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

11/30 - If Kurt Warner or Ben Roethlisberger want to validate their value, yesterday provides a good start at exhibit A. Both Arizona and Pittsburgh lost close games that probably would have gone the other way with the regular QBs at the helm. The Cardinals are still in control of their playoff destiny, but Pittsburgh’s position is tenuous at best.

If the NFL MVP ballots were submitted today, would Brett Favre be the winner? You could certainly make a case for Peyton Manning or Drew Brees - or even Chris Johnson - and the final standings may end up being the deciding factor, but after the annoying “Will he, won’t he?” summer, it’s hard to imagine the season going better for either Favre or the Vikes.

11/25 - If you tend to shy away from players on the Golden State Warriors because of inconsistencies of coach Don Nelson, take heart. Nelson is out sick with pneumonia, and the fantasy leaderboard is littered with GS players this morning. Of course, they only dressed 8 players, and two of them rode the pine. Three guys - Anthony Morrow, Monta Ellis, and Vladimir Radmanovic - played all 48 minutes.

This will be my last blurb until next week. I know that you are all aware of the Thanksgiving NFL games, but don’t forget the fantasy implications – you need to get those players into or out of your lineups, as appropriate. And in Football Pickoff, all three games will lock at 12:30pm ET on Thursday.

Happy Thanksgiving!

11/24 - Week 11 turned out to be a very balanced week for Football Pickoff, with 50% of all slates posting positive scores. Congrats to tompoke, who rode a Tennessee double to the top score (+451) of the week with 14 correct picks.

I’ve got to confess that I’m drawing a blank on what to say this morning. So, falling back on one of my favorite Robert Benchley quotes, “Drawing on my fine command of language, I said nothing.”

11/23 - You have to believe there was a disturbance in “The Force” this weekend, as the top fantasy football scorers were Matthew Stafford and Brady Quinn. In fact, Quinn’s 528 TSNP were 70% of his career total going into the game. And who would’ve figured that game would produce a total of 75 (real) points?

More “Force disturbance” evidence - quoting from ESPN in Saturday’s Nets-Knicks recap:

The Knicks inbounded to Robinson in the backcourt with 0.5 seconds left in the first quarter of their 98-91 victory at New Jersey. Rather than just hold the ball, or heave one at the basket the Knicks were attacking, Robinson turned and shot at the wrong basket. The shot went in, but it was released after the buzzer and didn't count.
I like Doc Rivers’ reaction, when asked about the incident: “Yeah, interesting. That’s not my problem.”

Actually, it sounds to me like the 0-13 Nets should be trying to trade for Nate.

11/20 - So much for the marginal value of Ronnie Brown to Miami. Ricky Williams seems to have no problem doubling up his workload, essentially doubling up his production in the process.

If you’ve been worrying about the potential impact on Allen Iverson on any of your Knicks players, it sounds like you can stop. ESPN is reporting that the Knicks have decided to pass.

Sounds like LeBron will not miss any games from his sore wrist. What’s unclear is whether it will impede his game. His small price loss in the TSN game suggests that most owners are willing to take their chances.

Pau Gasol apparently had no rust to shake off. In his first action of the season he managed 24 points, 13 boards, 3 assists, and 47 TSNP. Perhaps he felt a need to reassert himself as the best Gasol in the league.

11/19 - So now LeBron has an injured wrist. There’s no word yet on the severity – and no presumption that it’s serious – but with back-to-back games starting tomorrow, followed by only 3 games in the next 10 days, figuring out how to handle him in the TSN format is fraught with uncertainty.

We had a rare Elton Brand sighting last night. He played 42 minutes (no doubt elevated by the Marreese Speights void), and he made the most of them, with 19 points, 11 boards, 6 blocks, 3 steals, and 56 TSNP. So far this year, 8 of his 11 games have resulted in less than 25 TSNP, and this one eclipsed his previous high mark by 20.

11/18 - As is often the case, the leading price gain in TSN Ultimate Hoops produced his worst output of the season, as Jason Thompson generated +$160k and 17 TSNP. The rest of the top ten gainers all did well, however.

The top three in the American League Cy Young voting were Zack Greinke, Felix Hernandez, and Justin Verlander. If you look at the TSNP rankings for AL pitchers in 2009, that’s the exact order. If that “predictor” holds true for the NL voting, expect the order to be Lincecum, Wainwright, and Javier Vazquez. Seems unlikely – but youneverknow. Chris Carpenter would rank first if average TSNP/G were used, rather than season totals.

11/17 - Quite a disparity in the two evening NFL games this weekend. Suffice it to say that ESPN got the short end of that stick.

Looking ahead, this week’s schedule features a matchup of Cleveland at Detroit. Wow!

Congrats to mailedfoot, the only slate with 13 correct picks in Football Pickoff this weekend. Only 42% of slates posted positive scores.

Is there a hotter running back on the planet than Tennessee’s Chris Johnson? In fantasy points, he now leads all RBs by a healthy margin – in probably any scoring format. In the last three weeks, he’s averaged more than 500 TSNP/g. In the RIFC draft, he was the 8th running back selected (and 9th player overall). Nice pick!

11/16 - I don’t know if Bill Belichick made the right decision to go for it on fourth down last night. Had the Pats punted, it’s entirely possible that the game would have ended with the same score. Manning would simply have had to navigate a longer path to the end zone, assuming that the punt wasn’t run back. If you don’t trust your defense to stop Manning, then going for it on 4th-and-2 was one way to keep the Colts offense off the field. Consider that Manning had just engineered two 79-yard TD drives, each taking only about 2 minutes. But of course, the Pats were stopped, leaving only 29 yards for Payton to navigate in two minutes. To their credit, Indy found a way to consume almost the entire two minutes in the process.

Speaking of good time management, Maurice Jones-Drew took a voluntary knee on the one yard line in deference to running out the clock and kicking a game-ending field goal. (Can you imagine the second guessing that would have occurred if that FG had been blocked?) Good for Jax, not so good if your fantasy team needed that TD. I remember Brian Westbrook making a similar gesture last December against the Cowboys, and I was thinking that someone else had done it earlier this season, although if so, I can’t remember who.

Tough weekend for Hornets’ fans. The coach (Byron Scott) was fired, and then Chris Paul went out and promptly sprained his ankle.

11/13 - Sometimes, looking solely at TSNP doesn’t tell the story. In last night’s NFL game, the two starting QBs produced 63 and 40 TSNP. But there the similarity ends. Alex Smith was simply lackluster, with only 118 passing yards and one pick. On the other side of the line, Jay Cutler threw for 307 yards, but also completed five additional passes to SF defenders. Amazingly, until he threw his final interception on the last play of the game, the Bears were on the verge of pulling out a win, lining up on the SF 12 yard line, down by only 4 points.

In the NBA, the stars were in action, as LeBron, Wade, and Kobe were all on display in limited Thursday night action. Kobe had a fairly pedestrian 34.5 TSNP, but a couple of his teammates came up big. And if you had any Suns on your team, you were undoubtedly disappointed, as Nash & Stoudemire combined for only 25 TSNP. In fact, the top fantasy producers for Phoenix were the trio of Amundson, Dudley, and (Earl) Clark. Yikes!

11/12 - If they had to do it over, do you suppose Portland would still take Greg Oden over Kevin Durant? Admittedly, Oden has been OK this year, although he’s averaging only 23 minutes per game, and you always hold your breath waiting for the next injury. But Durant has developed into a top 5 (maybe top 4) player, and is now the go-to guy on Oklahoma City. Do you suppose Oden will ever be a “go to” guy?

Remember that there is a NFL game tonight, Chicago at SF. Set your rosters and make your picks as needed.

11/11 - The top fantasy hoops player last night was Erick Dampier. I can’t be sure, but I suspect that’s a sentence that’s never been previously recorded on this site.

If you are trying to pack your salary cap teams with players on teams with dense schedules, your current choices are quite limited. Just looking out over the next 14 days, only two NBA teams have no “red dates” – Portland and Toronto. Portland started the season with a heavy schedule, and that doesn’t begin to abate until the end on November, after which they play at least two fewer games than any other team in the league for the balance of the season.

The NFL starts playing Thursday night games this week. For some sites, that means that all of your weekly roster decisions must be made by Thursday. For others, you must simply be aware of players who will be locking early. In Football Pickoff, you need to make the Thursday picks prior to the 8:20 kickoff, but all of the remaining games remain unfrozen until 1pm on Sunday, as usual.

11/10 - I’m back at RotoGuru World headquarters after a 1700 mile road trip in a van with a group of 8 friends to see UConn give Cincinnati a scare. Great trip – but it’s nice to resume some semblance of normalcy.

Congrats to Del Zamora, who posted the top Football Pickoff result with 11 correct picks for +427 points. Positive vs. negative scores broke at roughly 50/50 this weekend.

It was a tough weekend to be somewhat out of touch with the internet and the NBA. For TSN Hoops, I did manage to duck the Ryan Anderson injury and the Chris Douglas-Roberts flu (except on one team), but it’s tough to have to make snap decisions on the fly without much chance to think through or research the longer term implications. I’ve got to spend some quality time today making plans for the next week or so.

11/5 - Final world series thoughts: Should we start referring to Hideki Matsui as “Mr. November?” And should Pedro Martinez start referring to him as “Daddy?”

I’ve been tweaking the various programs that feed the sortable stats, players detail pages, and Assimilator for Hoops. In previous years, TSN price updates were typically posted by TSN within minutes of 11pm, so I simply stayed up until then, downloaded the prices, fed them into my database, and then uploaded them to the RotoGuru server. But this year, price changes are being delayed until midnight (ET), and I just can’t consistently stay up that late. So, I’ve finally developed an automated routine to access the new prices and feed them into the various systems while I sleep. Last night was the first time the process ran, and things went fairly well. There are likely to be some glitches, and if the TSN site is down or prices do not update on time, I hope I have sufficient logic in place to keep things from getting too messed up. But for those of you on the west coast of the US or on the eastern side of the Atlantic Ocean (and I know there are many of you), you should be able to access updated Hoops prices by about 12:20am ET most of the time. And I’ll get my much needed beauty sleep!

I’m going to be on the road for a long weekend, leaving this afternoon and returning Monday night, so there will be no more blurbs until Tuesday. My internet access will be limited and spotty, but I hope to be able to keep the stats updated on a reasonably normal schedule.

On Saturday night, I’ll be in Cincinnati at the UConn/Cincy football game. This is designated as a “blackout game” in Cincinnati, meaning that all Cincy fans are asked to wear black. The game is being regionally broadcast on ABC, so if you look around the stadium that night, I should be able to find – I’ll be in the UConn section, wearing white.

11/4 - Dirk Nowitzki had scored 11 points through three quarters last night. He finished the game with 40. Nice recovery, eh?

Brandon Jennings is providing an interesting choice in the TSN salary cap games. At a price just over $3m, his average of 34.3 TSNP/game is very attractive. But Milwaukee has played only three times in the first eight days of the season, and plays only twice in the next seven days, and only five times in the next two weeks. In the middle of that two week period, there is a stretch of six days with only a single game. So how soon do you jump in? Even with only 5 games in 2 weeks, only eight players at a comparable price are projected to produce more TSNP (based on YTD points per game). Of course, a sample of just three NBA games for a rookie guard is not a reliable basis on which to project expected performance. But if he is the real deal, waiting will be expensive.

11/3 - Football Pickoff results were relatively balanced this week, with 48% of slates posting postive scores. The top result was a cut above the rest, though, as TimsterRG rode 12 correct picks to a score of +668, which was 68% higher than the second best score of the week.

If you’ve been languishing in Pickoff this season, or if you haven’t even started, this coming week starts the Midseason contest. You don’t need to do anything extra to enter – all teams are automatically entered. This contest simply tracks the results from week 9 on. So – time to pick up your game!

I was looking at the rankings of team defenses this morning. Using a variety of different scoring systems (TSN, RotoHog, or RIFC), the consensus top two defenses to date are Philly and New Orleans! Philly is not so much of a surprise, but New Orleans was near the bottom of most preseason rankings. Go figure. In the RIFC, the first ten team defenses were drafted in the following order (Number in parenthesis shows the current rank in pts/game):

Pittsburgh (7)
Baltimore (15)
San Diego (13)
NY Giants (4)
Minnesota (12)
Philadelphia (2)
Tennessee (29)
Dallas (24)
New England (6)
Chicago (19)

Note that only four of those ten teams are currently ranked in the top ten. This just confirms once again my contention that it’s often folly to pay up in preseason drafts for top defenses. Throw a dart in a later round, and take your chances – since you’ll be taking a but of a crap shoot in any round.

By the way, the last pick in the RIFC draft this year? The New Orleans defense.

11/2 - In fantasy football, some weeks you’re better served by going on autopilot. On my RIFC team, I had Randy Moss on a bye this week, so I was short-handed at receiver. My backup WRs were Bernard Berrian and Ted Ginn. It wasn’t a given that Berrian would even play, and it was likely that Ginn would not start (and in the dog house, to boot). So I left both on the bench and started Robert Meachem instead. Of course, Meachem doesn’t play until tonight, but right now, the points for either Berrian or Ginn would have been quite useful. And although Meachem is certainly capable of putting up a big game – he’s also very capable of a goose egg. Guess which one I’m expecting tonight.

Speaking of goose eggs, several NFL teams lost them yesterday. St. Louis and Tennessee both got their first wins, while Denver finally ran of out steam. Tampa Bay is now the only winless team, while Indy and New Orleans have the only unblemished records – pending tonight’s game.

Most surprising line in the NBA yesterday: Dwight Howard was 14-16 from the free throw line. Assuming each shot was a coin flip (and with Howard, that’s a reasonably valid assumption), the chances of making 14-of-16 is approximately 1-in-500 (if I did the arithmetic correctly).

2009: October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2008: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2007: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2006: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2005: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2004: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2003: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2002: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2001: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2000: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

1999: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

1998: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March

RotoGuru is produced by Dave Hall (a.k.a. the Guru), an avid fantasy sports player. He is neither employed by nor compensated by any of the fantasy sports games discussed within this site, and all opinions expressed are solely his own. Questions or comments are welcome, and should be emailed to Guru<>.

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