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10/31 - New England’s beat-down of the Vikings left the weekend tally at 7-7 for NFL favorites vs. underdogs, but Foootball Pickoff scoring was still decidedly negative, with only one-third of active slates posting a positive result. There were some big scores, though, headed by Tosh1, who went 12-2 while racking up 657 points.
If your Football Pickoff season has gone poorly so far, the midseason contest starts this week. You don’t need to do anything special to enter. All teams are automatically included, and scoring simply starts from scratch with week #9. Just select the midseason option in the “Sort Order” menu.
A few random observations on NFL Week #8:
10/30 - I’m sure that bye weeks are especially unpleasant when your team is coming off a sub-par performance. So the upcoming bye week for Philly, Carolina, Arizona, and the Jets will be no fun for any of those four teams – the last four teams to have byes this season.
Most of the PGA Tour will also have a bye this coming week. The field for the final GuruGolf tournament, the TOUR Championship, is limited to the top 30 money winners for the past season. And with Tiger and Phil sitting it out, the star quality will be somewhat reduced from the normal season-ender. With no cuts this week, the front-runners in the standings would appear to have comfortable leads, but I’m not going out on that limb yet, and I’m not going to jinx anyone by naming them. I am comfortable, that last week’s best team, SANFORDORS, doesn’t have enough momentum to get it done, as that team is currently ranked #115, a scant 202 strokes off the pace! In addition to the full year competition, the Autumn AntiClimax contest ends this week, and the scoreboard for both best- and worst-ball is very congested for that contest.
For the third straight week, Consensus Underdogs in Football Pickoff have done quite well, going 7-6 so far, with one game remaining. In the first five weeks of the season, underdogs won only 19 games, including the whitewashing in week #5. Since then, underdogs have prevailed in 22 games. If you haven’t been going against the flow lately, you are probably sinking quickly.
10/27 - The last time the Tigers were down 3 games to 1 to the Cardinals in the World Series, they had to go back to St. Louis to finish the comeback. So this year’s task shouldn’t be as daunting. All they need to do is dredge up Mickey Lolich and Denny McLain. On the other hand, recent photos suggest that neither is likely to be in game shape; “svelte” is not the word that comes to mind. And since Bob Gibson is unlikely to return either, I guess they should just play it out with the guys they have now.
That 1968 World Series is one that I vividly remember. The games were played in the afternoon back then, and I always took a transistor radio to school so that my friends and I could listen as we walked home. My 8th grade mechanical drawing teacher, Mr. Hauserman, always posted the inning-by-inning linescore on the blackboard. The good ole’ days, for sure.
Tonight is the last night of NBA preseason games. I’d say that it’s probably the last chance for key players to get injured, but then Marvin Williams broke his hand during practice yesterday, so I guess the lack of scheduled games over the weekend doesn’t give any assurance of continued health.
10/26 - The RIHC drafts have concluded, and we now begin the “hurry up and wait” period. I assembled a consolidated list of all players drafted in all of the five RIHC leagues here. If you are playing in one of these leagues, you might want to see how your picks measured up to those made in other leagues. And if you’re playing in a different league with comparable scoring, this might be a reasonable proxy for a cheat sheet. Just watch out for some of the outliers. For example, Juwan Howard was taken in only one draft, but it was in round 10.
Meanwhile, the Chrysler Championship is underway. Bo Van Pelt is again the most popular golfer in GuruGolf, but he’s on only 30% of all rosters, so there is no strong consensus once again. Of the 132 golfers in the field, 119 appear on at least one GuruGolf roster. This week’s course should be tougher than those of the past few weeks. Last year, the cut was at +2. By comparison, last week’s cut was at -5.
10/25 - I had gotten a few reports that the Football Pickoff and GuruGolf sites weren’t functioning properly with Internet Explorer’s new version 7, so I bit the bullet yesterday, installed the new browser, and debugged the problem. If you had been having trouble before, I think it should work fine now – but let me know. For those of you who haven’t upgraded yet, I understand that Microsoft will be including version 7 as part of the normal weekly operating system updates later this fall – maybe next month – so if you have your system configured for automatic updates, you may wake up some morning to discover your browser has changed. While that may be satisfactory for you, be aware that the new browser is more finicky about HTML standards, and some code that operates fine in both FireFox and MSIE 6 will not behave normally in the new version. If you notice anything in the RotoGuru site that seems to function abnormally in IE 7, please send me an email and I’ll see if I can remedy it quickly.
Hoops update: NBA.com finally provided a complete boxscore the the Oct 19th game that had been AWOL for several days, so all preseason stats are now complete.
The penultimate tournament of the GuruGolf season tees off tomorrow morning, and this will be the last tournament with a cut. The final event will be the Tour Championship, which features a limited field and no cut. Next week’s field will therefore be pretty strong, although this week’s Chrysler Championship provides a much stronger field than most of the fall tournaments.
10/24 - The MNF football upset of the Giants over the Cowboys completed the Football Pickoff scoring carnage. Underdogs finished week #7 at 8-5, and only 28% of all active slates posted positive scores for the week. The top score of the week was 473 by aptly named balls, who picked all of the underdogs and doubled the optimum game, Houston over Jax.
The NBA season starts one week from tonight. Many slow roto-drafts are done, or winding down over the next few days. Live drafts will be in high gear all week. And all sorts of analysis will be undertaken for salary cap games, such as TSN’s. The sortable stats are up to date with preseason results (excluding one game, Maccabi Elite at Toronto on Oct 19, for which I’ve been unable to track down a complete boxscore), so if you put any credibility in preseason performance, have at it! Even if you’re not playing any of the TSN games, it might help you sift out some late round sleeper candidates for your roto draft.
I’m grateful for the GuruPatron contributions that have come in this year. This year has produced the lowest tally since the start of the GuruPatron program in 2001, although donations have picked up this month as Hoops cranks into gear. Site hosting costs have gone down over the years, and the current level of giving should allow me to cover the marginal costs of running this site (barely). I appreciate all of you who have helped to share the load over the years, and particularly those of you who are still active donors. Your support keeps me going. And if you are thinking of adding yourself to the list of GuruPatrons, or renewing your support, click here for instructions on ways to do so.
10/23 - Fox Sports can’t be happy about a World Series matchup between the Cardinals and Tigers. That’s not likely to grip the nation’s attention. But Kenny “I'm no Christy Mathewson” Rogers has certainly gotten my attention. In three starts this postseason (23 IP) he has not allowed a run. The only other pitcher to accomplish that in a single postseason was Christy “I’m no Kenny Rogers” Mathewson.
Football Pickoff: Oops! They did it again. Going 7-5 in yesterday’s games assures that underdogs will have back-to-back weeks with winning records. And if you’ve been picking all favorites this season, your cumulative score is now pretty close to zero once again. With only one game to go, this is shaping up as a pretty brutal scoring week for many teams. Details tomorrow…
GuruGolf: If you want some compelling evidence that having your golfers make the cut is important in GuruGolf, take a look at the current contest standings, the Autumn Anticlimax. Only one team has had all 12 of his golfers make the cut over the three weeks of this contest. And you can see that it’s working pretty well.
10/20 - It’s too bad for Endy Chavez that the Mets didn’t prevail last night. If they had, his catch in the 6th inning would have been replayed over the years as one of the greatest defensive plays in post-season history. But with the Mets losing, I suspect the historical luster has been dulled. It certainly was one of those “Did you see that?!” moments though, especially if you were watching it live.
And so, as I foreshadowed in my 10/11 blurb, the World Series comes down to the two teams that gasped through the last few weeks of September. And surprisingly, it wasn’t really the lack of pitching that did in the Mets. The Cards scored only 8 runs over the last three games. But the Mets scored only 7 over those same three games.
TSN added a bunch of players in its salary cap games yesterday, including many rookies, and I have those prices loaded in the sortable stats and Assimilator already. The NBA preseason ends just one week from today.
10/19 - I just glanced at the YTD points for the TSN salary cap football game, and noticed that Donovan McNabb is not only leading, he’s making a shambles of the competition. Even when adjusting for bye weeks, McNabb’s average of 439 TSNP/G is more than 100 TSNP better (30% better) than the next best average, 336 for Peyton Manning. Of course, virtually all of the preseason football rankings got this right. Oh wait, … I should have said “none of …”. He was drafted with the 64th overall pick in the RIFC, and the guy who took him posted this in his pick rationale: “I don't particularly like McNabb but the Eagles are a solid playoff team and Andy Reid is a good and pass happy coach.” Another RIFC manager commented that he “thought McNabb was a wasted pick. No WRs to throw to and as TO correctly stated he's not mobile anymore.” So yeah, we all saw this coming!
Bo Van Pelt is the most popular GuruGolfer in this week’s FUNAI Classic at Walt Disney World. He’s only on one-third of all active rosters, though, and a total of 119 different golfers are represented this week, so if a long shot comes up big, some team(s) will probably have him. For example, the early leader this morning is Tag Ridings (-7 thru 11 holes), and he’s on 10 teams.
10/18 - Regardless of how the NLCS concludes, the Tigers will be rested and the NL winner will have been tested. Whether that favors either team in the World Series is anyone’s guess. Arguably, the Tigers will have significant pitching flexibility, but it can’t be a good thing to sit around for a week.
The FUNAI Classic tees off at 7:30am tomorrow morning. This is the third-to-last GuruGolf tournament of the season. Next year, the GuruGolf season will likely end in September, as the PGA Tour revamps its schedule.
Meanwhile, the NBA season starts two weeks from last night. There’s plenty of research, analyzing, and drafting to be done – although the RIHC draft has just about reached its midpoint, with player rationales now posted through round 5.
10/17 - There are two ways to evaluate last night’s collapse by the Cardinals. You could say that they deserved to win that game. Or you could say that any team that could find a way to blow that game deserved to lose it. Regardless, that was one MNF game worth staying up late for.
Curiously, Neil Rackers tied for the second highest TSNP total among kickers this week. Of course, the one that got away would have put him on top. And the Arizona defense was the top scoring defense, surrendering only 3 points to the Bears offense while racking up six turnovers. I’d guess it’s rare for the top defense to be on the losing side of the scoreboard.
In Football Pickoff, this was a week to survive and advance. About 62% of slates posted negative scores, with a median score in the mid-negative-50s. (Of course, scoring would have been much worse if Arizona hadn’t collapsed in the end-game.) The top score was a +568 from losers, missing only 2 games, and doubling the Tennessee upset of Washington.
10/16 - Just a week after NFL favorites made a clean sweep, the underdogs got their revenge. Consensus underdogs in Football Pickoff went 7-5 yesterday, although they were a stunning 7-1 at one point. Regardless of tonight’s result in Arizona, underdogs are assured of finishing the weekend over .500. That never happened last season. During the Football Pickoff era (since 1999), consensus dogs have had winning records only 8 times, the most recent being week #9 in 2003 (8-6). Three of those instances occurred in week #6, including the mother of all upset weeks in 2001, when underdogs posted a 10-3 mark.
In spite of varied weather, golf scores were low in Las Vegas this weekend, with 16 GuruGolf squads posting a score of -50 or better, headed by 2 teams at -56. The top worst ball score was only +38 by Da Bomb. Special mention goes to my son Kevin whose Northeastern Chieftains team ham-‘n’-egged its way to the second best score in both best ball (-54) and worst ball (+37).
I updated the TSN Hoops sortable stats over the weekend to include unlisted players (mostly rookies) who have appeared in preseason games. They are now listed with a position of X and a price of zero, although only if you choose to see all positions (e.g., they won’t appear in a list of guards only). To the extent that you think the TSNP formula is a good proxy for fantasy hoops prowess in any other scoring format, you might find the report useful even if you aren’t playing the TSN game this year.
10/13 - The RIHC draft is moving through the second round, and it’s already been a tough one. I was happy to land Dwyane Wade with my first round pick (#8 overall), hoping that his current hand problem won’t be a big deal. But there were 8 players taken before my second round pick, and if I had made up a short list of 8 players after my first pick, none of them would have been around for the next one. I ended up taking Chauncey Billups, but I do have the uncomfortable feeling that I might be buying high. It’s not that I think he would have slipped much deeper in the draft; it’s that he had a career year last season, and that just because his stats line last year would have warranted a second round pick, it may be unrealistic to expect him to duplicate that level of performance. Oh well,… We’ll start posting our rationales once the second round completes, which should be later today.
It’s Friday, so although I’m now immersed in basketball research, I need to take some time out to review all of my weekend football needs and opportunities. My RIFC team has gotten off to a strong start, but much of that is riding on the great performance of the Baltimore defense. My RB corps is weak (Cadillac/Droughns/Barlow), and Shockey is perpetually gimpy. Still, it’s a very competitive league, and every team has its strengths and weaknesses, so while I expect a difficult journey, I also expect to remain competitive. But these Invitational Challenge leagues are tough!
10/12 - The draft for the RotoGuru Invitational Hoops Challenge has started. This league has 12 managers and uses the standard eight statistical categories (Pts, Reb, Asst, Stl, Blk, 3pt, FG%, FT%) in rotisserie style scoring. You can follow the draft in progress here. Rationales of each draft pick will also be posted (at the hoops forum), but with a two round lag. Expect those to start appearing by the weekend.
The Frys.com Open has teed off in Las Vegas, and Jim Furyk is the most popular golfer this week, appearing on about 38% of active GuruGolf rosters. The first two rounds are played on two different courses, so GuruGolf scorecards are consolidated by course rather then by round.
I’ve started posting TSNP for preseason NBA games on the yesterday’s TSNP page. I’ll integrate these into the sortable stats and the Assimilator soon.
If you’re looking for a less intense fantasy hoops alternative, consider joining the “Busiest Players League”. This league will use roto-style scoring on five unusual categories: Minutes played, FG attempted, FT attempted, 3 pointers attempted, and rebounds. For more details, see this thread. I’ve joined it.
10/11 - When it comes to the MLB playoffs, it appears that the ending of the regular season is irrelevant – as long as you survive. Last year, the White Sox almost choked their way out of postseason play, but after barely surviving, they won the World Series. So far this year, Detroit seems to be on the same path. If the World Series ends up between Detroit and St. Louis, last year’s precedent is certain to repeat. Of course, there’s a lot of baseball to be played before the World Series begins. And at this point of the division series, the Yankees looked like the pending world champs.
GuruGolf tees off again tomorrow morning, although I haven’t yet seen the tee times. There have been very few withdrawals from the field this week. I guess no one wants to forego a planned trip to Las Vegas.
10/10 - Favorites completed the clean sweep last night with Denver’s win over Baltimore. As I mentioned yesterday, that’s never happened since the inception of Football Pickoff. Perhaps even more unusual is that 12 Pickoff slates picked all 14 games correctly. This not only sets the record for perfect slates in a week, it blows away the record for perfect slates in a season. I don’t recall the exact season record, but I think it’s about 3. The best score went to Slowhand, who doubled the optimal game as well. The median score this week was +157, which might also be a record high. Some weeks, zero is a good score. Not this week.
Amidst the extraordinary Football Pickoff results yesterday, I neglected to mention the top GuruGolf results. GuruGolf had the opposite kind of week vs. Pickoff, with scores generally atrocious, as many popular golfers failed to survive the cut. Of the top 40 teams in the YTD standings, slightly under 50% of the golfers survived to the weekend, and only one of the top 70 teams had all 4 golfers make the cut. The best score of the week was a -53 from stlcards2, who had three golfers make the cut, including tournament winner David Love III. The top worstball result was for cyberwahoo7, who had all 4 golfers contributing for all four rounds.
The first “regular” preseason NBA game (involving 2 NBA teams) took place last night, and tonight’s preseason schedule includes eight games. It will probably be several more days before I get any stats posted for preseason games, but I do plan to provide that again this month.
10/9 - The next round of the baseball playoffs are set, and it may be that the four least likely teams have advanced. The Cardinals and Tigers overcame their late-season swoons, the Mets overcome their lack of healthy starting pitchers, and the A’s overcame their history and Johan Santana (not even having to face him twice, as expected). And, of course, the biggest news is not which teams survived, but which team didn’t.
In the NFL, favorites carried the day, going 13-0. I don’t know if that bodes well for Denver tonight or not. In Football Pickoff, 20 slates went 13-0 as well, although they are pretty evenly divided on tonight’s game, with 8 of the 20 picking Baltimore. Since I started running Football Pickoff in 1999, favorites have never run the table. Only twice did they go 13-1, both last year (week #6 and week #9).
Over the weekend, I added some new functionality to the TSN Football sortable stats. Previously, you could view and rank the points for a team’s opposing defenses. Now you can do so for any opposing position. Also, if you look at the game-by-game details for opponents, you now see the weekly points for each of the positions. I realize that you have to view these stats (and particularly the averages) with some skepticism, as they can be heavily influenced by idiosyncrasies. For example, Tampa Bay gave up 735 TSNP to the opposing RBs yesterday. That total includes both McAllister and Bush, and the Bush component includes 190 TSNP just for his 65-yard punt return TD. Regardless, the stats are now available for you to use or abuse as you see fit.
10/6 - Believe it or not, the NBA preseason has already begun. Yesterday, the Sixers and Spurs played against European teams in the “NBA Europe Live Tour”. The Suns and Clippers will see similar action today, and single games will follow on Saturday and Sunday. Then, on Monday, the “regular preseason” begins, with NBA teams facing each other. As in the past few years, I’ll calculate TSNP stats for as many preseason games as I can find complete stats for. I suspect that boxscores for the games in Europe will be tough to find, however, so those may not make the cut. We’ll see. (This morning, NBA.com has a link to yesterday’s boxscores, but it leads to an error page. You can find game recaps there, however.)
Now that it’s Friday, it’s again time to start fretting over fantasy football lineups for the weekend, scouring the injury reports, trying to figure out who will play, who has the best matchups, and who will probably be in jail. While you’re at it, don’t forget to log your picks in Football Pickoff.
10/5 - So far, the Oakland A’s have played twice and won twice, both games starting at 10am Pacific time. I guess if you’re a fan on the West Coast, it’s nice to be able to watch the end of the game on your lunch break.
Maybe pitching’s overrated, especially in a short series. The Mets have lost two game 1 starters, Pedro and El Duque, and still managed to win after getting 4-1/3 IP from “second alternate” starter John Maine. Meanwhile, Minnesota was widely thought to have the edge in a short series, since Johann Santana would presumably get two starts. Right now, that second start is looking pretty iffy.
In GuruGolf, the Chrysler Classic of Greensboro is underway, and there really isn’t a consensus favorite golfer this week. Justin Rose appears on the most GuruGolf rosters (36.6%), but he’s closely followed by Jeff Sluman (36.2%), Mike Weir (35%), and Charlie Hoffman (33%). Altogether, 103 of the 132 golfers in the field are represented on at least one GuruGolf roster, so variety abounds this weekend.
Amusing observation from Joe Bryant of FootballGuys.com: “Indianapolis is 4-0 and has only played in two stadiums so far. The Colts have more wins this year in the Meadowlands/Giants Stadium than do the Jets and Giants combined.”
10/4 - October is the only month of the year when I don’t have the task every morning of process stats from the night before. Either the NBA or MLB are in season for the other 11 months, and the NFL doesn’t play daily. Don’t worry – I’ve got plenty to do. But it does throw me off my usual routine when I arrive at my computer in the morning and have no stats to massage.
The next GuruGolf event tees off tomorrow morning, so don’t forget to set your rosters. The final in-season contest also starts with this event – the “Autumn Anticlimax” Contest. One more chance to score some rare RotoGuru.com golf balls.
Qualifying Leagues for the RIHC (RotoGuru Invitational Hoops Challenge) continue to form at the Hoops message forum. If you’re interested in joining a AA League, sign up in this thread. No experience required.
10/3 - A few random thoughts on the NFL weekend:
10/2 - By now, you probably know all about the finish of the baseball season. In spite of all the brain-cramping scenarios for potential extra games, everything was settled by Sunday afternoon.
Congrats to Gurupie Holt, who handily won the third annual RotoGuru Invitational Baseball Challenge. Although he didn’t lead wire-to-wire, his cushion was pretty comfortable for the last couple of months.
Congrats also to longtime Gurupie Dave R, who finished #1 in TSN Ultimate Salary Cap baseball. His lead was not so comfortable, starting the day yesterday in a virtual tie.
And if Dave R’s day wasn’t good enough, he got some icing on the cake by winning both the best ball and worst ball contests in GuruGolf’s “Setpember Swing”, comprising the 6 tournaments since the PGA Championship. His SANFORDORS5 team took the best ball contest by 3 strokes, and his SANFORDORS4 team won the worst ball contest on a tiebreaker, based on the best value gains over the contest period.
Fantasy baseball may be over, but GuruGolf continues for 5 more weeks. The final five tournaments will constitute the “Autumn Anticlimax” Contest. If you need something to do during October, why not try out GuruGolf for 5 weeks? You might even win a prize!
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
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 toGuru<email@example.com>.
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