yesterday's price change, all players with a week 6 bye had an aggregate price decline of $3.5 million. The total salaries of this group dropped from $188.6 million to $185.7 million, representing a total price decline of 1.9%. All players coming off a week 5 bye had an even larger decline of 3.0%. Everyone else rose in price by an average of  0.3%. Here's the weekly data, isolating each week on players entering their bye week, players coming off their bye week, and all other players: (team defenses were excluded from the analysis)

    Aggregate price change by week
    DatePrior byeNext byeAll others
    9/16 n/a   0.2% 0.1%
    9/23 -1.3% -2.3% 0.5%
    9/30 -2.2% -2.5% 0.6%
    10/7 -3.0% -1.9% 0.3%

    The pattern is pretty strong. Aside from the first repricing, players on either side of their byes do poorly. So, while there are certain individual players who seem to fly in the face of this assessment, the broad market averages suggest that its better to dump a bye player early, and buy back a "returning player" late.

    Applying this to specific players, I'd say Randy Moss is due for another drop next week. And Fred Taylor looks like a pretty secure pickup now. Ditto for other returnees, like Mark Brunell, Eddie George, and Neil O'Donnell - especially if they have a decent game this week.

    Aside from bye week issues, probably the most surprising price change was the large decline for the Kansas City defense. Perhaps this reflects pregame selling by managers looking to avoid the Seattle offense. Or selling following KC's poor showing against Philadelphia the prior weekend. Perhaps this is the flip side of managers who figured that the price and matchups for Oakland looked pretty attractive. Perhaps it was simply "profit taking" after three consecutive weeks of increases. Who knows?

    10/7 - New football prices have been posted. Fred Taylor probably confounded some of you again, as he dropped the $1.2 million that he had gained last week. But before you think that everyone must have waited to trade their bye players this week, Randy Moss dropped $670,000. Given how much his price had risen, I suspect he could have dropped much more - and maybe he still will next week. Meanwhile, Randall Cunningham's price barely moved. I think the bye-trading rule of thumb is that "there is no rule of thumb."

    At the excellent suggestion of Kirk Schultz, I've added a little more information into the sortable summary stats tables, putting the home team in capital letters in the "team/opp" column. Easy to do, and good information to have. Great idea!

    I see that Central Plaza has announced their free Hockey game. It looks quite similar to their Quick Strike football game, but with a more sensible salary cap structure.

    10/6 - Ugh! A pretty disastrous game last night. I had sold Randy Moss last week in order to buy Jerry Rice. Moss had made a good run up in price, was facing a good defense (I thought), and had a bye after that. It was the right decision from a financial standpoint, but the point cost was heavy, as Moss put up 490 SWP to Rice's 122. The real capper to last night's game was Brett Favre (or whoever that imposter was) who scored -44 SWP. All told, it was my first sub-1000 SWP week. It's looking like a long season.

    I suspect many of you had both Moss and Randall Cunningham. If so, congratulations. Those two combined for almost 1100 SWP, which topped my whole team by more than 200. But enough moping. Hey, it's only a game. And I'm still ahead of my wife's team.

    10/5 - 'Twas a day for the defenses. Out of 22 teams playing yesterday, 12 defenses did better than the bye week charge of -325 SWP. Weather helped in a few places (like in Kansas City, where the two defenses combined for -203 SWP), but that doesn't explain all of the results. I thought I did well to pick up Oakland's -226 SWP this week, almost 100 SWP better than a bye team. But five other teams did even better.

    With all of the good defensive performances, offensive output suffered, and I suspect a lot of the leading teams had an off day. Check out the points for some of the more recent price gainers (who are presumably on many of the top SW rosters):

    Duce Staley-12 SWP
    Donnell Bennett49 SWP
    Michael Westbrook     76 SWP
    Garrison Hearst53 SWP

    Of course, there are still some big names going in tonight's game, including Brett Favre, Randy Moss, Randall Cunningham, Robert Smith, Antonio Freeman.... So the weekend is far from over.

    Houston must be the surprise team of the baseball playoffs. Their July trade for Randy Johnson was looking like sheer genius. Of course, they didn't really need Randy for the regular season, as they were going to win the division without him. He was there for the playoffs. And while he certainly pitched well enough, the bats went silent, and it turned out to be all for naught. Glad I'm not an Astros fan. I'd really feel sick today.

    10/4 - Bring on the Yanks!

    10/3 - Attention hockey fans! I have some good news and some bad news.

    The good news is that Smallworld's free hockey site is now open. The bad news is that I have decided not to cover hockey this winter. There are several reasons for my decision:

    1. Fantasy sports are most enjoyable to me when they enhance my enjoyment of the underlying sport. Frankly, I'm just not a hockey fan. Never watched it much, never played it, and I hardly know any of the players. I'd have to play it strictly by the numbers - and that's not a good recipe for success or fun.
    2. I'm concerned about the full availability of stats. I looked at the SW scoring formula, and some of the scoring categories look like they might be a problem to find, such as game tying goals. If I have to manually tally some stats, that greatly increases the time and effort involved.
    3. If I'm going to do something, I am determined to do it well. I'm convinced that a great deal of RotoGuru's success thus far is attributable to the quality of the content, the timeliness of information, and the thoroughness of coverage. It requires a significant commitment of my time and energy to produce this site, and I am reluctant to dedicate that effort to a sport with which I am relatively unfamiliar. I don't want to just go through the motions.
    4. Fantasy hockey is not nearly as popular as other fantasy sports. The "bang for my buck" would be much less for hockey coverage.

    RotoGuru user Frank Kovacs has graciously provided me with a spreadsheet of player stats from the 1997 season. Although it does not include all categories in the 1998 SWP formula, you still might find it useful in preparing your draft, and Frank has authorized me to make it available to any RotoGuru user. To download it, click on the link for the desired spreadsheet format: Excel (Nhl1997.xls) . . . . Lotus (Nhl1997.wk4). Thanks, Frank.

    I know some of you are disappointed about this, but it's the right decision for me. You'll have to play your fantasy hockey like the pioneers did in the olden days. Fear not, though. If the NBA ever gets it act together, I will cover basketball. After all, I've got a title to defend!.

    10/2 - You probably had to be watching yesterday's Astros/Padres game on ESPN to understand the context of today's quote.

    I managed to achieve a 19th place worldwide ranking in Perfect Rotation, making it into the top 20 by only 6 SWP. Wow! My Smallworld team "only" ranked #70. After trailing all season, "We are Borg" pulled ahead of "Species 8472" in late September, primarily on the strength of having McGwire, Rolen, and Belle vs. Helton, Castilla, and Griffey. Those three differences produced an extra 400 SWP over just the last two weeks.

    Football teams keep arriving for the RotoGuru rankings. By the end of the week I suspect we'll be approaching 500 teams.

    10/1 - Dan Quisenberry was right. It will seem longer, too, without him here. His death is particularly sobering for me, since we were born in the same year. He'll continue to live at this site from time to time, however, as I've got plenty more quotes from him. See you later, Dan.

    As a Tribe fan, I was really enraged at the umpiring in yesterday's first inning - especially that safe call at home plate. You didn't even need to see it in slow motion to get it right. Seemed like Brinkman must either be incompetent, or else he was showing up the Indians after the Hargrove episode. Either way, I suppose I owe him a debt of gratitude. Gooden didn't look sharp, and Brinkman was directly responsible for getting Burba into the game quickly, as well as for firing up the team and the fans. But, as Peter Gammons noted afterwards, it was an embarrassment for the American League.

    Looks like Kevin Brown will win the Cy Young award, if RotoGuru poll results are any indication. And who would have projected a month ago that Greg Maddux would place 5th in the voting?

    Trading patterns in football yesterday were a bit odd, particularly with respect to the bye week. Fred Taylor was one of the big gainers, in spite of his impending bye. But Mark Brunell dropped. Still, it looks like RotoGuru users did reasonably well, as the median increase for the teams listed in the RotoGuru rankings was $6.5 million. Almost 5% of these teams did better than $10 million. The best possible increase was $12.85 mil, and you had to be holding Fred Taylor get it. By the time we get the bye-week trading pattern figured out, we'll probably be out of bye weeks.

    I got several more letters yesterday from people who shared my experience of discovering this week that trades they thought they had done last week weren't done after all. I suspect some trades got lost. I guess you should check your team shortly before game day just to double-check from now on. Hopefully, the glitch has been fixed - but forewarned is forearmed.

    You may have noted the more colorful summary stats I posted yesterday, as I color coded the prices of players at the extremes of their past trading ranges. I did this for basketball last winter, but forgot about it for baseball. Not a big deal, obviously, but a simple way to convey a little more info without having to expand to an additional column.

    Today I'll work on adding the IPO players to the listings. I hope to have that done by this evening. You can see the list at the SW site.

    Click here for prior daily blurbs, by month:

    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<>.