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Captain's Log


How to Draft a $250,000 Team PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Thursday, 29 August 2013 00:00

There are several really good high stakes FF contests – NFFC, FFPC and FFWC – where some of the top players in the country compete for grand prizes of $100,000 to $250,000.

But while those are great contests, the entry fees range from $1400 to $1800. Meanwhile, many of those same top players plus hundreds just like you can get a $350 entry to the FBGPC which also has a grand prize of a quarter of a million dollars.

True, there will be a lot more entries, and yes, it may be akin to a lottery draw in the three-week final sprint, but at least you have the chance to build the team yourself.

So how do you draft a team that will give you a chance to get through your league’s regular season in Weeks 1-11 as either the best H2H record or with the most total points or be second in either category, get into the league playoffs in Weeks 12-13 and win the LCG and thus an entry into the Championship Bracket for Weeks 14-16?

First, let’s look at the scoring differences – 1.5 PPR for TE with 1 PPR for RB and WR, as well as full credit for offensive players for kickoff or punt return touchdowns. The first is very important, the second not as much, but it would still help you choose additional WR4s.

Combine that with the starting lineup requirements – QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, TE plus TWO Flex (RB/WR/TE) spots. That means you could start four running backs or four wide receivers or three tight ends that get the additional reception bonuses. Really, that means you can draft many different ways.

So what are some things to do or not to do in drafting in this format? (the FBGPC is a collaboration between FBG.com and the FFPC so it uses the same format)

First, you shouldn’t even think about drafting a quarterback in the early rounds.

Sure, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees figure to lead all players in scoring, but the difference in quarterback scoring is very small, especially in points per game. Remember that QBs get four points for passing touchdowns but, like everyone else, six points for rushing touchdowns. This helps the quarterbacks who run more be closer in PPG to the pure passers.

Also, the double flex pushes down the relative value of quarterback scoring. The advantage of not drafting a quarterback in the early rounds is getting more explosive players at RB, WR and TE.

The scoring also makes tight ends more valuable than they are in normal leagues, and while I think some players are drafting secondary tight ends too early, if you did find a second or even third tight end who had a great season, you can play them at those flex spots.

Second, you would like to get either a stud or well above average TE in the early rounds and have an advantage against your league mates.

Third, I want to dispel a myth I see on many FF sites – the wide receiver pool is so deep you don’t have to draft them early. While there may be a lot of WRs who are playable at your Flex spots – thus WR3 or WR4, there are a limited number of stud wideouts who are really WR1 or WR2 scorers.

If you thought you would just start the draft RB, RB, RB and then find your WR and TE, you will already be lower at WR1 and WR2 than many in your league.

Given the ability to play any RB/WR/TE in those two Flex spots, you really should be drafting the best player available in your early rounds. Still, I would want to come through the first five or six rounds with two RB, two WR and one TE, leaving room for the other player to be for now your FLEX1.

Lastly, if you are one of those who think you should be drafting the Seattle or San Francisco DST because they were so much better than other teams last year, please look again at the words WERE and LAST. From year to year, barely half the highest scoring defenses (or kickers) repeat their performances.

Leave your DST and K until the very late rounds and instead continue to try and find RBs, WRs, and yes, TEs who may emerge as very playable in those two Flex spots.

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 August 2013 17:38
 
FF Auction Scoreboard PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 21 August 2013 00:00

So your league wants to have an auction. But the players are all over the country and there is no way to get them all to commit to the same four or five hour block even if there was draft software you really liked. What to do?

Well, one of my new leagues – actually same format but since I won my league last year I was promoted to the League of Champions, the highest bracket of the UPFFL – had faced that in the past and decided on an option available at MFL (myfantasyleague.com). It is a simultaneous online auction.

Each day, each of the 12 teams nominates two players and chooses their opening bid for each player – from $1 to whatever they desire. On the first day, all bids are listed in the order placed and every team in the league has a chance to bid or rebid on any of the players up for auction. A player is bought only after there is no new bidder for 18 hours. So everyone has plenty of chances to review the bids and decide if they want to up their bid or bid more than another team who has the current high bid.

The bid that is shown to the rest of the league is the current bid you made but might not be you maximum bid. In other words, if you put up Aaron Rodgers for $23, it would only show $1 as your initial bid, but every time someone entered a higher bid your bid would increase to match the challenge bid – well at least until someone bid $24. And the max bid is key because as I said, the player lasts for 18 hours but that is as long as the high bidder doesn’t change.

Okay, with that background how would I attack the auction board in this 12-team, graduated PPR league (RB=.4, WR=.7, TE=1 PPR) that starts QB-RB-RB-WR-WR-WR-TE-K-DST?

In general, I think you should plan to spend 90% or in this case $180 on your starters, which would leave you $20 for your reserves, most of which will be one or two dollar players. In a 12-team league, the opening free agent list will still have many starting players, so I think the value is getting maximum bang for your buck on your starters.

How to allocate your $180 – really $178 if you are planning on spending a buck each on your K and DST -is the key (and if you are spending more do you know how low the rate of re-appearance on the top-10 scoring K and DST is from year to year?)

Many players will try and buy three 40-plus dollar players. Together with your K and DST, let’s say that is $130. That would give you $50 for your remaining four players. And that is certainly doable.

But don’t you feel that is settling for what the other teams are giving you for your three studs? Mind you, if I could get a top-3 RB/WR/TE for $40 each, I would be fine. I just don’t think you should expect that.

What I tried to do was get two of the best players at those three positions. I would have been fine with Adrian Peterson and Jimmy Graham, or Calvin Johnson and Jimmy Graham. I didn’t think it would be Peterson and Megatron but that is what happened as I won Peterson for $60 and Calvin for $57.

Graham went for $42, which I thought was too much – I would rather pay that premium to roster Calvin Johnson over the second tier of receivers who go in the $40 range. In this league, those were:

A.J. Green, Dez Bryant and Brandon Marshall at $45 with

Julio Jones at $42 and Demaryius Thomas at $41

At the tight end position, the next group – Jason Witten, Tony Gonzalez and Vernon Davis went in the $16-19 range, so you see what I mean.

I was actually more surprised with the RB prices – that Peterson stopped at $60 and that Doug Martin went for the same price. To me, there is a clear (at least $5) difference between ADP and Martin, a healthy Arian Foster, and Jamaal Charles. In this league, Foster and Charles both went for $53 while Ray Rice went for $51.

I had no intentions of paying top dollar at the quarterback position when it is so deep this year and the point per game differential will be so small. In this league, Rodgers led the group at $33 with the next group lagging $5-9 behind, so $28 for Drew Brees, $26 for Peyton Manning and $24 for Cam Newton. On a PPG projection (this one from Fantasy Guru.com) that would be 25.4, 25.6, 25.1 and 24.5.

The next two quarterbacks are likely to score 23+ PPG and Matt Ryan went for $19 while Andrew Luck went for $13. I was happy to look to tier three for my starting QB and got Colin Kaepernick (22.5 PPG) for $14 while Robert Griffin went for $16 and Matthew Stafford went for $13.

So my first three purchases were Peterson, Kaepernick and Johnson and I had spent $131. I would have to be careful filling in but I was pretty happy to have the best RB, best WR and a solid top-10 QB.

One thing that can happen with this rotating auction board is very similar to getting time shot in a live auction. I had the high bid on Gonzo at $16 while Witten was at $14 and then got outbid overnight while Witten closed at $16, I had to go to $19 to land Gonzalez – but it did give me another top tier player at the skill positions.

First bids in this auction were on Wednesday, August 15, so we are six days into it as I type this (and maybe close to finished by the time you read it but I will post an update on my last few players) and most teams have very limited funds to buy their last few players. Having snuck in my kickers for a dollar each (Jason Tucker and Phil Dawson – by the way, don’t sleep on Dawson this year, kicking for the 49ers means a top scorer at the position and Dawson has a better leg than David Akers) and landing Dexter McCluster for a dollar (sometimes it is right to make an early nomination on a speculative player you are not at all married to but would be happy to get for a dollar).

Here is my squad so far:

QB – Kaepernick (14) and will get a $2 backup

RB – Peterson (60), DeAngelo Williams (10)

WR – Johnson (57), Eric Decker (15), McCluster (1)

TE – Gonzalez (19)

K – Tucker (1) and Dawson (1)

DST - TBD

I am currently the high bidder on four more players – Vincent Brown (4), Justin Blackmon (4), Ben Tate (5) and the Buffalo DST (1).

I can’t really bid on my last five roster spots until some of those resolve. Well, in fact I will have to bid on two of them Tuesday morning but one can be my DST2 and one can be a speculative RB/WR. I had thought all along I could sneak Blackmon onto my roster for $2 in the end game but someone else obviously had the same idea. I am guessing I will get outbid on Tate, especially with the continued bad news on Foster, but I have lots of other targets for that spot.

It is definitely an interesting way to auction off players – one sure to have you checking the auction board far too many times each day.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 August 2013 07:11
 
Shandler's List PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 14 August 2013 00:00

The first month of the Shandler Game – a monthly, modified, 4x4 roto contest, is over. So who are the winners and who are the losers?

And more importantly for those of you who will try the September contest or play in Shandler’s monthly contests next year, how did people win their leagues?

First, a recap for those who didn’t play and likely don’t remember the parameters of the contest, you can read more here. But here are the categories and roster constricts.

Game format: Salary cap game

Roster construction: 30-man roster -- 23 actives and 7 reserves. Positions will be standard roto - 2 C, 1B, 3B, CI, 2B, SS, MI, 5 OF, UT, 9 pitchers, 7 reserves at any position.

Salary cap: $300 for all 30 players. The prices will be based on 2013 performance to date.

Stat categories: This will be a 4x4 league with the categories of HR, SB, OBP, (R+RBI-HR), W, Sv+HLD, K, ERA.

Free agents: There will be no free agent access. You'll play out the season with the 30 players you draft.

Roster management: Intra-roster moves (reserve-to-active and active-to-reserve) can be made twice weekly, Mondays and Fridays at noon ET. You'll be setting your active roster for each Major League series.

League sizes: Each league will have 30 teams, filled on a first-come, first-served basis. I won't run a league with fewer than 20 teams. (actually there was such a large turnout that there were 18 leagues with nearly 450 teams).

For more background, see Todd’s Knights of the Roundtable discussion about the format and strategy.

But let’s take a look at the roster of one of the winners – Tim McLeod, a friend of mine and a long time contributor at RotoRob.com. I asked Tim what his draft plan was and here are the most important components:

First, he said he read the rules and then re-read the rules, and I agree with Tim that understanding a new contest is really necessary in order to attack it. “The one thing that caught my attention immediately was that we were allowed to make lineup changes twice a week – Monday and then Friday", recounted Tim. "Very quickly, I determined that I was going pitching heavy with the plan being to search for bargains, add some big dollar stud type starters and have at least five closers."

“I wanted to rotate the SP and then fill in each period with the closers and setup guys”, Tim said. And he was spot on as the RP category was, as you see above, Sv+HLD. Having extra pitchers in a twice weekly lineup format is not to stream pitchers but rather to maximize the pitchers you have in your lineup for each four and three-day period, as I mentioned when suggesting back in July that having five pitchers among your seven reserves would be the optimum construction.

Here was Tim’s list with the best bargains (remember the prices in July were based on results to that point in the season, so as you can see those who had missed time or got off to a bad start were going to have low salaries).

  • David Price $1
  • Jered Weaver $1
  • Gerrit Cole $1
  • Jeremy Hellickson $1
  • Matt Garza $1
  • Matt Cain $2
  • Chris Perez $1
  • Steve Cishek $1
  • Aaron Hill $1
  • Hanley Ramirez $1
  • Jose Reyes $5
  • Yasiel Puig $6
  • Jason Heyward $3
  • Victor Martinez $2
  • As Tim said, “Let’s face it, every team would take advantage of Ramirez, Reyes and Price, but Cole, Weaver, Garza and Hellickson were far from the most popular choices.”

    Tim said he was going to add stud pitchers after that and he did:

  • Yu Darvish $26
  • Max Scherzer $25
  • Madison Bumgarner $11
  • Craig Kimbrel $11
  • Kenley Jansen $10
  • Casey Janssen $4
  • He wanted a solid blend of power and speed in his lineup and added these hitters:

  • Paul Goldschmidt $39
  • Jason Kipnis $26
  • Ryan Zimmerman $14
  • Jay Bruce $18
  • Jacoby Ellsbury $37
  • Bryce Harper $18
  • Matt Wieters $6
  • Leonys Martin $10
  • Adam LaRoche $11
  • Miguel Montero $3
  • Tim was also thoughtful in choosing his two offensive reserves. “I thought it was imperative to fill my UT slot with an OF. In the event of injury, it gave me a very important option from a flex perspective.” He didn’t need it and I agree that in a monthly contest you pretty much have to get the hitters you think will be on the field.

    So how did McLeod’s team fare in the eight categories? Remember that there were 23 teams in his league.

    56 home runs – good for 17 points

    36 stolen bases – 16.5 points

    .3483 on-base % - 14 points

    377 RBI+Runs-HR – 22 points

    32 wins for all 23 points

    2.25 ERA – 22 points

    344 strikeouts – another 23 point sweep

    32 Saves+Holds – 18.5 points

    A total of 156 points, nine and a half ahead of the second place team (who had 81.5 pitching points, just five behind Tim). Shandler’s team finished 8th in this league with 101 points (in fact he did not win any of the eighteen leagues). One interesting point was that Shandler said he would not take Mike Trout on any of his teams (he had one in each league). Funny, Tim didn’t either and still won the league.

    Tim really enjoyed the contest and as others have, thanked Ron for adding a new contest to the many fantasy baseball formats. He did say that “one of the keys was the underpriced players and I am sure that will be corrected in future contests.”

    I think there will be an announcement soon at RonShandler.com about the next contest, so make sure you are on his e-mail list if you want to try and beat him – and Tim.

    Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 August 2013 12:07
     
    Suspended Animation PDF Print E-mail
    Captain's Log
    Written by Perry Van Hook   
    Wednesday, 07 August 2013 00:00

    Monday's long awaited Biogenesis suspensions created an interesting and unusual problem for fantasy owners and commissioners.

    While most sites have separate designations for DLed players and players in the minor leagues, aside from a possible S next to a player’s name, most league hosting sites do not have a way for you to move a suspended player to a separate status.

    While there are very few suspended players, there still needs to be a way to deal with them.

    What does YOUR league do?

    Yes, you can move them to the bench/reserve, but if you have limits on those spots, should a suspended player even be legally allowed there? Should the fantasy owner have to cut a suspended player? If not, how do they keep them on their roster?

    And what if an owner didn’t replace Nelson Cruz or Jhonny Peralta in their lineup Monday before game time? It may not be critical, although some leagues have rules requiring active lineups, but the point is your league should have rules for this.

    In my Great American Rotissileague, which I started in the mid-1980's, we allow suspended players to be put into a DL slot – largely because that is an available option on CBS Sportsline. But as I told the league yesterday in a commissioner’s email, if they weren’t put there before game time on Monday, I would not allow a mid-week replacement for them.

    Not all league hosting sites have a convenient way to deal with issues like this, which again means your league needs to have a rule. Speaking of league hosting sites, next week’s column will deal with a review of the good and bad of the major sites where fantasy leagues are set up, so if you have a site you would like included or have problems in some area with a site, please send me an email or PM or leave a comment or question in the Commissioner’s Forum on the Mastersball Fantasy Forums.

    Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 August 2013 07:40
     
    IF You Could... PDF Print E-mail
    Captain's Log
    Written by Perry Van Hook   
    Thursday, 01 August 2013 00:00

    Long time readers will remember columns on trading where I introduced the concept of “addition by subtraction” as it applied to category standings in fantasy baseball.

    Simply put, you could make a trade that a) wouldn’t gain your team any points in the standings, and b) where you would take the short end of the trade and still gain points in the standings by taking away points from one of your competitors.

    The Jerry Beckham League, as noted in the draft prep article that Todd Zola and I pen in January, is a league where all the parameters mirror the NFBC format. Of course, that is done so that the drafters can get a head start on their research and strategy for the NFBC by drafting in a much cheaper league with the same setup in December.

    And, part of mirroring the NFBC leagues is that the league is a “no trade” league. But what if I could make a trade in that league? Actually, I pose the question only to give you a nice example of an addition by subtraction trade.

    First, here are the overall standings as of the morning of July 31. (Perhaps the column is also a birthday wish for my late brother Rod, who died way too early several years ago).

    As you can see, I have a very tenuous lead in this league.

    Captain Hook 113.5
    Risky Business 113
    Liquid Hippos - JBL 111
    Central Park Muggers 111
    Hoboken Generals 105
    Goldilocks 103.5

    But, let’s take a look at the strikeout category:

    Captain Hook 969
    Central Park Muggers 917
    Goldilocks 909
    Risky Business 895
    Liquid Hippos 880

    With the base of my staff consisting of Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Hisashi Iwakuma and Patrick Corbin, I have enough strikeouts that I could trade some if this were a trading league. So the play is to trade one of those starting pitchers to Goldilocks and getting back something that will help my team in another category and will help Goldilocks overtake the Muggers in strikeouts (with a nice bonus in this example of also preventing Risky Business or Liquid Hippos from gaining a point by passing Goldilocks.

    Look for a category where you can make a trade like this to help your team.

    Unfortunately, I can’t help this team with a trade.

    Last Updated on Thursday, 01 August 2013 07:00
     
    Reinforcements on the Way UP PDF Print E-mail
    Captain's Log
    Written by Perry Van Hook   
    Wednesday, 24 July 2013 00:00

    As those of you in AL and NL-only leagues know all too well, the free agent list often looks like the list of available restaurants in Death Valley.

    But one day into Week 17 of the season, there will be several fresh cuts of meat in the NL locker. And AL players will have a shot at Matt Garza, the first crossover player of real value – maybe two if the Cubs and Yankees can agree on a deal for Alfonso Soriano.

    Let’s start in the junior circuit where the immediate question is – How many FAAB units do you put on Garza? I can’t give you a specific answer, as obviously every team’s needs and resources vary, BUT you do have to realize that Garza is very likely the most impactful starting pitcher the AL will see this year via trade or callup at this point in the season.

    Obviously, Soriano might be the same for hitters but I am less enthusiastic on going heavy on him, one because this reported deal is not even done as I type this but also because Soriano will not only have to adjust to AL pitching again but may have to fight for everyday at-bats in pinstripes.

    There are more players to look at in the NL this week but perhaps less certainty about their value.

    wood_alex

    In Atlanta, it appears the Braves will soon add two pitchers to their roster. Alex Wood, who was called up at the end of May to help in the bullpen and then made one spot start in June, was sent down to the Minors two weeks ago when the Braves starting outfield all went on vacation. He continued to start at Triple-A Gwinnett and will start on Thursday, replacing the injured Paul Maholm. Prior to his callup in May, Wood had a 1.26 ERA in 57 innings of relief pitching at Double-A Mississippi. He had a 2.45 ERA in 22 innings with the Braves with 26 strikeouts and eight walks.

    Wood being recalled and immediately inserted into the rotation may have settled the question of who the Braves would turn to first, but persistent reports of their intentions to send struggling starter Kris Medlen back to the bullpen would open a second rotation spot, this presumably for Brandon Beachy, who is completing his latest rehab assignment in Gwinnett.

    Both pitchers will be hot targets for NL players with gaps in their starting rotation.

    But there are also two new National League outfielders in Miami this week. The Marlins made the unusual move of calling up both of their top hitting prospects, outfielders Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick, from Double-A Jacksonville at the same time. While it marks the big league beginning for the organization's top two prospects, the club also decided two promising young players need more minor league seasoning. Second baseman Derek Dietrich and centerfielder Marcell Ozuna were optioned to Jacksonville, creating some holes in the lineup for either you or your league mates.

    Yelich, who was the higher ranked prospect going into this season, started this season with Class A Jupiter and was then promoted to Jacksonville. He was batting .277 over 191 at-bats at the Double-A level with seven homers and 29 RBI. He's batting .314 over his last 10 games.

    Marisnick was also playing in the Jacksonville outfield. He was batting .295 with 12 homers and 46 RBI over 264 at-bats at the Double-A level. Marisnick also had 11 stolen bases, and this may give him more value than Yelich for the balance of the season. Long term, Yelich’s power and likely higher average will make him the more valuable outfielder.

    Beyond trying to get one to bolster NL fantasy outfields, it will be interesting to see if both hitters can handle the upgrade in competition at the major league level and, if they can, whether the Marlins will look at the possibility of trading Giancarlo Stanton this off-season as he heads into his first arbitration-eligible year.

     

    Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 08:38
     
    Ways to Put Your Team Into Contention PDF Print E-mail
    Captain's Log
    Written by Perry Van Hook   
    Wednesday, 17 July 2013 00:00

    For many baseball fans and fantasy players, the four-day All-Star break is very painful – no box scores, no lineups to decide upon, no stats to try and judge improvement in players or teams.

    Face it, you are addicted and the withdrawal is maddening.

    What you should be doing is paying even more attention to your teams! Have you made improvement in your weak categories? Are you gaining points in certain categories? Do you have players who aren’t getting enough at-bats to contribute to your counting stats?

    Well, if you haven’t I would guess you have decided your team is not in contention. Maybe you looked at all the categories and decided you could not gain enough points to overtake the team in front of you. But did you look at taking points away from them?

    How do you take points away from them?

    Well, there are lots of different trades to make. Sure, you can trade some of your extra stolen bases – you are twenty bags ahead of the team in second place in your league – for a minor closer to get a few more saves and gain a point or two. But sometimes that trade partner is impossible to find. Okay, how about trading a good source of steals that is not helping you in any other categories? (Everth Cabrera, I am looking at you) But the key is where you trade him, and I would suggest if you can’t get the deal you want, trade him to a team that is just below the team(s) ahead of you in the total standings.

    If that team can gain a few points in the SB category and those are points that belong to your opponents, you have “gained” points on those teams. Teams ahead of you losing points is just as good as you gaining points. Hopefully, you can do both.

    And another reminder that you don’t have to get the best of every trade, especially at this point in the season. I wrote a couple of weeks ago that we had reached the real halfway point in the season – 81 games played. While traditionally people call the All-Star Game the “halfway” point, it is much closer to 60% of the season for many teams. In fact, the lowest number of games played by MLB teams right now is 92 – that is 57% of the season, while there are a couple of teams who have played 97 games, which is 60% of the games they are likely to play. Well, okay, 59.9% - but remember not all teams will play 162 games because of all the early rainouts, some of which will not be made up. This will more than balance out any play-in games that might be necessary).

    Trading now should totally focus on categorical standings – well, at least for those of us trying to “cash” in our leagues. Yes, if you are so far out of it that you should be managing your team for next year, you are looking to obtain value (even potential value) for your player assets.

    So trading a $25 Alex Rios for a $19 Ernesto Frieri makes perfect sense if you have the offense covered or get back an outfielder who will contribute something so that Frieri’s saves will help you gain points.

    Double bonus if you put Rios onto a team that will pass your competitor(s) in stolen bases. Likewise, overtaking that same competitor in another category where you are 1st and 2nd would result in a two-point swing in the standings.

    Another thing to watch right now are players who will be coming back from the disabled list. Last month, or even last week, you could have obtained Curtis Granderson much cheaper than you can today with reports that his rehab is going well. I like Granderson to contribute in August and September (don’t delude yourself that he will help this month), but if you can’t trade for Granderson, the flip side is you should look to trade Gardner or Ichiro or certainly Almonte because the Grandyman will take at-bats away from some if not all of them once he returns.

    So even though Gardner may be contributing at a $20 rate, I would trade him for half of that right now if it would help in some category (and you know he is not stealing bases at the rate you expected anyway).

    Now get back to your league’s standings and find ways to help your team …and keep you busy for a few more days.

     

    Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 July 2013 10:28
     
    Strategy for Shandler's Monthly Contest PDF Print E-mail
    Captain's Log
    Written by Perry Van Hook   
    Wednesday, 03 July 2013 00:00

    Lord Zola’s questions for his Knights this week were about Ron Shandler’s new monthly rotisserie contest (see details at RonShandler.com). Had they entered a team and what did they think about the contest and their strategy to win a one-month competition?

    For those of you who didn’t enter the contest or haven’t read about it (see MastersBlog), the contest is a 4x4, 30 man roster for one month’s play with 23 starters and seven reserves who must fit the salary cap with prices based on performance to date.

    Most of the answers were the obvious two camps – those who had entered and those who weren’t aware of the contest or didn’t have time to enter before the June 30 deadline. And several shared their teams.

    While I hadn’t entered the contest, I did look at the replies as they entered my inbox. And when Lawr Michaels shared his squad that had only one reserve pitcher, I made my first reply to the group – “looks very short on pitching.” This quickly turned into a discussion of strategy where I was somewhat surprised by the opposition to my suggestion that with twice a week lineup changes – Monday and Friday – most of the reserves should be pitchers.

    This is not something I suggested without quite a bit of experience with the twice a week format. You see, the FBPC main event which debuted this year with a $50,000 grand prize as well as the now defunct WCOFB both used the Mon/Fri lineups, as has Mastersballer Greg Morgan. In fact, Greg has two teams both in the top ten in the FBPC this year, one with his father and one named Captain Morgan (thus you can easily guess his partner). Our Captain Morgan collaboration twice won our league and finished in the top ten overall in the WCOFB.

    So I feel pretty strongly that the strategy for Shandler’s contest would be to have five of my seven reserves be pitchers so I could maximize my number of starts each week. When I had a good SP with a two-start week, I would keep him in my lineup both periods. When one of the starts is risky for a non-stud starter, I could sit him that period. And, if I didn’t have enough good to great starts, I could play an additional reliever since the category is not saves but saves + holds. In fact, since there is no WHIP category (W, K, Sv+HLD, ERA), both the high strikeout setup relievers as well as high strikeout starters who walk too many but have decent ERAs are more playable.

    Pitchers are a less stable group than hitters, and in a one-month contest you should be able to choose hitters with a higher reliability of loss of playing time than in a season-long event. Of course, that means that you should maximize roster versatility with very good players with multi-position eligibility, so Matt Carpenter would be high on my list regardless of his salary. I would also carry a player with catcher eligibility that plays another position just in case. With Evan Gattis now on the DL, my first choice there would be Cleveland’s Yan Gomes.

    It will be interesting to see the composition of the winning rosters in August (the contest extended a few games to compensate for the All-Star break). I suspect they will have a minimum of 13 pitchers on their rosters.

    Now I will disclose the reason I did not enter the contest, as I told Ron and then sent to Todd and the Knights. I play in 13 leagues and currently lead seven of those with only two teams out of contention, and have even made the decision to not be in Las Vegas for the high stakes FF drafts in September to fully concentrate on my baseball efforts.

    Flags fly forever – and most of those have $ instead of stars on them.

    Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 July 2013 10:31
     
    It's Halftime - Do You Know Where Your Team Stands? PDF Print E-mail
    Captain's Log
    Written by Perry Van Hook   
    Wednesday, 26 June 2013 00:00

    The MLB season, and games for at least rotisserie leagues hit the halfway point over the coming weekend, and that begs my question: Do you really know where your team stands?

    I don’t mean first place--or fourth place specifically--although it’s always nice to be competing for the title or a spot “in the money.” I mean where are your players in each category? Are they accumulating the counting stats at an average rate for your league, or have some early adjustments put your squad firmly on track to gain points in any/some of the categories?

    It not good enough to say a team is 12 home runs behind the team above in the standings. That team be pulling away/gaining at a good pace over the last few weeks. So, knowing the breakdowns in the counting categories is very helpful in not only setting your lineup on a weekly basis but also in evaluating if/when you should make a trade to shore up a particular deficiency.

    Some weeks ago I noted that I only had a handful or points in the stolen base column in the Tout Mixed Draft League that I am in this year. I wasn’t concerned at that time about the slow start because my team had Jose Altuve at 2B, Jean Segura at SS, and both Austin Jackson and Bryce Harper in the outfield. Together with at least a large handful each from Paul Goldschmidt, Todd Frazier, and Kyle Seager I thought I would be fine in that column and rejected a trade offer for speed.

    After steadily gaining on the teams in front of me--capped by a twelve bag week thanks to Segura and to having Jackson back from the DL--I am now in 5th place in the category with 71, just three swipes below three teams ahead of my team. And though I will never overtake Greg Ambrosius (Stats/NFBC), who has 95 after last week, (well unless he sells off Jacoby Ellsbury or Ben Revere in a trade) I am just fine with fourteen points in the category.

    To the point, for players you may have drafted, it is pretty much time to look at a more realistic projection of what they will contribute to your team this year. Keeping it simple, you could either multiply the counting stats by two, or you could add what they have at the end of this week with what Todd projects for the balance of the year. With players acquired by trade or as free agents, look at their rates of production and see whether that has been steady or like your other players whether there has been an increase/decline because of playing time increases/decreases.

    This may be some extra work to be sure but you will find it will certainly pay off in the next month or two as you get your team ready for the home stretch.

    Remember that as Oakland General Manager Billy Beane has said the season is really three separate periods:

    April and May – to see how the players fit together and whether roster changes will help the team

    June and July – to implement any roster changes – perhaps a trade or bringing up players from the minor leagues to get the team to function better;

    And finally August and September to have the revised roster set and ready to play its way to the division lead (or get into the money in the case of our rotisserie leagues).

    Yes plenty of time to correct many teams but not enough to waste time if there are changes you need to make to your team.

    Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 June 2013 12:26
     
    PUIGalicious PDF Print E-mail
    Captain's Log
    Written by Perry Van Hook   
    Wednesday, 12 June 2013 00:00

    Well at least if you are lucky enough to have him on your Farm or Reserve squad. But what about those of us in leagues where he was available?

    As I noted in a forum thread, the only question about whether Yasiel Puig (prn -pweeg) was an “All In” player in any given free agent pool is whether he will continue to get at-bats once Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier are all available in who knows how many weeks?

    But over the weekend, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told reporters that GM Ned Colletti told him to “play the players that give you the best chance of winning a game.”

    While no one expects Puig to hit .400 every week, it is hard to believe there is a game where he doesn’t improve the Dodgers' lineup. Vin Scully, who has been with the Dodgers longer than most of you have been on the planet, had an interesting observation over the weekend, saying that in one week Puig had shown off all five tools and that even really dramatic players often take a month to get a chance to show they excel in all those things.

    In addition to the average, Puig hit four home runs and had ten RBI, both of which tied the major league record for a player's first five games. While he hasn’t stolen a base yet, Puig has shown his speed on the bases and in the field. He also had two memorable assists from right field, throwing back to first to double off a runner and then launching a missile to third base to get another runner.

    So yeah, the guy who hit over .500 in spring training and over .300 at Double-A Jacksonville before being called up last Monday is a pretty good player. What does that mean for fantasy owners? And how much did it cost to roster him this weekend if in fact he was available?

    Well, in the JBL league, which is one of our first draft prep articles of the year giving subscribers pick-by-pick selections for 30 rounds (paralleling the NFBC) and where Todd and I comment on each of our picks, Puig went for $625.

    In the NFBC Main Event leagues which drafted late in March, he was rostered in every one of those leagues after his spring training performance. His owners were looking for a lottery ticket this year after Bryce Harper and Mike Trout helped so many teams last year. But in two “super” leagues ($5000 entry) where he was available, he went for $425 and $560. And in 57 NFBC Online Championship leagues (12-team leagues), he went for an average of $469. In fact, most all of those bids were between $300-700 with only four bids exceeding that – three in the 700's and one at $900; and only four bids lower than $300, the lowest at $212.

    In the FBPC main event where Greg Morgan and I pilot the “Captain Morgan” team, we had rostered Puig at the March (online) draft. And inserting him last week helped us move into first place, as homers and runs were our weakest categories.

    In a “First Pitch” satellite for that competition that drafted online in mid-January, Puig was not drafted. While we were short on FAAB, our $263 was higher than most of our competitors and I suggested we block all the teams we could with a bid of $245. In that league we were low in HR and RBI and I thought this would be our best shot at improving in those areas. We were lucky that none of the owners who were back in the pack and had bigger purses were interested, and won at $245. The underbid was $180, so we spent more than we had to but I would have felt worse if we were just a little short on a lower bid. So we hope that by inserting him into the lineup this week, and hopefully keeping him there, we can gain a few needed points and get to 2nd place. We have been shifting between 2nd and 4th throughout the first few months.

    It should be noted that in the two NL keeper leagues I play in, Puig was rostered as a minor leaguer in the first week in April.

    I hope that many of you were able to draft or add him – he is a fun player to watch burst onto the scene, much like Mike Trout was last year.

     

     

    Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 June 2013 07:41
     
    A Glimpse of the Future PDF Print E-mail
    Captain's Log
    Written by Perry Van Hook   
    Wednesday, 05 June 2013 00:00

    If your home leagues have a minor league draft (and really they should – so much fun to manage that part of building a franchise), you need to be prepared for Thursday evening.

    Get a hall pass at home, stock the refrigerator and snack drawer, have a pizza delivered or put one in your own oven. In short, do everything to make sure you have Thursday evening set up so you are ready to watch the first two rounds of the MLB First-Year Player Draft live at 7 PM ET on the MLB Network.

    If you are familiar with the names or resumes of the top draft prospects, you want to make a note about which team they are going to. If not, you will get a great introduction to several future major league stars – maybe even players on your fantasy teams. If you want some really good information before the draft, the MLB Network has a one-hour special that will introduce you to the top-50 prospects.

    Of course there are several mock drafts out there, but the reality is that no one knows exactly how this draft will unfold. Will the Houston Astros try and save money again by getting their first-round pick to sign for the low end of the range allotted? This would save precious draft dollars they might use to increase their offers to other draft picks, especially when some of the high school players have college commitments that you want to buy them out of.

    Will Oklahoma University’s Jonathan Gray, thought to be going first or second in this draft, have his first contract lowered by sliding down the first round due to a failed drug test for using Adderall? MLB clubs wouldn’t care much IF he has a physical condition that would give him an exemption for that medicine but will they have enough time do all the research?

    Will Indiana State pitcher Sean Manaea, who was widely considered one of the top pitching prospects coming into this year, drop out of the first round due to medical concerns about a hip injury which caused him to miss almost all of this season?

    This is even more interesting in my AL-only keeper league, where we get five minor league draft picks each year and many of the owners in the league are willing to risk a pick on a player who is very highly regarded. The down side of course is that such a player might be drafted by an NL team, so you have nothing to show for the pick. But the flip side is that Manny Machado was drafted several years before he was in the draft and I drafted Mike Trout after he was drafted by the Angels and played in the Arizona Rookie League, where I got to see him play in person a year before his breakout minor league season.

    Among this year’s draft prospects, all of these players are already rostered in my AL league:

    Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford University

    Kris Bryant, 3B, University of San Diego

    Jonathan Gray, RHP, Oklahoma University

    Sean Manaea, LHP, Indiana State University

    Colin Moran, 3B, University of North Carolina

    Clint Frazier, OF, Loganville High School, Georgia

    Austin Meadows, OF, Grayson High School, Georgia

    Kohl Stewart, RHP, St. Pius X High School, Texas

    Ryne Stanek, RHP, Arkansas University

    Of course none of these are on my Farm Roster, so hopefully NL clubs will grab all of them. 

    Perry will be posting live comments on the MLB Draft on Thursday evening in the Prospects and Minor League Discussion Forum

    Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 June 2013 07:54
     
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