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

1/31 - What a weekend!

Late Friday afternoon, I discovered that the message forum was out of commission. The apparent cause was a server failure of some sort, but I had no information about expected recovery, and as it was already Friday evening, I figured we might be without a forum for the weekend.

As many of you know, I've been building my own message forum. I purchased some basic software several weeks ago, and I've been tinkering with the source code to add some new features and to configure it for my usage. As of Friday, I had a lot of work left to do, but it was at least functional. So, I decided to go public and let weekend forum users field test it. No better way to discover the bugs than to put it in operation.

I posted a notice on this page directing people to the new forum. I also sent an email to the "GurUpdate" email list, announcing the new forum URL. (Aside: This is the first time I've used that email list. At this point, there are 87 Gurupies on it. If you haven't signed up for it, you might want to do it now. You can learn more about this in the "Sponsored Email Services" section of my home page.)

But I digress. The new forum has performed very well all weekend, and I've made a lot of enhancements during the past two days, programming "on the fly". There is still a lot to do, but by going "live", I probably got more accomplished over the weekend than I would have in the next couple of weeks.

Today will be a major test, as traffic will be much greater today than it was over the weekend. Hopefully, the server will cope well. The old forum was finally restored on Sunday night, but several parameter files were destroyed by a hardware failure. I reset most of them, but even so, it is still exhibiting some quirky behavior. As long as the new forum cooperates, the old forum should only be used for reference purposes. If there are some older posts there that you wish to retain, you probably ought to go save or print them. After awhile, I'll delete the old forum entirely.

The biggest casualty of the weekend was the time I would have spent on fantasy sports. I've barely paid attention to the weekend's NBA stats (although I did notice a few injuries), and I watched the Super Bowl with one eye on the TV and one on the computer screen, debugging the forum moderator programs. Not a good way to enjoy the game, I must say.

Final Football Pickoff standings are now up. Last minute selections shifted the payoffs from 55/45 to 61/39, and those shifts paid off. Congrats to overall winner Sludge. I'll be posting the new football enshrinees in the RotoGuru Hall of Fame later this week.

Time to run. I've got to figure out what to do about Terrell Brandon. I'll wait until tomorrow to unveil the new RotoGuru Sponsor of the Month.

1/28 - There was nothing cheap about Steve Francis' triple double last night. 25 points, 17 rebounds, 14 assistseses. 69.5 SWP, and 272 EBP. He's gained about $1.5 million in the last 2 weeks, so a lot of teams enjoyed that performance. And with 8 games in the next two weeks, there's not much reason to sell.

Grant Hill returned to action earlier than expected with 39 minutes leading to 41.5 SWP and 149 EBP. After the game, coach Alvin Gentry complimented him on his 99% effort. Sounds to me like it was more like a 110% effort (whatever that means) with a body that was only functioning at 90% efficiency.

This was another tough week for SW trade planning. Even some of the "no-brainer" opportunities had pros and cons. I suspect that the best gainers today will not necessarily be the best gainers over the course of the next week. After a lot of tedious analysis, though, I think still ended up with the original no-brainer trades. But if so, why is my brain so fried?

In Football Pickoff, the Rams are now only a 55/45 favorite.

Starting next week, I'll have a new "Sponsor of the Month". The eBay ad will be moved to the left. For you avid ad clickers, please don't forget about it when it's no longer plastered across the middle of the page.


1/27 - The big kahuna last night was Mike Bibby, with 64 SWP & 221 EBP, leading the Grizzlies to their first-ever win over the Jazz (in Utah, no less). No one else was even close.

Four new SW trades this afternoon. It's been awhile since new trades were so anxiously craved. With all of the injury problems in the past week, there are a lot of things to be fixed. And, of course, tomorrow is "Shaq-back" day for many as well.

There are many trading possibilities for the next week. While many are picking up Shaq "for good", others will wait until later, and others will add him for his next three games, but then drop him again for his 1-game in 5-day period. During those 5 days, a lot of teams play 3 times, and guys like Mourning, Divac, & Mutombo all offer a 3-vs-1 game pickups. Since Shaq's light period starts on a Wednesday (2/2), light overall trading will probably exacerbate his late-week losses again. I'm not saying that it makes sense to do this swap. And I'm not saying that it doesn't. Every team is in a slightly different situation, and these alternatives have to be evaluated in context. I haven't yet decided what my ploy will be, in fact.

In addition to Shaq strategies, Milwaukee has a 5-game trading week, and Denver starts a 2-week period with 9 games. Players on both of those teams are likely to be attractive to many. Denver's schedule stays heavy for about 10 days after the ASB, so it may be a good time to lay in some longer-term "nuggets", so to speak.

1/26 - I guess not even Michael Jordan can control the weather. The Knicks and Wizards were rescheduled for March 8th, which will give Washington games on 3 consecutive days that week. I'll have the various schedules revised later today.

Shaq took the expected price plunge yesterday. The size of Gary Payton's drop was less widely anticipated, but upon further review, I can understand it. Many SW teams can only afford to own either Payton or Kidd, but not both at once. If there was an ideal day to swap from Payton to Kidd, yesterday was the day. Through Monday, Payton had played 3 games this week (2.25 is more accurate) vs. only 2 for Kidd. Starting Tuesday, Kidd plays 5 in 7, while Payton plays only twice in the same span. Had the timing aligned with trading weeks, this would have been widely touted as a no-brainer. But the mid-week timing obscured the issue for many. If there is a reversal of this trade in the offing, it probably doesn't happen until next Tuesday, when Payton has 6 until the ASB, vs. 5 for Kidd. That swing probably won't prompt as many switches, though.

Pointwise, the stud of the day was Kevin Garnett, with 63.5 SWP and 227 EBP. Surprise of the day honors must go to Bob Sura, with 61.5 SWP in an overtime win over the Hill-less Pistons. Four other players topped the 50 SWP mark, and none of them are priced north of $10m SWH.

It must be "programmer's week". As I've noted in the past few blurbs, I've been tweaking a number of my programs. Today, I have nothing new of my own doing to report. However, Gurupie Julo has updated his SWP Organizer to accomodate some suggestions he's received. And Richard (of message forum fame) has provided an Excel spreadsheet which reads the in-progress boxscores from and calculates SW Points. If you have Excel97 (or a later version), check out his thread at the Hoops message forum titled "Nightly SWP Spreadsheet". It's already generating rave reviews.

1/25 - If John Stockton did pay attention to his stats, he'd have noticed he was just one rebound shy of a triple-double. His 58.5 SWPs were second only to Shaq's 63. Both took advantage of the extra minutes afforded by the double overtime game, with Stockton playing 47 minutes, and Shaq out there for 55. Meanwhile, Gary Payton could have used a few extra minutes. He got tossed after incurring his 2nd technical foul with 1:28 remaining in the 1st quarter.

Speaking of triple-doubles, I saw a rerun yesterday of the Oscar Robertson segment of ESPN's "50 Greatest Athletes..." series. I hadn't realized this, but for the five seasons from 1960-61 through 1964-65, the Big O averaged a triple-double: 30.3 points, 10.4 rebounds, 10.6 assistseses. I wasn't able to track down his steals, blocks, and turnovers for those seasons, but based on the other stats, that's a per game average of 59.3 SWP.

I tweaked the Hoops Assimilator one more time last night. In the schedule look-ahead section, I tallied the projected points for each of the next 14 days, using the 15-day averages. This should facilitate trade planning. Since there are a number of relatively new visitors to, I should probably point out that the Assimilator will usually only run properly with Netscape or MSIE browsers. From what I hear, it will not run in the AOL browser, and because it relies on cookies for roster storage, it is impractical for Web TV users. I plan to convert this program to a server-side CGI program at some point - probably for baseball. After conversion, everyone will have access to it, regardless of browser or ISP. Converting the program will be a major undertaking, though, and I won't get it accomplished for Hoops this year.

1/24 - I've been tinkering all weekend. Fortunately, after dealing with Chris Webber on Friday, I avoided Grant Hill and Paul Pierce over the weekend, so I had some time to tweak a few site features. If you've been poking around the site this weekend, you may have noticed some, but here's the rundown:
  • The schedule outlook in the right-hand column of the sortable stats reports has been expanded to 21 days (formerly 10 days). The digits roll over (like a digit in an odometer), and the color changes each Friday to facilitate week counting. I also now start the string with a "1" (rather than a zero). If you have trouble interpreting the code, check the definition section at the bottom of the report. I realize that this will be information overload for many of you, but some have requested this field expansion, and you are free to ignore whatever you wish.

  • The schedule look-ahead in the Assimilator was expanded to 14 days (formerly 10).

  • The "efficiency" column in the Echelon team rankings was modified to reflect only the past 2 weeks. This column now reports the points produced in the last 2 weeks divided by the reduction in cash over the past 2 weeks. This should provide a better indication of your recent "rate of travel" relative to other teams.

  • I'm getting most of my page-top ad banners from a new source, which should be largely transparent. However, this change has allowed me flexibility to set up the ads to open in a new browser window by default, which a number of you have requested from time to time.
With the expanded widths of some of the reports, some of you may have trouble fitting the printout in one page width. The best solution I can suggest is to print the pages using landscape orientation. That should provide ample room.

Reformatting pages can be tricky, as there are a wide variety of combinations of browsers, browser font size settings, screen widths, and pixel resolutions to contemplate. Many of you will have to scroll to the right to see all of the information. Many of you will not. If you have a display problem that you can't satisfactorily resolve, let me know, and I'll see if I can fashion a better solution. But I hope these changes are useful to many, and not a hindrance to anyone.

This is shaping up to be a difficult price week for many SW managers. With Shaq avoidance schemes already consuming a number of trades, the rash of recent injuries is certainly wreaking havoc with many trading plans. If you're in this predicament, my best advice is to take a deep breath, remember that it's only a game, and hang in there until Thursday. Four new trades are on the way.

If you downloaded the SWP Calculator programmed by Alex Langley last Monday, he's added some new features and also provided some debugging advice. Check out the message forum thread (Basketball section) titled "SWP Calculator - Revision 5".

And I should probably close with a Football Pickoff reference. 150 people entered picks for the weekend. Of those, 39 picked both winners, and 20 picked both losers. Frontrunner Sludge has clinched the full season title, with a 466 point lead over the closest contender. Very impressive. You can pick the Super Bowl winner now if you wish. Selections won't be locked until 6pm EST Sunday. Meanwhile, if you have suggestions to make on possible rule changes for next season's Pickoff game, I've started a thread titled "Pickoff Rules" in the football section of the message forum.

1/21 - My day yesterday started with a SW trade from Jamie Feick to Chris Webber. (I was using the cash freed by swapping from Shaq to a cheaper center.) Suffice it to say I was not amused by last night's outcome.

So this morning, it was back to the drawing board. I spent more time than usual last week, plotting and planning this week's Shaq avoidance trades. Until Feick had a 0.5 SWP game on Thursday, I hadn't planned on moving him to Webber, but suddenly, yesterday morning it seemed like the way to go. This morning, I worked out Plan B. (And no, I didn't buy back Jamie Feick.)

Feick was a real stalwart during the latter part of last season, after Jayson Williams broke his leg. I considered him earlier this season, but his schedule and price just never seemed to make the best fit. I finally added him two weeks ago, in advance of an extended heavy NJ schedule, willing to pay a tad more than the cheapest "forward of the day" in return for what I though would be price and point stability. He immediately got sick, and proceded to give me games of 4, DNP, 21.5, 29.5, 25.5, 9.5, 0.5, for an average of just under 13 SWP over 7 scheduled games. The only stability he provided was the steady daily price declines. But now that I've dropped him, he's probably safe for the rest of you to pick up.

I know that we all have our "Feick-like" stories to tell, and one of the keys to success is learning to make lemonade when you get stuck with lemons. Time will tell whether this morning's adjustments will "ade" me or not. I strongly considered hanging in with Webber. But for a variety of reasons (which seemed reasonable this morning, but may seem stupid before the weekend is over) I decided to bail on him. So, I guess you can not only feel safe adding Feick now, but you can also feel more comfortable about hanging on to Webber. If the recent curse continues, consider it my New Year's gift to all of you.

Marbury and Malone took the top honors last night, both garnering 60.5 SWP, while Marbury had a slight edge in EBP. Antonio McDyess was close behind with 58 SWP. And the two leading Shaq subs, Othella Harrington and Bo Outlaw, both got off to good starts.

Oops! New prices should be up already. Gotta go...

1/20 - Beware the Shaq attack!

Based on a sampling of Gurupies at the message forum, he's going to be heavily sold today, and again tomorrow. And again next Tuesday. It's hard to say just how much his price will fall, since there will be a lot of other selling as well. In late December, when Shaq endured his first schedule related selling, he was the major sale on the first day, and then was somewhat rescued when Eddie Jones graciously broke his arm and became the heaviest sell the following day. This time, Kobe, Iverson, & Cassell will also be heavily dumped, and that should spread some of the pain. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out this time around.

Although there were 9 games last night, only three players reached 50 SWP or higher, headed by (who else?) Shaq with 63.5 SWP & 252 EBP. The other two were Garnett and Paul Pierce. Last season, Pierce was one of the most heavily traded SW players, quite similar to Lamar Odom this year. This season, he's barely shown up on the trade radar. Even a recent 5-game week barely put a blip in his ownership, and that was all reversed by the end of that week. After 2 consecutive games in the SWP 50s, he might spark a little more interest, although as a forward priced in the mid $7m range, he's in direct competition with more popular players like Odom, Kukoc, & Brand, so I doubt he'll attract much interest in the near term. What a difference a year makes.

Tim Duncan sure put up a stinker against Portland last night. 18 SWP! His previous low this season was 27.5 SWP, in the third game of the year. The last time he had a game this bad was in the playoffs last June 4th when he had 17.5 SWP against.... Portland! Anyone detect a trend here? (His next Portland game is January 29th. Forewarned is forearmed!) His worst last year was 17 SWP in the 4th game of the regular season against Minnesota.

1/19 - Only four NBA games last night, and Chris Webber continued his recent dominance with 55 SWP & 214 EBP. Rookie Steve Francis was the only other player to top 50 SWP, doing it in a nationally televised game on TBS (or was it TNT?... I forget).

Charlotte's postponed games have now been rescheduled for Feb. 7 (vs. Knicks) and March 5 (vs. Bulls). I've updated all of the RotoGuru schedules (Assimilator, Sched-O-Matic, sortable stats, & the color coded grids) to reflect the updates.

Starting tomorrow, the Lakers begin a light schedule period, with 2 games in the next 8 days, and then only 6 games in the 2 weeks following that. There has been a lot of active discussion at the RotoGuru message forum about whether it makes sense to drop Shaq during some or all of that period, and if so, for whom? There's no obvious alternative at center. For example, Mourning has only one more game than Shaq in each of the next 2 weeks, and given his propensity to put up SWP games in the 30s, it's not at all a given that Zo would outscore Shaq during that period. Swapping Shaq for a cheaper center would leave some cash (perhaps a lot of cash) available that would need to be put to work at another position. There are certainly alternative combinations available that should gain you points, but you're now talking about 4 trades required to put on the trade and then ultimately reverse it (assuming you want Shaq back sooner than later). Frankly, I haven't figured out what I'm going to do yet. But I'd better decide soon, because Shaq's price will undoubtedly start to drop tomorrow. At the message forum, there seem to be a lot of Shaq-keepers, and a lot of Shaq-swappers, so regardless of which you you go, there will be much more roster diversity at the center slot for the next several weeks.

Gurupie Julo (no last name given) has provided another SWP calculator, similar to the one from Alex Langley that I mentioned two days ago. The input format is more expanded than the other, so you might want to try this one too, and take your pick. Click here for SWP Thanks, Julo.

1/18 - With 10 NBA games on tap, you probably had a good score for the day. In fact, if you didn't, you probably lost ground on the competition, as 11 players topped the 50 SWP mark, headed by Garnett's career-high 37 point game, good for 67.5 SWP & 237 EBP. Another 14 players were in the SWP 40s. The disappointment of the night had to be Terrell Brandon, who decided he couldn't play shortly before game time. Doesn't bode well for his price outlook today.

I wrote another Hoop Pointers article, Position Points. In many respects, I make the same points that I made in last week's essay on Shaq, but this time I use a graphical illustration. Many times, a picture makes a clearer impression than a numerical table, at least at a conceptual level. I've taken the same approach in many prior SW games, so old timers will recognize the format.

Perhaps the things I found most striking about the graph was how well some of the top forwards have done over the last two weeks, and also how Kidd and Payton have recently failed to live up to their priced expectations. Obviously, 15-day SWP/G averages shift from week to week, sometimes considerably. The averages only report how players have done; they don't tell us how players will do next week. Over time, Kidd and Payton may very well produce at a level commensurate with their premium prices. But lately, you could have done as well with guys that are several $million cheaper.

1/17 - In Football Pickoff, a total of 14 entrants picked all four games correctly this weekend. My 8-year old daughter Melody was one of them. At the other end, only one entry (out of 179 who entered this weekend) got all four games wrong, good for -170 points. I'll let you find him. He's not far down the list - though he's further down now than he was a week ago! Meanwhile, frontrunner Sludge widened his lead by being the only entrant in the top 15 to get all four games right. With only three games remaining, his 338 point lead looks pretty insurmountable.

The big name - and surprise name - in Hoops last night was Cliff Robinson, who pumped in an NBA season high total of 50 (real) points, good for 68.5 SWP and 234 EBP. Before you run to pick him up, though, be aware that Phoenix now has 4 consecutive off days. Starting next week, though, they have the best schedule of any team until the All-Star break (12 games in 3 weeks).

For those of you who like to track the progress of your hoops rosters during the games, Gurupie Alex Langley has programmed a couple of fantasy point calculators that you can use to do the arithmetic and keep a running team tally. Click on the link to download a zip file which contains both programs (Windows only - not Mac). Thanks, Alex.

Over the past week, Gurupies at the message forum have been actively reminding users to remember to click on an ad each day. General site traffic has been up about 15% this week vs. last, but ad clicks have more than doubled the prior week's total. I've also gotten a few suggestions on how to improve click followthrough. One person suggested that I place a banner at the end of the daily blurb, just to jog everyone's memory as they finish reading. So let's try it. Thanks to everyone for your regular support!

1/14 - What a difficult trading decision for today. Iverson, Cassell, and Jones... oh my! At least with the postponement of tonight's Charlotte game, it was easier to eliminate Jones from the picture. He's obviously got some good price upside potential, but I decided the near term situation is just too risky.

Whenever planning my trades, I try to look out several weeks to see who will need to be sold, and who will be attractive buys. A few players jumped out. You'll want Jason Kidd starting next Friday, as he has 3 consecutive 4-game weeks leading up to the All Star break. Seattle's schedule is 4-3-4, so if you can own both Kidd and Payton, you should be able to lock those two slots up for awhile. Coming out of the All-Star break, the Clippers play 7 games in 10 days, including a 5-game trading week. If you've avoided Odom until now, that might be the time to bite the bullet. The Lakers and Miami both have great schedules following the ASB, and that looks like a good time to aim to own both Shaq and Mourning. Seattle's schedule slacks off a bit at that time, and Payton may have some tough sledding. Minnesota's schedule is consistently good after the ASB, with 2 games in 3 days, followed by trading weeks of 4-4-4.

It doesn't make sense to plan too much trade detail that far in advance. But I think it is helpful to see which stud slots could be locked up for an extended period. It's much easier to manage on 4 trades per week if you can allow several slots to coast. Optimal management of cheaper players requires some ongoing flexibility, and locking up some stud slots can be a good way to provide that. You'll have to weather some daily price volatility, since studs are more susceptible to day-to-day trading for extra games, but over time, a more heavily scheduled stud should come out ahead.

Quite a battle between Duncan and Webber last night, as the twosome combined for 135 SWP and 508 EBP. Sometimes the toughest matchups bring out the adrenalin. Too bad it wasn't nationally televised.

RotoGuru site traffic was significantly up yesterday. The tally of unique visitors doubled versus the prior day, and the total page views increased by about 33%. I'm sure this was directly attributable to the additional exposure at the SW site, partly from the article on Shaq, but mostly from referrals on their new message forum. It will be interesting to monitor how much of the extra traffic persists.

One last reminder. Football Pickoff selections must be locked in by game time tomorrow.

1/13 - Events like the tragic death of Bobby Phills often get you to reflect on the fragility of life, and focus on the things which are truly important. It's good to occasionally get things into clearer perspective. Maybe that was his parting gift to all of us.

Many of you noticed yesterday's introduction of a message forum at the Smallworld site. Unless they can enforce a more proper decorum, I doubt that many Gurupies will find much value over there. But by all means, make your own judgments, and give it a chance to settle in. At worst, it will provide a means for "the masses" to be more aware of what's going on, and I'm sure it will also lead to wider discovery of So I certainly welcome the development.

The guard position offers a lot of competiting options for the next trading week. Iverson, Cassell, and Eddie Jones each have 5 games next week. But there are other viable options as well, and you shouldn't make any moves on Friday without considering the following week's needs. There's a thread on my message forum titled "Guard Pickup" in which I elaborate more on the issues, and which I'm sure will attract more salient responses during the day. If you haven't thought ahead, it may be a good place to get a crash course on the issues.

Jason "triple-double" Kidd had another one last night, and if you own him, he adds further complexity to the guard situation. He plays only twice next week, but both games fall within the weekend. Do you hang on, and risk a likely Friday decline? If you hold through Sunday, there are some reasonable swap opportunities on Monday. But that strategy probably forces you to bypass some of Friday's most likely gain opportunities. Decisions, decisions. I guess that's why they pay you the big bucks.

1/12 - Last one to buy Dan Majerle is a rotten egg!

It was a good night to save some money. At guard, Majerle outpointed both Payton and Kidd. Forwards Donyell Marshall, Cedric Ceballos, and Antawn Jamison each produced 50 SWP or better, and the threesome only cost about $11 million combined. Meanwhile, Alonzo Mourning produced 12 SWP.

SWP  'Zo  Shaq
80's 1

Mourning's output was his lowest for the season, and the first time he's had less than 20 SWP in a game. With him, you never know what you're going to get. The table at the left compares the distribution of game points for Zo vs. Shaq.

Mourning has averaged in the 40's this year, but he seldom has a game in the 40's. His "normal" game is either in the 30's or 50's. On the other hand, Shaq has averaged in the 50's, and his distribution looks pretty bell-shaped. I should also note that his only sub-20 game was the night he got tossed after just 15 minutes. If you're looking to add Mourning just for a quick game or two, you take a big risk. Over time, you should get Mourning-like numbers. But on any given night, flip a coin.

Looking ahead on the schedule, the Lakers have only 5 games scheduled during the 2 weeks beginning Jan. 21st. The last time the Lakers had an abnormally light schedule, Shaq took a price beating as teams swapped into other players. If you decide to go that route again, be aware that per-game averages aren't very reliable indicators of likely production over a very small number of games. That can obviously cut both ways. If you're scrambling to make up some lost ground, this type of strategy may provide a good opportunity to differentiate your team from your competition. But it can certainly backfire, and the odds of a backfire are probably greater than you'd care to admit. I haven't made any decisions in advance; my strategy will depend on what else is happening at the time, and whether a Shaq-swap fits well with other price and point opportunities. But if you're one of those who has already decided that Shaq stays put as long as he's healthy, be aware that his price is likely to be jumpy during the latter part of the month.

1/11 - Some big scores were put up last night. The biggest was Shaq's 82.5 SWP and 303 EBP. For comparison's sake, the tandem of Brevin Knight and Jamie Feick only produced 65 SWP. (I know, I know... bad example!)

Kobe Bryant led all guards with 57 SWP/197 EBP, and Tim Duncan headed the list of forwards with 62.5 SWP/222 EBP. Those of you who dropped Duncan yesterday morning in order to pick up Kukoc may wish you'd waited an extra day.

I updated the SW team rankings this morning. While I usually do this on Mondays, I waited until the CNN/SI site was updated, which didn't occur until the wee hours. RotoGuru teams are really starting to kick some butt on the leader boards, and I've received several emails the last few days from "spectators" who are wondering what's up with these RotoGuru divisions. Gurupie power!

I noted in yesterday's Hoop Pointers article that to maximize total SWP/G for your SW roster, you'd currently need a little over $118 million. But given scheduling considerations, would you ever really want to own that specific team? A team made up of the top point accumulators over the last 15 days (total points, not per game averages) costs a bit under $110 million ($111.5m at CNN). It includes the expected studs at center and forward (Shaq, Zo, Garnett, Duncan, Webber, and Malone), but the guards don't include either Kidd or Payton (Bibby, Bryant, Brandon, and Marbury). Most of these guys played 7 times, although Webber had only 6 games, and Bibby played 8. Using the per game averages from the last 15 days and projecting forward, the top producing roster costs only $106.4 mil ($106.6 @ CNN). I suspect that with $110 million, you could usually afford the roster you wanted.

Can we get there from here? I took a look at the 100 wealthiest teams in the RotoGuru rankings for which I have at least a month's worth of value history. Today these teams have an average franchise value of $81.6 million. Five weeks ago, these same teams had an average value of about $72 million. So the wealthiest teams are posting average weekly gains of around $2 million. Only 16 of those teams have averaged better than $2.5m per week. So while it isn't unusual to see weekly gains exceeding $3-4 million, it's evidently difficult to string them together. Using $2 million as a weekly average gain, a team worth $90 million today won't reach $110 million for 10 more weeks, which would be mid-March. A team worth $80 million today would require an extra 5 weeks, which would stretch to the end of the season. So, while a few teams will enjoy that "dream team" for a few weeks, it looks like most teams will have to continue to make tradeoffs throughout. That differs from most recent Smallworld games. And even earlier in this season, some managers were projecting that dream teams would be achievable by many before the turn of the century.

1/10 - There are a number of things for me to mention today. In fact, I'm not going to dwell on the weekend's points. Y'all can look 'em up yourself.

On the SW trading front, the most interesting news is the announced delay in the return of Eddie Jones. According to weekend articles in the Winston-Salem Journal, Jones suffered a setback on Saturday, and will definitely not return to action tonight. Even Jones now says that a Wednesday return is iffy at best. While I wouldn't be surprised to see Jones' price climb again today, I think the next few days could be rough sailing. Remember that Tues-Thurs are usually light trading days, and the price impact of sell transactions tend to be magnified. That's one reason that Jones' price dropped so much immediately after his original injury, and it could be deja vu all over again. If you already own him, I'd probably hold through today's change, but then watch the news very carefully, and if it appears that Wednesday is a no go, I'd think about taking the money and running. If you haven't yet picked him up, I'd wait.

Meanwhile, Adrian Griffen had the air sucked out of his 5-game week, as a weekend injury has landed him on the IL. Some teams might have found a Griffen-to-Jones move to be an attractive bailout, but the Jones delay now confuses that decision.

I had been planning to go from Bibby to Jones sometime this week, and I know many others had as well. While I won't be adding Jones today, I am a little nervous about Bibby's price, because if enough others make the move now, Bibby could still take a meaningful hit, and with a sparse schedule next week, he isn't likely to recover quickly. Argh. I guess I'll hang in there and hope he at least puts up some nice points tonight.

Sam Cassell made a quick recovery over the weekend, posting 41 SWP in just 31 minutes on Saturday. With 5 games coming up next week, those who were congratulating themselves on swapping from Cassell to Jones last Friday may be second guessing themselves today. Perhaps a quick reversal is in order. Of course, Cassell follows a 5-game week with 5 consecutive off days, so his price is likely to whip around quite a bit over the next few weeks.

Enough about guards. You may have noticed a 1/6 Market Watch article posted at the SW site on Friday in which the author set forth a rationale as to why Shaq's $14 million pricetag is overstated and ripe for a correction. It's a legitimate issue, but the stated rationale for Shaq's relative overvaluation was flawed, and I thought the issue was important enough that I wrote an article which supports why Shaq is appropriately priced now, and poised to continue increasing in price. It is posted as my latest Hoops Pointers article, Shaq - a $14 Million Bargain. I've also submitted it to Smallworld, and hopefully they'll publish it at their site as well. Hope you find it enlightening.

I was a little surprised to see that Shaq appeared on every single roster among the top 100 teams at the SW site. I knew he would dominate, but I figured maybe 1 or 2 people would be contrarians. The only other players to appear on more than half of the top 100 teams were Payton (79) and Garnett (64). The next three were Odom (43), Kobe (41), and Sealy (40). These teams have an average franchise value of $83.6 million, ranging from a low of $75.6m to a high of $94.8m. That highest value is for 3rd ranked "Chaiinyoureye", which looks like a team to keep your eyes on if you're shooting for the top spot. He does own Eddie Jones, and with no trades remaining, you know how he's rooting for that situation to turn out. As of yesterday afternoon, just 12 of the top 100 teams owned Jones, and half of those teams are out of trades. Living life on the edge!

In Football Pickoff, roughly 20% of all entrants got all four games correct. Four entries had all four games wrong, including frontrunner "Sludge". As I recall, the normal result for an NFL wild card round is that one underdog wins, and that held true again this week.

You can now make your picks for the next round. The freeze will be on Saturday at 12:35pm EST. If you prefer to wait until the last minute to make your picks, let me suggest that you make preliminary selections early in the week, and then make last minute changes if necessary. The game server has been erratic of late, and while I'm told that all problems have been resolved, I think the "fool me once..." maxim definitely applies here.

1/7 - Last night's top players: Terrell Brandon at guard, Alonzo Mourning at center, and at forward... [drum roll...] - Charles Oakley?   Brandon had his second straight 55 SWP game, and he's been putting up pretty good numbers of late. From a price standpoint, though, he's having trouble breaking through, as Payton has a strong upcoming schedule if you can afford a little more, Kobe and Marbury have roughly the same price with good schedules and better name recognition, and there are a few good alternatives just a few $million cheaper, like Bibby, Francis, Rider, & Stackhouse. But over the last two weeks, only Kidd and Payton have higher SWP/G averages than Brandon (at the guard position).

Actually, the most noteworthy performance of the night may have belonged to teammate Malik Sealy, who really seems to be making the most of the extra minutes he's getting with Wally Szczerbiak on the IL. At a price below $2 million and coming off of two games around 40 SWP, he should start getting some attention. We'll find out later today.

It's interesting that the poll results seem to be tracking ESPN's ranking. I wonder if we'd have the same result if I ran it in July rather than January?

1/6 - Yikes! I started working on this blurb around 10am, and then got interrupted by a phone call. Suddenly, it's afternoon, and I just realized I never completed it. Must be the advancing Alzheimers.

Shaq may have been tired, but his numbers don't show it. 40 points, 19 boards. Five players had SWP totals in the 50s last night, but Shaq was "a breed apart", almost reaching 70 SWP.

I forgot to mention in yesterday's list of programming updates that the individual player pages for Hoops now default to show just the last 30 days. If you want to see the entire season's history, there is a link under the table that you can use. I adopted a similar approach for baseball. This allows the pages to run and load faster, while still providing the flexibility for a complete review if desired.

I notice that Smallworld added Jamel Thomas as an IPO yesterday. Strange timing, since he was waived by Golden State the day prior. In fact, SW lists him as being on the Celtics, but they released him the day before Christmas. Oops.

Which also reminds me... on my individual player pages, the past games listed are for the player's current team. If a player has been traded to a new team, pre-trade games won't be correct. It's not worth the extra programming and data tracking effort to build in a "trade memory", but I figured I'd better mention it before some reports the apparent "bug" in Jamel Thomas' point history.

Four new SW trades to play with this afternoon. Don't blow them all at once!

1/5 - Top dog honors last night were shared by Shaq and Tim Duncan, both with 61.5 SWP. Chris Webber trailed by only 1 SWP, and Terrell Brandon was close behind with 55.5 SWP, and also second highest in EBP with 223 (Shaq had 225). With 11 games on the docket, there's a lot of data to look over this morning.

On to a few housekeeping items. First, you'll notice that I moved the basketball links to the top of the left menu. I did leave a link to Football Pickoff near the top, however.

Second, I recently fixed a bug in the Assimilator that impacts users of the IE-5 browser. I recently learned of a glitch that precluded users from updating cash totals. Thanks to a couple of you for pointing it out (though I'm surprised it took until late December before anyone notified me), and thanks to Paul Scheirer (aka "philliephan") for diagnosing the cause and prescribing the cure. Users of Netscape or IE-4 shouldn't be impacted by the fix.

1/4 - Tim Dwight capped the season with the third best individual SWP performance of the season. Interestingly, the season's top three player games were all by kick returners, as Qadry Ismail and Az Hakim each posted 684 SWP games earlier in the year. (I know - Hakim was actually listed as a WR, but kick returns contributed significantly to his big game.)

Actually, the best single game SWP total was not by a player, but the 720 SWP put up by the Pittsburgh defense against the Browns in the season opener. No defense topped the 600 SWP for the rest of the season.

This week produced my best SWP total of the season, with 3641 SWP propelling my team into a WW ranking of 223. Last year my ranking was around 3000, so this was a major improvement. (If I'd only had the Pittsburgh defense in week 1, I have cracked the top 100! Drat!) I also won my Echelon division, although my WW rank of 142 wasn't as lofty on a relative basis.

Final SWF team rankings have been posted. Congrats to Go BENGALS XI, which ended up in the top spot, and also had a WWR of 16. If the manager of that team will send me a brief bio, I will add him/her to the RotoGuru Hall of Fame. Congrats also to the #1 WWR team, BigPooGenerator, who didn't submit his team to the RotoGuru rankings, but who does use the RotoGuru site, and occasionally contributes to the message forum. If that manager wishes to submit a bio, I'll also enshrine him in the hallowed halls.

The managers of the #1 ranked teams in the two Echelon football games are also eligible for HOF listing. If they are Gurupies, they should also submit a brief bio.

In Pickoff, scores are updated through the end of the regular season, and first week's playoff games can now be picked. For the entire NFL playoffs, there will be only 11 games, so the playoffs will contribute fewer game opportunities than one regular season week. On that basis, the current 252 point lead for Sludge looks pretty imposing. But you never know.

I find it interesting that in the final week of the regular season, the "Home Team" pickoff entry has moved ahead of "Consensus Underdogs", and trails only three entrants.

Oh yeah, the NBA had a slate of 6 games last night, and there are 11 more on tap for tonight. Grant Hill was the big kahuna. Perhaps as noteworthy was Allen Iverson, who managed only 42.5 SWP in spite of scoring 45 real points. He was 16-38 in FG shooting, and his FT shooting was almost Shaq-like at 11-18. He lost 18 SWP on missed shots!

Starting tomorrow (if I remember), I'll resequence the menu items at the left to put Hoops at the top.

1/3 - Happy New Year!

First of all, Football Pickoff entries were pretty strong over the weekend, and thus, results for week 17 will count in the YTD standings. I'll have the selection table for the first playoff weekend up within the next day. The freeze for this week will be kickoff time (12:30 pm EST) for the first game on Saturday. All picks for Saturday and Sunday must be entered by that time. There will be no 50 point bonus for picking games this week. Just raw scoring. The top spot in the standings is still being fiercely contested.

By the way, the name server for the Pickoff game still seems to be having occasional problems. If you use the link in the left menu, you should be able to access the game without problems.

We finally had a weekend when neither Kurt Warner or Peyton Manning had particularly strong games. Of course, part of the reason was that they each only played partial games. Marshall Faulk still belonged on your roster, though - unless you had the trio of Levens, Martin, and Wheatley. Patrick Jeffers continued his late season surge, as did teammates Wesley Walls and Steve Beuerlein, each one leading his respective position in points for the day. Still not good enough to get the Panthers into the playoffs, however.

I suspect there are still a number of points up for grabs tonight, with Chris Chandler and Tim Dwight likely to appear on a number of rosters. And then fantasy football will be done for the year. I heard from Smallworld that they will not be offering a playoff game this season. So, Football Pickoff will be your only RotoGuru connection with playoff football.

Only one game on the NBA docket over the weekend. And nobody topped 40 SWP in that game. Not even 7 blocked shots from Zo could do it for him. He needed an 8th.

Today, however, the NBA resumes normal scheduling. Be aware of schedule differences among the various teams. Philly has a particularly unusual schedule, with only one game next trading week (Fri-Thurs), followed by 5 games the following trading week. That has definite implications for Iverson's price action over the next two weeks.

Click here for prior daily blurbs, by month:

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

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

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