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12/23 - First, congrats to Gurupie Slackjawed Yokel who repeats as winner of the 2008 RIFC Championship. He is the first repeat winner.
In Football Pickoff, the top score was posted by tekeballer with 13 correct picks and 526 points. This was a difficult week, as only about one fourth of all active slates posted positive scores. Only three slates scored better than by simply picking underdogs across the board.
Although the YTD leader in Pickoff has a significant margin over #2, remember that Pickoff continues throughout the playoffs, so there are still 11 games up for grabs after the regular season ends – four of which can be doubled. There’s still time to make up some ground.
This will be my final blurb posting for 2008, as I’m leaving later today for a week of family visits over the holidays. I’ll be back in RotoGuru World Headquarters at the start of 2009. Until then, I’ll be updating stats, but maintaining a lower profile otherwise. So, here’s wishing all of you a wonderful end to 2008. Special thanks to all of you who continue to keep RotoGuru.com active and viable. I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) do this without your encouragement, enthusiasm, feedback, and support. Let’s do it again in 2009!
12/22 - I was feeling pretty smug by mid-afternoon yesterday, having decided to go ahead with my plans to get Matt Cassel in spite of the snowy weather in Foxboro. But I was brought back to earth in the evening, when my decision to shed DeAngelo Williams turned out to be a massive “Oops!” It’s a maddening game. Regardless, I’m still in the top 100 in both TSN Ultimate and RotoHog, so I guess I shouldn’t moan too loudly. I occasionally do well in salary cap football games, but it’s never something that I expect. And the fat lady hasn’t sung yet, so I still have some mistakes to avoid if I’m going to pull it off..
It actually turned out to be a good day for a lot of QBs, as many of the popular candidates put up a lot of points. Obviously, I’m presuming that Kurt Warner was not a popular option this week. It wasn’t long ago that Warner was widely touted as a leading contender for league MVP. That seems much less likely now. Even though the Cardinals have clinched a playoff berth, they still could finish with a record of 8-8.
And it also wasn’t long ago that the Jets seemed to be on a path to the Super Bowl. But after yesterday’s flub in Seattle, they are now on the brink of missing the playoffs entirely. First, they must beat the Dolphins in the Meadowlands. But they also need either New England (at Buffalo) or Baltimore (vs. Jax) to lose. Miami and Baltimore control their own destinies; the Pats and the Jets need help.
Thanks to Gurupie Challenger for suggesting today’s quote.
12/19 - Fantasy teams who were relying on Peyton Manning to lead their teams to a championship may have gotten their wish. At a minimum, they are off to a splendid start. But teams that were relying on Joseph Addai are already ankle deep in doodoo. He dealt fantasy owners the nastiest blow of all – being declared active for the game, and then spending the entire game on the sidelines. For a guy who was probably a top 5 draft pick in many leagues, he sure worked out to be a bust this season.
It looks like my motivational skills have faltered. After several examples of calling out NBA players for disappointing seasons only to seem them quickly respond favorably (see 12/4 blurb), my latest disparagement of Elton Brand (see 12/12 blurb) resulted in a dislocated shoulder. Maybe I just got him too amped up.
Snow is heading this way, and another helping of snow and freezing rain is expected on Sunday. This could have ramifications for the Arizona-Patriots game in Foxboro, and maybe also for the Carolina-Giants game in the Meadowlands. Keep it in mind if you’re relying on any of those players this weekend.
12/18 - For those of you who no longer play the TSN salary cap games due to administrative snafus, feel free to smugly say “I told you so” today. The Ultimate Hoops price changes were bungled last night, and the solution that TSN has announced (gory details) appears to be no better – and maybe worse – than doing nothing. It does seem to disadvantage just about every team to varying degrees, however. Maybe that’s the definition of a good compromise. … Not.
In an unrelated issue, some stat sources seem to credited last night’s stat line for Jose Barea to Antoine Wright. Barea played 21 minutes, with 3 points, 3 assists, and 6 rebounds. To compound the problem, several of the monitoring sites (including RotoWire and RotoWorld) have erroneously posted that Barea played only one minute last night. If you have Barea on your roster, check your game site to make sure you get credited for his actual stats. Neither TSN nor NBASE have it correct, although Yahoo does have it right. If you need further confirmation that he really did play, see the photo at the top of this AP news story.
There is one NFL game tonight, Indy at Jacksonville. Make sure your lineups are properly configured, and your Pickoff pick is registered before the kickoff.
12/17 - Tracy McGrady produced a triple double last night. Several years ago, that news would have been a ho-hummer. But lately, it’s news when TMac just manages to stay healthy for a whole game. Pick him up at your own risk!
This appears to be the start of Rodney Stuckey week in TSN Hoops. After a strong showing in last year’s playoffs, Stuckey was a trendy pre-season sleeper pick, but languished for most of November with disappointing results in limited playing time. However, since taking over as Detroit’s starting PG three weeks ago, he has averaged 33 TNSP in 28 minutes per game, including back-to-back 40+ games last week. If he can maintain a TSNP average over 30, he’ll eventually become a fixture on all competitive rosters. Time will tell.
12/16 - Mike D’Antoni received an extended standing ovation from the crowd on his return to Phoenix. The Knicks then proceeded to shoot 5-37 from behind the 3-point arc. That’s not usually good enough – and it wasn’t this time either.
There must have been a disturbance in the force this weekend, as the top Football Pickoff result was posted by some blind squirrel known as RotoGuru.com. Perhaps my midi-chlorian levels were elevated. It could have been a lot better, too, as I had Buffalo, Baltimore, and Kansas City, each which found a way late in the game to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
You know how it always seems that any running back can do well on Denver? Well, maybe any center can do well in Orlando. Case in point: Marcin Gortat started last night in place of injured Dwight Howard, and responded with 16 points, 13 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 41 TSNP. Then again, it was against Golden State, so perhaps elevated midi-chlorians weren’t really required.
12/15 - It wasn’t so long ago that the Giants and Tennessee had only one loss between them, and were the odds on favorites to meet in the Super Bowl. Since then, Tennessee has dropped 2 of 4, with Pittsburgh and Indy left on the schedule. And the Giants have dropped 2 straight, facing a showdown with Carolina this week, followed by a trip to Minnesota. Although both of them have already clinched playoff berths, each needs at least one more win to assure a first round bye.
Matt Cassel came through yesterday with a game eerily reminiscent of Brett Favre. Favre is widely remembered for having a big game (4 TDs) following the death of his father in late 2003. Cassel duplicated the feat, suffering the loss of his father earlier in the week and then throwing for four TDs in a 49-26 beatdown in Oakland.
12/12 - When was the last time you saw an effective “icing” of a pro kicker? I can recall several instances this year when a last minute timeout prevented a missed FG attempt, giving the kicker a second chance – which was always successful. Last night in OT, Robbie Gould was given an opportunity to run to the sideline (during an icing timeout) and try a warm up kick, including the chance to see how the wind is blowing. He then returned to the field and made the game winner.
Yesterday, I noted a few NBA players who have been dramatic overachievers vs. their average draft position this season. Today, I’ll point out a few at the other end of the spectrum. Again, these are based on rankings for an 8 category roto league, using average per-game stats for the current season – compared to average draft positions in the five RIHC league drafts in October.
The biggest disappointment is probably Elton Brand. He was a consensus mid-first-rounder, but is ranked #71 based on actual performance. Close behind is Shawn Marion. He was pick #11 on average, but just barely makes the top 50.
A couple other first rounders have been underwhelming as well. Kevin Garnett was the #10 pick on average, but his average stats put him at #22 – not terrible, but not what you want from your first rounder. And Deron Williams (ADP #8) could be on that list, although his problems have been injury related, so I’ll give him a pass at this point – although his averages since returning 16 days ago only rank him around #60 during that span. (I should note that Garnett has picked up the pace over the past two weeks, ranking #12 during that period – so he may yet work out OK.)
Allen Iverson needs to be on the list as well. He was pick #13 on average, but is currently ranked #54. Others meriting dishonorable mention include Steve Nash (pick #12, rank #32), Pao Gasol (pick #23, rank #44), Rudy Gay (pick #28, rank #57), and Andre Iguodala (pick #30, rank #58).
If you drafted any of these guys and your season has not gotten off well, these are probably some of the chief culprits. In particular, the back half of the first round looks like a real minefield. Of course, we still have 3/4ths of the season to play, so a lot of things can change. Take hope!
12/11 - On Tuesday night, LeBron and Ilgauskas eclipsed team records previously held by Mark Price and Brad Daugherty. Now, Price and Daugherty weren’t shark chum, but breaking a career record held by either one of them doesn’t necessarily evoke a “Wow!”
Last night, Carmelo Anthony scored 33 points in one quarter, tying a record set by George Gervin. Now we’re getting somewhere.
The NBA season has now moved past the quarter pole, with 26% of regular season games now in the rear view mirror. So while it’s still plenty early to change your fantasy fortunes this season, we’ve also got a pretty good view of who some of the significant over- and underachievers are likely to be. Today, I’ll run down a few of the overachievers, who have clearly surpassed expectations – as expressed by their average draft order in the drafts for the five RIHC leagues. (As a reminder, these league use an 8 category rotisserie-style scoring system). Some of these guys have been easy to spot, but a few have largely gone unnoticed so far.
Take, for example, Joe Johnson. He was a late third round pick, but ranks in the top ten in value, based on his statistical averages to date. I looked at three different ranking systems, and all have him similarly ranked. I never would have expected that. But he provides above average stats in 6 of 8 categories, and isn’t a total bust in the other two (rebounds and blocks). Curiously, in TSNP/G, he ranks only 39th.
Devin Harris is a more obvious selection. As a mid-fifth rounder, he is currently ranked around #12 overall, also posting above average contributions in the same six categories.
Overachieving players who went much deeper in the draft include Nene (ranked 27th, drafted in round 12), O.J. Mayo (ranked 28th vs 9th round), Al Harrington (ranked 29th vs late 10th round), and Chris Duhon (ranked 36th vs. 12th round). Getting this type of value from picks in the back half of the draft can be the key ingredient to a successful season. Note that the rankings are based on per game averages, so Harrington isn’t penalized by his seven DNPs.
Tomorrow I’ll point out a few of the more notable busts.
12/10 - If you are planning to move out of Dwight Howard today, he didn’t leave you with much of a parting gift last night, managing only 22 TSNP in 38 minutes. No, it wasn’t due to foul trouble (1). And the game was a one-point win, so no blowout factor. Just an off night, I guess. And it was significantly off by Howard standards, as it was his lowest TSNP output of the season – including the preseason!
In Cleveland, LeBron became the career leader in steals for the Cavs. Somehow, it just doesn’t seem right that a 23-year old should be a career leader in any stat for any NBA team – even for the Cavs. Curiously, in the same game, Zydrunas Ilgauskas set the team’s career mark in rebounds. No such age-based caveat there. They supplanted the dynamic duo of Mark Price and Brad Daugherty in the Cavs’ annals.
Incidentally, this was the sixth time in the last seven games that LeBron has watched the entire fourth quarter from the bench. Good for preserving his endurance - not so good for his fantasy owners. On the other hand, he has still averaged almost 47 TSNP/G during that span, so his owners shouldn’t be too despondent.
12/9 - Conventional wisdom suggests that you’d prefer to avoid owning a RB on a team with two RBs who share the workload. But last night, you would have been happy with either of Carolina’s duo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, who combined for more than 300 rushing yards and 4 TDs. It was the type of rushing performance that you might expect to see against the Lions, but not against Tampa Bay.
In TSN Hoops, the transition to Chris Paul begins in earnest today. Today completes his absurdly light schedule of only 2 games in 11 days. Some teams will be moving to Paul today from Dwyane Wade (who plays only 3 times in the next 10 days), while many more will shift tomorrow from Dwight Howard. Frankly, from a projected point perspective, moving out of Howard is not a necessity, as he still plays 3 games in 6 days starting tomorrow. But you can get two extra games from Paul over an eight day hold, and that seems to be a popular plan. So Howard will absorb a significant price hit tomorrow.
12/8 - Three NFL teams clinched playoff berths yesterday. Tennessee and Arizona got by taking care of business. The Giants backpedaled into the NFC East title when Dallas lost in Pittsburgh – not that anyone would suggest that the Giants don’t deserve to be there.
Meanwhile, Detroit continued to march toward their winless season. No team has finished “0-and” since Tampa Bay went 0-14 in their 1976 expansion season. No one would consider Detroit to be an expansion team, though – they were formed in 1934. At 0-13 and counting, the Lions have only Indy, New Orleans, and Green Bay on their path to destiny. Or maybe “infamy” is a better term.
I still recall a news conference when Rod Marinelli was hired as the Lions head coach in 2006, talking about the need for his players to “get low.” Hard to argue with success if that was the goal. How low can a team get?
It’s not often that Buffalo plays a December home game in 68 degree weather. But those were the conditions in the closed dome in Toronto, where Miami capitalized on the temperate atmosphere. The Bills weren’t likely to advance to the playoffs anyway. But I doubt if the Patriots or the Jets were happy that Miami didn’t get to play outdoors in Buffalo, where the gametime temperature was 15o.
12/5 - I’ve figured out San Diego’s problem. They need to schedule more games vs. the Raiders. Last night’s 34-7 beatdown was not as close as the score indicates, as the only Raider score came on a kick return. And if I combine the TSNPs of all Oakland players in that game, that total is 249 – and TE Zach Miller had 144 of them. Oof!
Speaking of tight ends, Antonio Gates took a goose egg in last night’s game. It was the first time he’s been completely shut out this year, although his total TSNP for the previous three games combined was just 146 – only 2 less than Zach Miller had last night. I guess he should no longer be considered an elite TE, assuming that the term isn’t an oxymoron in itself.
12/4 - And your next triple double is from
It seems like every time I call out a player for having a disappointing year, they immediately respond. Early last month, Amare Stoudemire immediately responded to my post with an 89 TSNP effort. In mid-November, I noted how Dwight Howard was totally dominating his draft partner Emeka Okafor, and Okafor has since topped the 40 TSNP hurdle in 5 of his last seven games. And then yesterday, I denigrated Kevin Garnett, who responded with a 26 point, 14 rebound, 4 block, 63.5 TSNP outburst. Kobe’s 46 TSNP effort was also back to last year’s standard. I guess I should be more diligent in publicly calling out my own players!
One NFL game tonight – Oakland at San Diego. The NFL Network really scooped the other networks by getting that game!
Thanks to Gurupie wolfer for suggesting today’s quote.
12/3 - A couple of my teams are as shorthanded as the Knicks right now. In the RIHC, I must lead the league in DNPs, with a roster that includes Deron Williams (12 DNPs), Jason Richardson (7), Kirilenko (3 and counting), and a smattering of others. That may not seem like a lot, but considering that Deron was my 1st round pick, and Richardson my 3rd rounder, those are going to be tough games to make up. In another league, my team has Boozer, McGrady, and Jameer Nelson – with a short bench in a deep league (240 rostered players), which probably puts it in even deeper doo-doo. I can hardly wait until we get to flu season!
Wondering what’s up with Kobe Bryant this year? After digging into the numbers, it looks like last year’s Kevin Garnett situation – his team is doing well enough that they can afford to conserve his court time. Good for the Lakers, bad for fantasy owners. Last season, Kobe averaged almost 45 TSNP/G, playing 39 minutes per game. This year, his minutes are down to 34, and his TSNP/G have dropped to 38. That’s pretty close to the same production per minute, so the chief culprit seems to be the extra time spent as a spectator. That doesn’t bode well for a return to last year’s status, assuming the Lakers continue to pile up the wins. Using an 8-category roto scoring system, he was a top 3 player last year – maybe even top 2. This year, he’s outside the top 10. Not so good if you ventured a high draft pick on him.
So then, what’s up with Garnett this year? His minutes are on par with last season’s – 33 per game – but his TSNP production is down by 18%. In an 8-cat roto system, I wouldn’t even rank him as a top 40 player so far. But again, it doesn’t seem to be a problem for the Celtics.
12/2 - The RIFC Playoff brackets have been set, and serve to illustrate the idiosyncrasies of the head-to-head format. In our league, the top six teams are seeded based on W/L record, and the 7th and 8th slots are based on total points. As a consequence, the two teams with the best point totals (by a significant margin) are seeded 3 and 4, while a team with an 11-15 record is seeded #7, and a team with a 14-12 record failed to qualify. Some say it’s an unfair system. But some say it’s one of the charms of fantasy football.
This was a tough week for Football Pickoff, with only 40% of active slates posting positive scores. Congrats to jeffg for posting the top score of 463 with 13 correct picks. Meanwhile, a couple of teams in the YTD top ten failed to make picks this week – and that may have worked to their advantage, as zero was a decent score!
In Hoops, there were only three games, and the Miami-Golden State game seemed to have more than its share of fantasy points (and real points). It looks like GS is once again a nice team to have facing your fantasy players. So far this season, the average team produces a total of 193 TSNP per game. But teams facing Golden State are producing 223/game, a 15% advantage. The Knicks rank second, giving up 220 TSNP/game. At the other end of the spectrum, the stingiest opponents are Cleveland (171) and Boston (172). For those interested, I posted the complete list in the Hoops forum.
12/1 - December! Christmas shopping, and playoffs. Fantasy football playoffs, that is.
In the NFL, of course, the playoffs don’t get underway for another month. But if they were starting today, the teams would look like this:
AFC Division winners: Jets, Steelers, Titans, Broncos
NFC Division winners: Giants, Vikings, Bucs, Cardinals
I’m not sure who would win the Cowboys/Falcons tiebreaker – probably the Falcons, based on a marginally better conference record, although they have played two less conference games, and both teams are +2 in conference games. But it’s interesting to note that earlier in the season, it was almost a foregone conclusion that the NFC wild card teams would both come from the East, and now it’s possible that neither will come from that division. I was actually surprised to note that Carolina sports a 9-3 record; they’ve gone about it very quietly.
Meanwhile, two 4-8 teams still have an outside shot at winning their divisions. The 49ers are three games behind Arizona, and the Chargers are similarly behind the Broncos. In all likelihood, they’ll both be toast within two weeks. No one expected the 49ers to compete, but the Chargers’ futility is certainly unexpected. They have had some bad breaks and close calls, but yesterday’s loss to the visiting Falcons pretty much sealed their doom and confirmed their mediocrity.
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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