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

1/30 - Time for one last NFL game. And time for one last pick in Football Pickoff.

Only 102 people have logged Pickoff picks for the Super Bowl. Current payoff is 64/36 in favor of New England. You have until 6:25 on Sunday to get your pick in. Prizes will be announced next week. If you are eligible for a GuruPatron prize, make sure your entry name is properly asterisked (*) in the standings. Send me an email if yours should be corrected.

The Memphis/Utah postponement has now been rescheduled. It will be on Monday, April 5. That will be the only NBA game on that day, as it's also the final game of the NCAA men's bracket.

I updated the tally of the players owned by the top 100 teams in TSN Ultimate Hoops. They are presented in post 18 of this thread. Last week, six players were represented on at least 75% of the top teams. Now there are only 2 (Garnett and Joe Johnson), also a couple others are close.

TSN updated 8 players for multi-position eligibility yesterday, including several for the difficult center slot. Of particular note is that Joe Johnson is now eligible at both guard and forward. That may present some new trading opportunities for many teams, given his high ownership.

1/29 - Two triple doubles last night. One was a monstrous 20-20-10 from Kevin Garnett, and the other was an 18-10-10 from Ray Allen. Curiously, neither was enough for their teams, as both lost.

Five other players topped 50 TSNP, so there were plenty of points available for the taking. Hopefully, not too many of you swapped into Carlos Boozer, who was expected to be a late arrival, and ended up being a no show. He was the fourth leading price gainer of the day (TSN Ultimate). I thought seriously about taking him, but decided not to risk the apparent uncertainty. So far, so good - but if he continues to produce like he has for the past couple of weeks, all will quickly be forgiven, I'm sure. Of course, with LeBron back in the offensive flow, scoring opportunities are likely to be more crowded.

1/28 - Trade day!

Last Wednesday was an unusually active day of trading in TSN Ultimate Hoops. Today looks to be similarly busy. And yet, I suspect that a lot of the trading will be spread around. The losers are easy to spot. But there are plenty of viable options on the buy side, so I expect the gains to be spread around, even if the losses are relatively focused. We'll see.

The latest injury problem looks to be Brent Barry, who broke a finger last night. That's a particularly "tough break" for the 25 TSN Ultimate teams that picked him up yesterday. Sometimes this game is just not fair. (No, I wasn't one of them.)

1/27 - I've been riding the McGrady horse since January 6 - long before he became popular - and during that span he's been very good to me. Since then, only two players have outpointed him - Garnett (by 45), and Duncan (by 1). So I really don't want to move him. Unfortunately, he's now in dreaded "day-to-day" mode, so any decision is going to be a bit of a crapshoot.



Interestingly, the second best guard over that same span has been Andre Miller, only 47.5 TSNP behind TMac. Of course, that was helped by last night's triple double totaling 74 TSNP. A couple years ago, this would have been expected from him, but his last couple years have not been kind. Denver's schedule isn't very strong from now until the All Star break - only 7 games, while half the league plays at least 9 - but he's sure been a cheap stud for those who have stuck with him this month. Just ask Gurupie Dr. D, who's ridden him all the way to the #1 WWR in TSN Ultimate(as of this morning).

1/26 - Over the weekend I attended to some programming odds and ends:

  • In the Hoops sortable stats, the string of numbers at the far right side (depicting the schedule) now has a column heading with embedded date info. If you mouse over any digit in the column heading, the underlying date should appear. Thanks to RecycledSpinalFluid for suggesting this feature.

  • In the Assimilator, I discovered that TSN teams with an apostrophe in the team name were not capable of being copied into the Assimilator. That has now been fixed.

  • If you are involved in the GMD variant of the TSN Ultimate game, the posted stat listings for the 48 eligible TSN teams now show total TSNP earned only since the inception of the GMD game (Dec 15).

  • TSN has launched its Basic Season 2 game for Hoops. I've downloaded all season 2 prices, and will add them to the sortable stats as a separate game option later today. Season 2 begins immediately after the All Star break.
Meanwhile, TSN's Golf game begins this week. This is a free, pay-for-trade game, but if you are interested only in a FTO (free trade only) or a LTO (limited trading only) variant, check the RotoGuru Golf Forum for guidelines and division info.

1/23 - There were only three NBA games last night, and perhaps the most interesting boxscore lines were the "close, buts..." . For example, Kevin Ollie was only a point and an assist short of a triple double. Vlade Divac was similarly close, missing by one board and one assist. Ollie has never earned a triple double in the NBA, and this was probably the closest he's ever come - or ever will. Divac has 7 career TDs, the most recent in the 2001-02 season.

1/22 - I did some detective work on the top 100 TSN Ultimate teams this morning. Here's what I discovered:

  • There are only 67 managers represented. Four different managers each have 5 teams in the top 100.

  • Here is the consensus roster: (number of teams in [ ] )
    Guard: Joe Johnson[82], Bogans[77], Hinrich[75], McGrady[28]
    Forward: Brand[95], Duncan[94], Garnett[93], Nowitzki[61]
    Center: Camby[54], Dalembert[49]

  • The average franchise value is $61.9 million.

  • The average trades remaining (as of 11am this morning) is 3.66
The most interesting discovery for me is that my top team is the consensus team! So much for the value of differentiation.

Also, note the extreme convergence among forwards. Almost every team has the trio of Garnett, Duncan, and Brand.

1/21 - Evidently, Utah needs Andrei Kirilenko a lot more than Cleveland needs LeBron James. To win, that is. I'm sure ticket sales are another story.

Someone recently inquired at the forum about the amount of time a manager needs to invest each day to be competitive in the TSN Ultimate game. There were a variety of answers, but I think the key is not so much the amount of daily attention, but rather the need for occasional long term planning. On many days, I don't do much more than check the scores, look for aberrations (DNPs, high or low output), and screen through the latest news at RotoWire. Some days, that can take less than 15 minutes.

However, I think the key is to dedicate some serious time about once per week in long term planning. Yesterday, I probably spent 90 minutes working through a number of possible trading options over the course of the next 3 weeks. This morning, I reviewed that work and made some adjustments as well. Particularly on days when I'm planning to make some trades, I always like to revisit the long term plan to make sure the current tactics are still appropriate. And at least once per week, I try to invest at least an hour in updating and extending that plan.

Does my 3-week outlook usually happen as originally mapped out? Almost never. Injuries, hot streaks, cold streaks, and new ideas almost always change the longer term plans - hopefully for the better. But the process of thinking ahead and continually looking for ways to improve is, in my not-so-humble opinion, the key to long term success.

For the first month or so, I think trading need to be more reactionary. Building roster value is important, and you need to jump on the winners early, and (perhaps more importantly) bail early on losers. Teams and players are still getting settled, and constained roster values require a heavy dose of cheap, unproven players. Frankly, that's the aspect of the game that I don't seem to do as well at. I can't explain why. But I've never been a fast starter.

Once we get to mid-December and especially beyond, rosters can become more stable and strategically driven. As of today, my top team will have five stud-quality players on it. The cheaper players hopefully form a relatively stable core, and can be held for a long time, not jumping in and out for each schedule nuance. (I'm sure that's an overstatement, but let's go with it for now.) Studs can be more actively maneuvered in and out, depending mostly on schedule factors. Of course, it's great to hold onto studs through an extended strong schedule. But sometimes, you are willing to pick up a stud for a short period, as long as there is an efficient entry and exit opportunity. And to enable those efficiencies, long term planning is critical. It allows you to figure out the best ways to get the "must haves", ensures that you can retain enough extra trades to handle surprises, gives you ample time to reflect on the various choices that will ultimately have to me made. And perhaps just as importantly, it helps to ensure that you aren't too stingy in using trades. You want to have a few trades in reserve, but if you have too many as the season winds down, you can have trouble making efficient use of them.

To do this planning, I rely heavily on the various RotoGuru tools. The sortable stats projection capabilities are exercised a great deal, comparing options over a variety of future periods. The Assimilator provides a convenient means to test the affordability of a plan, and to measure the projected outcomes. And a spreadsheet version of the schedule is a critical backbone of my screening process. I'm not making use of any RotoGuru-developed information that isn't freely available to all of you.

It needn't take an extraordinary amount of time, and it can often be undertaken when you have some time available - perhaps on the weekend, or perhaps during a lull at the office. It's not an exercise that needs to be critically reevaluated daily. And I'm convinced it is the most important element in a successful campaign. For me, at least.

To paraphrase the famous saying, "if you fail to plan, you should plan to fail."

1/20 - So far, Stephon Marbury seems to be enjoying his return to New York. And so does Joe Johnson. In his last 5 games, Marbury has averaged 48 TSNP. And since Stephon left, Johnson has averaged 37 TSNP/G.

Meanwhile, after three straight games below 50 TSNP, Kevin Garnett put up the kind of game you expect from Kevin Garnett - 64.5 TSNP. For most players, getting results in the TSNP 40s is just fine. But with Garnett's lofty price, those are expensive points. Unless his schedule is quite dense, he really needs to average in the 50s to make the cost marginally worthwhile.

1/19 - Most years (as I recall), the Football Pickoff title has been settled well before the Super Bowl. But this year is different. At least four contestants still have a shot at it. DR Stars moved into the top spot with a successful double of Carolina. Vilica1 vaulted into 2nd with a perfect weekend. Sludge1 graciously accommodated the other contenders by going "oh-fer". And Mallontown continues to hang around. And now everyone has two full weeks to stew over that final pick.

Today is a national holiday in the U.S., and there are a fair number of afternoon games in the NBA. If you have trades to make, get 'em done early. And perhaps your most critical trades are in Progressive Sports Challenge, where your entire roster needs to be reset. Forget that, and forget the season, as you'll be stuck with a zero for the entire week.

1/16 - Brrrr..... Those of you in the northeast know what I'm talking about.

The top trio of NBA producers last night was the unlikely combo of Kirilenko, Robinson (Cliff), and Posey. Of the three, only Kirilenko is not mired in gravity, and he's only on 18% of rosters, well below his peak for the season. Posey is only on 17 rosters.

Perhaps the most notable development of the night was the good games posted by a lot of Phoenix players. Both Joe Johnson (39 TSNP) and Leandro Barbosa (29.5) reversed their poor showings of the previous game. Amare Stoudemire had his second straight game in the mid 40s. And Shawn Marion topped 40 TSNP for the first time in 10 days. Even Jake Voskuhl's 29 TSNP was pretty good for a center priced at the TSN minimum. Phoenix plays as many games as any team between now and the All Star break (16, along with the Clippers and Seattle), so decent productivity could translate into sustainable price gains as well.

1/15 - On my top TSN team, I made some TSN roster adjustments over the course of the last week with an eye toward being able to own Garnett this week instead of "settling" for Duncan, even though Duncan had one extra game (5 vs. 4) over the 7 day period from Jan 13-19.

TSNP Garnett Duncan
< 3014
though January 12th
Why? Garnett had simply been a lot more dominant, and a lot more consistent. The table at the left counts and compares single game TSNP results for the two, excluding the last two games. It seemed like a "bad" Garnett game was in the 40s, while Duncan was much more likely to be in the 20s or 30s. It seemed like Garnett was much more likely to post a monster game north of 70 TSNP. Based on season averages, 4 games from Garnett would have roughly the same output as 5 games from Duncan. And I figured that Duncan would be the popular choice of the week, so a reasonably good week from Garnett could be a nice differentiator.

So far, it's not going according to plan. After two games, Duncan is ahead by about 15 TSNP, thanks to last night's 71 in a head-to-head matchup. Garnett has posted two of those "off nights" in the 40s. And Duncan still has the game in hand. Of course, the week is not yet over, and with these two guys, a swing of 50 TSNP is possible on any given night. But it's looking like the simpler choice of Duncan would have worked out just fine. And those who figured out a way to own both of them are doing fine, also.

(By the way, I doubt if Garnett is feeling too bad about his sub-par results, and Duncan is certainly not celebrating. Minnesota won both games, while the Spurs dropped both of theirs.)

Actually, the player to have shunned may turn out to be Ben Wallace. Six games in eight days is hard to turn down. But as often seems the case, the obvious pickups have a perverse propensity to disappoint. And there's nothing like an early ejection to get that ball rolling. Maddening!

1/14 - There were a lot of games in the NBA last night, but no player really lit up the boxscores, with only three players posting TSNP totals in the low 50s. Marcus Camby was tops with 52 TSNP, and seems to be luring in a lot of buyers lately, which no doubt means an injury is imminent. He's now on more than 20% of all rosters. When I first picked him up a month ago, price gravity was a concern.

LeBron James was just one TSNP behind Camby. This was the 8th time that LeBron has posted 50 or better. He's also been in the 40s six times. Those 14 games constitute about 3/8 of his season. At the other end of the spectrum, he's been in the teens three times, and in the 20s another ten times. So while a 50+ game is not at all unusual, you never know what you're going to get out of him.

Here's an interesting quirk: in just 16 minutes played last night, Calvin Booth had 10 blocks and zero rebounds. Go figure.

1/13 - In any of the past few years, an injury to Kobe Bryant would have had widespread fantasy repercussions, especially during a decent Laker schedule with Shaq on the sidelines. But as of yesterday, Kobe was on less than 2% of all TSN Ultimate rosters. Gravity territory. So this injury, whether severe or not, won't prompt much trading activity.

The more worrisome activity for many will be for Zach Randolph. The deck is stacked against him, as he's still on more than 75% of all Ultimate rosters, even after yesterday's $100K selloff. His recent production has tailed off markedly, with less than 50 TSNP in his last three games combined. He has some schedule weakness coming up in about a week, and it looks like a lot of managers are not going to wait for that shoe to drop. If you are a patient believer who really wants to hold through thick and thin, then I'd simply suggest you not look at his price movement for the next few days, especially if tonight's output is below average as well.

PSC released their new player prices for the second half of the Hoops season. As usual, they are pretty dramatic. For example, my roster for the current week in the free game is now worth $100 million, up 33% over its prior value. All rosters have been cleared, and you need to completely reload this week. Don't wait until the last minute, because you're going to need to do some heavy digging to uncover any new bargains.

1/12 - That was certainly the most entertaining weekend of NFL Playoff football from end-to-end that I can remember. Not only did two visiting teams advance, but all four games went down to the wire, including two in overtime.

Five pickoff slates had all all four games correct, and only one of those five failed to double the Panthers (my son's). In past seasons, by this point we have our overall Pickoff winner clinched, but this year there are still at least four teams with a realistic chance, and several more with a mathematical shot at it. Only three games remain, but since two of those can be doubled, a swing of 500+ points is still plausible. It will be interesting to see how the leaders opt to play it this weekend. And the Midseason competition has even more entries still in contention.

1/9 - A slow day. Only 2 NBA games. A lot of Pete Rose bashing. And in my home state of Connecticut, we have a situation with our governor that has striking parallels to the Pete Rose saga. Both repeatedly behaved in a manner that was ethically bankrupt and self-centered. Both repeatedly lied when the transgressions were first uncovered. Since the initial discoveries, both have only incrementally come clean, first admitting to the lies and apologizing for the lies only, then apologizing for the deeds, and then ultimately feigning remorse. The scripts seem to be carefully calculated to admit the minimum necessary to keep their respective viabilities afloat. Neither offers an ounce of sincerity, or any credible sense that they wouldn't continue to behave the same way if they felt confident that they wouldn't get caught. And the public is fed up with both of them.

Enough of this humbug. Sorry for the digression. I need a diversion.

All but 5 NBA teams play tonight, so many fantasy rosters will be fully deployed. It seems like that often results in less that average results - but at least it gives you plenty to think about. And right now, that's a good thing.

1/8 - Another game is lost to the weather. That's two straight for Memphis. This one hasn't yet been rescheduled, so I haven't made any adjustments to my schedules yet.

Given the variety of high-producing forwards and the dearth of consistent stud guards, many TSN teams have arranged their rosters to spend on the front line and go cheap in the backcourt. The list of recent guard attractions includes Arroyo, Hinrich, and Mcinnis, all currently on at least one-third of TSN Ultimate teams (and probably a higher proportion of active teams). Frank Williams threatened to emerge as a fourth option in late December, but an injury derailed that train before it got much steam, and the acquisition of Marbury may make it tough for Williams to get ample playing time when he recovers. But that trade might open up another alternative, as Leandro Barbosa has logged 79 minutes in the last two Phoenix games. The Suns play only once in the next five days, and playing time doesn't necessarily translate into decent points, but he should at least make it onto your watch list, I'd think.

1/7 - I don't usually need to adjust for NBA game postponements - although one or two per year is not unusual. Last night we had the first, due to a snowstorm in Portland. I have attempted to amend the various schedule-related aspects of all Hoops programs (sartibles, schedule generator, etc.) to reflect the rescheduled game on March 3. Let me know if I missed something. I'm used to doing this during baseball season, but I may have forgotten a basketball file.

I've signed up with a new advertisement provider, Google AdSense. Currently, their ads will appear along the right side of this page, and also on random pages at the message forum. I hope they aren't too intrusive, and that occasionally one of them piques your interest.

1/6 - Interesting NBA trade yesterday. From a fantasy perspective, we'll have to see how things shake out. Playing time certainly won't be an issue for Marbury, but you never know how he'll mesh with his new team. On the other side, Ward and Eisley were interfering with each other's playing time in NY, and that might still be the case in Phoenix, although with Penny Hardaway also gone, there are presumably more minutes up for grabs. Stephon and Penny were combining for about 70 minutes per game. Still, with so many moving parts, I think we can only wait and see how the roles will flesh out.

If you picked up Tim Duncan on Saturday, or Ray Allen on Sunday, you were probably wondering what hit you (in spite of good TSN price action), as they only combined for 36.5 TSNP in their first games. Both rebounded nicely last night, combining for 125 TSNP. Go figure.

1/5 - If the pollsters had simply been used to seed the BCS bowls, we'd have had the preferred matchup of USC and LSU. Sometimes there's no good statistical substitute for human intuition.

The weekend NFL games went according to plan. All four favorites won, and 3 out of 4 home teams won. And while simply picking favorites all year would have been a profitable strategy in Football Pickoff, there was an even better approach - picking all home teams. So far, home teams have racked up 2299 points, which would rank #7 overall. Favorites have managed only 1753 points (30th place). Further, in prior years, picking favorites has had very mixed results - including two seasons with a negative outcome. But home teams have always produced a positive total. This year's result is the best so far, but last season was almost as good, with a cumulative tally of 1818 points. The three prior seasons each produced home team results in the 500-600 point range. So it would appear that Football Pickoff prognosticators have never fully appreciated the value of home cooking.

I've turned the calendar on the GuruPatron tally at the top of the page. Four Gurupies have already donated this year, including two brand new GuruPatrons. I added historical annual totals to the GuruPatron registry page, which you can see by clicking on the GuruPatron link in the top message. But while it's gratifying to reflect on prior results, it's time to get on with the new year. As always, thanks for your continued support. And now I'll try to shut up about GuruPatron results for awhile.

1/2 - There weren't any NBA games yesterday, but as the first "workday" of the new year, and after being away for awhile, I thought a blurb was warranted.

First, thanks for the last flurry of GuruPatron activity. We topped the $7,000 mark. That's almost 7% higher than last year, and the number of donors was up almost 16%. Thanks for your continued support. I'll leave the 2003 tally on top for the next few days, but then it will be time to work on 2004.

Second, an administrative note. A couple months ago, I instituted a process which allowed GuruPatrons to reset their own unique message forum IDs. These IDs form the basis of GuruPatron recognition at the message forum. Yesterday, I made the next step of using only this unique ID as the means to recognize GuruPatrons. (Previously, I had multiple IDs coded for many people, and some were recognized simply by their Gurupie name.) If you are a GuruPatron and are no longer properly recognized, please reset your ID. For more instructions, see posts 9 and 16 of this thread.

The NBA season resumes in earnest today. 21 teams play 4 games in the next 7 days, and the other 8 teams play 3 times - so almost no player is ruled out by virtue of schedule. Only 5 teams don't play tonight.

Finally, don't forget that Football Pickoff continues through the NFL playoffs. All picks for the upcoming weekend will be frozen at 4:30 pm ET on Saturday.

Click here for prior daily blurbs, by month:

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

Click here for prior daily blurbs, by month:

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

Click here for prior daily blurbs, by month:

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

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

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

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

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

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