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Daily blurbs from the Guru
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11/30 - Sometimes, when you have a choice between two top quarterbacks in a big game, it really doesn't matter which one you pick up for your fantasy team. But that didn't apply last night, as Romo outgunned Favre by 253 yards, 4 TDs, and threw one less interception. In TSNP terms, that's a 500+ point gap. Of course, the injury to Favre was a key factor, but even before that, the balance of power was decidedly in Romo's favor.
In the NBA, yesterday's fantasy hoops discussion centered on the status of LeBron James. For those who chose to move on, none of the likely replacements had LeBron-like numbers, as Kobe managed 43 TSNP, Garnett garnered 36 TSNP, and Camby managed only 35. Garnett, of course, was limited to only 23 minutes in a 45 point blowout that was not as close as the final score would suggest.
Actually, the studliest NBA result last night was by Baron Davis, with 56 TSNP on 27 points, 8 assists, 5 steals, and 5 boards. But I don't think he was subbing for LeBron on many fantasy teams, with back-to-back off days today and tomorrow. I could be wrong about that, though. (...about the LBJ subbing, not the schedule. )
11/29 - LeBron sprained the index finger on his left hand. On the surface, a finger sprain on his non-shooting hand would seem to be no so serious. But, (1) he was in street clothes for the second half. And (2) the ESPN highlights last night showed a number of driving shots from the left side, shot with his left hand. And (3) even if it doesn't dramatically affect his jump shot, it could still impact his ball handling. And all those early triple doubles suggest that LeBron has been about more than just scoring this year. So while the dominant question this morning is Will he play tomorrow?, I don't think that's the whole issue. How about Will he play effectively tomorrow?, or Will he dominate play tomorrow? While we might get some advance clues about the first answer, the other questions will remain unanswered until we seem some game action. Obviously, if you have him on a roto team, you start him and hope for the best. But in a salary cap format, it's not such an easy call.
We get a good NFL game tonight. Unfortunately, much of the country (including moi) will be watching it on NFL.com Game center, since the NFL Network is not available on many cable systems. In any event, the game has a lot of fantasy impact players, so make sure you have your lineups properly set before tonight. And get your Football Pickoff pick locked in before the opening kickoff. As of this morning, about half of active Pickoff slates still have no pick for this game.
11/28 - LeBron James failed in his attempt at a third consecutive triple double, falling 6 rebounds short. But don't expect his fantasy owners - or his real team - to feel any pain, as he scored 38, dished out 13 assists, and led the Cavs to an overtime win over the Celtics.
Do you know who the last NBA player was to post three straight triple doubles? He's still active, but it happened 101/2 years ago , so he's probably not going to be on your short list of candidates. Grant Hill completed the trifecta in April 1997, in the midst of his heyday in Detroit. That year, he averaged 21.4 points, 7.3 assists, and 9 rebounds per game. LeBron's current season averages of 31.7 pts, 8.5 assists, and 8 rebs (plus 2.1 steals and 1.6 blocks) are a bit better - particularly the scoring - but it's hard to remember Hill at that level of dominance.
Career triple double stats are tough to track down, but after some googling, I've sniffed out some data. LeBron has some ground to make up, even though he's already notched 15 in his short NBA career. The active leader is Jason Kidd, currently at 91 and counting. He ranks third all-time, still 47 behind 2nd place Magic Johnson's 138. And the all-time leader is Oscar Robertson, with 181 - including the 1961-62 season (his second NBA season), when he averaged a triple double of 30.8 pts, 11.4 assists, and 12.8 rebounds. He had 41 triple doubles in that season alone. And the longest streak of triple doubles was by Wilt Champerlain, who had nine in a row from March 8-20, 1968.
Take that, LeBron!
11/27 - There are those fans who say they love to watch a tough, 2-way defensive battle. I'll bet last night's NFL game doesn't qualify, in spite of the 3-0 final score. It wasn't so much that the team defenses were sturdy; it was that the field was not. Pittsburgh's final drive was the first time that either team got into the red zone - although that was hard to tell, since the missing yardlines made the field look more like a soccer venue.
With big underdogs narrowly missing wins in the weekends final two games, the top Football Pickoff result belongs to Mac Daddy with 461 points on 13 correct picks - more than 100 points better than the second best score.
Seven NBA players topped the 50 TSNP mark last night, but no one had a triple double - partly because Lebron was not playing. That changes tonight, as the Cavs host the Celtics. If LBJ can post another TD, it will be his third consecutive - a rare TD3.
11/26 - Bill Belichick won't have any trouble serving up humble pie to his team this week. And if the rest of the NFL can figure out how to replicate the Eagles game plan, maybe the 1972 Dolphins still have some hope.
In salary cap football games, you didn't need much wealth to score big this weekend. Two of the top RBs were Kolby Smith and Andre Hall. Kurt Warner also had a big game, in spite of coughing up the ball in the end zone in overtime. If you're good at picking these types of results, then funds are irrelevant. Then again, sometimes we have weeks like the last one, where Moss, Owens, Brady, Romo, and Tomlinson all had big weeks - making it much harder to field a top scoring team with only a pauper's purse.
In the NBA, it's hard to fathom how good Lebron James has been so far. He notched his 3rd and 4th triple doubles this weekend. And he's now averaging more than 60 TSNP per game, including the opening game when he managed only 16.5 TSNP. Makes you wonder if he drafted himself on his fantasy team this year.
11/21 - I guess there's nothing like staring eye-to-eye with Lebron James to bring out your "A" game. Just ask Michael Redd, who matched LBJ's 34 points and 7 rebounds, but outstole him by 2 and outblocked him by 1.
Tomorrow is Thankgiving Day in the U.S. For the NFL, that means three games, including the traditional pair in Detroit and Dallas. And for the NBA, it means zero games. As I recall, the NBA used to offer a couple of games on Thanksgiving Day, but stopped that last season, perhaps in deference to the NFL network's first Thursday night offering.
If the NBA can do it, then so can I. No blurb tomorrow, and probably not on Friday either. Family time instead. Enjoy your holiday!
11/20 - The theme in Football Pickoff this year has been that there is no theme. Some years, picking favorites tends to be the winning strategy. Some years, it's the underdogs. Sometimes it's home teams. But this season, the best passive strategy has been to pick the betting underdogs, and even that approach would only put you in 65th place. So those partipants who have done well this year have been those who have been able to mix things up from game to game and week to week.
This week's top result was an impressive 15 correct picks from TD1, missing only the Jets upset of Pittsburgh.
This week features three Thursday games in the NFL. For Pickoff, you need to lock in those picks by 12:30pm EST Thursday, the scheduled time of the first kickoff that day. You can wait until Sunday to make picks for the rest of the slate. And, of course, the same goes for most fantasy football games as well. Don't forget to activate or bench your Thursday players before it's too late to adjust.
11/19 - By most measurement standards, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens are the top two receivers in the NFL this year. That still doesn't necessarily mean they are going to rank 1-2 in any given week. But yesterday, they sure did. In fact, it almost seemed as though they were waging their own personal on-field battle. And perhaps just as remarkably (and not coincidentally either), both of them have appeared to be very well behaved this season - on the sidelines, in the locker room, and even in front of the microphones. What were the odds on that?!
When Moss and Owens have monster days, then Brady and Romo can't be far behind. Congrats if you had both ends of both duos yesterday. If so, it probably didn't matter who made up the rest of your squads. And if this turns out to be the Super Bowl matchup, it should be a good one - especially for Fox, which has the broadcast rights this time.
In the NBA, Miami almost took down the Celtics on Friday night. Then yesterday, the Magic did the deed - although Boston did recover from a 20-point deficit early in the 3rd quarter and retook the lead late in the game. But they just couldn't connect on a few clutch opportunities. Frankly, after their torrid start, they haven't been hitting on all cylinders lately.
11/16 - This is the first weekend since NFL Week #3 that we've had no byes to contend with. Just injuries. And there seem to have been no shortage of those. If youre playing a salary cap game like TSN or RotoHog, injuries are no big deal - in fact, they create opportunities for lower priced players to step up their production. If youre in a tradition draft-style league, they can make or break a season.
The Celtics take on Miami in Boston tonight, so youve got to figure that's another one for the win column, Dwyane Wade or not - although the green men didn't look sharp last Wednesday. On Sunday, the Celts travel to Orlando where they could get a challenge, though. And that's certainly a much tougher matchup than the one facing the Patriots, who travel to Buffalo, with an extra week of preparations under their belts. If one Boston team is going to lose before next week, I'd think it will be the Celtics.
Then again, youneverknow...
11/15 - Lebron put up another monster, this time with 39 points, 14 assists, and 13 rebounds. But he was still a point short of what the team needed for a win in regulation, and two points short by the time the first overtime ended. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, James is the first player to record that many points, assists and rebounds in a game since Wilt Chamberlain in 1968. That's certainly an odd statistical find, but I guess if it's the first time in almost 40 years, it has some meaning. At least, more meaning than Doc Rivers ascribed to the Celtics 7-0 start.
11/14 - How good are the Celtics? We won't get to see them tested against the best of the west for quite awhile. Their first game vs. San Antonio is on Feb 10, and they don't face Phoenix until Feb. 22. Their first extended road trip isn't until late December, to Sacramento, Seattle, Utah, and the Lakers. I imagine some team along the way will knock them off. But barring injuries to the Big 3, it's hard to see a game in the first several months of their schedule that looks as close as a tossup.
Maybe the best question is, "Which team will lose first, the Celtics or the Patriots? "
11/13 - Well, that was a tough football game to watch last night - unless, I suppose, you were a Seahawks fan. Not much suspense.
In Football Pickoff, some yokel named RotoGuru.com had the best result of the week, posting a score of 624 on 11 correct picks. I'm not sure I've ever managed the top score of the week before. And don't expect it to happen again!
I must have but the hex on Lebron James yesterday, as he managed only 31 TSNP in Denver. He did score 27 points on better than 50% shooting, but the rest of his stat line just wasn't as full as in recent games.
11/12 - San Diego may have beaten the Colts, but neither team can feel particularly good about its results last night. Peyton Manning threw an eye-popping 6 interceptions, and the game still turned on a missed 29-yard FG attempt by the usually reliable Adam Vinatieri. Meanwhile, the Charger offense managed only one TD, blowing an extra point (that could have been decisive) in the process. If not for two return TDs by Darren Sproles, the game would not have been close.
In Hoops, Lebron James has assumed the YTD lead in total TSNP, which is remarkable since his opening night produced only 16.5 TSNP. Kevin Garnett is actually off to the best start, however, with two fewer games played, an average of almost 62 TSNP/G, and a low game of 53.5 TSNP. At this stage of the TSN season, it's difficult to fit in too many studs, but with performances like these, it sure is tempting to try to force the issue.
11/9 - All three NBA games were closely contested. And Dallas showed that it could beat the Warriors - in the regular season, at least. Then again, the Warriors have yet to show that they can beat anybody this year. Perhaps their 5-day layoff couldn't come at a better time. Or perhaps it could have come at a worse time.
Time to start thinking about football lineups again. No need to factor in Brady or Moss or Welker this weekend. None of the other bye teams (Houston, Tampa Bay, & the Jets) have players with widespread fantasy implications. And this is the final bye week of the season. Starting next week, the only thing that can knock your players out of action is an injury. Or a benching, I suppose.
11/8 - There was nothing "almost" about Lebron's triple-double last night, as he had that nailed down in the third quarter, and then built from there in the 4th. Actually, I take that back. There was one "almost" aspect - the Cavs almost won.
Josh Smith also continued to stuff the boxscore with another near 5x5 outing. But we've "almost" come to expect that from him.
After 9 days of the NBA season, the early candidate for the "Where'd that come from?!" award has to be Chris Kaman, after his second 50+ TSNP game of the season. He's averaging 47 TSNP per outing after just four games, on 16.8 points, 16.5 rebounds, 2 blocks, and almost 2 assists per game. Last year, he averaged 24 TSNP/game and topped 40 TSNP only 6 times over the entire season. Whether he's finally matured, or whether he's benefiting from Elton Brand's absence, or whether this is just a statistical fluke remains to be seen. But if you've got him on your team - in any format - enjoy the ride.
11/7 - We had two "almost" triple doubles in heavy NBA action last night. Lebron James fell short by one assist, while Jason Kidd was missing a point and a rebound. Chris Paul might have had the best overall output, though, with 19 points, 21 assists, and 3 steals. And don't overlook Josh Smith, with a stat stuffer that included 18 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 steals, and 4 blocks - just one swat shy of a rare 5x5.
The schedule remains heavy tonight, with 9 games following on the heels of last night's 10-gamer. Lots of data to "assimilate."
11/6 - Fantasy team defenses. What a crapshoot. Back in August, Baltimore and Chicago were widely projected as the top two defenses for this season. But after 9 weeks, neither appears anywhere near the top in virtually any reasonable scoring format. For example, using TSNP, Baltimore ranks 16th and Chicago is 19th. They are similarly ranked (17th and 16th) using the RotoHog formula, and using RIFC scoring, Baltimore is 14th and the Bears are 18th. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh and Tennessee rank in the top two using all three systems. I just looked back to see how those two defenses were ranked at draft time. I had Pittsburgh ranked #11, and Tennessee #27. In the RIFC draft, the Steelers were the seventh defense drafted, and the Titans weren't drafted at all.
I guess the moral is, don't pay up too much for team defenses, sight unseen. Hopefully, I'll remember that next August.
Speaking of draft mistakes, Adrian Peterson wasn't selected until the 10th pick of round 4 in the RIFC, the 27th running back chosen. Oops. I managed to score Cedric Benson two rounds earlier. Brilliant!
The top score for the weekend in Football Pickoff was 591 by Mike2082, with 13 correct (out of 14), missing only the Vikings upset of San Diego. This was one of those weeks when picking favorites was handsomely rewarded, as 12 of the 14 consensus favorites won. Football Pickoff entrants really outclassed the Vegas bookmakers this week, as there were three games in which Pickoff listed a different favorite, and in each case, the Pickoff choice won.
11/5 - Tom Brady wasn't as dominant as he has been this season, throwing for two interceptions and only 255 yards. But he did rack up his typical minimum allotment of three TD passes. And although it wasn't the high scoring affair that many were expecting, the result was always in doubt until the final three kneel-downs. Now, if the rest of the season goes reasonably according to plan, they'll meet again - probably in Foxboro.
Looking at the rest of New England's schedule, their next three opponents (after a bye week) are Buffalo, Philly, and Baltimore. Unless they fall asleep, you'd figure them to handle those three teams. Then they play Pittsburgh. The Steelers are 5-2, but the game is in Foxboro. If the Pats get by that one, then they face the Jets and Miami in weeks 15/16 - two teams who have managed only one win between them. Their final game is against the Giants, in the Meadowlands. That game may not have playoff implications for either team, but it will be interesting to see how it's played if an undefeated season is on the line. It's a long way off, but it doesn't seem like such a long shot.
Meanwhile, Indy's toughest opponent is probably the Chargers, this coming weekend in San Diego. After that, their schedule lines up as KC, Atl, Jax, Bal, Oak, Hou, and Ten. They certainly could run the table as well, although for them to reclaim home field advantage in a rematch with New England, they'd have to do that and have the Pats lose twice. Seem unlikely - although stranger things have certainly happened.
11/2 - The NBA season is now three days old, and Shaq and TMac are both still healthy, as far as I know. Remarkable. They deployed their health in opposite fashions, though. McGrady turned 40 minutes of playing time into 53.5 TSNP (47 pts, 4 assists, 4 rebs), while Shaq converted 29 minutes into only 17 TSNP (9 pts, 7 rebs, 0 blocks). That put Shaq's productivity below such luminaries as Seattle's Jonathan Petro, who managed 17.5 TSNP in 7 fewer minutes.
Now that the weekend is approaching, the Pats-Colts hype is building. Interestingly, I've seen a lot of the pundits picking the Colts to win. I don't know if they really think that, or whether they are just trying to be contrarian. Of course, on any given week, anything can happen, and the Colts are certainly no slouches. On a national scale, I'd guess that the Colts will be the fan favorite, as the Pats seem to be growing in popularity as the team everyone loves to hate, partly because of the Belichick episode, partly because of running up the score in previous weeks, and partly because people just naturally like to knock off the team on top. Football Pickoff currently lists the game as 60/40 Pats, but less than half of the regular pickers have yet logged their picks.
Speaking of the significance of the game, some analysts have suggested that this game is essentially for the AFC Championship, since it will probably determine home field advantage if/when the two teams meet again in the playoffs. I like this response from Joe Bryant at footballguys.com: "This is [only] for home field advantage. That's big of course. But by no means is the winner of this game the AFC Champ. Assuming both teams keep rolling like they have (which is not a small "if"), this is round 1 of a 2 round fight. Except all that matters is round 2."
11/1 - Last night provided a fair amount of NBA activity, but eight teams still haven't gotten on the court. And only two of those teams will play tonight - Phoenix and Detroit, who don't play each other. That still leaves quite a few guys, including Boston's new triumvirate, unobserved. And of those players who we have seen in an NBA regular season game, we've undoubtedly already drawn some erroneous conclusions. As someone said after Week #2 of the NFL season, "I didn't realize how little I'd actually learned after Week #1." So if your sleeper picks didn't produce as you had hoped, don't despair. Even Lebron had a miserable start. And by the same token, don't get too worked up over chasing some long-shot who happened to play well on one night.
I know, it's obvious. But when we have limited information, we almost always exaggerate its value.
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<firstname.lastname@example.org>.
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