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

2/28 - There was Kevin Garnett, and then there was everyone else.

KG missed a triple double by a single assist, but still managed a monster night of 77 TSNP. No one else was within 20 TSNP. Jon Barry, Chauncey Billups, and Jalen Rose were all in the 52-53 TSNP range, which isn't bad, by any stretch. Just pale by comparison.

The 2002 baseball Assimilator has been launched. During the preseason, this tool has limited utility, since there aren't any daily points to track. It does provide a convenient means to fiddle with roster alternatives. Of course, you can do that directly at the TSN site as well during the preseason, or within the draft spreadsheet that TSN makes available. As new games (free TSN, PSC) are introduced, I'll incorporate those into Assimilator as well.

2/27 - Pretty balanced scoring last night. No one had a real bust-out game, but six players were in the TSNP 50s. Stephon Marbury and Michael Finley tied for the TSNP honors with 56.5. Shawn Marion was tops in PSC points (66), and only one back in TSNP (55.5).

In the baseball sortable stats, I added links to the RotoWorld page for each player. I also left the RotoWire links. For those who may not have been active since last baseball season, RotoWire converted to a pay subscription basis late in 2001, and you can no longer access their information for free. Thus, those links will only work if you are a subscriber. RotoWorld offers similar information, and is still free - at least for now.

The issue of prize eligibility in various fantasy games comes up from time to time. An article from provides a nice overview of some of the legal issues that drive jurisdictional limitations. (Actually, this article was written about a year ago, but was just pointed out yesterday by someone at the message forum.)

2/26 - Elton Brand was the big kahuna last night, turning 27 points and 23 rebounds into 63 TSNP. I had him on two of my TSN teams at the beginning of this week. I had been planning on holding him until tomorrow, when I would "upgrade" to Kevin Garnett. But when Brand took his DNP last Wednesday, I had to reassess the situation. His previous three games had been subpar, and his outlook was uncertain. Over the ensuing 6 days, Brand had four games scheduled, while Garnett had only 3. If Elton missed at least one more game, then a premature transition to Garnett seemed like a good move, as 3 games from KG should outproduce 3 games from a struggling Brand. Three KG games might even outproduce four games from a struggling Brand. Hmmm....

Of course, there were other options as well. But on one team, because I had ample trades remaining, I opted to move to KG immediately. On the other team, I was light on trades, and decided to tough it out. So far, having the trades available has turned out to be very unfortunate. Brand has totaled 170 TSNP in his last 3 games, and still has tonight before his long layoff. Meanwhile, Garnett has only garnered 129 TSNP in his three games. I guess I should be grateful that one team was short on trades. Unfortunately, it was the least competitive of my three teams. The moral of the story? Beats me...

TSN announced a couple more changes for their Ultimate baseball game yesterday. (It seems like every day, this game changes a bit.)

  1. Positions were changed for 21 players. Some could catch you by surprise, such as a switch for Chipper Jones to the outfield, Ryan Klesko to the OF, and Alfonzo to 3B. All of these reflect the current expectations for the coming season, but differ from where we are used to seeing them play.
  2. TSN changed the policy on Division prizes. Now, you can win a $50 prize for each division won. Previously, there was a stated limit of one Division prize per person. So, if you register three teams, you might as well put them in three separate divisions. Could pay off!

2/25 - There were two triple doubles over the weekend, and each has an interesting storyline.

  • Tracy McGrady had his first career TD on Saturday, worth 71.5 TSNP. He followed that up on Sunday with a DNP (sore foot).
  • Ben Wallace had an unusual TD on Sunday, with 10 points, 17 rebounds, and 10 blocks (72 TSNP). I suspect that was his first career TD as well.
There were plenty of other good performances over the weekend, and also plenty that weren't so good. I'll let you dig 'em out.

I put out a preseason version of sortable stats for the Ultimate TSN baseball game. These tables show draft prices for the new season, and point totals using the new formulas. For comparison, I have also provided point averages using last year's formulas, as well as the difference in the TSNP/EG from last year to this year. The difference appears in the second column from the right, cryptically headed "Form diff".

For pitchers, the formula change is a reduced charge for walks and hit batters. This means that wilder pitchers will see more of a benefit than control pitchers. For example, Randy Johnson's TSNP/EG increases by 1.1 TSNP/EG, while Greg Maddux only benefits by 0.4 TSNP/EG. Among the top pitchers, Chan Ho Park (+1.4) and Kerry Wood (+1.5) have the biggest increases. Rick Ankiel improves by +1.7 TSNP/EG, from -0.4 TSNP/EG last year to +1.3 TSNP/EG under the new formula.

The hitting formula change is a doubling of the deduction for an out (from -1 to -2). On the surface, it would seem that high average hitters would be hurt less than low average hitters. Barry Bonds has a net reduction of -2.0 TSNP/EG, which is among the best. But Ichiro Suzuki has a net reduction of -2.8 TSNP/EG, in spite of his lofty batting average. So batting average would seem to be a rather poor indicator of the proportionate change. After a little more thought, it seems that a better indicator might be OPS (the sum of on base percentage and slugging percentage), since this factors in many of the value generators that are ignored by the simple batting average. Bonds had a very gaudy OPS of 1.379, while Suzuki was down at .836. But Luis Gonzalez ranked 4th in OPS (1.117), and has a decline of -2.5 TSNP/EG. ARod's OPS was 1.021 (ranked 11th), and has a decline of -2.7 TSNP/EG. So even OPS seems to be a misleading indicator.

When you come down to it, I guess the key is that there are a lot of factors involved, including games actually played per eligible game. Simple rules of thumb probably aren't going to work very well at ballparking the differences.

One other significant change in this year's Ultimate baseball game relates to the repricing formula for pitchers. This year, pitcher prices will continue to move daily, but the daily change will be based upon trade activity over the previous five days. The intent is to smooth out the volatility induced by the rotation cycle, as pitchers tend to be bought in advance of a start, and sold afterward. By using a five day trade period, the longer term ownership trends will continue to influence prices, but much of the rotation-induced volatility will be netted out. No longer will simplistic rotation strategies like "Randro" (flipflopping back and forth between the two most popular starters) be the ticket to easy value gains. This will have material implications on the optimal pitcher trading strategies, and I'm sure this will get a lot of discussion at the message forum over the next 5 weeks... and beyond.

2/22 - With Van Exel, LaFrentz, and two others on the way, Dallas may soon have a challenge in getting everyone enough minutes. But with the team short-handed last night (while all of the traded players were in transit), Dirk Nowitzki made his case for getting even more court time, parlaying his 45 minutes into a monstrous 87.5 TSNP. Of course, with the Mavericks' schedule waning somewhat, he's not on as many rosters as he was the past two weeks. But I'm sure some teams still had him.

The only player to be within 40 TSNP of Dirk was Jason Kidd, with 54 TSNP. Seven others were in the 40s. Notably absent from the 40+ club were guys like Garnett (36), Duncan (35.5), and Webber (18). In fact, those three combined for just 2 TSNP more than Dirk had all by himself!

TSN launched the Ultimate version of its 2002 baseball game last night. One of the key differences from last year is a change in the point formulas. Pitchers will be benefited by a decrease in the decrement for walks and HBP, while hitters will have a point reduction as outs will be worth -2 rather than -1. The reason for the change is to bring pitcher and hitters into better parity. Last season, 90% of the top 50 players were hitters. But if we apply the new formulas, 24 of the top 50 players (in total points) are pitchers. Stay tuned in coming weeks for more analysis.

Sortable baseball stats for the game are already posted.

2/21 - This time it was Elton Brand who failed to answer the opening bell. There have been an awful lot of DNPs in the last week, and I seem to have found them all. So much for trade conservation.

Among players who did appear, Allen Iverson was the best answer, with 46 points leading to a fantasy output of 65.5 TSNP. That surpassed a surprising triple-double from Mark Jackson (60.5 TSNP). Four players were in the 50s, and eleven found the 40s.

In addition to Jackson's 3D, I noticed a few other boxscore oddities last night. Eric Snow had 11 boards and 12 assists, but failed to get the triple double with only 6 points scored. Even more unusual was Michael Redd's linescore: 29 points and nothing else - no rebounds, no assists, no steals,.. not even a turnover or a personal foul. He shot 9-13 from beyond the arc, and three of those misses came in the final minute of a blowout game.

2/20 - Two triple doubles last night. Jason Kidd earned 75.5 TSNP for his league-leading 6th triple double (and also became the Nets' franchise leader in that category, even though he has yet to complete his first season with the team). Antoine Walker had his second TD in the past 8 days, this one worth 70.5 TSNP.

Kidd has been a model of consistency since the end of January. Not only has he had 3 triple doubles since Jan. 31, but he has not been below 40 TSNP in any game during that span. Walker, on the other hand, has been very erratic, with TSNP games of 31.5, 36, and 26.5 in between his triple double bookends.

There were quite a few other good outings last night as well. Five players found the TSNP 50s, and nine were in the 40s. That's a pretty hefty showing, considering there were only six games played. I'll let you look 'em up.

2/19 - The days leading up to the NBA trade deadline can be one of the most maddening periods in a fantasy season. Even if trades don't get completed, sometimes it is wise to lay off a player who is rumored to be included in trade talks, or any player whose role might be diminished if a trade for a different player is completed. It now appears that the Bulls and Pacers will execute a multiplayer trade including Ron Artest & Brad Miller, both who sat out last night's game in order to avoid any potentially complicating injuries. If you still own either player (and I own both), Indy still has three off days before their schedule regains some momentum. While it's nice to have trades available to deal with the uncertainty, I sure hate to use them for these types of unexpected situations. But such is life. Or, at least, fantasy life.

Karl Malone continues to put up very studly numbers. His 57.5 TSNP at Cleveland last night was his fourth above 50 TSNP out of his last five games. So much for the old man battling his age on an extended road trip. But don't jump on his bandwagon now - Utah plays just once in the next seven days.

The only other player to top 50 TSNP last night was Allen Iverson (54.5), who wasn't even expected to suit up (toe sprain). So the top performances went to the old man and the cripple. Go figure.

2/18 - The very last game of the weekend provided the top fantasy performance of the weekend, as Gary Payton's 68.5 TSNP barely eclipsed Tracy McGrady's 68 from the day before. Those were the only players to exceed 60 TSNP in any weekend game. Twelve players found the TSNP 50s.

Progressive Sports Challenge Hoops managers are reminded that today's weekly roster freeze is pushed ahead to 1pm EST, due to an afternoon game today. Don't get caught by surprise! In prior weeks with early freezes, there have usually been several (more than usual) contending teams that failed to get their trades done in time.

If you are anxiously awaiting the arrival of baseball season, TSN has announced the highlights of their 2002 baseball offerings, although the game has not yet formally launched. For more commentary and feedback, please visit the baseball message forum.

2/15 - Last night, I had a choice of watching the Kings-Wizards game, or Olympic curling on CNBC. (Men's figure skating was not in the running, by the way...). Believe it or not, I found curling more interesting. Not sure what that says about the NBA - or about me.

Karl Malone may have been booted out of Utah for awhile (and all that Jazz), but it hasn't hurt his production. His 55 TSNP last night topped all players, and it was his third 50+ game in his last four outings (the other one was a Grizzly 25). Jason Kidd's 54.5 TSNP almost matched Malone, in spite of shooting only 2-18 from the field. Kobe Bryant was the only other player to exceed 50 TSNP (50.5), and only three others found the 40s.

The Memphis lineup sure is getting Grizzly. With Jason Williams and Brevin Knight sidelined, Rodney Buford picked a fine time to get suspended. The bright side is that Lorenzen Wright made his first appearance in more than 2 months, garnering 27.5 TSNP in 23 minutes. Memphis has a relatively light schedule for the next 10 days (3 games), but with so few attractive choices at center, Wright is certainly worthy of consideration - especially in TSN Ultimate Hoops, where his price is just below $3.5 million.

By the way, the US women's curling team lost to both Denmark and Switzerland, but the US men beat Switzerland 6-2, so it wasn't a clean sweep.

2/14 - Tuesday night was remarkable for the number of exceptionally good performances. Wednesday was probably the payback for a lot of fantasy teams.

Consider the following results for some of the more widely held players:
Sam Cassell: DNP (sprained toe)
Brad Miller: 3 TSNP (bruised calf)
Kenny Anderson: 5 TSNP (just stunk, I guess)
Jumaine Jones: 3.5 TSNP
Ron Artest: 15 TSNP

The night wasn't a complete bust, however. Andre Miller didn't get a triple double, but he still put up 67 TSNP, his third consecutive game north of 60. Kevin Garnett also returned to stud form, with 66 TSNP. Twelve other players were in the TSNP 40s, some of whom you would expect to see in that range, and some who were pleasant surprises.

Cassell and Brad Miller were two of the top price gainers (TSN Ultimate Hoops) over the All Star break, and it will be interesting to see how well they can retain those gains. It's too early to know whether either injury will persist, but heavily owned players tend to give value-conscious managers the jitters. For the record, I own Cassell once and Miller twice. I'm holding for now.

2/13 - The All Star break certainly agreed with a bunch of players!

There were three triple doubles last night, and Jason Kidd missed a fourth (and his sixth) by a single assist. Until now, the league had been averaging just four triple-doubles per month. Last night's triumvirate included Andre Miller (85 TSNP), Antoine Walker (80), and Kobe Bryant (73). Two other players were in the TSNP 60s, three were in the 50s, and fourteen found the 40s. Centers evidently didn't get the message, as the top centers only managed to eke into the low 30s. Suffice it to say that if your Ultimate TSN roster didn't amass at least 300 TSNP last night, you probably didn't fare well vs. your competitors.

Chris Webber may have ranked only fifth among forwards last night, but his 53.5 TSNP was still a nice payback for those who hung onto him throughout his recent price hemorrhage. In particular, those who opted to make an early move into Shawn Marion took a relative point loss of 36 TSNP. They'll now have to find a way to parlay their favorable $540K price swing into at least 36 additional TSNP just to break even on the early swap. That amount of recovery is possible - but it certainly diminishes the benefits of the quick jump.

2/12 - After watching the pairs figure skating last night, I was again reminded why I prefer sports with objective, determinable measures. Sure, all sports are occasionally impacted by bad calls. But it's hard to imagine that five out of nine judges simply made a "bad call".

A lot of Ultimate TSN teams got a nice value boost over the weekend. Daily trading was undoubtedly light, but TSN repricing is based on the proportionate trade flows made each period (graded on the curve, so to speak), and with five days of relatively consistent trading patterns, a few NBA players lost or gained value at a exaggerated rate. If you held on to Chris Webber for tonight's game (and I did on a couple of teams), your value was undoubtedly dampened (he's dropped $370K in four days), but overall, most boats are floating higher than they were at the beginning of the break. Of course, since most boats are higher, it's not at all clear that this creates much of a relative advantage for anyone. As they say in figure skating, that's just "the way it works."

The Progressive Sport Challenge freeze is tonight at 6:30pm EST, so if you forgot to reset your roster(s) for the coming week, you still have time.

Football Pickoff prize confirmation emails were sent out yesterday. Check your email if you think you were a winner.

2/8 - Chris Webber sort of rewarded those who held onto him. While 30 TSNP isn't what you expect from him, it's a lot better than a DNP. On the other hand, it wasn't better than Duncan (44), Mason (43), or Glenn Robinson (33), the trio that seemed to be the primary targets of the early Webber swappers.

Shareef Abdur-Rahim led all producers with 54.5 TSNP. Sam Cassell and Allan Houston each contributed 50.5 TSNP. The best cheapies were Brevin Knight (49 TSNP) and Popeye Jones (47).

We now get four days off - from fantasy point production, at least. Ultimate TSN will still do its daily repricing, so there will be something to keep track of. I'm going to use the downtime to catch up on some other activities, to follow my fantasy golfers, and to watch college Hoops and the Olympics. I imagine the message forum will be pretty dead.

2/7 - About a week ago, Chris Webber's impending 7 games in 9 days (ignoring the break) made him a "must-have" for most teams. But so far, he's only appeared in 3-of-5, and after missing last night's game with a stomach flu, he's clearly transformed into a "shouldn't have". The good news is that most competitive teams owned him, so the relative disadvantage is slight. The bad news is that this could have been a wonderful differentiation opportunity.

Vlade Divac made the most of Webber's absence with a triple-double 64 TSNP output. He barely eclipsed Andre Miller's 63 TSNP non-triple-double. Miller is one of those guys who seems to play his best when I don't own him, and vice versa. Instead, I got the benefit of Payton's woeful 21.5 pointer. In fact, Payton ranked 19th among guards last night, behind such stars as Kevin Ollie and Oscar Torres.

Two guards reached the TSNP 50s as well. Brent Barry (55.5) picked up where Payton left off, and Bonzi Wells (53.5) atoned for his prior day's early ejection.

2/6 - Nothing like a double-overtime shootout to bloat the fantasy stats. In a 141-140 game (Dallas-Indiana), four players exceeded 50 TSNP, headed by Dirk Nowitzki's 61 TSNP. Michael Finley had 59 TSNP in 57 minutes played (so I guess he only sat for one minute in the entire game!), and Jamaal Tinsley turned 56 minutes into 58 TSNP. Austin Croshere rounded out the quartet with a paltry 50.5 TSNP.

The Denver-Portland game ended 97-96 in regulation time, but it produced three players in the mile-high 50s: Ruben Patterson (59 TSNP in only 36 minutes), Nick Van Exel (53.5), and Raef LaFrentz (53). In the other 8 NBA games, the only player to top 50 TSNP was Quentin Richardson, with 56.5 TSNP for the Clippers. Eleven players were in the 40s.

Not everyone fared so well, however. Some of the more widely-held busts included 1 TSNP from Bonzi Wells (ejected), 3 TSNP from Michael Olowokandi (after 51.5 in his previous game), 6 TSNP from Jarron Collins, and a DNP from (who else?) Derrick Coleman.

Just two more days until the All Star break. Sacramento plays both days. Six teams are done until after the break. Of those, Golden State and Miami don't play again until after the next trade refresh.

2/5 - The 3-headed monster (Webber/Duncan/Garnett) had been working out pretty well until last night, when 2 were thrown out and the other was blown out. Only 78.5 TSNP combined for the threesome. You certainly expect better for $33 million.

Karl Malone got more than 3/4 of that singlehandedly, putting up the top game of 61.5 TSNP. Iverson had 54 TSNP, and five guards were in the 40s. Other than the Mailman, no other frontcourt players exceeded Duncan's truncated 37.5.

TSN has clarified that daily price changes (Ultimate Hoops) will continue throughout the NBA All Star break. This is consistent with the past two years in SW Hoops, but differs from the approach used in baseball last summer, and in Hockey last week. I don't expect trading to be particularly heavy during the break, but remember that price changes are based on the proportion of buy/sells for a given player, not the absolute number of trades. Consequently, light trading days can still produce significant price volatility - particularly if there are any trading themes, as has been evidenced in the past several weekends. Depending on your price outlook, you probably want to trade either early or late - or both. Forewarned is forearmed.

I posted my determination of the Football Pickoff prize winners in the message forum. If you were in contention, please check it out and make sure I've got it correct. If you think I've made any errors, please advise ASAP. Otherwise, this list will become final, and prize winners will be officially notified by email within the next week.

2/4 - That was certainly an entertaining Super Bowl, wasn't it?

Football Pickoff standings are final, unless anyone has reason to suspect an error. (Speak now or forever hold your peace. Congrats to the prize winners, who will be notified by email later this week, once I sort them all out. Special kudos to overall winner jungleman24, who took over the top spot just before Thanksgiving, and then never looked back.

In spite of the (rescheduled) Super Bowl, the NBA had a rather active slate on Sunday, most of it played early in the day. On a day when patriotism was a common theme, and the Patriots won, I guess it is fitting that the top producer was The Admiral, with 61 TSNP. The 3-headed-monster at forward did well, combining for 160.5 TSNP, with each individually topping 50 TSNP. The only other players to reach the TSNP 50s were Michael Olowokandi (51.5) and Shaq (51).

Just four more days before the NBA All Star break. Starting Friday, you can switch your attention from the NBA to the Winter Olympics, at least for a few days. Or hockey. Or college hoops. Or golf. Or slam dunk contests.


2/1 - Jason Kidd had the triple double. Michael Jordan had the buzzer beater. Twelve other players produced TSNP somewhere in between Kidd's 73 and Michael's 40. But I'll bet Michael got the lead NBA story on SportsCenter.

According to the best info I can find, the Super Bowl is scheduled to start around 6:30pm. I suspect the kickoff won't occur until a few minutes later, but I'm going to set up 6:30pm ET as the freeze for Football Pickoff. I'll be watching the game at a friend's house, so I'm going to automate the disappearance of the "save" button (rather than turning it off manually). Just in case something goes awry, I'd recommend you make your pick well before the deadline - if it matters to you. If some late-breaking news causes you to change your mind, you should still be able to adjust your pick anytime before 6:30pm.

Click here for prior daily blurbs, by month:

2002: 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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