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

12/24 - Last night’s NFL game lived up to expectations. ‘Nuff said.

The RotoHog Salary Cap games seem to have botched their repricing last night. My guess (and it’s only speculation) is that, without any fix, the system will reset itself at midnight (ET) tonight, and that the glitch is due to a software error related to the Dec 24 off-day. If so, it’s not a big deal, just an annoyance – unless you need to make your roster moves today, because you won’t have convenient internet access tomorrow. Of course, they might get it fixed today. But I’ll bet December 24 is a tough day to get anything unusual done.

This will be my last blurb of 2010, as I’ll be on family vacation next week. I’d like to personally thank all of you who have continued to keep the RotoGuru site viable, both through your site activity and your financial support. Although some of the affiliated fantasy games have disappeared or diminished, and the activity at the forum is down from prior years, voluntary financial support this year is up more than 30% over last year’s low. Other revenue is also up, and costs have been modestly reduced, so the site’s financial outlook looks stable at this point. That’s rather remarkable, especially considering that I’ve hardly ever beat the drum for financial support this year.

In the 13 years since the inception of RotoGuru (could it really be 13 years?), the fantasy sports landscape has changed dramatically – but somehow, RotoGuru has continued to maintain a presence. For that, I thank all of you – especially those who have been around for all or most of those 13 years. Who knew?!

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12/23 - Only three NBA games today, and none tomorrow. Most NBA players will have ample time to do their last minute holiday shopping.

One NFL game tonight – Carolina at Pittsburgh. Do you suppose the NFL Network thought that looked like an attractive game when the schedule was initially set? Then, on Saturday, we get Dallas at Arizona. At least that one will be contested by two underperforming teams.

A lot of fantasy football leagues will be contesting their championships this weekend,. I wonder how many of those title games will include Michael Vick? Undrafted in many leagues (or drafted mainly as a handcuff for Kevin Kolb), I’ll bet Vick has propelled a lot of teams toward the top. I note with interest that Vick will be appearing in the RIFC Championship game – although not in any of the RIFC qualifying leagues.

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12/22 - The next two games for the Lakers are the Christmas Day game on national TV vs. the Heat, followed by a Dec. 28 game at San Antonio. So it’s not surprising that they might have been looking past a Milwaukee team playing without several regulars. Even so, a 21-point beatdown in the Staples Center is surprising.

No high buyer syndrome for Derrick Rose last night, as he needed only 29 minutes to produce 52 RSCP in a 45- point rout over the 76ers.

Meanwhile, Dallas got an important road win in Orlando, topping the retooling Magic by 6 points. Dwight Howard was a beast (26 pts, 23 rebs), but the rest of the team is still searching for the magic. Of interest is that J.J. Redick started (37 minutes, 21 pts) and dramatically outscored Gilbert Arenas (18 minutes, 2 pts).

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12/21 - If you were relying on Adrian Peterson for your fantasy football playoff game last night, here’s hoping you had Toby Gerhart or Matt Forte waiting in the wings. Neither had a great game, but both did better than AP’s zero. And at the last minute, you didn’t have many other viable options.

The RIFC championship game now comes down to a matchup of the #6 and #8 seeds. That’s reminiscent of the first RIFC season (in 2004), also contested between the #6 and #8 seeds. I remember that well, because I was the #8 seed that year, and I lost to #6 Mötley Crüe in the championship game. I didn’t even qualify for the playoffs this year, but it’s curious to note that the #6 seed this year is that same Mötley Crüe. Déjà vu all over again?

Football Pickoff results were fairly balanced this week, at least with regard to positive and negative scores. Congrats to ojdidit, with the top score of +430 (13 wins).

This week, we have both a Thursday and Saturday NFL game. For Pickoff, you need to pick each of the two early games by the kickoff time of that game. All other games will lock at 1pm Sunday, as usual.

Odd stat of the week in the NFL: Only two kickers missed a FG attempt this weekend. But one of those two – Dan Carpenter – missed four! This is not an indictment of Carpenter, as the shortest of his four misses was 48 yards. But in a typical week, nobody misses more than two, and at least a half-dozen kickers miss at least one. The only other kicker to miss one was David Buehler, and it was only a 35-yarder. But he also made four FGs this week.

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12/20 - It looks like the NFL MVP ballot is down to two names - Tom Brady and Michael Vick. From a fantasy perspective, Vick gets the clear nod, based on his running yardage and scoring. But both brought their teams back to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Vick’s exploits may have been more spectacular, but Brady’s were no less effective. And the two could be on a collision course for the Super Bowl, in addition to the MVP race.

There were several consequential trades in the NBA over the weekend. The Wizards shed Gilbert Arenas, who now takes his talents to the Magic Kingdom, while Rashard Lewis moves to a jumbled team situation in the nation’s capital, where it’s now clearly John Wall’s team – except that John Wall can’t seem to overcome various injuries to get on the court.

Orlando also completed a multi-player deal with Phoenix. Arenas will be sharing his Magic minutes with Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu, but it will take awhile to assess how that all plays out. Vince Carter and Marcin Gortat move to Phoenix. Gortat gets out from under Dwight Howard’s immense shadow, and now only has to battle Robin Lopez, Channing Frye, and Hakim Warrick for time – although the departure of Turkoglu opens up the 4 slot for additional time as well, and the early speculation seems to have Lopez and Gortat primarily manning the center spot. Stay tuned.

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12/17 - It was a light night of activity in the NFL and NBA, and there were no particular surprises in the game results. In football, the dominant fantasy performances were from Philip Rivers, Vincent Jackson, and the Chargers defense. The only monster night in the NBA was from Tim Duncan (68.5 RSCP), although several Celtics had strong outings.

Meanwhile, the three biggest price gainers in the RotoHog Premier SalCap game (Horford, J. Smith, J. McGee) combined for only 42.5 RSCP. High buyer syndrome!

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12/16 - It’s unusual for the Celtics to give up more than 100 points in a regulation game. Until last night, only four teams had done it this year. That’s why I seldom take Boston opponents in daily contests.

It wasn’t so surprising that Boston played the Knicks closely in Madison Square Garden. But the 118-116 score was surprisingly high. The Knicks are the highest scoring team in the NBA this year, and they evidently dictated the tempo. So you have to hand it to the Beantowners, who still found a way to win – although if the clock had an extra ½ second remaining at the end, Amare’s final heave would have won the game for New York.

Carlos Boozer seems to have rounded into game shape. In only 26 minutes last night, he scored 34 points (13-17 FG shooting) with 12 rebounds and a smattering of other stats. And with Joakim Noah now sidelined for up to 10 weeks, his return to health couldn’t come at a better time for the Bulls.

San Diego hosts the 49ers in tonight’s Thursday NFL game, and the Chargers pretty much have to win out to have a shot at the postseason. Even if they do that, they’ll still need some help from other teams. They finish the season at Cincy and Denver, so a win tonight puts them on a path to be 10-6. But they are still a game behind KC in the division race, and to have a shot at a wild card slot, the Jets or Ravens will have to falter down the stretch. Then again, the Jets already seem to be on that path…

Bob Feller passed away yesterday at the age of 92. Although he spent his entire major league career with the Indians, he retired before I became “baseball aware”, so I only know him through the Tribe lore, and through the autographed photo that hangs on the wall at RotoGuru World Headquarters. The last Cleveland World Series championship he saw was in 1948, when he was on the team. (He was only 2 years old when Cleveland won its only other WS championship.) He has no shortage of impressive career stats, including 3 no-hitters and 12 one-hitters. He’s also one of only two ML pitchers to strike out his age, fanning 17 batters at age 17. (Kerry Wood was the other – at age 20).

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12/15 - Maybe I’m missing something, but it just doesn’t seem that anyone in the NBA is currently putting up numbers that make you want to force them into a current salary cap lineup. Andrew Bogut might be the hottest player right now, but Milwaukee only plays eight games in the next 20 days. Ditto for Amare Stoudemire and the Knicks. The sortable stats show that Kevin Love has the most projected points over the next 20 days (using 15-day averages). Chris Paul has one of the best pending schedules (11 games in 20 days), but his per-game output is just not where you’d expect it to be, barely topping the 40 RSCP/G for the past two weeks.

Other than Bogut, perhaps the surprise bargain in that projected list is Kevin Garnett, although his 15-day average of almost 40 RSCP/G is inflated by one game of 63, while most are in the mid-to-low 30s.

Thanks to Gurupie Perm Dude for suggesting today’s quote.

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12/14 - On paper, a pitching rotation of Halladay, Hamels, Oswalt, and Cliff Lee sure sounds potent. Of course, as the Miami Heat can attest to, the “paper” doesn’t actually play the games. But if the Phillies can score runs this year, there’s potential for four 20-game winners, even though Hamels hasn’t yet won more than 15.

The first round of the RIFC playoffs went “anti-chalk” this weekend, with all four of the top seeds going down and out. The same thing happened in 2004, the inaugural season of the RIFC, when the championship game was contested by the #6 and #8 seeds. It’s not all that rare for favorites to drop in this format. Some say that’s one of the “charms” of fantasy football – that if you can get into the playoffs, on any given weekend… So to those of you who got booted early – consider yourself charmed.

Kudos to Sage157, whose Football Pickoff score of 731 steamrolled the competition this weekend, almost 300 points better than the second best score. He missed only the Miami-Jets game. One more week like this and he’ll get his YTD score back above zero!

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12/13 - I was driving back from New York City on Sunday afternoon, and since the Giants/Vikings game was postponed, the Giant’s affiliate station was carrying the Bucs/Redskins game. After earlier missing two chip shot FG attempts, Washington kicker Graham Gano lined up for a game tying extra point in the final seconds of regulation as the crowd clearly tensed up. So did the holder, Hunter Smith, as the snap was muffed and Gano never even got a chance to miss this time. I don’t know if that qualifies as compelling radio – but the game did keep me awake on a dreary, rainy drive home. It probably also kept Redskins fans awake all night.

Give the NFL credit for scrambling quickly to resolve the Minnesota roof collapse situation. Fantasy leagues everywhere went into panic mode on Sunday morning – particularly those whose playoff brackets have started. I don’t know what the resolution would have been for the RIFC if the game was not played before the start of week 15. I also figured that was a very unlikely scenario, so I didn’t spend much time fretting over it. With no bye week options between now and the NFL playoffs, they had to find some place to play this game pronto. And they did.

Green Bay probably wishes they had been scheduled to play in Minnesota this weekend.

Thanks to Gurupie wolfer for suggesting today’s quote.

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12/9 - It’s beginning to look like LeBron and Wade will get this gig figured out after all, with the Heat winning in Utah to notch their sixth straight. On the other hand, while a road win in Utah is notable, Miami’s recent schedule has been somewhat soft, and their next real challenge won’t come until a home game vs. Dallas on Dec 20. Of course, the real marquee matchup is on Christmas Day at the Lakers.

When I decided to start chronicling my FanDuel contest exploits this week, I didn’t expect my momentum to be so intense. Following a 267 point output on Tuesday, I managed only 180 last night – but still won my contest by 41 points. Part of the point decline was due to a DNP from John Wall – but my opponent was beset by the same fate. Other than Wall, we had two other players in common – DeMar DeRozan (28 FDP) and Carlos Boozer (8). (When Boozer throws up a stinker, it’s always helpful to have him showing up in the other team’s lineup as well.) My top player was Bogut (41), with Eric Gordon (36) a solid second. My lineup was completed with Dorell Wright (25), Calderon (22), Trevor Booker (14), and Nick Young (6). Young’s stinker was a little surprising, especially with Wall not playing, but he was a cheap filler, and as it turned out, I would have still won with DNPs from both Booker and Young. My opponent’s cheapie options were Xavier Henry (11), TJ Ford (8), and Marquis Daniels (4). I had actually considered Daniels earlier in the day when it looked like Rondo and Nate Robinson might both be out – but when both were declared active, I lost interest. As it turned out, the bargain cheapie of the day was Pooh Jeter (27).

There are only three NBA games tonight, and I’m going to pass on FanDuel. With this few games to pick from, contests get kind of flukey, with a tendency for a lot of players in common, especially in the $55K cap format. I once played a contest in which I had only one unique player. I won that one, but I generally have stayed away unless there are at least 6 games to pick from. I’ll also be skipping the weekend, as I’ll be away and unable to conveniently evaluate and assemble a lineup. That’s one of the nice features of daily contests – you can pick and choose when to play, and when to sit. So I’ll have to hope my momentum is strong enough to persist through a 4-day layoff.

No blurb tomorrow. Enjoy the weekend.

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12/8 - This seems to be the day to remember John Lennon, so I looked for a quote that related in some way to fantasy sports. Today’s quote certainly fits that bill, and although it seems clear that Lennon did say this (albeit not related to fantasy sports), it also appears that he was repeating a similar quote attributed to a number of other people. Nonetheless, the relevance to fantasy sports seems undeniable, so I went with it.

Riding the momentum, I racked up another win in FanDuel. As I was assembling my entry yesterday afternoon, I really didn’t feel comfortable with my choices – and I might have opted to sit the day out, except for the fact that I had committed to comment on my experiences this week, and I felt compelled to plunge ahead. In spite of this sense of foreboding, I steamrolled to a 50 point win, posting a big score of 267, which is about a 90th-%ile score for me in the $55K salary cap format. Go figure. This worked out to be a 7-on-7 contest, as my picks of John Wall and Wes Matthews were matched by my opponent. My uber-cheapie was Wizards forward Trevor Booker, who I hoped would get some extra garbage-time minutes in an expected blowout loss to the Lakers in L.A. As it turned out, the game was closely contested, but Andray Blatche was a surprise scratch, so Booker got decent PT (21 minutes) and produced 22 FDP. (Better to be lucky than smart.) My other opportunistic picks were Nick Batum (getting a start in lieu of suspended Andre Miller) and Brendan Haywood, filling in for a sick Tyson Chandler. Neither of those two fared particularly well (26 FDP combined), but had I not switched into them, I’d have gone with Brad Miller and Travis Outlaw, both who put up total stinkers (8 FDP combined). Kyle Lowry (43) and Dorrell Wright (38) were my stalwarts, Lamar Odom (34) was steady, and Jason Terry (25) held up his end. Here are the individual scoring results for the night.

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12/7 - Well, that’s one way to silence Rex Ryan.

It was a reasonably balanced weekend in Football Pickoff, with 55% of active slates posting positive scores. The top result belonged to Goldcoach, with 531 points on 14 correct picks, including a double of the Dallas win over Indy.

I picked up another win in my FanDuel Hoops contest last night. Once again, I played a $5 Expert Contest with a $55K salary cap. For the first time this year, I used Amare Stoudemire at center. He’s rather expensive at $9200, but he’s been a beast lately, and I thought he might be worth the extra change, as there were some cheapies at other spots that I could take. That worked out well, as Amare’s 45 points were 17 better than any other center last night – and my opponent took Bogut (who was second best.) I had three players in common with my opponent (Baron, Boozer, and Bass – the killer B’s), so it was a 6-on-6 contest. Eric Gordon was also key for me, putting up a solid 39 points. My cheapest player was Jerryd Bayless, whose 11 points were acceptable (although I was hoping for slightly better.) My team was rounded out with Amir Johnson (27 pts), Barbosa (17), and DeRozan (17). None were stellar, but all were solid contributors, and my opponent ended up with a couple of clunker performances from Marvin Williams (2 pts) and Xavier Henry (5), his uber-cheapie. Final score: 229-195. Season record: 19-12, including wins in 5 of my last 6 contests. About due for a reversal, I fear.

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12/6 - Those under the age of 30 probably don’t recall Don Meredith (who passed away this morning.) After 9 years (1960-68) as the QB of the Cowboys, he shared the MNF booth as the “folksy” counterpoint to Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford for many years. But since retiring from that gig after the 1984 season, he hasn’t been seen much, appearing in a few commercials (Lipton Tea) along with limited TV and film appearances. Wikipedia notes that Meredith is “said to be the only player to play his high school (Mount Vernon), college (SMU), and pro (Dallas Cowboys) career in and around the Dallas, TX area. He never played a home game, on any level, outside of North Texas.”

I’ve been regularly playing daily basketball contests at this NBA season. I have had an affiliate relationship with FanDuel for about a year (so if you do decide to try it, please register after clicking one of the links from this site), but I must confess that I have not been a regular participant until lately. I’ve really been enjoying the hoops experience. The advantage of daily contests is that every day you get to start fresh – picking a roster without having to live with any carryover impact from yesterday’s mistakes. And you can always decide not to play on any given day, if you don’t like the options, or simply don’t have the time to play that day. I thought I might start sharing some of my personal results and observations.

We are now 41 days into the NBA regular season, and I have played a single contest on 30 of those days. I’ve been focused entirely on the salary cap format, and have exclusively played in the “Expert” contests which have a salary cap of $55K (vs. the more flexible and more popular $65K contests.) There is always a self-selection issue for any contest labeled as “Expert”; I’m sure it scares away many of the weaker competitors. But I like the need to have to ferret out the cheaper options. In those 30 contests, I’ve won 18, for a 60% win rate (so far). I’ve been exclusively playing the $5 head-to-head contests, for which the winner wins $9. If you do the math, that means I’ve won $162 on a cumulative investment of $150. That’s not going to make me rich, but if I can effectively play regularly against strong competition for free, I’m game. I’ve faced 22 different opponents in those 30 contests, so there is clearly a critical mass of potential opponents playing at the site – many who are playing much more frequently than I am.

Although the basis of my daily research is the RotoGuru sortable stats (and notice how I have configured the filters in that link to display only players appearing on a given day), it’s also been important to look for daily opportunities brought on by injuries and illnesses. For example, last Friday I capitalized on Marcin Gortat when Dwight Howard was announced as out. In a $55K contest, each contest entry has 9 slots, so the average player must have a value of about $6000 or less. Gortat was priced at $4600 that day, so he provided room to upgrade elsewhere. Prices are reset daily, trending toward “fair value”, so some of the early-season cheapies have now migrated up to fairer value, which means you have to be constantly on the lookout for new opportunities.

Yesterday, I thought I might be dead early, as my opponent had Amir Johnson, who played in one of the early games and probably had his career day. Further, we were effectively playing 5-on-5, as four of our players were identical. But by the end of the night, I had come back to prevail, after strong games from Love and Griffin. My other unmatched cheapies (Barbosa, Jawad Williams, and Kaman) were OK albeit uninspired, but cheap enough to allow me to load up on the other two studs, who carried the day.

If you haven’t tried daily contests before, you might want to give FanDuel a test drive. They offer other sports and other formats as well, so if the low-cap alternative isn’t your cup of tea, you might find other options to suit your interests.

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12/3 - Although today’s quote was spoken by Ron Santo about someone else, it could just as easily be applied to Santo – except for the Hall of Fame reference. Although his career stats put him on the HOF bubble (or just below, evidently), Bill James did rank him in his Top 100 All Time list, so there must be something there beneath the surface of the traditional stats.

He may not have silenced the crowd, but LeBron found an effective way to neutralize them, scoring 38 en route to a Miami blowout over the Cavs in which LeBron didn’t even play in the fourth quarter. The NBA also won the night’s TV ratings battle vs. the NFL, 5.0 vs. 4.1.

I learned yesterday that “Qatar” is apparently pronounced something like “cutter”, and that it is slightly smaller than Connecticut with a population that is roughly one-fourth of Connecticut’s. According to a USA Today article, alcohol cannot be drunk in public there, purchase of alcohol is very restricted, and it can’t be brought in by tourists. (Can you say “developing black market”?) Seems like an odd choice as the host site for the 2022 World Cup. (I wonder if vuvuzelas are also restricted?)

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12/2 - Tonight is the big night in Cleveland, the game that Cleveland fans have eagerly anticipated – the return to Quicken Loans Arena of Zydrunas Ilgauskas. My guess is that he’ll be lustily cheered. But who knows?

Blake Griffin has certainly been a beast of late. He’s averaged 55.5 RSCP over his last six games, including last night’s 58 RSCP (31 pts, 13 reb, 4 ast, 2 stl, 1 blk) in a 5-point win over San Antonio. Meanwhile, Tim Duncan followed up his triple-double with a triple-single (8 pts, 3 ast, 5 reb).

This may be a tough night for the NFL Network. They offer a matchup of Houston @ Philly. I’m not sure that’s compelling enough to overcome the Heat/Cavs game on TNT. If ever there was a chance for an NBA game to attract more TV viewers than a contemporaneous NFL game, this is it.

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12/1 - Another NBA triple double last night, this time by old man Tim Duncan, with 15 points, 11 assists, and 18 rebounds. Double-doubles have been the staple of Duncan’s game, but a 3D is rare. Wikipedia lists Duncan as #2 in career double-doubles among active players, behind only Shaq – but I’m not sure how up-to-date that listing is. He has only seven 2Ds this year (counting this 3D as a 2D as well) in 17 games played. Last year, he logged 41 2Ds in 78 games. Two years ago, the total was 52 in 75 games. So the pace is clearly declining.

Duncan’s numbers may be in decline, but the Spurs don’t seem to be suffering, with a league-best record of 15-2, including 9-1 in the last 10. Meanwhile, the Lakers have now lost three straight games. After blazing out to an 8-0 start, they have gone only 5-5 in their next 10 games. That’s the same record as Miami over their last 10 games.

Tomorrow night, LeBron James takes his talents back to Cleveland. I found this amusing official Chant Sheet which fans hope to distribute at the arena.

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2010: November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2009: December . . . November . . . 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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