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

11/30 - If you had McNabb (410 TSNP) or either of the two primary RBs in last night's game, you did well. The Philly defense was also respectable (275 TSNP). Tony Gonzalez was a relative bust, with his lowest output (64 TSNP) of the season. And if you had anyone else, what were thinking of?

Antonio Davis led all NBA fantasy producers last night with 49 TSNP and 52 PSP. Seven other players reached the TSNP 40s. Last year, Davis was a staple on many SW rosters, as he was listed as a center, and averaged almost 31 SWP/G. This year his average is down slightly (28.3 TSNP/G), and as a forward, he really has no ownership to speak of.

Pending a decision today by a bankruptcy court judge, my primary ISP - @Home - might shut down. While this would be inconvenient for me (as I would be relegated to dial-up access for awhile), it really has only one consequence for the site, and that is that my primary email address would no longer function. If this happens, I'll post an alternate address here.

11/29 - On most nights, you wouldn't expect P.J. Brown to outrebound Detroit's Ben Wallace, but last night, Brown hauled down more boards than Wallace's entire team. The resulting 50 TSNP (incl. 20 rebounds) didn't top last night's list of producers, but P.J. still has to claim the overachiever award for the night. And I guess the Pistons collectively get the complementary honor.

Top honors went to Michael (I guess we don't always stink) Jordan, with 57 TSNP and 66 PSP. Two others were in the TSNP 50s, and eight were in the 40s.

Today is football freeze day again. Thankfully, this is the last Thursday freeze, although three of the last 5 freezes will be on Saturdays. That's not nearly as bad, however. At least you get to check the Friday injury reports before committing.

In Football Pickoff, you need to make tonight's pick by 8:30pm ET. All other picks will be locked in at 1pm ET Sunday.

11/28 - Thirteen days ago, a number of TSN teams (including two of mine) swapped into Shaq, immediately in advance of his 8-games-in-13-days. I hadn't been planning to do it, but when Jermaine O'Neal developed back troubles, I decided to make the move on a couple of my teams. To help afford Shaq, I also picked up cheapie Laker teammate Devean George.

So, 13 days later, how does it look in retrospect? I guess I'd assess the results as disappointing, but not disastrous. As expected, Shaq was the top producing center during that span, by a wide margin. He posted 331 TSNP, which is an average of 41.7 per game. George did his part, contributing 128.5 TSNP, so for the two combined, I got 462 TSNP on a total outlay of $13 million. In addition, I had virtually no price movement on the two.

This center/forward combo was far from the optimal $13m package over that span. I didn't do a rigorous search, but for a lower cost ($11.5m) I could have had Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Todd MacCulloch for a combined output of 569 TSNP. But that's not the likely combo I would have had. Vlade Divac and Kenyon Martin would have generated 497.6 TSNP on a similar $13m cost. Either of those combos would have also netted a few $100K as well. But, hindsight is 20/20. It was a non-stupid decision, with a non-disastrous result. Sometimes, that's as good as it gets.

The top producer last night was Seattle's Brent Barry with 62.5 TSNP and 63 PSP. Barry's price has been holding pretty steady in the Ultimate Hoops game, but he dropped $200K in the free game, presumably as the sacrifice to reacquire Jamaal Tinsley. Somewhat surprisingly, in the last five days (3 games), Barry has outproduced Tinsley by 46 TSNP, which is more than 15 TSNP/G.

Perhaps the biggest item of note yesterday was the announcement that Steve Francis will be out for 4-6 weeks. Last night, Kenny Thomas took it upon himself to be the "Rocket-man", with 55.5 TSNP in a nationally televised game. Another Rocket to watch is Moochie Norris, who figures to get most of the vacated minutes at point guard. His 25 TSNP in 45 minutes weren't eye-popping, but with a price just under $3m ($3.5m in the free game), he may become a viable option for a cheap guard slot.

11/27 - Yesterday, I commented that the two strong trends over the weekend were that most of the expensive players underperformed, and most away teams won. Last night's game did nothing to stop the momentum. Kurt Warner ended up as the 19th ranked QB for the weekend. And that was better than Marshall Faulk's 28th place showing at running back. Neither managed to exceed 200 TSNP. And of course, the away team won again.

In Football Pickoff, Banana Slugs2 claimed the weekly honors with 12 correct picks and 655 points. All told, about 45% of active pickers managed a positive showing this week. One of them was jungleman24, who held on to the top spot. The race is still wide open, however. Just ask SMG, who appeared to have a comfortable lead of more than 600 points just 3 weeks ago. Now he's in 6th place, almost 800 points back. I'm not sure there is any such thing as a comfortable lead in this game, at least not until the playoffs begin and the number of games dramatically reduces.

One final note on football: there is a Thursday night game this week. Early freezes again. By now, you should know the drill.

In four NBA games, the top output came from an Orlando player, but it wasn't one of the most likely candidates. In fact, Darrell Armstrong's output of 50.5 TSNP wasn't much less than the combined output of his two more notable teammates. Jason Williams was only one point back with 49.5 TSNP. (If you want to see a good example of inconsistency, check out his game-by-game production.) Cliff Robinson also had 49.5 TSNP.

New TSN Hoops trades are available this afternoon. Have fun!

11/26 - It was another one of those NFL weekends when spending for quality didn't necessarily pay off. For example, none of the quarterbacks with a TSN price over $10m finished among the top 12 QBs in points. Six of the top ten running backs cost less than $4 million. In fact, you could have assembled a full TSN roster of players each costing under $3 million, and produced more than 4000 TSNP this weekend. Of course, the trick was figuring out in advance that Tom Brady and Alex Van Pelt would significantly outpoint [insert names of two stud quarterbacks here]. I suppose tonight's game could change that theme somewhat, especially if Warner and Faulk have good games.

In Football Pickoff, it was a weekend where you couldn't do well just by blindly picking either favorites or underdogs. A slate of Vegas favorites produced a score of -1, while underdogs had the complementary +1 result. I guess if you wanted a theme for the week, it was to pick away teams. That would have produced a score of 453 points (bringing the YTD score for away teams up to +326 points). I see that Tampa Bay is playing on the road tonight. Hmmm.... Too late to change your pick, however.

Curiosity item: If the NFL playoffs were to start today, look at the teams that would be included:

  • AFC: Oakland, Pittsburgh, NY Jets, Miami, Cleveland, New England
  • NFC: St. Louis, Chicago, San Fran, Green Bay, Atlanta, Philly
In the NBA, there were quite a few good games over the weekend. The top dog was clearly Shareef Abdur-Rahim, who had 79 TSNP and 80 PSP on Friday night. Tim Duncan had two games over 60 TSNP (and his 3rd consecutive 60+ game). Starting this Wednesday, San Antonio has 6 games in 10 days, and Duncan may begin to get some buying activity, after having one of the lightest schedules up to that point.

11/23 - They may not have been classic games, but both of yesterday's NFL offerings had entertaining finishes. From a fantasy point persective, Ahman Green was the best one to have, with 424 TSNP. He was also the only one with more than 1000 Swirve points. Mike Anderson was second best in TSN scoring, with 326 TSNP, while Brett Favre nosed him out in Swirve scoring.

In the NBA, there were only 3 games played, but two produced triple doubles. Jamaal Tinsley continued his remarkable streak with 86 TSNP, including 23 assists! In his last 4 games, he's averaged 64.2 TSNP per game. Jason Kidd had the other 3-D, garnering 66 TSNP. Four other players were in the TSNP 50s, so it was a rather prodigious scoring night, considering the light schedule.

11/21 - Last week, I was feeling pretty clever for having figured out how to efficiently get from Jamaal Tinsley into Kobe Bryant on one of my TSN teams. How could you not like that move?

Of course, you know how the story quickly turned. Travis Best strained his hamstring. Tinsley's minutes immediately doubled. But not only that, his TSNP per minute also doubled (vs. his three previous games)! In the three games since that trade, Tinsley has totaled 171 TSNP. In four games, Kobe has only totaled 169.5, which isn't bad. But who'dve thunk it?

At least I have plenty of company in the "Now how do I get Tinsley back?" club.

Three players topped 50 TSNP last night, headed by Hakeem Olajuwon with 59.5. Kobe (55.5) and Elton Brand (50.5) were the other two.

Now that baseball has doled out its awards for 2001, it's time for me to formally announce the new enshrinees in the RotoGuru Hall of Fame. The following Gurupies are hereby inducted:

  • Mark Mendoza (a repeat inductee) for his top finish in the 2001 Small World fullseason baseball RotoGuru rankings
  • Tyge Spane for his #1 worldwide ranking in Small World 2001 fullseason baseball
  • Michael Wehner for his #1 worldwide ranking in 2001 Swirve baseball
  • Dave Hall for his top finish in the TSN 2001 midseason baseball RotoGuru rankings
  • Tony Sorenson for his top finish in the TSN baseball playoffs RotoGuru rankings
  • John Oord for his #1 worldwide ranking in the 2001 Small World fantasy golf game
Congratulations to all of these new enshrinees who distinguished themselves by prevailing over the very rigorous competition provided by their Gurupie compadres. Job well done!

Happy Thanksgiving!

11/20 - Going into this weekend, Randy Moss was ranked 23rd among wide receivers in total TSNP. This morning, he's ranked 9th. Nice call, if you had him this weekend. Now we'll see whether he turns into the proverbial rolling stone.

It turned out to be a losing week in Football Pickoff, with less than 40% of all active players posting positive scores. Congrats to the top scorer of the week, daveyu, with 13 correct picks and 780 points. And, we have a new overall leader this morning, as jungleman24 surged into the top spot (or perhaps more appropriately, SMG plunged into second).

Only two NBA games last night. Gravity-bound Doug Christie led all producers with 49 TSNP and 52 PSP. Only two others topped 40 TSNP. Eight games are on tap tonight.

The next couple of days will be busy. Only two days to get football rosters picked for the weekend. New prices and trades in the free TSN Hoops game. Lots of things to clutter the brain before a leisurely Thanksgiving.

11/19 - The New York Jets haven't been known for their defensive prowess. But in the last three weeks, they've averaged 462 TSNP/G, including yesterday's top performance of 605 TSNP. And several managers found them in advance, as they posted their first weekly price gain of the season. It will be a short lived trend, though, as next week they meet the one thing that's guaranteed to stop them - a bye week.

In addition to the Jets defense, three players and one other defense exceeded the 500 TSNP mark. None had much of a price movement, so the benefits weren't very widespread. In fact, there appears to be very little correlation between this weekend's price changes and points. Unlike last week, you could have had a nice increase in roster value and a reasonably good point week as well. And vice versa, I suppose.

Upsets dominated the early action on Sunday, and it looked like it might be another bloody week in Football Pickoff. But favorites fared better in the latter part of the day, other than Washington's upset of the offensively offensive Broncos. Still, it worked out to be a decidedly negative week, just not nearly as ugly as the early results foretold. And, pending tonight's outcome, we could have a new frontrunner. Or not.

It's interesting to note that if you had picked the consensus favorite in every game this season, you'd have a cumulative score of +309. And had you consistently gone with the consensus underdog instead, your cumulative score would be +241. Almost identical! How can they both be positive totals? The answer is bonus points. By going with a straight slate of favorites, you'd have logged 500 bonus points over the season (i.e., a 50 point bonus for each correct weekly pick in excess of 9), while a straight slate of dogs would have yielded only 50 bonus points. So it seems like the scoring method is calibrated quite well - or that the picks have been quite efficient.

We've got the two traditional Thanksgiving Day games on Thursday of this week, so the Thursday freeze shouldn't sneak up on anyone this time around. There's also a Thursday game the following week, so we've got two consecutive weeks of "hurry up and wait" mode. As usual, in Pickoff, you only need to register your Thursday picks early. Weekend game picks can be deferred until Sunday.

After heavy action on Friday and Saturday, there were only 3 NBA games yesterday. The biggest development over the weekend was no doubt the rejuvenation of Jamaal Tinsley, with 121.5 TSNP in two weekend games. If you sold him prior to those blowups, at least you know you have plenty of company. Miserable company, too. I certainly feel your pain.

11/16 - The calm after the storm.

Yesterday, there seemed to be a flurry of trading decisions to be made, with the Lakers beginning their heavy schedule, and with other popular players having some performance/health issues. Today, there may be some trades into NJ players, who begin a stretch of 7 games in 10 days. And some managers will just be realizing that Eddie Robinson is reinjured. But there will undoubtedly be fewer trades made, not only today, but in the next few days, barring new injuries. At least that's how my plans shake out.

Jerry Stackhouse led all producers last night with 56 TSNP and 58 PSP. (Shaq matched that PSP total, but had only 51.5 TSNP.) Stackhouse has a pretty decent schedule coming up, but doesn't appear to have cracked many Ultimate Hoops rosters, as is price is still gravity bound. His problem is most likely the competition from other guards with similarly heavy schedules.

Curiosity item: Guards seem to be taking the early lead in production this year. If I sort all players based on TSNP per game, 15 of the top 25 players are guards, 7 are forwards, and three are centers. Last year, only 9 of the top 25 were guards, with 15 forwards in the top 25, and Shaq was the only center. I don't know if there is a reason for the year-to-year disparity, or whether it will even out with more time.

And oh yeah, don't forget about football. Time to move those decisions up to the front burner.

11/15 - For some time, today was shaping up to be an interesting trade day, as the Lakers swing into a stretch of 8 teams in 13 days. Figuring out how to get Kobe, or Shaq, or both has been a topic of considerable debate at the message forum for over a week. I'm sure a lot of you have done a considerable amount of advance planning.

But the events of the last couple of nights have probably created a scramble of last minute rethinking. Here's at least a partial list of new issues:

  • Jermaine O'Neal sat out Tuesday night, but played Wednesday, although clearly not at full strength (as evidenced by today's quote).
  • Eddie Robinson re-injured his toe, and is reportedly likely to miss at least the next two games.
  • Jamaal Tinsley had his third consecutive disappointing game, playing only 15 minutes. Under normal circumstances, given Indy's dense schedule, this might be a time to take a patient approach with Tinsley. But if he is really on more than 70% of all TSN rosters (as recent sampling suggests), then patience could be very expensive.
  • Morris Peterson produced only 8.5 TSNP in 18 minutes last night. He started a nice price rise last week, after averaging better than 30 TSNP/G over a span of 5 games. But he's only averaged 13 TSNP/G in his last 3 games, and his $500K cumulative price uptick looks to be in jeopardy as well.
Is that a complete list of issues? Probably not, but it includes the major things I was addressing this morning. My preliminary plans had been to skip Shaq this time around, but after much rejuggling of the possibilities, I've ended up buying him him on two of my three Ultimate Hoops teams. Frankly, although it is tricky to digest so much new information at once, it is also much easier to address these roster issues in aggregate, rather than one by one, as it provides a lot more opportunities to shift dollars across positions - if you have the trades available to do it. Those without trade flexibility are probably having to make difficult choices this morning, and many will head into the weekend with fingers crossed that no one else gets injured or tanks.

Some of you have asked how my "Dirty Dozen" experts roto basketball league is going. At risk of jinxing my early success, I'm currently in first place, which is a bit surprising to me because I got stuck with Odom's suspension (which occurred just after last week's roster freeze, and this league only allows weekly changes), and my top draft choice, Ray Allen, has had a very light schedule so far. On the pleasant side, Derrick Coleman has turned out to be a late round coup so far, and Ben Wallace is 7-10 in free throw shooting (after shooting about 33% last year). Travis Best is my biggest disappointment (other than Odom), so a continuation of Tinsley's woes would have some potential upside for this team. In any event, so far so good, but it's a long season, and the free agent possibilities are pretty paltry, so I'm probably only a key injury away from big problems. I'll try to post a more detailed standings and roster summary at the message forum in the next few days.

I just realized that I never commented on last night's points. But this is long enough, so I'll just let you look 'em up on your own.

11/14 - Jermaine O'Neal provided a vivid reminder for many teams about just how fragile trading plans can be.

O'Neal sat out last night's game, and is most likely a game time decision for tonight. He's fairly heavily owned (recent sampling suggests he's on about 25% of TSN Ultimate Hoops rosters), and has a good schedule outlook, although so does Shaq. With four new trades doled out yesterday, most managers have some flexibility - assuming they didn't blow them before last night's games. Particularly at the center position, surprises are often tricky to accommodate. He's probably also on a lot of teams in the free game, but at least there is no daily price bullet to dodge there, so an extra day's patience is probably easier to stomach in that game.

Kevin Garnett and Steve Francis were the top producers last night, both well over 50 TSNP. Ten other players were in the TSNP 40s. The most notable was probably Derrick Coleman with 44.5 TSNP. Look for him to continue his upward price movement. (Not a very bold prediction, I realize.)

11/13 - If those of you in the east were able stay awake, you saw a pretty exciting finish in last might's MNF game. Of course, you had to wait through a pretty horrendous first half - unless you like punts and botched field goals.

In football pickoff, it was a good week to pick favorites. A straight slate of favorites would have earned you 13 wins and 532 points. A couple of people - WiddleAvi and teletubbies a - even got one of the upsets correct, doubling Miami, and only missing the Oakland game. Their total of 744 points was the best of the weekend, and gives them the early lead in the Midseason standings. Overall, more than two-thirds of this weeks' active entrants produced positive scores.

SMG maintained his hold on first place overall, but the lead got much narrower, as he wasn't among the positive majority. The competition is still wide open, with 8 more weeks of a full slate of 15 games, followed by four weeks of playoffs. There's still plenty of time for someone to come from out of nowhere.

There were only 2 NBA games, and not many points to show for them. The top producer was [gulp!] Greg Ostertag with 51.5 TSNP. Perhaps the most notable result was a healthy 40.5 TSNP from Andrei Kirilenko, which may help to rejuvenate his price ascent. If managers are looking for someone extremely cheap to be able to afford Shaq this week, Kirilenko is certainly a viable option. Of course, a lot of teams already own him, and you can't have him twice, which may restrict his price from going much higher in the Ultimate game. He looks like he could have much more upside in TSN's free game, although there isn't as much need for extreme cheapies in that game, and there are plenty of other low priced forwards that will probably muddle the gains at that position. We'll see soon enough; the second weekly price change is at noon today.

11/12 - This was clearly a football weekend when TSN price changes weren't a very good leading indicator of performance.

For example, if you had the two top price gaining QBs (Kurt Warner and Tom Brady), you would probably be very happy to give back your combined $800K gains if you could also swap away their combined 120 TSNP. Yep, that's 120 TSNP combined!

The top two running backs fared a little better - at least until you compare them to the alternatives. Priest Holmes and Ahman Green produced a collective $580K and 329 TSNP. However, if you had the two RBs with the biggest losses - LaDanian Tomlinson and Shaun Alexander - your 926 TSNP would probably be sufficient comfort to overcome the grief of your -$660K price loss.

And the trend goes on and on. The biggest loser at WR was Marvin Harrison, whose -$230K was amply rewarded with 546 TSNP, which was more points than those of three top gaining WRs combined. So here's hoping you had a dismal TSN price performance yesterday!

A light Hoops schedule still produced a fair number of points. Shaq and Gary Payton each topped 62 TSNP. And Grant Hill was close behind with 57.5, his best outing of the season. Seven others were in the TSNP 40s. Meanwhile, the day's underperformer was probably Tracy McGrady, whose 23.5 TSNP completed a pair of mid-20s bookends around Friday's 73 TSNP explosion.

Oddity of the day: 6'10" Cliff Robinson started at center for Detroit, played 42 minutes, and collected zero rebounds!

Today's TSN Hoops roster freeze is being delayed to 5pm, due to server problems. The Ultimate Hoops price change will also be delayed.

Many of you got off to a good Midseason start in Football Pickoff. I'll comment more on that tomorrow.

11/9 - Six players reached 50 TSNP or better last night. The cheapest of the sextet was Scottie Pippen, who's been playing point guard in place of injured Damon Stoudamire. The biggest bargain of the night, though, had to have been Todd MacCulloch, with 48.5 TSNP on his sub-$3m TSN pricetag (and sub-$2m in the PSC game). MacCulloch is in the midst of a 3-games-in-12-days schedule drought, but if he puts up those numbers, who cares? Of course, he had only produced 23 TSNP in his previous two games combined. Maybe he plays better with rest. Or maybe the lack of an opposing center was the primary benefit.

Looking ahead - which you have to do to be successful in a game where scheduling matters - the $12.5 million question is whether to pick up Shaq. He's had a very light schedule this week, but the Lakers play 8 times during the 13-day span beginning next Thursday. If you had an unlimited budget and unlimited trades, the decision would be a no-brainer. But at this stage of the season, both are significant constraints, and that makes the decision a tough one, especially since LA's schedule turns very soft for awhile thereafter (for example, only 7-in-23 from Dec. 2-24). He's marginally efficient to own during the heavy period (assuming a 50+ TSNP/G average and no injuries), but to fully capitalize, you'd also probably need an extra trade to raise the funds, and two more trades to unwind at the end of the two weeks. So the best answer is that it depends on the context of your own roster situation. Analytically, it looks like it may make marginal sense for one of my 3 teams, and I may do it there - just in case he blows up for 60 TSNP/G over the period. I also may decide to pass this time around. Ultimately, the optimal decision depends on your assessment of the value of a trade. Maybe you've already made up your mind on this emotionally. But analytically, it's not an easy decision, so if that's your style, you'd better be thinking about it in advance.

I promised to stop pitching GuruPatronism after this week, so today is my last chance. No more appeals until 2002. If you haven't yet decided whether to contribute, you'll be on your own to remember for the rest of the year. Overall, I've been pleased with the response this year, but there are still a lot of noshows, some of whom are particularly disappointing. But I guess that's to be expected. So let me close this week's campaign with a thank you to those who have volunteered a donation of any amount, and a special thank you to those who have stepped up to the Sustainer or Leader levels. It's these latter groups that have essentially kept this site alive, as 40 Leaders ($100 or more) have contributed a total of almost $5,000, and another 41 Sustainers ($50-99) have added another $2160. That still leaves a healthy $1600+ from 102 Donors (below $50), so I certainly don't want to belittle their impact either. Thanks to all of you. You're the best!

11/8 - Maybe it was the handiwork of an overzealous scorekeeper (as Dave Cowens suggested), but this morning's boxscore really does show 9 blocks for Hakeem Olajuwon. That propelled him to the top of the center performances for last night, with 47.5 TSNP (22.5 just from the blocked shots). However, teammate Vince Carter topped the overall list with 66 TSNP and 70 PSP, with 3 blocks of his own to go with 39 points and 10 rebounds. Over in Boston, Antoine Walker stepped up his game with Michael Jordan in the house, producing 65 TSNP, and missing a triple double by only one assist.

With Lamar Odom suspended for 5 games, Elton Brand looked like a possibility to pick up some of the slack. But maybe the opposing defenses figured that out as well, as Brand now has two sub-40 TSNP games without Odom. Meanwhile, the 2nd and 3rd best guards last night were both Clippers - Quentin Richardson and Jeff McInnis - with 45.5 and 44.5 TSNP respectively. And the Clippers are now 2-0 without Lamar, after losing their first three with him. Go figure.

11/7 - In a night of heavy action, Andre Miller was the top producer with 61 TSNP and 62 PSP. Three forwards were in the TSNP 50s, and eleven players reached the 40s, so a lot of points were up for grabs. Hope you got your fair share.

Gurupie divisions are certainly doing well in the TSN division standings. The top five divisions (and 6 of the top 7) are all dominated by Gurupie managers. While that certainly attests to the caliber of managers who use this site, it also attests to our ability to organize, as some of those divisions are (intentionally) quite large, which gives them an advantage. Should be an interesting competition to follow over the course of the season.

I mentioned yesterday that I would award prizes of RotoGuru merchandise to the top 5 GuruPatron finishers in the Football Pickoff midseason competition. I'm also pleased to announce that Will Tyrer, a GuruPatron Leader and more commonly recognized as the manager of the Coldwater Coyotes, has graciously offered to provide several DVDs of the movie Memento as prizes. So, while supplies last, anyone entitled to receive a GuruPatron merchandise prize will have the opportunity to select this DVD instead. Thanks to Will for this generous offer. (By the way, there is a Memento discussion thread at the baseball message forum.)

11/6 - Lots of points in last night's MNF game. Neither team was scoreless in any quarter. That also led to decent fantasy points for a few players, most notably Rich Gannon (452 TSNP), who finished as the second best QB for the week, and also Tim Brown and Rod Smith, who finished #2 & #3 at wide receiver.

It was a kinder, gentler week in Football Pickoff, as more entrants were positive than negative. Aperfect10 picked an almost perfect 13 winners to claim the weekend title with 737 points. But SMG built on his year to date lead with a solid effort, increasing his lead to more than 600 points. That may look like an insurmountable margin. Past experience suggests, however, that it's not.

However, for those of you who feel like you could use a fresh start, the coming week starts the Midseason competition. You don't need to re-register for this. Just continue making your picks, and separate standings will be tracked with the first eight weeks ignored. So here's a great opportunity to apply all of those hard lessons learned in the first half. The top Midseason score will win a $100 prize.

As an additional GuruPatron incentive, I'll award an item of RotoGuru merchandise to the top five Midseason finishers who were listed as GuruPatrons as of December 1, 2001. Those who have already donated are automatically qualified. The rest of you have until the end of November to put yourselves "in play" with a donation of any amount. The winners obviously won't be determined until after the Super Bowl, but eligibility for these prizes will be established as of 12/1.

If you'd like include some RotoGuru merchandise in your holiday shopping (or even put something on your own wish list), check out the RotoGuru store, which now features a variety of shirt styles, plus caps, hats, mugs, mouse pads, tote bags, and even boxer shorts. I'm also told that some additional items will soon be available. I'll be sure to note those when they are.

In Hoops, only two games were on the docket. But Seattle and Orlando made the most of theirs, going two overtimes. That certainly helped the top producer, Rashard Lewis, who cranked out 68 TSNP and 72 PSP in 54 minutes of activity.

Today brings the first price change for TSN's Starting 5 game. It will be interesting to see how much it parallels the previous week's activity in their daily-priced Ultimate Hoops game.

11/5 - Heading into the bottom of the 8th, with the Yankees having just come from behind, and Mariano Rivera entering the game, the script seemed pretty well set. Destiny seemed pretty clear. This was a Yankee team that knew how to win this kind of game, and this kind of Series.

And I suppose, had this been a WWF match, maybe I'd have been right. But as we can all now see, this was not a Series for the Yankees to work their late game magic; this was a Series for the unexpected to work its late game magic. And once a late Yankee comeback became expected, well... now you know the rest of the story.

It was a tough series for New York fans, but a great series for baseball fans. Baseball certainly leaves the season on a high note. Let's hope the owners and players can keep it that way through the offseason.

This was one of those rare mornings when I had to process baseball, football, and basketball stats. Fortunately, everything seemed to be in order this morning, and everything was updated by 9am. Now the trick is to digest it all. I must confess that I haven't absorbed it all yet.

So I'll let you do your own reconnaissance this morning. There are a few looming deadlines that I'll remind you about, however:

  • The roster freeze deadline for the next week in Progressive Sports Challenge basketball is at 7pm (EST) this evening. With weekly roster freezes, you can't afford to miss this opportunity. Prices won't change, but you probably have some slots that require adjustment.
  • The first price change for TSN's free Starting 5 game is tomorrow at noon. Price changes will be based on trading activity during the first week. If you have any trades left, this is a good time to plan your next moves. There are only two NBA games tonight, so not much is going to change by tomorrow. Of course, if you plan to pick up any players that do play tonight (Seattle, Orlando, Atlanta, Clippers) , then you really ought to do it before noon today.
  • There are no early football games this week, so you can defer your football planning until later in the week.
With regard to my latest GuruPatron campaign, the month has started out well. Since November 1, five new contributors have been added to the GuruPatron list, and several others have sent in additional donations. Thanks to everyone who has volunteered their support, and to the rest of you - there's no time like the present!

11/2 - There's not much I can add here to the World Series dramatics of the past few nights. I sure wish it wasn't taking place so late at night for those of us on the east coast. It would be nice to watch the later innings while still somewhat alert.

Guards continued to pace all Hoops performers again last night, with a trio reaching the TSNP 60s: Kobe Bryant, Steve Francis, and Nick Van Exel. The best performance by a cheapie was a forward, though, as rookie Troy Murphy ($2.87m) produced 37 TSNP in just 27 minutes for Golden State.

We've come to that time of year when I remind everyone of the financial means that keeps this site alive. When I started the voluntary GuruPatron system of support last spring, I promised not to be "in your face" about it constantly. And I've been very pleased with the response so far. But at the beginning of each major sports season, I do want to reemphasize that this site gets more than 95% of its current financial support from voluntary donations. If you haven't yet joined the many Gurupies who have come forward, now might be the opportune time to show your support. And if you gave before but planned to renew your support during the year, how about another dosage now? I'd love to get that GuruPatron odometer to tick over the $10,000 mark before the end of 2001.

I'll be expanding on this financial theme a few times next week. But in the meantime, if you'd like to show your support, please follow the instructions on my GuruPatron information page. Thanks!

11/1 - They still have to beat either Schilling or Johnson, and it's doubtful that either of those two studs will be pulled from the game unless their pitching arms fall off, but Tino's 9th inning heroics not only changed the score, but dramatically shifted the series momentum. And perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this postseason is that the Yankees seemed to have become the sentimental favorite this year, in the aftermath of 9/11. Since when has the 3-time returning champion team ever been the sentimental favorite, especially against a team making its first series appearance? When politicians tell us that the world has changed, that certainly applies to baseball as well. (I'm not complaining, mind you. Just an observation.)

On to hoops. Jamaal Tinsley led all producers last night with 57 TSNP, and may have established himself as the early freight train (i.e., price gainer) this year, with a solid early schedule and a $2.3m pricetag. As someone who owns Travis Best in my "Dirty Dozen" roto league, I can't say I'm entirely thrilled, even though I do have Tinsley on several of my TSN teams. Time will tell.

For PSC scoring, the top producer was Baron Davis, with 58 PSP. The PSC scoring formula is similar to the TSN formula, but does not penalize for missed shots, and Davis missed 4 FTs, which mostly accounts for his "inferior" 48 TSNP result.

Barring injuries or significant crapouts, it's usually a good idea to be patient in the early going, as early game volatility can tend to have a fleeting impact - and those trades will always come in handy later on. Thus far, guards seem to have stolen the early thunder, claiming 14 of the top 25 spots in total TSNP after two days. Six forwards and five centers complete the list. That could obviously shift a lot in the next few days, so it's way too early to draw any generalizations out of this. However, if you have been disappointed by any of your forwards, I really don't see any "must have" opportunities at that position. It may be better just to stick with your disappointing forwards for a few more days just to see what shakes out at that position.

It looks like there are slightly over 5000 active teams entered in TSN's Ultimate Hoops game, as teams with zero points currently rank #5055. In the free Starting 5 game, there are more than 150,000 teams with points. It's hard to know how many of those will remain active. But clearly, there has been pretty decent demand for the simpler, free game.

10/31 - And they're off!

Shaquille O'Neal rewarded those who paid up for him with the top game of the night, 64.5 TSNP and 74 PSP. If he's able to do that for the rest of the week, it may turn out to be a good draft decision. However, he's bound to cost a trade next Monday, when he starts a 10 day period with only 2 games. So, if you own him now, enjoy the points - and conserve those trades!

This is probably a good time to recap the regular NBA tools available at this site. Here's the rundown:

  • Yesterday's points - lists all of the points scored in each day's games, sorted by position. You can get the list sorted for either TSN points or PSC points. If you want a quick recap of who did what yesterday, this is the best source to turn to.
  • Sortable stats - a versatile stats report that allow you no only to look at (and sort by) price, points, and averages, but also provides totals for the past 7, 15, and 30 days - as well as totals for the prior year. You can also use the projection feature to project points over any future period based on any of the listed per-game averages. Use the menu at the bottom of the table for advanced filtering or to activate the projection mode.
  • Player pages - such as this one for Shaq - provide game by game point details, price histories, and links to daily boxscores. These are good places to drill down into a player's history.
  • Sched-O-Matic - this problem allows you to "slice and dice" the schedule over any range of dates. It is particularly useful to se which teams have heavy or weak schedules over any period. Many users find this tool helpful for managing their rotisserie-style rosters as well as their TSN and PSC teams.
  • 4 week schedule generator - this program produces a convenient matrix of scheduled games over any 4 week period, including color-coded highlighting of heavy and light periods of activity. I find it very helpful to keep a relatively current printout of this next to my computer, as it's critical to be looking ahead for several weeks when planning any trades.
  • Assimilator - a roster management tool for TSN and PSC games. This is a useful place to track your team results, and to do trial roster manipulation prior to executing final trades at the game sites. IN addition to historical points (last 7 days) and the most recent price change, this program also allows you to project points over the next 14 days (or any 14 day period) using a variety of averages, and even allows you to supply your own projection average for any player.
The Sched-O-Matic and Assimilator are written in JavaScript, and require that you have scripting enabled in your browser. In addition, the Assimilator requires cookies for roster storage, and is also a bit of a memory hog, so some systems and/or browsers may be unable to use it.

Barring data problems, I try to have all of the prior day's stats updated by no later than 9am EST, and many times I have updates posted as early as 8am. Occasionally, I'll be a bit later on Saturday mornings, as that's my one day to be able to sleep in a bit. Based on site activity logs, you do so as well.

TSN price changes will usually be posted in the early afternoon, often within minutes of the update at the TSN site. Again, the sortable stats are a convenient place to review the latest price changes, whether daily (for Ultimate Hoops) or weekly (for Starting 5). The date of the reported price is shown in the price column heading of the sortable stats report.

And finally, the message forum is a good place to find out the current thinking on just about anything hoops-related. Just try to use it responsibly. If you are new to the forum, a review of the forum standards is recommended.

Links for all of the Hoops tools are found along the left menu panel as well. If you're unfamiliar with some of these tools, why not check them out? You might find some significant time-savers.

And as is always the case, please report anything that appears to be a programming glitch, or an error of any kind. A lot of these tools have been around for several years, and sometimes I forget to update some of the descriptions, or footnotes. And particularly at the beginning of any season, there is a greater possibility of data inconsistencies with prior years - so look at all data skeptically over the next few days. Double-check a few sample values before relying on them implicitly. I've done my best to ensure accuracy, but there are an awful lot of ways to sift and sort data, and I certainly haven't reviewed every possible calculation. But I promise to repair anything quickly if you bring it to my attention.

Click here for prior daily blurbs, by month:

2001: 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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