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11/30 - We’re 30 days into the regular season, and the Knicks still lead the NBA in one category. OK, you could have foreseen this one coming, since it’s games played. They’ve suited it up 17 times, while no other team has played more than 16. Three teams – Denver, Atlanta, and Sacramento, have been on the court only 13 times. At some point, the Knicks will slack off, but not anytime soon, as they play 13 games between today and Christmas – and no other team plays more during that span.
In some fantasy formats, schedule density is largely irrelevant. If you have a limited number of games to fill up, and if your players stay healthy, the swings in scheduling even out over the long haul. In some leagues, there are no game maximums, and you need to keep game exposures clearly in view. If you’re playing one of the latter, Knicks players have probably looked more attractive than they would without the schedule advantage. And certainly if you are evaluating trade options, you need to recognize that Knicks players have had extra minutes to accumulate their stats. It’s not rocket science, I know. But sometimes it gets overlooked.
Speaking of overlooking, don’t do it for tonight’s NFL game. The Bengals tandem of Palmer and Johnson have been putting up some gaudy numbers lately, but tonight the irresistible force meets the proverbial immovable object in the Ravens defense. When the teams met four weeks ago, that Cincy pair combined for only 219 TSNP. Neither of them has individually had a game that low since then. This time they play on their home turf with much better momentum going, but still, it may not be the matchup you want to play if you have alternatives. Or maybe it is. Regardless, you need to make the decision by tonight, or the decision will be made for you by default.
11/29 - Those who picked up Jermaine O’Neal eight days ago have gotten a very nice return so far. He’s averaged 48.4 TSNP/G in five games over that span, and more importantly, he’s played every game. With O’Neal, you can never be confident that he’ll show up in uniform (rather than street clothes), but so far so good.
Meanwhile, Sacramento’s Kevin Martin has quietly been putting together a stellar season. Going into last night’s game, he had averaged 35 TSNP/G, and had never posted lower than 20 TSNP in any game. Based on per-game averages, he was ranked #16 overall by the ESPN player rater (using the standard 8-category roto scoring). He’s certainly one of the key reasons my RIHC team has started out so well, as I drafted him in round 11 (pick 128)! But last night, he not only came back to earth, but he plowed about 4½ feet underground, producing -4.5 TSNP, scoring 2 points on 1-8 shooting, with the only other stats on his line being 4 PFs and 3 TOs. PFTO-ooey!
The GuruPatron odometer ratcheted over the $4,000 hurdle yesterday, and I thank those of you who have recently initiated or renewed your financial support of this site. It still looks like we’ll set a record low in total contributions for the year (last year’s low-water mark was $4889, so it’s not completely out of reach, but still a stretch target), but the recent pickup ($1000 in the past month) at least assures the site of breaking even for the year. Obviously, I’m not in this gig for financial reward, but it is still gratifying to receive the continued encouragement and commitment from many of you.
11/28 - As the first half of the MNF game was winding down (or maybe it was early in the second half), the ESPN announcers were musing that perhaps Seattle was overrated, having amassed their 6 wins against a very weak set of teams, and having trouble against Green Bay at the moment. Then Hasselbeck return to form, and the only thing stopping Shaun Alexander was the offensive play calling near the goal line, and suddenly, Seattle looked pretty good. Of course, beating Green Bay in Seattle, snowing or not, is hardly the measure of a top caliber team. But losing to Green Bay would certainly have sent a message.
A Seattle loss would also have spoiled some Football Pickoff results. But instead, the median score was positive, for a change. And the top slate, pglaw, had 14 games picked correctly, amassing 571 points.
In Hoops, the brewing story is the recent surge of Golden State’s Andris Biedrins, who produced a total of 61.5 TSNP against a difficult Spurs team last night. In fact, his stat line is virtually the same as that of opponent Tim Duncan, who also reached the 60 TSNP threshold. There’s been a lot of banter at the forum about whether to sell Biedrins in anticipation of price losses heading into a light schedule period for the Warriors. But with successive TSNP games in the 30s, then 40s, then 50s, and now 60s, it’s pretty tough to make a cogent case for dumping a player priced under $4m. I understand the concept of “sell high, buy low.” But over the years, there have occasionally been similar situations that end up turning into “sell high, buy higher.” This situation is starting to get that feel. We’ll see soon enough.
11/27 - This won’t be a very pleasant week for the New York Giants – particularly any Giants named Manning or Coughlin. Their 24-point meltdown in the 4th quarter yesterday would seemingly be pinned on the defense, but here is the rundown on the Giants’ 4th quarter offensive drives:
Not exactly a textbook example of running out the clock, is it? Oh well, I’m sure the New York media will be charitable and understanding…
Heading into last week, Marques Colston had been the leading receiver this season. Of course, he’s missed the last two games with an ankle injury. So who was the top receiver this week? Teammate Devery Henderson, who also ranked #3 in TSNP last week. Maybe New Orleans receivers are interchangeable, like Denver running backs. As further evidence, Drew Brees has overtaken Peyton Manning as the top producing QB (again using TSNPs) for the season, and is ranked third in points at any position, behind only LT and LJ.
By the way, I see that Brees was taken in the 14th round of the RIFC draft last August, the 20th quarterback selected. Notable underachieving QBs taken ahead of him include Brooks, Culpepper, Bledsoe, Plummer, Roethlisberger, Warner and McNair. McNair may not really belong on a list of underachievers, but he was selected as my backup QB, taken just four picks ahead of Brees. If I had gone with Brees instead of McNair, I’d be in fat city right now. Instead, I’m suffering with Eli, along with the entire city of New York. My only solace is that so many other good managers missed him too. I guess we were all scared away by the injury and/or the chronically pathetic Saints. Oops.
Thanks to Gurupie Swish City for suggesting today’s quote.
11/22 - The NFL offers three games tomorrow, and a Thursday game will now become the norm every week until the final week of the season. So, it’s important to understand how your fantasy football game handles those early games. Be sure you understand the rules on roster moves and lineup changes.
For Football Pickoff, your picks for all Thursday games will freeze at the time of the day’s first scheduled kickoff. For tomorrow, that means that all three games will be locked in at 12:30pm Eastern time. You may continue to makes (or change) picks for all other games until the usual freeze time on Sunday at 1pm.
I’ll be away for the next couple of days, and probably won’t write my next blurb until next Monday. Enjoy this special family holiday, eat to excess, watch football to excess, and nap to excess if you can. And thanks for all of the support and encouragement you provide year-round. It’s certainly one of my blessings.
11/21 - We finally had one of those weeks in Football Pickoff when neither favorites nor underdogs had the upper hand. A straight slate of either category netted close to zero. Top scoring honors for the week went to ZCrew, with 11 games picked correctly for a score of 452. Several slates had 13 games picked correctly, but none of them quite matched that score.
The NBA schedule was more packed than usual for a Monday night during football season, with seven games on tap. Among the results was a rare sighting of last year’s fantasy sleeper extraordinaire Boris Diaw, who fell just one assist and one rebound shy of a triple-double, but still posted a total of 50.5 TSNP, which was his first game over the 30 TSNP threshold this year. Those who drafted Diaw this year have not yet gotten very good returns on what was probably a reasonably high pick. So, was this the one that breaks him out of his statistical funk, or was this merely an aberration?
Special thanks to Gurupie jedman for suggesting today’s quote.
11/20 - So much for Donovan McNabb. If you drafted him on your fantasy team, you probably got him at what appeared to be a bargain round (he was a mid-5th rounder in the RIFC), but once again, he’ll fail to finish out the season. Something like that can sure stifle your championship hopes in a flash.
We lost not only the top QB (in TSNP) yesterday, but also the top WR, as Marques Colston left the game with a high ankle sprain before making any catches. His prognosis is uncertain, although high ankle sprains always seem to be troublesome injuries. It didn’t stop Drew Brees, though, who seems to be able to complete passes to anyone, including three diffferent Cincinnati DBs. In spite of those picks, still had a good fantasy stat line, with 510 yards and 2 TDs.
In the NBA, the latest cheapie tease emerged over the weekend, as 28-year old (29 next month) Spaniard Jorge Garbajosa put up strong back-to-back outings as the new starting center for Toronto. Meanwhile, Baron Davis left his latest game early with a rib injury. Davis may have become the McNabb of the NBA, putting up monster stats when healthy, but unable to avoid injuries. Last year, Baron managed to appear in just 65% of his scheduled games, a similar ratio to Donovan’s current and prior season.
11/17 - Baron Davis had one of those showcase games on national TV that makes you want to get him on your fantasy team ASAP. And with Davis, the history suggests that if TSN teams begin to buy him in droves, a DNP is just around the corner. He sure seems to be healthy for now, though, playing 45 minutes in each of his last two games. Probably a good sign, and a bad omen.
If you’re playing fantasy football, be aware that there was a pretty significant scoring change announced by the NFL yesterday. Correll Buckhalter scored on a play that was originally ruled a 20-yard catch and fumble by Reggie Brown, with Buckhalter picking up the fumble and running it in for the final 35 yards. Now, it has simply been ruled a 55 yard reception by Buckhalter. So McNabb gets an extra 35 passing yards and a passing TD, Buckhalter gets a 55 yard TD reception, and Brown loses 20 receiving yards. Different scoring platforms probably adjust for these changes in different ways, but if it matters to your team, you ought to investigate.
Browser updates have been percolating through the web, with FireFox 2.0 and MSIE 7 both being recently introduced. I think a conscious decision is required to get the FireFox update, but the IE 7 update is coming through with the normal weekly automatic updates, so you may discover (if you haven’t already) that your IE browser interface is suddenly different. I’m not aware of any compatibility issues with any RotoGuru pages, but it would not surprise me if IE 7 will continue to present some issues, particular in the form of incorrect links. If you notice anything that’s not working properly in either of the updated browsers, please send me an email.
11/16 - I amended the NBA schedule grid this morning. As Gurupie tsunami correctly pointed out in the forum, there are no games scheduled next Thursday, and my typical treatment of a complete off-date is to eliminate it from consideration in the color-coding scheme. That change added a lot of green to the next week, and creates some very unusual schedule patterns. For example, six teams now effectively play on four consecutive days, with two immediately before and two immediately after the empty date. So if you look at the schedule today and it looks more “spring-like” than usual, now you know why. Green is busting out all over!
Speaking of busting out all over, Jason Kidd continued to be a complete monster last night, narrowly missing another triple double (25 pts, 11 ast, 8 reb), good for 63.5 TSNP. Of his 7 games this season, four have generated more than 50 TSNP. He now ranks third in TSNP/game, behind only Garnett and LeBron.
Moving from “bust outs” to just plain “busts”, I’m amazed at the teflon nature of Hakim Warrick in the TSN Ultimate Hoops game. He’s gained $460K in the past 11 days, playing only 4 games in that span, and barely averaging double figures in TSNP. His +$90K gain last night was a real surprise, and he promptly rewarded his new owners with 5.5 TSNP in 17 minutes of play. Of course, now that the Memphis schedule starts to pick up, he’ll probably start getting pink slips. I don’t get it.
11/15 - The NBA season is now 2 weeks old, which only reflects about 8% of the full season. So anything we think we’ve learned could easily be reversed before the paint is dry on the first quarter. However, it’s all we have to work with so far. In TSNP terms, 16 players have averaged over 40 TSNP/G. That’s pretty normal. For the entire prior season, 14 players exceeded that threshold.
So which of those guys in the 40s are surprises? Two of them are producing 44% better than last year: Emeka Okafor and Zach Randolph. Close behind are Carlos Boozer (+35%), Andre Miller (+30%), and Ron Artest (+30%). None of those guys would have been early draft picks in a preseason fantasy draft. None were taken in the RIHC draft until at least round 4 (Boozer, Miller, and Artest). The earliest pick of the group, Boozer, was the 41st player selected. Zach Randolph was a late 7th round pick.
Who are the underachievers? Of the 14 players who averaged better than 40 TSNP/G last year, one is injured (Gasol) and five have averaged in the 30s. The biggest bust of the group is Kobe Bryant, whose current average of 31.8 TSNP/G is down 31% from last year. Elton Brand is down 24%, and Shawn Marion is down 13%, although Marion is slightly over 40 TSNP/G this year, so it’s not really fair to describe him as a significant disappointment. Any of these guys could easily be back on track by Thanksgiving. But if you drafted any of them in the first round, you’ve got to be feeling a little anxious.
If you picked up Francisco Oberto in TSN Ultimate Hoops last week, your ride may be coming to a screeching halt. He’s up almost $700K in the last 6 days. But he’s produced a not-so-grand total of 20 TNSP in the two games played during that span, including just 4 TSNP in 5 minutes last night. He did manage to commit 4 personal fouls, so they must have been 5 active minutes. Those who picked him up early are probably happy with the price gains, and those who avoided him are probably happy that they don’t have to use a trade to bail now. But if you were one of those who just picked him up yesterday, you can’t be happy about much. And if you have decided to buy him today, then you probably aren’t reading this blurb.
11/14 - Although a couple of entries got 12 games correct in Football Pickoff this week, the top score was posted by Dilligad3, who went only 10-6. He picked only three favorites, but got all three of those game correct, to go along with 7 underdog winners.
This coming week will be the last week of the NFL season (until the final week) with no game on Thursday. On Thanksgiving, we’ll have 3 Thursday games, including a night game broadcast on the NFL Network. For the following four weeks, the NFL Network will continue to televise a Thursday night game, which may or may not complicate your fantasy roster management over that period. For Football Pickoff, Thursday games are locked early, but you can continue to make or change picks for the rest of the games until Sunday at 1pm, as usual.
There were only 3 NBA games last night, as Mondays tend to be lightly scheduled in the NBA until the end of the football season, I suppose in deference to the Monday Night Football game.
11/13 - All you needed for success on your fantasy football team this weekend was a lot of Chargers and Bengals. Well, other than the team defenses, at least. Using TSNP as a yardstick, the two QBs plus the two RBs plus the top two WRs combined for more than 2806 TSNP.
In Football Pickoff, going with the underdogs continued to be a productive tactic for the fifth consecutive week. With one game remaining, consensus dogs are 7-8, netting 224 Pickoff points. Even if Tampa Bay loses tonight, the weekly point tally will still top 200.
In Hoops, New Jersey’s Richard Jefferson injured his ankle, paving the way for second year player Antoine Wright to get his first career NBA start. Wright made the most of his 35 minutes, committing 5 personal fouls – but not producing much else in the boxscore. Teammate Jason Kidd evidently found the Wright stuff, posting his second triple double in five games.
11/10 - Many of the NBA players may not like the new ball, but it seemed to be finding the bottom of the net with regularity last night. Of the six teams in action, only one scored less than 112 points. That may not seem like a big deal, but until last night, teams had scored 112 or more less than 9% of the time. Now that ratio is up to 12%. (Teams are reaching 3-digit scores only 46% of the time this season, but I don’t know how that compares to other years at this time.)
If you are playing in a Yahoo-hosted hoops league with roto-scoring, they finally added games played to the full standings page today. Especially at this time of the season, standings based on total stats can be very misleading, as some teams have played many more games than others, due not only to schedule differences, but also to differences in managers’ proclivity to shuffle bench players in and out of the starting lineup. Assuming your league has a maximum for games played over the season, that will level out at some point, so it’s important to understand the degree by which your early rankings are influenced by this in either direction. You still have to do some arithmetic to figure out the impact, but at least you can now see the relative games played data consolidated on one page, rather than having to pull up a separate page for every team in your league. I have no idea why Yahoo would have removed that data early in the season, as it’s most important at two times of the season – very early, and very late.
With the help of a number of attentive Gurupies, I’ve been cleaning up some minor glitches in the various RotoGuru Hoops pages (sortables, player pages, etc.). If you notice something that ought to be fixed, even if it’s minor, please report it here and I’ll look into the necessary corrections. I appreciate your help, as it’s difficult for me to catch everything on my own.
11/9 - If you have Ryan Gomes on your fantasy team, I hope he wasn’t on your bench last night. A triple double from him seems rather inexplicable. Granted, teammate Al Jefferson was out due to an emergency appendectomy, but the 37 minutes logged by Gomes was only 4 more than in his previous game. It was an overtime game as well, and although Gomes got his 10th assist in the overtime period, that was his only statistical output in the extra frame. In any event, his 56 TSNP was more than his total for the Celtics’ first three games.
Emeka Okafor probably had the statistical monsterpiece of the evening, with 28 points, 18 boards, 3 assists, 2 blocks, 2 steals, and 61 TSNP (playing opposite Gomes). Perhaps the more noteworthy result, however, was the 22 point, 10 rebound effort from Fabricio Oberto in a nationally televised game that also went into overtime. In his first four games, he never logged more than 24 minutes played, but last night he was on the court for 39, and made the most of it.
GuruGolf prize notifications were sent out yesterday. If you believe you were eligible for any prize (at any time during the season) and you have not received notification, please send me an email. Some prizes from earlier in the season were never claimed.
11/8 - If the fantasy NBA season is remarkable for anything so far, it is remarkable for the lack of players coming out of nowhere to start fast. In a traditional roto-style of game, the best stance is probably one of patience, perhaps nibbling on a free agent or two at the margin, while discarding marginal players off to slow starts. In the TSN game, it seems that today’s “gotta have” bargain quickly turns into tomorrow’s “buyers remorse”. Again, patience would seem to be the best tactic. Conserving trades isn’t such a bad strategy in the early game. Remember my mantra, “When in doubt, do nothing.” It’s served me well over the years.
After 40 weeks of GuruGolf, there are no roster adjustments to be made today! I feel a void in my weekly routine! I do still need to finish up the prize administration, and I’ll try to get working on that later today.
NFL bye weeks are now over, and the rest of the season can be played with full rosters. That can be a mixed blessing. At least with byes, your lineup options are often forced. Now that all players are available, fantasy football managers have plenty of opportunities to screw up when making start/bench decisions. Although there is a natural tendency to seek the most favorable matchups, sometimes it’s best to simply “start the studs, and bench the duds.” Every year around this time, I need to relearn that message.
11/7 - Just when the Raiders start to look like an NFL team, they get shut out again. They are now averaging just 11.5 points per game, and 25% of those points have been scored by the defense.
Even with Oakland’s dismal showing, Consensus Underdogs in Football Pickoff still went 6-8, which was good enough for +140 points. After week #5, when favorites went 14-0, picking favorites has consistently been a losing proposition. And thus, the top slate for the weekend only had 9 games picked correctly, as mattjohnson rode a 9-5 record to a total of 455 points, with a well balanced slate of favorites and dogs.
In Hoops, the sorry Knicks got even sorrier as Steve Francis left Monday’s game early with an ankle injury. The prognosis is fuzzy, but he’s the third most widely owned player in the TSN Ultimate Hoops game, so expect to hear a big thud when new prices are released at 11pm tonight.
11/6 - I guess the comparisons of these Bears to the 1985 team can stop now. Or maybe not, as that team also lost only once – to Miami!
So we’re now down to only one undefeated team, the Indy Colts. They’ve had their share of close calls, but they have run the table so far. Wouldn’t it be interesting if they go 15-0 and have to face, in the final regular season game, none other than … Miami! If the Colts drop one in the meantime, that final game will probably have no significance at all. But if it is for a spotless record, the story lines will be crazy!
The GuruGolf season wound to a close with yesterday’s Tour Championship. Congratulations to Long Island Ducks, who won the best ball competition by 5 strokes. Although the victory margin was slight, this team held the top spot for 30 of the 38 weeks of the season. The worst ball competition was won by Dust in the Wind with a 17 stroke margin over 3 runnerups.
Finally, the prize for the top roster value was also won by bestball champ Long Island Ducks, by a scant $10 over the worstball champ! Go figure!
All prize winners will be contacted later this week to make arrangements. Thanks to everyone for a great season!
11/3 - The NBA’s new intolerance for in-game whining about officiating has already taken at least three prisoners. Last night, Carmelo Anthony was tossed in the third quarter of a close game which Denver eventually lost by one point. On Wednesday, Rasheed Wallace and Mike Bibby were both ejected from games in which their teams ultimately lost. Wallace would seem to be the player in greatest jeopardy this season. If you have him on a fantasy roster, you’ve got to hope he can learn a new trick, although there is certainly scant evidence to give comfort. I avoided him in this year’s fantasy drafts for precisely that reason. Maybe he’ll cave in under pressure. But even if he does, I’ll bet it will take awhile.
The Camby tease has already started. Marcus put up 61.5 TSNP last night (16 points, 18 rebounds, 4 blocks, 4 assists), and when he’s healthy, you sure wish you had him. But that part about “when he’s healthy” is the stickler. And in the TSN game this year, he’s initially priced in the mid-$9m range. That’s a lot of change to invest in a DNP waiting to happen. But it’s also a bargain for a 60+ TNSP output.
11/2 - The NBA season is now in full swing (although three teams have yet to play), and there are all sorts of surprises. The trick now is to ferret out the trends from the misdirections.
The first TSN prices changes were processed last night as well. Andrew Bynum was the biggest gainer, although with 4 fouls in less than 11 minutes played last night, he didn’t do much to cement that status. The beneficiary or Bynum’s on-court futility would see to have been Ronny Turiaf, with 43.5 TSNP in 32 minutes played. Turiaf’s TSN Ultimate price drop of $60K (only $30K in the basic game) suggests that there may have been some ill-timed moves from him into Bynum. Oops! (Cheapies – you can’t live with ‘em, and you can’t live without ‘em – especially in November!)
As far as I know, all in-season functionality should now be in place for all of the various RotoGuru Hoops features: sortable stats, player detail pages, Assimilator, etc. If you notice something that isn’t working properly, please clue me in.
The final GuruGolf tournament is underway, and Brett Wetterich is the most popular GuruGolfer, no doubt attributable more to his cheap price than to his expected golfing prowess. Geoff Ogilvy is the least owned golfer, on only 6 rosters. I guess that’s understandable, as he hasn’t played in a PGA Tour event since August. If he plays well, that could be a nice contrarian move for those six teams.
Thanks to Gurupie Swish City for suggesting today’s quote. Here’s hoping your season opener was better than Don Nelson’s!
11/1 - With an opening house-dropping thud, Pat Riley might have said “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto.” On the other hand, there are still 81 games to go in the regular season. The impact of early games are always magnified well beyond their true significance, not only for teams, but especially for players. The trick is to figure out what types of performances are more likely to persist, and which are the aberrations.
The Kobe-less output of Lamar Odom topped the stats for day 1, but the more significant performance may have been the 18 point, 9 rebound, 5 assist game from 19-year-old Laker center Andrew Bynum. Meanwhile, 20-year-old Bulls rookie Tyrus Thomas will get an early opportunity to see the NBA through Rip Hamilton’s perspective, as he suffered a broken nose in the fourth quarter of his inaugural NBA game.
The sortable stats are already updated with last night’s points. The full season option will include only regular season games. If you select the last 7, 15, or 30 day option, preseason games will be included in the stats. Meanwhile, I’m working on the Assimilator to include option to copy in a roster from the TSN game. I hope that have that functional later today, although there are some glitches in the TSN frozen roster page which will have to be fixed before everything works correctly. I’m sure it will all get debugged shortly.
The final GuruGolf event tees off at 10:55am ET tomorrow morning. There are only 27 golfers entered, and there is no cut, so it may be difficult for GuruGolf teams to generate much separation from the competition this week. I’m sure all 27 golfers will be represented on multiple teams. And if you have trouble fielding a full foursome, you can include a minimum-priced player who is not in the field, providing the opportunity to get three better golfers for the other three slots. Just don’t leave a spot vacant, because your team will be invalid with less than four golfers. They don’t have to be active golfers, but they do have to be “non-vacant” golfers.
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
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