Sunday, January 24, 2010

The flawed logic behind rewarding points for overtime losses

Shootouts lead to some incredible finishes. But is getting
into extra time, alone, enough to warrant one point?

Post lockout, an entirely new set of rules and regulations were enforced. The salary cap, the new points system, the opening of the ice even - these were to level out the playing field. They did their job.

On November 26, 2009, a former co-worker of mine had this to say on his Facebook account: "there's only 5 teams in the NHL who are under .500. something wrong with the game?" Fast forward to January 24, 2010 and remarkably only four teams carry losing records - The Columbus Blue Jackets, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Edmonton Oilers and the Carolina Hurricanes. Of the 30 teams in the league, four have more losses than wins. Yes, friend, there is something wrong with the game.

The blemish is not difficult to spot, either. During the lockout, the heads in charge decided that teams' records would be categorized by wins, regulation losses and losses during an overtime period or a shootout. A win, worth two points; a loss in overtime or the shootout, one point; and a regulation loss, zero points. The system encouraged competitiveness in standings - and yes, it did its job there - however, on the ice, endgame results were anything but competitive.

Think about it for a second. You go into overtime after playing an astoundingly physical end-to-end game for 60 minutes. You've been harassed and assulted all night. You're gassed - mentally and physically. Your team has notched one point in the standings so human nature dictates that taking a play or two off during the five-minute extra frame to regroup and recuperate is only humane. If you played out this situation on the ice, human nature will have some of these athletes mailing it in after regulation, if only for a couple of plays, because they're aware that their team's not leaving the arena that night empty-handed. Adjust the scoring system to wins and losses and you're promoting 60+ minutes of all-out, leave-everything-on-the-ice type of hockey. Classic hockey.

Logically, taking an opponent into overtime is not achieving anything. You're still on par with your nemesis. Overtime should decide a game; a shootout only highlights a small aspect of the game: the one-on-one encounter. Really, how often do you see a shootout in a regulation game? Hardly ever.

Promoting the shootout as a deciding aspect of a game would play to some of the untapped market, the skeptics who couldn't appreciate a brutal 2-1 war. A score of 2-1 generally translates to a boring product to those who follow football and basketball. So the league brilliantly revamped the rules and the results were instant. High-scoring 6-4 games with fluent on-ice action.

To the fan who followed the game for five year, seven years, a decade or more, though, the novelty of the shootout wore off fast. It was essentially flipping coin to decide the outcome and took away from the game's core: teamwork; endurance; an earnest effort. And if you lose in the shootout, no worries, you're still rewarded for your efforts. Maybe you didn't play as hard as the other team, or you didn't play a better game tactically - you didn't win, but you showed up so we'll reward you.

That one point could have playoff implications. For example, as it stands, Detroit (25-18-8 through 51 games played) is tied for the eighth spot in the West with Calgary (26-19-6 through 51 games played). Calgary has more wins but because of Detroit's ability to extend games beyond regulation, Detroit is right there with them. On par. An even level.

In the East, positioning for the eighth seed is even more extreme. Philadelphia (26-21-3 through 50 games), NY Rangers (24-21-7 through 52 games) and Montreal (25-23-5 through 53 games) all share an identical point total of 55 points. They occupy seeds six through eight currently. Boston - 23-19-8 through 50 games for 54 points - hypothetically could be 23-20-10 through 53 games and sit one point ahead of each of the aforementioned teams. An inferior record but playoff bound on the basis of less regulation losses and more overtime/shootout losses.

A loss is a loss. Don't overthink it. The league is allowing teams to remain in contention because the shootout is marketable and apparently heading into overtime is worth something. Eliminating overtime/shootout losses looks a lot less appealing in the standings - if it were to happen, 16 teams would be below .500, more than half the league. But teams will be hungry and playing all-out hockey, and, more importantly, the 16 teams that advance to the dance will be deserving of a shot at Lord Stanley.

Overtime losses inflate records. Look at your team. Now add four losses to the "L" column; that's a rough indication of how they've played thus far. Are they worthy?

Photo via SportsRoids

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Early 2010 Ranking Rundown

Assume standard 5x5 roto format. (If this were head-to-head, I'd drop pitchers considerably lower what with the rich, documented depth at the position; you can wait).
  1. 1B Albert Pujols - The Cards slugger should be the consensus #1 in traditional 5x5 drafts. Impressive numbers across the board.
  2. SS Hanley Ramirez - Reigning NL batting champ carries 30/30 upside. In his prime (26), surrounded by an emerging cast, and production far exceeds that of next SS.
  3. 3B Alex Rodriguez - You won't be blamed if you take Utley - who has the greater upside coming into the season, in my opinion - at pick 3. Position scarcity, though, dictates that you grab the headline-making A-Rod.
  4. OF Ryan Braun - You need to fill three OF spots; taking this five-tool stud is a sharp choice. His potential exceeds that of anyone's in the top 5 or within the first round even.
  5. 2B Chase Utley - A-Rod stats at the 2B position. A 115-27-95-10-.295 floor is not something to be overlooked.
  6. 1B Prince Fielder - In 2008, his decline in power was highly criticized. His monsterous 2009 campaign, though, emphatically squashed all questions surrounding his ability to produce first round numbers. Select Fielder in the first and you can take a speedster in the second to complement the behemoth.
  7. 3B Evan Longoria - I fought myself six times over who to slot here. By no means was this a simple, resounding selection. I'm loathe to having Longoria ranked this high because he's unproven and you want security here, but he has the pedigree, competitive lineup (Rays were seventh in runs, sixth in homers, seventh in runs batted in and lead the league in steals - by a definitive 45 steal margin) and potential (just 24) to post a special season. I see his AVG creeping towards the .285-.290 mark.
  8. 1B Mark Teixeira - I prefer Howard to Teixeira. That being said, at pick eight, Teixeira would be my endorsement. "The Big Noise" aptly labelled him the "consistency king" and his numbers, when paired alongside those of third rounders' (first basemen, that is), surpass them greatly. That margin makes him a strong albeit mundane pick.
  9. 1B Ryan Howard - He'll be your cornerstone in the power cats; build around him with complementary pieces as necessary.
  10. 2B Ian Kinsler - Will enter the magical 27 year, primed for first round production and destined for a comeback season with the dangerous Rangers lineup and favorable ballpark.
  11. OF Justin Upton - Extrapolate this considerable talent's line from 2009 and you get a tasty line of 99-31-101-24-.300 ... in his first full season.
  12. 1B Miguel Cabrera - Will endure an underwhelming season by Cabrera standards. Will feel the loss of Granderson, Polanco, et al.
  13. OF Carl Crawford - I loaded up on Crawfords in 2008 and was rewarded handsomely ("trophied" in all nine leagues). I've always been bullish on young gun. To some, he still hasn't shaken off his inability to contribute in the power numbers, but when you exclude his 2008 campaign marred by injury, you get averages of 97-14-73-55-.304 as five-year averages, or, Jose Reyes in his prime. Draft this guy and you're near set on speed; Tampa Bay has always proven they'll run leading the league in steals the past two years.
  14. SP Tim Lincecum - Has improved on-field in each of the past three seasons. Unanimous first pitcher off everyone's board, deservedly so.
  15. 3B David Wright - It seems a crime to have him ranked outside of the top 8 but assuming the 27 year old rebounds, the discount will yield a tremendous value for those buying. The drop-off is unattractive but give him 2010 to redeem himself.
  16. OF Grady Sizemore - This 27 year old cat will never hit .295 (well prove me wrong, Grady) but the rest of his line is exceptional. Barring injury, this guy has 108-30-92-32-.282 written all over him.
  17. SS Jose Reyes - Bright outlook: Per David Lennon of New York Newsday, Reyes will be running at full-speed in January and hasn't experienced any pain thus far.
  18. C Joe Mauer - Undeniably gifted backstop will, without question, regress in home runs. AVG will carry your team, imperative if you're carrying Howard, Dunn, etc.
  19. OF Matt Kemp - If Kemp weren't slotted in the seventh spot, he'd go higher. I have him projected for numbers comparable to Sizemore.
  20. OF Matt Holliday - Everyone's roto posterboy in Mile High, everyone (rightfully) questions him and his credibility upon his arrival in Oakland, everyone and their grandmother's favorite roto saviour in St. Louis. Everyone, including myself, is interested in seeing what comes out of Holliday's massive offseason deal. My personal call: continued progression.
  21. 3B Mark Reynolds - I'm not a buyer, personally, but there's no denying he can be an asset for a lot of fantasy teams. To get him this late, you're virtually ensured 70 home runs and 30 steals at this point in the draft.
  22. OF Jason Bay - Too high? Questionable call? Nearing the end of the second round, pair him up with an early draft pick and you've got 200-75-205-25-.285. I don't want to second guess myself out of this pick.
  23. SS Troy Tulowitzki - He'll go much higher in 2011 drafts if he's able to duplicate his outstanding roto-friendly line of 2009.
  24. SP Roy Halladay - Upgrades in team's competitiveness, schedule, and pressure (a good thing).
  25. C/1 Victor Martinez - I'm convinced his value derives solely on his being a catcher; otherwise, Votto, Youk and Sandoval bring more to the table.
  26. 1B Joey Votto - Capable of posting similar numbers to fellow lefty Todd Helton in his prime.
  27. SP Felix Hernandez - Correcting his mechanical flaws during the 2008 offseason did wonders for his stats.
  28. SS Jimmy Rollins - I want to go even lower but Rollins' documented roto contributions has me at an impasse.
  29. 1B/3B - Kevin Youkilis - The heart of the BoSox lineup now runs through this guy. The third base eligibility is huge because if you whiffed early on third basemen, here's your opportunity to nab 97-32-110-4-.308. The floor's nice here; losing Bay ... not so much.
  30. 1B Justin Morneau - With Mauer, Kubel, Span and Cuddyer coming off enjoyable 2009 seasons, Morneau seemingly finally has the supporting cast to break out.
  31. SP CC Sabathia - He pitched remarkably well down the stretch compiling a 11-2 record with a 2.74 ERA and a K/9 of over 9 after the break.
  32. 1B Adrian Gonzalez - Conversely, when compared to Morneau, Gonzalez lacks the supporting cast to truly post an obscene roto line. If he gets traded, his stock rises significantly, needless to say.
  33. OF Jayson Werth - Put together a quiet 36/20 line in 2009. Consider him Sizemore Lite.
  34. OF Curtis Granderson - Relatively young, favorable ballpark, juggernaut lineup ... Granderson regains his groove back.
  35. OF Jacoby Ellsbury - The steals are great, but the lack of balance in his 5x5 line makes him a hard addition to a team (I'd rather pass and go 25/25 if I have a little speed already on my roster). If you're looking for strictly a burner, wait, then get Bourn or Figgins at a substantial discount.
  36. 1B/3B Pablo Sandoval - Kung-Fu Panda has been a productive hitter throughout his baseball career at all levels. If he can swipe 5-8 bags a season, he'll be a top 40 player. The additions of DeRosa and Huff will only help.
  37. SP Dan Haren - Haren and Verlander are almost interchangeable as the fifth starter off the board. I prefer Haren because of his overall consistency. When you draft him, you know you're getting above-average numbers in four cats.
  38. OF Ichiro - His speed's in decline but he still provides a healthy roto line. With the acquisition of Figgins, it should lessen the pressure on Suzuki so look for another decent season from #51, the hitting machine.
  39. 2B Dustin Pedroia - Concluded somewhat disappointing 2009 campaign with 13 home runs in his final four months, as opposed to two in his first three. Prime age (27) and SS-eligible soon (h/t Funston). This is simply a gut call on Pedroia.
  40. 2B Brian Roberts - I have Pedroia slightly ahead of Roberts due to the lineup, youth but I trust Roberts a lot more to deliver a fantasy relevant line as per his usual.
  41. OF Lance Berkman - Don't call it a comeback. I been here for years. Yes, yes you have, Berkman. Your current ADP is 58.11. Seems disrespectful to a slugger one season removed from a zesty 114-29-106-18-.312 roto line.
  42. SP Johan Santana - If this were the Yahoo! Big Board, I'd get at least 25 comments flaming me on my decision to have Santana ranked in the top 50. They'd also question my credibility. And ask for my job. So thankfully this isn't the BB. I do truly believe, though, that Santana rebounds in 2010 and delivers meaningful numbers. Not brilliant ones like he did when he was in his prime, but enough to be ranked ahead of Verlander, and, barring injury, Greinke, too.
  43. 3B Ryan Zimmerman - 2009 was likely his ceiling. That's still one helluva line. His numbers will probably mirror Aramis' but he's the safer play.
  44. SP Zack Greinke - How does last year's Cy Young winner get ranked below the damaged Santana, the unproven Hernandez, and the uninspiring Haren? Greinke will not achieve the level of success that he did a year back. I'd have him a lot lower but I feel obligated to keep him in the top 50 to, you know, keep this thing relatively credible.
  45. 2B Brandon Phillips - As a frequent Phillips owner, I can tell you I endure persistent bouts of self-loathing. It's brutal to own him. In roto, you know what you're going to get but to own him is not a fun ride.
  46. OF Bobby Abreu - Annual 100-15-100-25-.295 line is unappreciated.
  47. 3B Aramis Ramirez - Prior to last year's miserable campaign which featured ailments, Aramis was the model of consistency. I'll take the over on 135 games so he'll have some sort of fantasy impact. Don't sleep on this guy.
  48. SP Justin Verlander - I don't completely trust him, and the Tigers lost some key players this offseason, but this guy is a high K/9 pitcher and a proven winner regardless.
  49. OF Carlos Quentin - A return to form is in order for this 27 year old slugger. Does he reach or elipse his 2008 totals? Unlikely. But reportedly the plantar fasciitis he battled throughout last season has healed entirely. He's also playing for a contract this year.
  50. OF Adam Jones - Displayed his talents last season showing what he had to offer. Still only 22, Jones was having a breakthrough season until injuries struck. Extrapolate his numbers through 119 games and you get 113-26-96-14-.277. Definitely a top 50 line.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

*Whifff* That's the sound of these players falling short of expectations and failing to justify their ADPs

The majority of these guys won't be busts; I simply question where they're currently projected to go. According to ADP, in the first round you'll land a stud. Then things get murky. Here is my list of players who will either not produce to where their ADP warrant, or players who are being mock-selected grossly early when value is to be had later. Let's jump in.

Joe Mauer (13.91, R2 P1) - A catcher near the end of the first round is blasphemy. In short, if you draft Mauer this early, you're destined for an eternity swimming in a lake of fire. You're going to hell. Throughout the 2009 season, I argued with experts who were trying to make the case for Mauer going in the first. He's in his prime, he'll always hit for a superb average and he'll contribute meaningful numbers in runs and runs batted, but those 28 home runs are a mirage. It'll regress. He won't justify his early second round draft position and you don't want that kind of uncertainty tied to such a critical pick.

Jimmy Rollins (22.55, R2 P8) - Doesn't Rollins seem a lot older than 31? So he's going near the end of the second round ... not bad value - shortstop is generally perceived as a scarce position - but pass on him and take Jason Barlett (lost in the rankings at 104.14). I urge you to select a Grady Sizemore- or Justin Upton-type talent at the end of the second. If you're like me, you're also worried about Rollins' ability to sustain his production and stay healthy.

Zack Greinke (27.42, R3 P2) - This guy was brilliance personified during the 2009 season. Like my boy Felix Hernandez (who was robbed of the Cy Young award in my biased opinion), Greinke managed to fix the flaws in his mechanics and delivered exceptional numbers and tremendous value for fantasy owners. Two things regarding Greinke: One, you're looking for this year's Greinke later in the draft. His numbers surely will regress and competing on an inferior Royals club is not a good look. Second, at this point in the draft, generally the second pitcher gets taken off the board. Make it a proven one. I would take Sabathia's documented success (27.70); Felix's competitive team and the cavernous Safeco (28.65); and the workhorse, Halladay (33.27) over Greinke. Or I'd wait. Starting pitching is deep when compared to the hitters available.

Aaron Hill (46.69, R4 P11) - If you're looking at "Hill, Aaron" on draft day and fighting yourself about it, stop. Get it together. Move on, friend. My knock on Hill isn't even about the ADP - you can select him and I wouldn't even be mad at that - it's the uncertainty of his production and ineptitude of the Jays lineup (I think they'll struggle this year). The 24 home run power is real and he's an outstanding hitter but I'd probably take Granderson or Sandoval or Dunn here if I missed on the top 5 second basemen.

[note: I've met Aaron Hill personally. He was riding the subway to the game, iPod in hand, looking particularly pissed. This was in 2008. Why was he so upset? Was it because he was out for the greater part of 2008, or was it because he was riding the TTC to the ballgame? Intimidating fella. I would have asked for an autograph that day, if I didn't think, in return, he'd floor me.]

Michael Bourn (65.58, R6, P4) - Bourn in the sixth? Really? The new wave of fantasy players must have inflated his ADP. He's a burner, no question. But aside from steals, what else does Bourn really offer? He's marginal in four of five cats. Take Nelson Cruz, wait on Victorino. Avoid Bourn as if your life (slight over exaggeration) fantasy title depended on it.

Jonathan Papelbon (68.53, R6, P5), Mariano Rivera (69.07, R6, P6), Jonathan Broxton (69.89, R6, P7), early closers - Extract value out of your relievers by waiting on the position. Position runs are tempting, yes, (why I drafted Fuentes in the ninth of my mock draft disregarding my "no closers before the tenth round" policy) but every single year effective closers emerge for a plethora of reasons: closer A is battling an injury; closer B overtakes closer A due to closer A's sheer ineffectiveness; closer B's exceptional play gets noticed and soon it's a closers battle; or you can be the Washington Nationals and roll out five closers, have two closers reclaim the job twice, and eventually settle on a two-tier closer system where each closer splits one inning.

Select a position player, take a closer in the tenth and twelfth and scour the waiver wire. Roughly half the league changes its closer at some point during the season.

Carlos Lee (70.60, R6, P9) - I finally get a discount on Lee and now I do the polar opposite of an endorsement. I subconsciously draft Lee every year in multiple leagues. That's unlikely to change this year. In my mock draft, though, Lee ended up as my third outfielder. There's depth in the outfield (know when to pounce) and value to be had. If you pass on Lee, presumably Abreu will fall to you next round. Ibanez and Hunter will be there along with similar production out of your OF3 spot after pick 100. This was a painstakingly difficult call for me to make.

Tommy Hanson (83.29, R7, P10) - Solely based on the fact that Beckett will likely still be around. No one questions Hanson's vast potential; you just don't build a fantasy rotation around this guy. Not this early, either. Peavy, reportedly 100%, is a wild card here, too.

Álex Ríos (109.01, R9, P9) was given some consideration in this spot but he can easily outproduce his ADP. Still, go pitcher.

Billy Wagner (146.92, R13, P1) - He's 38 so this can't end well. Take a younger cat.

Carlos Delgado (155.20, R13, P8) - You've put yourself in a bad situation if he's your Util. According to ADP, Rafael Soriano and Bobby Jenks will still be around. You can go that route, or consider a catcher if you missed out.

Juan Rivera (183.67, R15, P8) - Give me the under on 105 games played. Gamble on Ludwick (if he gets at-bats in spring training) or pick Beltre or an arm. Weeks looks tempting late in the draft.
Photos via Getty Images

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Unforgiving assult

It's so frustrating to see athletes complaining of the perceived lack of integrity that is running up the score. If you feel disrespected by another team putting up an additional 7 on you, stop it. As one cohesive unit, prevent it. You hear these stories annually in virtually every sport that keeps recorded stats.

Look no further than the 2007 Patriots as a prime example. Ruthless, aggressive calls in the fourth when the games were out of reach, going for it on fourth down when leads were insurmountable, and throwing the ball when pounding the rock was the conventional call. Teams were upset. This is excusable as the irrevocable damage was done early, but is mercilessly violating the Bills in the wrong? Simply, no. If the offense is out there to make you out as fools, don't let them. Defend that down. If the Patriots decided to go for it on fourth and the Bills managed to stop them, move on, you got the ball. It's a legal football call but is it immoral? Demoralizing a team like that? Hardly. Do your job as a defense; it's a football call.

What's the defense's argument here? That they were humbled to the point where another 7 on the stat-sheet would be uncalled for? The Browns endure this kind of suffering on a weekly basis. Get over yourselves.

If the score is 42-3, and the Saints are throwing in the fourth quarter, how is this disrespectful to your defense? Your defense just allowed 42 points.

This is professional sports. The reasons for piling on the points include: tiebreaker advancement (in tournament hockey, for example), sending a deafening message to the rest of the league (to gain a psychological edge), experimenting with play calls, the competitive nature of the game, among others. Among others, the competitive nature of the game. I play essentially every sport out there and if I felt that my opponent(s) were mailing it in, even in a decisive match, I'd question their competitiveness. I wouldn't want pity. I'm better than that.

In fantasy it's entirely different, though. I have seen close match-ups, where Team A benches their RB, for example, because they have already ensured victory. Different context here. I would feel disrespectful in this case study as Team B. Benching a guy should be frowned upon in fantasy etiquette. It gives off the impression that you've won, the match-up's over, and that that Monday start is unnecessary. Logically speaking, that's true, but it appears arrogant beyond comprehension, at least in my opinion. The other part to this is that you're playing for overall points scored in the standings. You don't want to lose a tiebreaker because you benched a starter in Week 4 because you had that week wrapped up.

Ask yourself, Brooking: how did you get to the point (i.e. trailing 27-3) where running up the score even becomes an issue? The questions shouldn't revolve around morality and sportsmanship; what's relevant is that your defense can't stop their offense.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Early rounds of a mock draft

[this is pretty much a blue print for myself as well for furture mocks/drafts]

Sixth pick (R1 P6): When you're drafting fifth or sixth, you go in knowing that you'll come out with a solid overall contributor in the first round. Initially, I chose the sixth spot to take Teixeira specifically. Then I came to my senses and narrowed it down to Braun or Utley. Position scarcity is the paramount factor in a fantasy draft. You can safely assume that 12 teams will finish a draft with a capable first baseman. Of course, you can argue that you could then fill your Util with another masher, to which I say, why not fill it with a complementary player there, a 5-tool cat? There's depth later in the draft at Util.

Ultimately, I went with Utley. Teixeira, in my mind, projects as a late first rounder. You can wait on first (base).

R2 P7: Jose Reyes. Going power-speed in rounds one and two is a classic strategy, one I employ often. You complement a big bat with a burner and you have balance. I'll be honest, I tried looking for any tidbit on Reyes regarding his recovery and found nothing up until this pick was made. If he's fine in spring training, landing him in the second round looks like a remarkable steal (no pun intended).

R3 P6: Justin Upton. On draft day, you'll have to fight others and pay a premium. I will literally sacrifice my well-being and start altercations to get to this guy. He'll likely go earlier than this. I have him in front of Bay (who went the pick before); Rollins, no doubt (three picks before); and Sizemore (four picks ahead of Upton). There's a lot to love here. You're at the point in the draft where you want to start filling up those outfield spots. Three can look daunting if you miss here. The kid has the ability and pedigree to finish the season as a top 20 player. And he hits in a potent lineup in front of Mark Reynolds. In front of Mark Reynolds. Nuff said.

R4 P7: Adrian Gonzalez. I'm always willing to overbet my hand on Gonzalez. He's a consistent source of power. Come draft season, he'll go higher, of course. Morneau went at R4 P1; I was flipping through each cornerman's player page, alternating at break-neck speed. Youk was also up for consideration here (surprisingly the two Boston fans skipped on him and he went R4 P12).

R5 P6: Curtis Granderson. He has the ability and lineup support to post a top 30 season. The short porch, formidable lineup and track record are all intriguing. I've never really been a Grand fan but there's a good shot he'll outproduce his ADP. I wouldn't overbid but at this juncture, passing on Grand would be doing injustice to one's draft.

R6 P7: The first five rounds were simple. No troubles. Picks made without hesitation. Here's the pick I regret. I'm a fan of his; been drafting him for years, and have had considerable success with him on an a-mak15 roster. Carlos Lee. The note I made here was: "a. ramirez will not drop that far [in this year's drafts]. settled for lee." It's not that I don't expect solid production - because I do, but ... well, keep reading.

Middle of the sixth: "carlos lee taken too early. filled up outfield when considerable value was to be had later in the draft."

R7 P6: Josh Johnson. "see? ibanez still would be there. felt i should start building a rotation. came down to peavy v. johnson." In hindsight, it shouldn't have been a debate.

Middle of the seventh: "six more picks until my turn. beckett would be an easy selection here approaching the eighth."
"three more picks; beckett still there."
"crap. taken in front of me."

R8 P7: Cole Hamels. With Beckett stolen selected, I took my contingency plan, Cole Hamels. Not an overly attractive pick but I've been a fan of his since before he broke into the league. I scouted this dude before he made the big club. "an a-mak favorite, Cole Hamels, gets drafted on grounds of consistency."

R9 P6: Brian Fuentes. I generally never draft closers before the 10th round. No matter how impressive the stats, I push the saves aside until usually the 11th or so rounds. I follow that rule because I know that come May, porous relievers will show their true colors and a couple of studs will hit the IR - it happens every year. Every season roughly half of the closers in the majors will either lose their job due to injury, sheer ineffectiveness, a combination of the two or will be overtaken by an productive reliever in the pen. Fuentes will get saves, though. This was a go-with-the-reliever-run type of pick, followed by subsequent feelings of intense self-loathing. "into the ninth, peavy still there. terribly tempting but sprung for closer Fuentes. grabbing a util was an option. billingsley and chipper targets."

Middle of the ninth: "hey, lilly's still down here. perhaps billingsley can and should wait."

R10 P7: Torii Hunter. Hunter fills my Util spot. He was coveted and considered in the ninth as well. Hunter, Ibanez, Damon and Abreu are perennially overlooked in the roto game. They're not flashy, no, but they deliver the numbers required to win championships. Hunter in the tenth round is tremendous value. "we're into the tenth. torii hunter is good value here. regrets of lee resurface. can't quit the guy, evidently."

R11 P6: Chipper Jones. Here's where I wished I had Aramis Ramirez back in the sixth. Chipper is vanilla. He'll give you a quality 100 games and change, but often, you'll be forced to fish the waiver wire for talent at third and in competitive leagues, you're stuck with scrubs. Good luck. Well, good luck to me; I see a lot of Chipper in my future. I draft him almost subconsciously, likewise with Lee. I have a spot to fill at third, though, and Chipper is a modest pick in the eleventh. "i know damon has yet to sign with a ballclub but in a roto league, he's money. outstanding value still available in the eleventh."

Middle of the eleventh: "i look at lee. i look at the available kubel. i die a little inside. i chose chipper at R11 P6 almost without hesitation. billingsley was given some thought here but lilly's still out there."

R12 P7: Ryan Franklin. Another closer who will notch saves if based solely on the team they play for. Franklin's ratios will take a hit, but he was one of the last remaining dependable relievers. I trust him more than Billy Wagner, Mike Gonzalez and David Aardsma (though Aardsma led me to three or four titles last season and was impressively consistent by my recollection). "quite a few starters remain so franklin was a logical choice. i need a starter next round, without question."

Middle of the twelvth: "i'm convinced you could build a formidable staff from here on out if you're playing the h2h format. baker goes, lilly goes, and i autoselect garza."

Take a catcher somwhere around the 14th round. You don't want to be stuck with underwhelming options and the uncertainty that is Doumit.

I know baseball drafts are won in the latter rounds but this is when I excused myself for personal obligations. Apologies.

Photo via US Presswire

Yahoo! Fantasy Sports is delightful. Seemingly all my friends who play fantasy sports can be found on Yahoo! as well. I'm loyal -- the insight is top notch; the drafting process, effortless; the features, plentiful. Changing sites has never crossed my mind.

Early winter, fellow commenter, Trigga Play, suggested a dozen of us give Fantasy Football on a shot. I wasn't opposed.

The draft: troublesome. Picks that were made would suddenly disappear from the existing list. You would have to refresh the draft room entirely to see who went the last round. This was frustrating. Beyond that, the chat was acting up and when I first entered the room, I was lost. "Where's the damn chat function?" I would wonder. Eventually the chat function fixed itself but the pick log was still a mess.

The concept: simple. We started in Week 11. Not sure Yahoo! even offers league start-ups in Week 11 (and rightfully so, if they don't), but the league ranges until Week 17. Each team gets roughly 20 players and the highest scoring players at each position will be counted. The way our settings were laid out, you'd have to "play" one QB, two RB, three WR, two RB/WR, one TE, one PK. Of course, you'll exceed that those numbers in picks so you can carry five RBs, for example. But only the top 4 in scoring will be counted.

The strategy: be resourceful. Carry two QBs. No need for more than three PK. Depending your strength at TE (I was weak), consider carrying three (Watson, Heath Miller, Zach Miller -- My squad's name aptly titled, "What does GREATNESS taste like? Miller Lite" ... it finished second). What you direct your attention to is the voids at RB and WR since you can play seven starts - your best seven starts.

Observations: I really like the concept: taking the best overall contributors of that week. The whole not-making-any-transactions-whatsoever setting was foreign to me, though. No trades, no adds, no drops (so Braylon Edwards was excluded from the draft list entirely).

Final thoughts: the final standings was shockingly close. Four teams, six points within each other. If you're playing for Week 17, draft accordingly. If you start drafting mid-season, scoop up players with remarkably high potential in that final week. Or avoid Wes Welker because he'll end you in Week 17. Damn it.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Experts

Let me preface this by saying that this is simply a trial run for a project that I'm designing and launching later in 2010. Here, I will include all ramblings fantasy relevant.

My thoughts on the experts:

Brandon Funston - The Commish. This guy doesn't get enough credit for the job he does. The commenters don't see beyond his job as a writer. This guy runs the show. I can't confirm the amount of work and hours he puts in, but if the responsibilities tied to his title play out as advertised, then you can't really fault the man for his lack of published posts. Granted, I do feel he should lateral the responsibilities of the Big Board to a fellow Yahoo! writer. I'm just sayin', I remember when I first started folllowing the Yahoo! writers, the Big Board would be my favorite read. An efficient top 50 rank with insightful bullets. But when this gift is not delivered on time, and not delivered frequently, well then a change should be in order. As far as fantasy insight goes, Funston's is the epitome of consistency. The NFL Skinny, a weekly preview of every single team in the NFL from a fantasy perspective, is a terrific read and a useful tool for prepping for the weekend's match-ups.

Scott Pianowski - This cool cat brings a unique style of writing to the table. A portion of the Yahoo! readership harp on him for what they deem as "a dull read." You can't win 'em all. With regards to the amount of information one can extract from each bullet, Pianowski ranks first, in my opinion, among Yahoo! writers. He also uses his resources effectively (same can be said about Andy Behrens). He gives you facts and skips the filler. His subtle humor is appreciated as well. I sense a touch of Pianow Man's style in the writings of his close amigo, Michael Salfino (who, I admit, I don't read much of). Personally, his endorsements of Moneyball, The White Stripes, and the film, Up in the Air, have only enriched my life. The commenters love him for his willingness to provide, virtually, instant feedback (the same can be said about Roto Experts' The Pick-up Artist, Paul Bourdett AKA The PUMA). As far as consistency goes, from what I've seen firsthand, Pianowski tends to deliver solid finishes pretty frequently. Among fantasy writers, he ranks in the top 2 alongside Behrens.

Brad Evans - Of the near dozen expert leagues I have tried my hand at, surprisingly, not once have I faced off against Bradley "The Big Noise" Evans (I find it kind of puzzling that more commenters don't label him "Big Nose" Evans. Am I the only one who finds humor in that?). There's nothing wrong with Evans himself (though many would beg to differ), but his writing is a painstakingly difficult read. Here's why: His humor seems forced (as opposed to others whose humor feels natural); he goes too far with the alliteration at times; he often focuses more on his writing than providing stats; and, given a 1,200 word assignment, three lines might be relevant. This is not an intentional knock on Evans; when he first started releasing his articles, they were fresh. I was a fan. I would have "became a fan of Brad Evans' writing" on Facebook. But then, for me, it lost its luster and became a routine. In terms of fantasy insight, rarely will I seek an Evans article. But I give the man props for finding his own niche, and being delightfully amusing as hell, especially on camera. He also takes accountability for his misses and that's refreshing in the fantasy community.

Andy Behrens - Sex Drive. The Editor. Every wrestling reference Brad Evans can think of. If I was stuck on an island, coincidentally with working wi-fi on my laptop; given the option, I would read Behrens' articles till they sent help. A delightful read. If I'm looking for an opinion regarding a crucial call on gameday, I'm still going Pianowski, but Behrens has the ability to deliver an easy read while providing detailed insight and dry, subtle humor. The times I did have a chance to challenge Behrens, his teams seemed more strong in focused areas (for example, quality receivers but mediocre backs) as opposed to Pianowski's teams which were more well-rounded. Behrens' strength lies in baseball and football. I haven't seen enough of his work covering basketball to give a detailed assessment. Yes, I did read Beauty and the Bully and there were times when I laughed out loud (and no, I do not collect royalties for promoting the book ... though a bobblehead would be appreciated), and yes, I also caught Sex Drive in its opening week. If you haven't, check it out on DVD.

Matt Romig - An editor in his own right, Matt Romig provides quality coverage of the happenings in the fantasy hockey world. Look, I have nothing against Romig, but the first impression I had of him was unpleasant. Of course, in the end, it was probably my misinterpretation of his dry humor which lead me to feel slighted. I have no beef with this guy ... unlike this guy. That guy has been critical of Romig since splashing onto the fantasy commenting scene. Really, though, I appreciate the opportunity I was given to compete in a F&F league. Truly a remarkable experience. And Romig gave the green-light. I am often morally opposed to Romig's ranking of Marleau on the Big Board, but aside from that, it's well done. The NHL Skinny spotlights the week's events in fantasy hockey and Romig gets straight into the facts. What I'd like to see: More players whose value have fallen in the Market Movers segment, and more prognostication (more forecasting instead of highlighting last week's trendy contributors).

Matt Buser - Formerly Yahoo!'s resident basketball guru. And now, well, Yahoo!'s resident basketball guru. I got into a 'buser invitational roto' league this season. I'm holding my own. Battling for first riding the strong play of Nash, Kobe, Duncan and Camby. If this were five years ago, watch out.

More and more, I find myself reading Buser's work. Basketball was my first love then that dedication gravitated towards football. A resounding love for football. And now, slowly, that passion I once had for roto b-ball is starting to resurface. Buser's writing is very straightforward as he'll drop facts and stats on you. A simple, easy read and you get the information you were searching for. This is no bs. Check out his site at:

Paul Bourdett (The Pick-up Artist AKA The PUMA) - My intial impression on Bourdett was that he felt he was above the readership. The commenters. The little guys. And that just didn't turn out to be the case. In fact, it was the polar opposite. Bourdett often spends time - his own time - responding to comments and providing suggestions. It often feels that he's scratching the bottom of the barrel for some of his endorsements but he stands by them. Hit-or-miss, he'll stand by them (a memorable example was Dontrelle Willis), and that's something you have to respect if you play fantasy sports. I lead an onslaught of commenters (realistically, like five of us) in a gripping battle of right-versus-wrong in an attempt to end Bourdett's reign of terror: his usage of pick-up lines. Yes, actual pick-up line. No. Just, no. Eventually Bourdett started sticking to strictly the numbers and facts formula and results followed, as evident by his increasing following. It's an enjoyable read because it's simple and he'll often provide readers with help regarding weekly start/sit calls in the comment section.

Janet Eagleson of - Eagleson knows her hockey. She finished second in the 2008 F&F League. She often opens her articles with non-fantasy related stories that later tie in with fantasy relevance. A news story; a strong opinion; a thriving NHL team. The opening is very hit-or-miss with some. It's unique but I often jump right to the bullets. Her cut-throat approach to writing and the believability in what she has to say should keep the fantasy masses interested. She was actually very supportive of me being the "average guy" in the F&F League, and comes off as a genuinely decent individual.

Michael Gehlken - Tip of the cap for capturing the 2009 F&F League, sir. It has always been a joy for me to watch the underdog take out the big guns. Every dog has its day. I read virtually every article this guy puts out there, and I think you should, too. He takes you into the world of the amateur writer competing against the pros; the experts. The case could be made that he could produce a more compelling underdog tale but the novelty would exhaust without question. I'm interested in how he'll go about writing next season as the defending champ. Might we see a change in style given his (well-deserved) victory? Now they're after you, big dog.

And similar to the fact that these experts have their biases with fantasy players, I have my preferences with their style, personality, and overall compatibility. To each his own.