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12/22 - On paper, last night’s NFL game was a defensive battle, with the combined offenses contributing only three field goals. But I suspect it was just as much an offense-less game. I don’t subscribe to the NFL network, and last night was one of those nights when I didn’t feel like I was missing much.
The NBA offered only 2 games, typical for a Thursday night. Washington and Sacramento provided an up tempo game with plenty of points (real and fantasy). In fact, in real points, they outscored the Pistons/Cavs game by almost 90.
This will probably be my final blurb for 2006, as I’ll be vacationing with family over the next week. So I want to close this blurb with a special thanks to all of you who continue to enjoy the site, especially those of you who have encouraged me through your supportive emails, your GuruPatron donations, and your multi-faceted participation at the forum. RotoGuru.com started as a site dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in fantasy sports, but somewhere along the way it morphed into a global community of Gurupies who share a common interest, but who also bring diverse backgrounds, varied perspectives, helpful support, shared concern, and a sense of humor. We’ve encouraged and celebrated each others successes, grieved together over shared and personal losses, challenged each other to think and excel, and formed many lasting friendships that extend beyond the bounds of this domain. I realize that all I have done is provide a common meeting place that tries to encourage the type of interaction that I value. But it is all of you who have built this into a real community, and made it more than a mere web site. For all of that, I am not only grateful, but humbled and awestruck.
12/21 - Weather-related postponements are common in baseball. But in basketball, they can really screw up your strategy, especially in a schedule-driven game like TSN salary cap hoops. Tough break for teams that were loaded up with Phoenix players.
In games that were actually played, there was one triple double, and it wasn’t from Jason Kidd! Mo Williams did the deed in a blowout win over Miami. However, Josh Smith was actually the top TSNP producer of the night with a stat-filled 58 TSNP, even though his team managed to squander a 21 point 4th quarter lead – at home, no less.
NFL Week #16 starts tonight with a battle of two 6-8 division rivals, Minnesota at Green Bay. You’d figure that this was being played only for pride, but in the weak NFC, the winner retains a slim mathematical chance in the wild card race.
12/20 - The Nuggets showed that they could still win without Carmelo on Monday night. Now they get to figure out how to win with Iverson (but still no Carmelo) for a few weeks – although probably not tonight, when Phoenix comes into town before Iverson is expected to suit up. The more interesting period will be in late January, when the two get their first chance to play together. I suspect it will work out just fine, although it will be difficult for them both to retain the top two spots in points per game, as they do today. Not impossible, though.
The NFL Pro-Bowl teams were announced yesterday. Frankly, the Pro Bowl itself is a big yawn, and it’s hard to get worked up over who was and wasn’t named. But using TSNP as a simple, statistical yardstick, the biggest snub would seem to be Michael Vick, who ranks #5 in total TSNP. I guess those rushing yards just aren’t considered important in the Pro Bowl selection. Brian Westbrook gets honorable mention, as the #7 ranked player (and 4th ranked running back). And the highest ranked WR to be omitted is Terrell Owens, which must be bittersweet for him, because although he’d rather have been selected, at least people are talking about him again today.
12/19 - This season, it seems that the worst indicator of what an NFL team (or player) will do is to look at what happened last week. With that in mind, expect Drew Brees to have a huge game at the Meadowlands, and Michael Vick to suck against Carolina. As I noted yesterday, LaDainian Tomlinson is the exception to that rule. I notice that he actually dropped $10K in TSN Ultimate football this week. What schmuck sold him?
In Football Pickoff, Left Coaster coasted to a 15-1 record for the week, outpointing the rest of the field by more than 200 points. Only two other slates had more than 12 games picked correctly.
Fantasy football leagues are typically decided through a playoff structure, which adds a significant element of luck to the final result. Some people consider that the curse of the game, while others like the idea that inferior teams always have a chance, as long as they can eke into the dance. So I find it inexplicably stunning that in the three years of the RIFC, I’ve survived to the championship game all three times. With an 8-team playoff bracket, my cumulative record in the first two rounds is now 6-0. While I was seeded first last year, in the other two seasons I’ve been seeded in the bottom half. So luck certainly has played a major role. With a balanced coin, the odds of flipping heads 6 consecutive times is about 1.5%, and my coin has probably been a bit unbalanced against me. So it is with grateful sheepishness that I march on, realizing that the next decade is likely to provide a painful comeuppance. As the saying goes, it’s better to be lucky than good…
12/18 - This NFL season seems to have been marked by inconsistent play – both by players and teams. But there are usually exceptions to any rule, and LaDainian Tomlinson certainly qualifies as a model of consistency. In most fantasy football drafts last summer, the top three picks were Larry Johnson, Shaun Alexander, and Tomlinson. Johnson was often the consensus #1, although I’m sure the sequence of that list varied greatly from league to league – but not the names. Now, it’s pretty clear what the optimal sequence should have been.
The NBA weekend news was marred by the Saturday night brawl in New York. The NBA edicts are expected any moment, and Carmelo Anthony will probably bear the brunt of the NBA wrath, although there are a number of interesting angles to this story, including why Anthony was still in the game at that point, and what role (if any) Isiah Thomas may have played in creating an atmosphere conducive to explosion. Regardless, Anthony had been holding his own in the LeBron/Wade/Carmelo triumvirate so far this year. But this will knock him down a peg, both statistically (assuming a meaningful suspension) and reputationally (if that’s a word – and my spell checker doesn’t seem to think so.)
12/15 - Seattle still needs to win one more game to clinch the NFC West. They didn’t get it last night, and in the process, conceded the head-to-head tiebreaker if they end up in an 8-8 tie with San Francisco. Next week they host San Diego, so the road doesn’t get easier, although a final game at Tampa Bay might be just what the doctor ordered if the patient is gasping at that point.
There were three NBA games last night, including two nationally televised games on TNT. In both of those, starters in street clothes seemed prevalent, as Jameer Nelson, Grant Hill, and Hedo Turkoglu sat out the opener, while Tyson Chandler, David West, and Peja Stojakovic watched the nightcap from the sidelines. Chris Paul watched the 4th quarter as well, since the game was a blowout by that point.
When setting your football lineups for the weekend, remember that there is one game on Saturday night – Dallas at Atlanta. You can’t wait until Sunday to start or bench those players!
12/14 - After dealing with Wade and Odom on successive days, it’s nice to look over my various rosters this morning and find no one who appears to gotten the worse for wear over the past 24 hours. OF course, that doesn’t mean I don’t have any of those players; I just can’t find them. And in this case, ignorance is bliss.
I decided to skip Carlos Boozer on my TSN teams this time around. I know that might come back to haunt me, but I already have him on several of my roto teams, and I simply don’t want to compound the pain in the event of distress, and perhaps most tellingly, I don’t want to jinx him by having him on just about every roster in every format. I should have taken the same tack with Odom a few days ago (also on my RIHC squad) and maybe even Wade – although Wade’s oral woes don’t appear to be too serious. He might even play tomorrow if he can get from Miami to Washington without flying. (Psst, Dwyane – hire a driver and leave now!)
12/13 - I picked up Lamar Odom on my TSN Hoops teams yesterday. Oops. The pain is compounded, as he’s also been one of the stalwarts on my RIHC team, which has been on a roll to start the season. Injuries are always a part of the game, and most teams are impacted sooner or later (and some are impacted sooner and later). But it’s still no fun. I guess I know how Phil Jackson feels. (Well,… probably not.)
We have two early football games this week. Thursday’s game is San Fran at Seattle. There’s also a game on Saturday night, Dallas at Atlanta. For Football Pickoff, each of those games locks at kickoff. The rest of the weekend games lock at 1pm ET Sunday, as usual.
Off to work on my Odom issues…
12/12 - So much for avoiding the vaunted Bears defense. Mark Bulger threw for 356 yards and 3 TDs. Steven Jackson had 139 combined yards and two TDs. Of course, the Rams still lost. But the Bears defense certainly had little to do with the outcome.
Two Football Pickoff slates found their way to 13 correct picks this week. Top scoring honors went to jbouch, owing to his successful double of Arizona over Seattle. Underdogs again stole the show, although Pickoff entries correctly favored three winners who were underdogs according to the betting lines. Thus, while betting underdogs went 11-5 for the week, consensus Pickoff underdogs were a more modest 8-8.
In Hoops, Jason Kidd notched another triple-double (ho hum), while the bigger story for TSN Hoops managers is the total implosion of Dwight Howard, who needed only 19 minutes to foul out, producing only 5.5 TSNP in the process.
12/11 - Tony Dungy hasn’t usually been associated with this type of defense. But lately, it seems that the Colts defense can’t stop any runs. And Peyton Manning hasn’t shown the ability to put enough points on the board to outscore the opponents. In their last 5 games, Indy has topped the 20 point hurdle only once! Shockingly, they’ve won twice this season when scoring less than 20. But Rudi Johnson must be salivating at next week’s prospects, when Cincinnati invades the Hoosier Dome.
So far this NFL weekend, betting underdogs have gone 11-4. It seems that there is no such thing as a hot team. Lately, whenever a team gets on a roll, it stops and drops. That doesn’t bode well for the Bears tonight.
In Hoops, Baron Davis fell one rebound short of a triple double twice in the past two days. Meanwhile, Phoenix and New Jersey followed up Thursday’s epic score-fest by taking different routes. The Suns continued to win on the road, scoring 114 and 116. The Nets stayed home, but managed only 90 points, losing to the Celtics after opening the game with a 22-2 lead. Incredibly, they remain at the top of the Atlantic Division with a .368 winning percentage. They’re also only ½ game ahead of the Knicks! Can you image the Knicks ending up with the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs?
12/8 - In the Suns/Nets game last night, Phoenix was the winner, but TNT was the loser. They were showing the Pistons/Mavs game instead. This one belonged on national TV. Fortunately, I was able to watch the most of the second half on the YES Network. A classic game, to be sure. And just about any player on either the Nets or Suns would have helped your fantasy squad last night, with a combined 318 points, 80 assists, 89 rebounds, 12 steals, 8 blocks, 27 3-pointers, 54% FG shooting, and 84% FT shooting. Even the 3-pointers were being drained at a 52% clip.
Any of the NBA games last night had to be better than the NFL game, as Pittsburgh drubbed the Browns in a game that was apparently not as close as the 27-7 final score would suggest.
12/7 - There seems to be a very pronounced “buy high” syndrome in the TSN salary cap Hoops game. Not high in terms of price, but high in terms of production – and expectations of same. A player puts up a strong week or two, and everyone starts to climb aboard, just as the player begins to revert to his own (usually much lower) mean. It’s a very natural phenomenon, and has been going on for years. The same thing often happens in baseball, particularly with pitchers. But it’s maddening, just the same. One day, you think you have your roster all set for a long ride, and the next morning you already have “buyers remorse” and can’t wait to dump the guy you recently couldn’t wait to get.
A few examples. Yesterday’s top price gainer was Carmelo Anthony, who hadn’t had a game under 40 TSNP in the last two weeks. His reward to those faithful buyers: 22.5 TSNP, his lowest output of the season. Other notable gainers yesterday included Hakim Warrick (16.5 TSNP), Andres Nocioni (19.5), and Jorge Garbajosa (9.5). Yesterday, Dorell Wright combined a nice gain with a 9.5 TSNP game. Argh. It’s not a universal phenomena, but it is a maddening one.
Tonight’s NFL game is Cleveland at Pittsburgh. I know that those two teams are historical rivals, but outside of northern Ohio and western PA, it’s tough to imagine the NFL network getting much attention in the battle for 3rd place in the AFC North.
Thanks to Gurupie KnicksFan for suggesting today’s quote.
12/6 - Elton Brand finally had one of those games that his fantasy managers were hoping for – 33 points and 17 rebounds. In roto leagues, he was a consensus mid-1st round pick, but he’s been producing more like a late-2nd to early-3rd rounder so far. Not so for Steve Nash, though, whose only real disappointments were two DNPs in mid-November. After last night’s 20 assist effort, he’s on track to justify his strong pre-season expectations. I guess the haircut didn’t really matter. No Samson effect!
Kevin Garnett has the best TSNP/G average so far this season, but he’s essentially been a non-factor in the TSN Ultimate game, owing partly to his high price, but mostly to his light schedule. Denver is the only team to have played fewer games than Minnesota so far (digression – Marcus Camby hasn’t missed one yet!), and after a brief 3-in-4 flurry starting today, the T-wolves play only twice over the ensuing 10 days. After that, Minnesota has at least two more games than every other team over the balance of the season. At that point, his Ultimate price should be under $11 million, and it probably won’t take long for him to show up on every roster. A few other forwards also pick up around that time, including the aforementioned Elton Brand. It’s too early to be making detailed plans for that period, but it’s a good idea to be positioning your roster for appropriate flexibility around that time.
12/5 - Andy Reid’s “Anything’s possible” comment now becomes the mantra for many fantasy football teams as they enter their league playoffs. While every league us different, many begin their playoff brackets this week or next, and the matchup nature of the game dictates that, on any given weekend, there are no “locks.”
That’s also evident in Football Pickoff, where consensus underdogs went 8-8 for the week. Although a couple of slates had 13 games picked correctly, the top score was posted by juliecollins with 11 correct picks and 526 points. Picking a straight underdog slate would have ranked 15th this week, and that strategy would find you in the top 20 for the year. Meanwhile, picking all favorites for the season would currently place you around 300th.
While the NFC now boasts only four teams over .500 (and 4 more at 6-6), they haven’t cornered the market on mediocrity. If the NBA playoffs were seeded today, the Eastern Conference would qualify four teams with losing records, including New Jersey, who currently leads the Atlantic Division with a 7-9 record. I guess that gives hope to a team like the Knicks, who currently sport a 7-13 record, but find themselves only 2 games out of first in their division. If they were in the West, they’d already be out of the hunt.
12/4 - The Bears have clinched the first playoff spot, a testament not only to their 10-2 record, but also the fact that nobody else in their division is better than 5-7. Of course, there are only five NFC teams with winning records so far, and one of them, Carolina, is only 6-5 with a game to play tonight. Meanwhile, the AFC has 9 teams over .500. It’s reminiscent of the recent disparity between the AL and NL in baseball. At this pace, some team with an 8-8 record could very well make the NFC playoffs, while an AFC team at 10-6 could get left behind. Then again, if recent trends play out, KC and Denver may be vying for the final AFC playoff spot, and neither of them looks like a 10-6 team, with KC losing to Cleveland yesterday, and Denver losing its third straight game.
The monster individual results for the weekend in both football and hoops came from the New Orleans teams. On Friday night, Chris Paul posted a 25p-18a-11r triple double for 89.5 TSNP. Two days later, Reggie Bush scored 4 TDs en route to 602 TSNP. Both players have been frustrating fantasy managers with inconsistent play. Six of Pauls’s 16 games have produced 31 TSNP or less – not terrible, but that 89.5 sure got his average back into line in a hurry. And Bush had only accumulated 648 TSNP in his previous five games combined. But it looks like his outburst this weekend probably changed the playoff landscape in the RIFC.
12/1 - Arguably, the Baltimore defense did its job, allowing only 13 points to the Bengals. The Baltimore offense only scored 7, however, and that wasn’t until the 59 minute mark, followed only by a failed onside kick attempt and a few kneel-downs. So it was one of those games when the Ravens needed some offense from its defense, and with no turnovers in the game, that order was too tall to fill.
In the NBA, Kobe Bryant scored 30 points in a torrid third quarter, as the Lakers buried by Jazz by that same margin. In TSNP terms, it was Kobe’s third game in the 50s (this was a 59). Curiously, all of his other games have produced 36 or fewer TSNP. He has yet to post a TSNP game in the 40s, even though his average for the last 15 days is 43.
In spite of the blowout loss, Utah still has the best winning percentage in the league as we head into December. Dallas (after starting 0-4) and Orlando are tied with Utah in the loss column (4), but Utah has an extra win or two in hand. The schedule evens out in the next week and a half, though, as Utah plays only three times in the next 10 days. If you’re holding a Utah player on your TSN team – probably Boozer or Deron Williams, that would be a pretty good leading indicator for burgeoning price losses. Surprisingly, Boozer got some buys in the Ultimate game yesterday. Last one in takes the hardest fall! Or maybe there are some teams vying for lowest roster 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
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