Sunday, January 27, 2008

Mid-Season Surprises

So the mid-season point is almost upon us in the NBA. Every season, there are players that come out of nowhere to surpass expectations, and this season is no different. These might be young players who are getting more playing time than originally expected (Moon, Beno Udrih), veterans who came back from injuries or mediocre prior seasons (Grant Hill, Brad Miller), or just guys who just arrived (Calderon, Kaman, Gay). This is part one of a two part series, the second of which will focus on the mid-season disappointments.

Guards:
-Baron Davis (PG), GS - Season stats: 22.3 PPG, 4.9 Reb, 8.3 Ast, 2.5 Stl, 0.5 Blk, 2.8 TO, 2.3 3PTM, 43% FG%, 75% FT%

-Avg Draft Position (28) / Current Player Rater (Avg) (8) / Upside Surprise +20

I wouldn't call this one a huge surprise, but the man who is currently ranked #8 based on averages & #3 based on totals wasn't even one of the top 5 PG's selected; he was 8th in Yahoo's average draft position, or 28th overall. As compared to last season, his scoring has increased by around 2 PPG, his steals have increased by about 0.5 per game, he's hitting about 1 more 3PTM, his rebounds are up by about 0.5 per game, while his turnovers are slightly down & his percentages have remained about the same.

Baron is always an injury risk, as is evident by the fact that he hasn't played an injury free season since playing all 82 games in 2001-02 while in Charlotte. His aggressive game brings more injuries than the average point guard, but if he can keep himself healthy, he'll continue to put up great numbers the rest of the year, especially considering the high powered nature of the Warriors offense.

If you're interested, you can check out Baron's blog here.

-Jose Calderon (PG), Tor - Seasons stats: 12.1 PPG, 3.2 Reb, 8.6 Ast, 1.1 Stl, 1.0 3 PTM, 1.6 Ast, 51% FG%, 92% FT%

-Avg Draft Position (143) / Current Player Rater (21) / Upside Surprise +122

Calderon's play this year has surprised some out there, but his production is actually very similar to what he did last season in his 11 starts...so it doesn't come as a complete surprise. His numbers have been stealer across the board, although what is amazing is his incredibly low turnover rate. Combined with his high %'s, he is the 6th highest rated PG in Yahoo based on averages, placing between Steve Nash (at 5) and Deron Williams (at 7). Expect him to continue to put up similar numbers if he continues to start in place of TJ Ford. They'll share time when Ford returns, which will make Calderon still worth owning, although it will diminish his top PG value.

Some sports writers & analysts north of the border up in Canada chime in on the Raptors point guard debate in this Calderon or Ford TSN.ca roundtable; good read by experts who follow the Raptors. Hear from Jose himself on his website & blog.

-John Salmons (SG, SF), Sac - Season stats: 15.6 PPG, 4.5 Reb, 3.2 Ast, 1.3 Stl, 51% FG%, 82% FT%, 0.6 3PTM

-Avg Draft Position (150) / Current Player Rater (62) / Upside Surprise +88

Salmons has excelled when given consistent playing time this season. When in the starting lineup, he has averaged 18 PPG, 5 board, 4 assists, 2 steals, with excellent shooting %'s. Unfortunately for Salmons owners out there, both Ron Artest & Kevin Martin are both back to the lineup...meaning less PT for John. He's still a solid bench player for your roster in deep leagues out there, and he's a must add if Artest or Martin miss any more time. In shallow leagues, he's not worth holding right now but hopefully you've benefited from his strong run in the starting lineup.

The guys over at Sactown Royalty, a Sacramento Kings blog, check out Salmons as a sub vs. starter; good read & good advice to both John & to the Kings coach, Reggie Theus.

-Beno Udrih (PG), Sac - Season stats: 13.3 PPG, 3.5 Reb, 4.4 Ast, 1.1 Stl, 2.5 TO, 45% FG%, 85% FT%, 1.1 3PTM

-Avg Draft Position (253) / Current Player Rater (102) / Upside Surprise +151

Beno has been a very pleasant surprise this season, as he filled in nicely at the PG position when Mike Bibby was out with an early season injury. Unfortunately for Beno owners out there, his playing time has come down substantially since Bibby's return, and he probably won't have too much value the remainder of the season unless another injury occurs. The good news is the 4th year point guard has proven that he can be a solid starter in the league.

As a side note, do they still sell Beano, the anti-gas product? Just curious...

Forwards:
-Rudy Gay (SG, SF), Mem - Season stats: 19.7 PPG, 6.1 Reb, 1.7 Ast, 1.5 Stl, 0.9 Blk, 47% FG%, 78% FT%, 1.8 3PTM

-Avg Draft Position (92) / Current Player Rater (19) / Upside Surprise +73

Gay has been a stud this season. The only category he's not helping teams in is assists; otherwise, he's providing value across the board. It's interesting that he was traded for Shane Battier two years ago, since both players are part of the select group of players who average around 1+ steals, blocks & 3's per game; only Gay is providing much more offensive spark. If you were lucky (or smart) enough to pick him this season, enjoy his continued excellent season...and maybe more sick dunks, like this one over Yi:





-Grant Hill (SG, SF), Pho - Season stats: 15.2 PPG, 4.4 Reb, 3.4 Ast, 0.9 Stl, 0.8 Blk, 51% FG%, 87% FT%, 0.7 3PTM

-Avg Draft Position (127) / Current Player Rater (35) / Upside Surprise +92

Grant has had an excellent renaissance this season in Phoenix. His numbers haven't been too flashy, but he's quietly had a wonderful first half this season. He's another one of the guys that simply helps across the board, and he serves as a great glue guy for your roster. He's nearly back at full strength after his appendectomy, so he should have a strong second half.

By the way, his website is very well done, if you want to check it out.

-Jamario Moon (SG, SF), Tor - Season stats: 8.1 PPG, 6.3 Reb, 1.1 Ast, 1.0 Stl, 1.5 Blk, 0.4 3PTM

-Avg Draft Position (Undrafted) / Current Player Rater (81) / Upside Surprise +Really good value

Full moon rising in Toronto...Jamario has been an incredible find this year, as he's proven to be a spark for the young Raptors lineup. He's had his ups & downs like many rookies (although he is 27 & much more experienced than most rookies), but he's added surprising value on the defensive end (specifically, blocks & steals). Owners have likely been frustrated by his recent inconsistent playing time, but keep an eye on him in the second half. I'm not sure I'd recommend all managers out there pick him up, but he'll provide help in rebounds & blocks...just don't expect much scoring or assists.

Centers:
-Brad Miller (C), Sac - Season stats: 14.1 PPG, 9.0 Reb, 3.6 Ast, 0.9 Stl, 1.0 Blk, 0.4 3PTM, 46% FG%, 86% FT%

-Avg Draft Position (94) / Current Player Rater (44) / Upside Surprise +50

Wow, that was unexpected...welcome back the old Brad Miller. After a down 2006-07 that really caught fantasy owners by surprise, he's back & better than ever. He is playing 8 more minutes per game this season, but he just seems comfortable again in the Kings offensive flow. If you were wise enough to draft him this year, enjoy his consistent play, since it will likely continue.

-Chris Kaman (C), LAC - Season stats: 17.2 PPG, 13.9 Reb, 1.9 Ast, 0.5 Stl, 3.0 Blk, 48% FG%, 74% FT%

-Avg Draft Position (90) / Current Player Rater (26) / Upside Surprise +64

So all it took was a new haircut to re-energize Chris' game? Why didn't he make the change sooner? Kaman has surpassed all expectations this season, even from the most optimistic of experts. Brand's absence has given Kaman more opportunities both at the offensive end & on the rebounding front, and he's stepped up. He's also been a monster blocking shots this year, currently placing 3rd in the NBA, only behind monsters Marcus Camby & Josh Smith; very nice. Throw in his 3rd in the league rebound per game average, and you have quite an impressive season thus far.

And now for my mid-season surprise awards:

Midseason rookie surprise - Jamario Moon, Tor: Came out of nowhere & has played very well in a starting role in Toronto.

Midseason veteran "return to form" surprise - Brad Miller, Sac: This was a close vote between him & Grant Hill, but Miller gets the award. Many thought his best years were over after last season's declines, but he has proven those pessimists wrong. Seeing how he was the 25th center drafted on average, he's been an amazing find.

Midseason surprise of the year - Chris Kaman, LAC: He has put up solid, if unspectacular, numbers in prior seasons; but did anyone expect this type of breakout this year? I know I didn't (although I was wise enough to draft him in one league). His scoring has been a pleasant enough surprise, although the rebounds & blocks are what really put him in a league of his own. If you polled fantasy owners before the season if Chandler or Kaman would average more rebounds per game, 99% would have picked Chandler. In your face, experts!

That's all of now; I'll be discussing this season's mid-season disappointments in my next post.

What do you think? Who are your first half surprises? Who is missing from this list? Leave a comment or email us at rotoadvice@yahoo.com with your thoughts.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Top Performers - January 24th Edition

Best Performances of the Night:
Kirk Hinrich (SG, PG), Chi - Captain Kirk put up 38 points, 7 rebounds, 10 assists, 2 steals, and 4 3's, all while shooting at a high %. This was his second monster game of the year (the other being his triple double on 12/14 against the Knicks). What's interesting about this is the fact that Duhon was not his starting backcourt mate in either game; I've read about how Hinrich plays better when Duhon isn't starting next to him, but this game makes it hard to ignore. He's been slowly coming along as the season has progressed, so it may be getting late to trade for him while his value is low, especially after a game like yesterday. (Photo Credit Brian Kersey / AP)

Danny Granger (SF, PF), Ind - 33 points, 7 boards, 4 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 4 3's...nice. He's really been coming on strong in January (averaging more than 21 PPG), and in his last 5, he's putting up more than 25 points, 6 boards, 3 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, and 3 3's. He seems to have found his grove, so keep him in your lineup & enjoy the 1+ steal, block & 3 per game.

Josh Smith (SG, SF, PF), Atl - Not a great shooting night from JSmoove, but he got his first career triple double, putting up 22 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, 3 steals & 5 blocks; although he did also commit 7 turnovers. He's a fantasy stud, no doubt about it, and if he improves his shot selection & gets a consistent 3 point shot, he'll be a super-stud. Enjoy his production...
Others of note:
-Amare Stoudemire (C), Pho - 33 points on 14-16 shooting, along with 6 boards, 2 steals & 2 blocks
-Jose Calderon (PG), Tor - Clutch with the game on the line, and scored 24 points, hit 3 3's, dished out 13 assists, grabbed 3 steals, and shot 8-10 from the field & 5-5 from the line. Anyone missing TJ Ford?
-Zydrunas Ilgauskas (C), Cle - Scored 24 on 10-10 shooting from the field...I think he put up some other stats as well, but I can't get past the 100% FG%. Impressive day from Big Z.
Performances that we could have done without:
Martell Webster (SG, SF), Por - 3 points on 0-4 shooting from the field; he's only posted double figures in points once in his last 5
Antonio Daniels (PG), Was - 2 points on 0-4 shooting from the field; he did dish out 5 assists
Kendrick Perkins (C), Bos - 4 points; this follows up his career high 24 on Monday
Weird Line of the Night:
Jamaal Tinsley (PG), Ind (again) - I'm noticing a trend with Tinsley falling into this category...meaning, it might not be very weird anymore. He put up 2 points on 1-4 shooting from the field, and dished out 6 assists. In his last 4 games, he's averaging 4 points, shooting 6-21 from the field; although he's also averaged 4 boards & 11 assists. I think it's fair to say his shot is a little off right now, but at least he's continuing to distribute the ball effectively.
Surprise Lines of the Night:
Al Thorton (SF, PF), LAC - Nice game for the rook from FSU, as he had 23 points, 9 boards, 4 assists, 2 steals & 2 blocks. In his last 3, he's put up 22, 14, & 23; he's starting to produce when getting consistent playing time. Coming into the season, I thought he was one of the most NBA ready players from the draft (along with Big Al Hortford in Atlanta), but Thorton's just now starting to show some consistency. Hopefully he'll continue to get minutes, meaning he'll be a good fantasy pickup if you need points & some 3's.
Andrea Bargnani (SF, PF, C), Tor - Andrea had his game of the year! Although that's not saying much. He scored 20 points & had 7 boards, 7 assists & 3 3's in 40 minutes of play. I'm not going to take this as THE sign that he's breaking out of his funk, but keep a close eye on his play. I still haven't dropped him in a few leagues, holding out hope that he'll start to fulfil his promise at some point this season...fingers crossed.
Marko Jaric (SG, SF), Min - Super Marko had another great game! 15 points, 8 boards & 10 assists isn't a bad line at all; this follows up his 16 point, 8 board & 10 assist game on Monday...is he here to stay? Only time will tell, but I think in this case, past performances do not guarantee future results...especially with Foye's impending return. But if you've got Jaric, play him while he's hot (like his girlfriend).
The weekend is almost here! Thanks for reading, and feel free to send any fantasy questions to rotoadvice@yahoo.com; I'll likely devote an occasional post to answering these, and I'll work to reply to all of your emails.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Polar opposites - The best & worst teams in the NBA

I re-discovered a great basketball stats site via a recent ESPN's True Hoop entry, 82games.com. This site is a dream for basketball stat loving geeks like me (or just anyone who wants to dive into statistical analysis of their favorite players or teams).

As I was digging through some of the stats, I decided to take a look at two teams that are complete polar opposites right now, the Boston Celtics & the Minnesota Timberwolves. What makes this even more interesting is that these two teams completed one of the biggest trades in recent NBA history this past offseason, involving Kevin Garnett & Al Jefferson (amongst others).

I'm going to focus on two stats in particular that stood out to me when looking at last year's numbers vs. this season's totals thus far - Shooting details, which looks at the type of shot taken or allowed (jump shot, close up, dunk, or tip) & shot clock usage, which looks at when shots are taken or allowed (0-10 sec used, 11-15, 16-20, and 21+). I'm going to contrast these specific items for the past two seasons, and hopefully help show some keys to success via the current Celtics makeup. This review will focus on defensive FG%.

2006-2007 Season
Boston finished 24-58
Shooting details - Defense
Type - Att - Def FG%:
Jump - 62% of shots - .439 FG%
Close - 32% of shots - .555 FG%
Dunk - 5% of shots - .932 FG%
Tip - 2% of shots - .560 FG%

Shot Clock Usage - Defense
Sec - Att - Def FG%
0-10 Sec - 37% of shots - .562 FG%
11-15 Sec - 25% of shots - .490 FG%
16-20 Sec - 24% of shots - .464 FG%
21+ Sec - 15% of shots - .422 FG%

2007-2008 Season
Boston sits at 33-6

Shooting details - Defense
Type - Att - Def FG%:
Jump - 73% of shots - .385 FG%
Close - 21% of shots - .555 FG%
Dunk - 4% of shots - .947 FG%
Tip - 2% of shots - .553 FG%

Shot Clock Usage - Defense
Sec - Att - Def FG%
0-10 Sec - 35% of shots - .489 FG%
11-15 Sec - 28% of shots - .480 FG%
16-20 Sec - 22% of shots - .413 FG%
21+ Sec - 15% of shots - .367 FG%

Year over Year Variances (Blue is an improvement, red is a decline):
Shooting details - Defense
Type - Att - Def FG%:
Jump - 11% variance - (.054 FG%)
Close - (11% variance) - .000 FG%
Dunk - (1% variance) - .015 FG%
Tip - 0% variance - (.007 FG%)

Shot Clock Usage - Defense
Sec - Att - Def FG%
0-10 Sec - 2% variance - (.073 FG%)
11-15 Sec - 3% variance - (.010 FG%)
16-20 Sec - (2% variance) - (.051 FG%)
21+ Sec - 0% variance - (.055 FG%)

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

2006-2007 Season
Minnesota finished 32-50
Shooting details - Defense
Type - Att - Def FG%:
Jump - 65% of shots - .439 FG%
Close - 28% of shots - .565 FG%
Dunk - 5% of shots - .922 FG%
Tip - 2% of shots - .500 FG%

Shot Clock Usage - Defense
Sec - Att - Def FG%
0-10 Sec - 37% of shots - .550 FG%
11-15 Sec - 25% of shots - .492 FG%
16-20 Sec - 24% of shots - .476 FG%
21+ Sec - 14% of shots - .414 FG%

2007-2008 Season
Minnesota sits at 6-34
Shooting details - Defense
Type - Att - Def FG%:
Jump - 66% of shots - .449 FG%
Close - 26% of shots - .574 FG%
Dunk - 5% of shots - .947 FG%
Tip - 2% of shots - .525 FG%

Shot Clock Usage - Defense
Sec - Att - Def FG%
0-10 Sec - 40% of shots - .559 FG%
11-15 Sec - 25% of shots - .511 FG%
16-20 Sec - 23% of shots - .476 FG%
21+ Sec - 12% of shots - .421 FG%

Year over Year Variances (Blue is an improvement, red is a decline):
Shooting details - Defense
Type - Att - Def FG%:
Jump - 1% variance - .010 FG%
Close - (2% variance) - .009 FG%
Dunk - 0% variance - .025 FG%
Tip - 0% variance - .025 FG%

Shot Clock Usage - Defense
Sec - Att - Def FG%
0-10 Sec - 3% variance - .009 FG%
11-15 Sec - 0% variance - .019 FG%
16-20 Sec - (1% variance) - .000 FG%
21+ Sec - (2% variance) - .007 FG%

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So you're probably asking what all this means & how it can help your fantasy team. Let me answer those, one at a time.

-Simply put, defense wins games. The Celtics basically lowered their FG% against across the board this season, and are forcing an average of 11% more jumpshots than last season's team. Garnett's impact has been more than just his incredible energy & wonderfully diverse offensive game; he has impacted the game on the defensive end as well...and you throw in Rajon Rondo, with his aggressive PG defense, and Kendrick Perkins, who is doing an adequate job holding down the middle, and you have a winning combination. The variances between this season's Celtics vs. this season's Timberwolves team is also very telling; the Celtics defense has a 0.070% lower FG% against during the first ten seconds of an opposition's possession...that adds up over time, both in points, and ultimately, wins.

-This doesn't really mean too much for fantasy owners out there, but if you're playing in a head to deep head league with multiple bench spots (meaning you have multiple lineup options on any given night), you might want to consider sitting that fringe starting player when he plays the Celtics. On the flip side, if you have players going against the Timberwolves, get them in your lineup immediately.

I know this is a little different than my previous entries, but I'll periodically be mixing this type of statistical analysis in with the regular fantasy sport entries. Thanks to 82games.com for their deep pool of player stats.

Until next time...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Top Performers - January 22nd Edition

The NBA had a full schedule of games on Monday, January 22nd. With 26 teams playing last night, there was bound to be some great lines, some not so great lines, some strange lines, and some unexpected lines. Today, I'm going to look at all four of these.

Best Performances of the Night:
Dwyane Wade (PG, SG), Mia - 42 Pts, 6 Reb, 7 Ast, 3 Stl, 1 Blk,1 3Ptm, 17-29 FG, 7-8 FT, 4 TO
Wade had an excellent game even though his Heat lost to LeBron & the Cavs on Monday. What was especially nice about this showing was his low turnover number (for Wade). He touched the ball a lot, and it seems like he didn't really force things (I didn't get a chance to watch the game, so please comment if you saw otherwise).

Ryan Gomes (SF, PF), Min - 35 Pts, 11 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 3Ptm, 11-15 FG, 11-12 FT, 3 TO
I really wanted to put this in the "Surprise lines of the night" group, but he was just too good not to show up here. It's not that Ryan hasn't been playing well this month; he has, scoring 20+ in 4 out of 10 games thus far. He was just incredibly efficient, and the consistent 3 point shooting is a new weapon this season. To be honest, his 3Pt FG% is actually down from 38% last year to 32% this year, but now that he's shooting more, it's another dimension of his game to help fantasy teams out there.

Performances that we could have done without:
Fred Jones (SG, SF), NY - 2 Pts, 1 Reb, 4 Ast, 2 TO, 0-4 FG
With Marbury going down, Jones' minutes have gone up. Unfortunately, this wasn't one of his best performances.

LaMarcus Aldridge (PF, C), Por - 8 Pts, 5 Reb, 3-12 FG, and that's it.
There were worse overall performances, but since many teams out there count on this guy to consistently produce, I figured I'd single him out. He did foul out, although it didn't happen until there was 19 seconds left to play in overtime. His scoring average & shooting percentage has come down each successive month this year, so hopefully he'll have something left in the tank for the second half of the season. If you're a Blazers fan, no worries since they continue to win...but for Aldridge owners, many of whom drafted him between the 4th & 7th rounds of their fantasy drafts, we keep our fingers crossed.

Strange Line of the night:
Jamaal Tinsley (PG), Ind - 2 Pts, 0 Reb, 12 Ast, 1 Stl, 3 TO, 0-3 FG
That was weird, although he has only scored in double digits twice in six January contests. The assists are helpful, but where did the rest of his game go? At least he's produced double digit assists in four of his past five games. If you've got him, keep him in your lineup & enjoy the dimes.

Surprise Lines of the night:
Marko Jaric (SG, SF), Min - 16 Pts, 8 Reb, 10 Ast, 3 Stl, 3 3Ptm, 5 TO
Marko has put up some great games this year, but he's been very quiet of late. This is going to wake up some fantasy owners out there. Although this was a very nice day at the office for Jaric, I'd be careful before running out there to the waiver wire to pick him up. 1) I don't expect him to put up these kind of numbers daily, even thought he's dating the very attractive Adriana Lima & 2) Randy Foye is going to be back soon (yeah, you've head that one before), and Foye will certainly eat into Jaric's minutes. If you're in a very deep league, you might want to keep an eye on him; all others should keep an eye on his girlfriend.

Kendrick Perkins (C), Bos - 24 Pts, 8 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk, 2 TO, 9-12 FG, 6-6 FT
Wow, that was unexpected. He put up his first double digit point game of the month (and set his career high in points), although it was against Eddie Curry & the Knicks (Curry isn't exactly known for his defense). Since Perkins is probably owned in deeper leagues out there, some owners will be smiling about this performance...at least until he comes back to earth in his next game.

Matt Barnes (SF), GS - 20 Pts, 7 Reb, 4 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk, 1 TO, 8-12 FG, 4-4 FT
Barnes has had games like this before, but with Don Nelson's player rotations, it's tough to judge when someone is going to go off from this lineup. Barnes is the kind of player who will help you in most categories, but I'm still nervous putting almost anyone from Golden State in my fantasy lineup (with the exception of Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson, & Monta Ellis).


Kareem Rush (SG), Ind - 25 Pts, 5 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl 1 TO, 5 3Ptm
This offensive explosion doesn't come as a complete surprise, as Rush was recently inserted into the Pacers starting lineup & is averaging 13 PPG thus far in January. If you're in need of 3's & points, pick him up while he's hot & playing. If you think of him as a Rashard McCants-style guy, you'll be happy with his production...just don't expect much help in other categories.

Looking ahead, there are only 2 games on the docket on Tuesday, although for those of you who don't have NBA League Pass, the Kings play at 10 PM EST on NBA TV.

Until next time...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Fantasy Gameday Keeper - Football season in review

Today I'm going to take a look back at my football season in the Fantasy Gameday Keeper league. First a little background:

-League setup & commissioned by Kelly from Fantasy Gameday
-Managers can protect 5 players going into the offseason & keep 3 each year
-Rotisserie format, which was the first football league of it's sort I've been a part of
-Similar point structure to other leagues out there, with bonus point totals for big games through the air, on the ground, and receiving; new next season will be receptions at 0.5 point per
-10 team league
-Lineup includes:

1 QB
3 WR
2 RB
1 TE
1 K
1 DEF
6 Bench

I started analyzing my draft back in September in this post, but it's interesting how your pre-season view can sometimes differ substantially from your post-season take. My draft went as follows:

Round

Pick

Player

Pos

1

(8)

Willie Parker

RB

2

(13)

Rudi Johnson

RB

3

(28)

Roy Williams

WR

4

(33)

Antonio Gates

TE

5

(48)

Brandon Jacobs

RB

6

(53)

Braylon Edwards

WR

7

(68)

Vincent Jackson

WR

8

(73)

Santonio Holmes

WR

9

(88)

Matt Leinart

QB

10

(93)

Pittsburgh

DEF

11

(108)

Brandon Jackson

RB

12

(113)

Neil Rackers

K

13

(128)

Matt Schaub

QB

14

(133)

D.J. Hackett

WR

15

(148)

Minnesota

DEF


Best Picks:
-Braylon Edwards in the 6th round at 53 overall is a no-brainer. He had a breakout season, and being a lifelong Browns fan having bias towards their players finally paid off. In our league setup, Braylon finished as the #3 performing receiver, behind Moss & TO...not bad company. Whether it's DA (Derek Anderson) or Brady Quinn behind center in 2008, I expect his performance to carry over. I do think he'll start a little slower if it's Quinn, although right now it appears DA is safe in Cleveland for another year, meaning Braylon should be consistent from start to finish.

I'm certainly going to hold him as one of my keepers, and he turned in the type of season I expected from my highest drafted WR (Roy Williams @ 28).

-Although the injuries frustrated some during the year, Brandon Jacobs ended up having a solid season. He was the 48th pick overall, and the 22nd running back selected. Even with the injuries & surprisingly low TD production (4 rushing & 2 receiving), he still finished 18th at the RB position.

I'm likely going to keep him going into next season, although the Giants surprising wealth of youth at RB has me questioning how much of the load he'll carry in 2008. Derrick Ward played very well when filling in this season, and he was more of a receiving threat out of the backfield. Ahmad Bradshaw came out of nowhere (actually he was drafted in the 7th round last year out of Marshall) to put up one big game during the regular season & awesome performances during the post-season. He's shown he's more than simply a "change of pace" back...he can make tacklers miss & carry the load if necessary.

Picks that weren't totally wasted:
-I was also relatively happy with the Parker pick, although he only scored twice during the season & missed the last few games with an injury. He finished as the 11th best running back, although this was ahead of the more highly drafted Steven Jackson, Larry Johnson, Frank Gore, and Shaun Alexander...so I guess I can't complain too much.

Santonio Holmes started slow & missed some time with injuries, but he still outproduced Roy Williams in yards, touchdowns & fantasy points this year (even though Holmes played only one add'l game).

Regrettable Picks:
-Where do I start...Rudi Johnson tops this list. His season wasn't just plagued with injuries, it was plagued with ineffectiveness when he was on the field. Kenny Watson stepped in & proved it wasn't all the surrounding cast with two 100+ yard games (although they were against the Jets & Browns). Rudi averaged a woeful 2.9 yards per carry, and scored only 4 times on the year. Sadly, even when he wasn't injured, I had him riding my bench much of the season.

I am holding him as one of my 5 protected, but it's unlikely I'll keep him going into next season. Not only am I unsure about his ability to produce next year, he's also got to compete against the Kenny's, Kenny Watson & Kenny Irons, for playing time. Irons was a 2nd round pick last year from Auburn who missed the season due to injury. I'm not saying Rudi can't bounce back, but it might take a change of scenery & a fresh start.

-Vincent Jackson's season didn't turn out like I expected. Many experts had him labeled as a sleeper going into this season. What wasn't to like? He was effectively the #1 receiver in a solid offense, who finished out the prior year in strong fashion & stands 6'5 with very good athleticism. Boy was I wrong (during the regular season); he never broke out like expected, and it only got worse when Chambers arrived. After playing well in the playoffs, I think he's positioned nicely to break out next year...but that didn't help any managers out this season.

-Matt Leinart...this one hurts the most. Guess who was picked immediately after Matt? He's one of my favorite QB's in real life...he's dated an American Idol winner & a blond singer (who he vacationed with in Mexico)...obviously I missed out on Tony Romo to take the disappointing Leinhart.

I really thought the Cardinals offense was primed to break out this season, and I really didn't see Warner as competition to Matt; I thought he'd serve as a great mentor to Matt as he became a big time QB. Boy, was I wrong. Matt stunk up the place...then started sharing time with Warner, then got hurt & missed the rest of the season. Romo just went on to have the 2nd best fantasy QB season, behind superhero Brady. Looking at the bright side of things, I picked up Kurt Warner during the season, who ended up having the 10th best year at the QB position...so it could have been worse.

Waiver Wire moves during the season:
I picked up some solid players throughout the year, which kept me in the hunt till the end. Some of the better ones include:

-Picking up Dwayne Bowe immediately after the draft
-Picking up David Garrard in October
-Picking up Kurt Warner in October
-Picking up Mason Crosby in November

I also didn't make any regrettable drops during the year; either I just made good moves or I was too passive with my roster management, and missed out on some of the good players by being conservative.

Looking Back:
Given the lack of a major stud in my lineup, I was pleased with my 3rd place finish. The final standings are below (I am the Splitting Headaches):

Rank

Team

Points

Pts Change

Waiver

Moves

1

BRIWILEY

1767

89

5

78

2

The Fighting Amish

1730

102

9

19

3

Splitting Headaches

1709

88

2

19

4

Corn of Kolb

1685

68

4

9

5

mancrush(on(tombrady

1590

93

10

26

6

Headbangers

1540

55

7

15

7

Kellysmom

1475

107

6

26

8

The Wounded Healers

1443

81

1

6

9

Romo's Homos

1338

79

3

5

10

winabango

1333

93

8

34


Most frustrating for me was the Leinart over Romo pick. I was ready to click to select Romo, but I just thought last year's playoff snafu might carry over into this season. At the last second, I picked Leinart, and regretted it from day one. The difference in points between Romo & my QB's combined would have been more than enough to allow me to win the league; but that's the fun of playing...the "what could have been".

Overall, I was happy with the year my team had & I'm looking forward to next season.

Please feel free to add any comments / thoughts / feedback of your own. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Daily Links - Getting ready for baseball season!

UPDATE - Unfortunately, Tim over at Roto Authority has had some issues with his archived posts, meaning many of these great items are missing right now. He's working to get them restored, so please be patient. Thanks.

It's hard to believe, but baseball season is just around the corner. Thankfully, there are plenty of sites that keep the baseball news & analysis coming all year round. I'd suggest checking out the following links / stories to start your prep work for the 2008 fantasy baseball season.

-Tim over at Roto Authority (an awesome baseball blog, by the way) has some great projections & discussion about Yovani Gallardo, Tim Lincecum, and Dustin McGowan, amongst others. He also discusses a good article from CNNSI talking about some potential breakout picks for 2008 & had a well thought out analysis of the Jose Reyes vs. Hanley Ramirez debate.

You should also check out his take on this season's:
-Top 23 Second Basemen
-Top 24 First Basemen
-Top 24 Catchers
-Top 18 Shortstops
-Top 22 Third Basemen
-Top 76 Outfielders
-Top 6 DH's
-Top 78 Starting Pitchers
-Top 35 Relievers

-Kelly & friends over at Fantasygameday.net just completed their 2008 fantasy baseball mock draft. This is a great starting point to get a real world idea of where your favorite player is going to get drafted in 2008. He'll also soon be releasing his extremely helpful average draft position report (ADP, for those that have used it before), which is a consolidated view of a number of preseason fantasy drafts, along with an updated position scarcity report. Keep checking out the site for regularly updated analysis.

Dustin Pedroia to the rescue!


-Last but not least is the team at Faketeams.com. Recently, they've taken a look at fantasy baseball hitter ratings (using both 2007 & a 3 year average), 2008 closer rankings, and what to expect from Dustin Pedroia this season. I haven't checked out the last one yet, but do you think Mighty Mouse could provide even more heroics this season? As long as he's still got his mojo...

Speaking of which (sorry, I know it has nothing to do with the rest of this post, but I think I've got adult ADD; I said mojo & thought of this).






Saturday, January 19, 2008

Categorical Help - Steals & Blocks

No matter how strong your fantasy basketball roster is, there is always room for improvement. If you have a well rounded team, the easiest area you can provide specific categorical help is in steals & blocks. Today, I'm going to take a look at a few the players who might be available in your league that will provide some help in these categories.

Each of these players reside in the top 20 in these respective categories in the past 30 days, with their rank in parenthesis (using ESPN's player rater).

Steals:
(11) Brevin Knight (PG), LAC - Brevin has contributed 1.67 steals over the past 30 days. He has also chipped in an average of 4 + assists in more than 20 minutes per game. If you're looking for steals, you could certainly do worse than Knight...and the 4 assists don't hurt. I would keep an eye on his minutes per game, as he's played a low of 15 and a high of 28 minutes in January.

(12) Larry Hughes (PG, SG), Cle - Larry has averaged 2.1 steals per game thus far in January. Unfortunately, the rest of his game hasn't been quite as strong. Averages of less than 9 points, 4 boards, 2 assists, on 36% shooting from the field don't necessarily justify his $12M + salary in 2008.

(13) Marquis Daniels (SG, SF), Ind - Marquis has been averaging more than 2 steals per game this month in just over 22 minutes per game. He also always has the ability to just go off & have a great all around game, as evident by his 26 point, 3 rebound, 3 assist, 3 3's, 1 steal, 1 block game on December 19th against Phoenix.

(15) Shane Battier (SF), Hou - Shane is the only player who shows up on both of these top 20 lists (he's also 12th in blocks). He has averaged almost 1.5 steals & 2 blocks per game so far this month. He's a guy who always gets drafted in the middle rounds, plays his normal game, and gets dropped at some point throughout the season...only to finish the year respectable on the player rater. He won't hurt you anywhere, although it would be nice is he had more games with double digit points.

Blocks:
(8) Darko Milicic (PF, C), Mem - Darko has averaged 2.7 blocks per game thus far in January. I'm still a little concerned about his health this year, but even on quiet games, he can still help in blocks. Last night's game against the Sonics is a perfect example, as in less than 19 minutes, he 6 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 5 blocks...nice help for those looking for swats.

On a side note, check out Free Darko for...um, interesting commentary, or as they put it, providing the best in Slovenian farm league analysis and reporting since 1968.

(9) Eric Dampier (C), Dal - Dampier has been putting up solid numbers of late. This month, he's averaging 9 points, 8 boards, and more than 2 blocks per game. Is that production worth $11 million per year? Probably not...but he's playing solidly now, so if he's around & you need center help, you could do worse.

(18) Sean Williams (PF, C), NJ - Sean has been playing solid in around 20 minutes per game this month, averging 8 points, 6 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks. If only he could keep his fouls down & get more playing time...speaking of which, you can check out a good post from my friends at Empty the Bench talking about Sean Williams & 9 others with untapped potential who should get more playing time.

Fantasy Strategy:
One of my favorite draft strategies each year is to focus on at least one player who will help you in both steals & blocks. I'll talk more about these contributors in a future post, but some of these include:

-Gerald Wallace (2.1 steals, 1.0 blocks)
-Shawn Marion (1.9 steals, 1.7 blocks)
-Josh Smith (1.8 steals, 3.3 blocks)
-Rasheed Wallace (1.3 steals, 1.4 blocks)
-Andrei Kirilenko (1.2 steals, 1.8 blocks)

Using one or more of these players as building blocks of your roster allows you to focus on building a balanced team that has the ability to be competitive across the board (depending upon how well you draft the rest of the way). I think of it as getting 20-20 or 30-30 guys in baseball - having a few David Wright & Alfonso Soriano types makes it much easier building a strong team.

That's all for now, but I'll be back soon. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Top Daily Fantasy Performers - January 17th Edition (Abbreviated)

I'm not going to look at all of the top performances from Wednesday night's games, but I do want to take a quick look at two players who have been hot of late:

Gerald Wallace (SF, PF), Cha - In last night's game, he put up 36 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, dished out 5 assists, grabbed 3 steals, and had 1 block...all with ZERO turnovers. He also shot 79% from the line (11-14). The only less than optimal stat line was his shooting from the field, where he only hit 40% of his shots (12-30, including 1-8 on 3's).

Wallace has simply been on fire recently. In his past 5 games, he's averaging the following:

PPG - 28.8
Reb - 9.8
Ast - 4.4
Stl - 2.8
Blk - 1.8
FG% - 45%
FT% - 70%
TO - 3.0
3PTM - 2.2

After another slow start this season, especially in the rebounding department, I almost regretted holding on to him in one of my keeper leagues; but he's putting up monster numbers now, and based on his prior season's trends, I'd expect it to continue the rest of the season (barring injury).

Chris Bosh (PF, C), Tor - In last night's game, Chris scored 31 points, grabbed 9 rebounds, got 2 assists & 3 steals. More impressively, he shot 11-12 from the field & 9-10 from the line!

Bosh has been on a very impressive streak of late as well. In his last 5, he's put up:

PPG - 29.2
Reb - 9.2
Ast - 2.6
Stl - 1.2
Blk - 1.4
FG% - 59%
FT% - 83%
TO - 2.6

If you back out his 1 rebound game on 1/9 against the 76ers, he's averaging over 11 boards in his last 4. After a slow start to the season, he's increased his scoring from a low of 16.0 PPG in the month of November, to his current January average of 27.4; all while shooting high %'s both from the field & the line. He's been very consistent in his short career, so expect him to continue performing at a high level & helping your team.

Fantasy Impact:
Even though both of these guys are playing a very high level right now, these hot streaks always present chances to "sell high" on a player. In Wallace's case, it's probably riskier to keep him than trade him, given the frequency of his injury problems in the past. This is in no way a knock on Gerald...but given his high flying, aggressive, 'take it to the hoop' game, he does take more hits & spills than your average player meaning a greater likelihood of getting injured.

Personally, I'm going to hold Wallace in the two leagues I own him, but I'm by no means what you would consdier risk adverse. If you can get a first round talent that fills a need on your roster, I'd suggest pulling the trigger now. I'm counting on him keeping it up & staying healthy, but if someone offered me Steve Nash for him straight up & I needed assists, it would be really hard to say no.

I have a little bit different take on Bosh. Given his consistency and his solid game across all areas, I'd suggest holding on to him right now. In all honesty, he's not playing too much above many people's expectations of him coming into the season; he was a first round pick in many drafts. If someone offered Lebron, I might think about it...but otherwise, keep Bosh in your lineup & enjoy the good times.

Until next time...

Great Fantasy Basketball Sites

I just wanted to take a minute to provide a few of my favorite fantasy basketball sites. Each of these provide useful tools to help you win your league:

Fantasy Basketball Resources:
Hoops World - I especially enjoy the daily box score blitz, which provides a single page to view all of the previous day's stats, with brief analysis for each game, including their take on each team's fantasy star
RotoWorld - Provides excellent fantasy analysis for all sports, and is regularly updated with fresh info
HoopsHype - Deep site with lots of good reading
Big Board - Basketball - Brandon Funston's top 50 fantasy basketball players...he's one of Yahoo's fantasy experts, meaning there is a good chance that he gets paid to do what many of us do for free, talk about fantasy sports...

Fantasy Basketball Blogs:
Give me the Rock - Excellent fantasy basketball blog with frequent updates & great analysis
Fantasy Basketblog - Great blog with excellent advice
Empty the Bench - Great read
Hoops Addict - Fun reading with frequent updates
Dropping Dimes - Just a good site
TrueHoop - ESPN fantasy basketball blog
RotoRob - Fantasy sports analysis with an edge
NBA Roto League - Interesting site that applies roto scoring to NBA teams

Basketbawful - Not necessarily a fantasy site, but just good times...

There are literally hundreds of other sites out there, but these are a few that I enjoy regularly.

If any readers out there want to suggest a site, please post a link in the comments; I'll update this post (and give the reader credit) if I receive any good suggestions...I look forward to your contributions. I'll also be updating my links on the home page to reflect these fantasy resources.

I'll have some more analysis coming later this week, so stay tuned...and thanks again for reading!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Top Daily Fantasy Performers - January 16th Edition

There were 8 games on the NBA schedule last night; I'm going to take a look at some of the top performances from those games:

Fantasy stars:
LeBron - Surprise! He scored 51 points on 18-28 shooting from the field (6-12 from 3 point range), grabbed 8 rebounds, dished out 9 assists, and got 3 steals & 1 block for good measure. He did only shoot 9-16 from the charity stripe (56%), but one blemish is acceptable. And even though he played great, more importantly for Cavs fans is the fact that the Cavs pulled out a victory in overtime! (Photo Credit - AP Photo/Nikki Boertman)

Rip Hamilton - Efficiency...that's what I call 39 points on 16-22 shooting, 5-6 from 3 point range, 2-3 from the line, while grabbing 4 boards & getting 6 assists. That's it though; no steals, no blocks, and no turnovers. Efficient, and in only 35 minutes of play.

Sam Cassell - I was watching some of this game on NBA League Pass last night, and Sammy was on fire; I bet he could have taken a shot standing on his head at halfcourt wearing a blindfold with his hands tied behind his back with the dance team surrounding him & he would have found a way to get the ball through the hoop. He ended up with a line of 32 points on 15-21 shooting, chipping in 6 rebounds, 7 assists, and 1 steal for good measure. What makes this especially surprising is he had put up a total of 21 points in his previous four games...combined. He's fun to watch when he gets on fire, like in last night's game, but don't expect it to occur every night.

Surprise Fantasy Performances:
Antoine Walker - I guess he's not a total surprise, since he's been a good player in this league...but after two scoreless games in his last 4, he threw up (not literally) 26 last night (in only 26 minutes). This included 4 3 pointers, and he got 10 rebounds as well. Even after last night's game, he's still not someone I'd recommend picking up off the waiver wire, unless you're in a deep league & desperate for 3's. While we're on the topic of guys that can help you out if you need 3's...

Juan Carlos Navarro - I wonder how long it takes for someone like Juan Carlos to get people to call him by his full name? Like Juan Pablo Montoya, Juan Carlos Navarro, Homer Jay Simpson...

MMM...Roto Advice
Juan Carlos had a great game yesterday against the Cavs, playing 47 minutes & scoring 26 points (on 9-16 shooting, including 6-10 on 3's), getting 2 boards, 4 assists, and 2 steals. His playing time has increased again of late, and he's he's played 30 or more minutes in 3 of his last 4 games. Seeing how he has 14 3's in the last 4 games, I'd definitely take a chance on him if you're looking for help in that category. Monitor his playing time frequently, as he's fallen in and out of the regular rotation throughout his rookie season, but I'd use him while he's on a hot streak.

Antonio McDyess - In 34 minutes, he had 9 points on 4-7 shooting...

AND 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 7 steals, 2 blocks, and 0 turnovers; nice. The 7 steals ties the NBA single game high this season.

Fantasy stinker of the day:
DeShawn Stevenson - In 40 minutes of play, he scored 4 points on 1-6 shooting from the field (1-4 on 3's) & 1-2 from the line. At least he chipped in with 3 boards & 4 assists, but it's not the type of performance you hoped for when you put him in your lineup (especially after putting up games of 12, 19, 19, & 16 in his past four). Hopefully he'll bounce back Friday against the Knicks.

 
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