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Archive for September, 2011

On J.P. Arencibia’s Rookie Season

If we’re being completely honest, the best rookie in the American League this season has been Brett Lawrie, followed closely by Desmond Jennings and Dustin Ackley. The Rookie of the Year race should be between these three future franchise cornerstones, but it seems grossly unlikely that voters will give the nod to players who played partial seasons only, even if their sabermetric stats like Wins Above Replacement (WAR) may dictate they were, in fact, the most valuable (and outstanding) AL rookies.

This is, of course, a shame, and an indictment on current CBA rules that more or less force budget-conscious teams to keep their top prospects in the minors to start the year, thus avoiding “Super Two” early-arbitration eligibility. By keeping Lawrie, Jennings, Ackley, and others in the minors until June, July, or later, teams can push their service time clocks far enough back to control the player for an additional year later on. While you can agree or disagree with this from a team management standpoint (after all, the Jays will likely lock up Lawrie to a long-term deal buying out his arbitration years anyway, and ditto for the other two), you can’t help but find the error from a moral standpoint - this is a system that hurts players, teams, and owners by keeping major league caliber talent off of rosters for a suboptimal amount of time. But I digress…

My point is that with these three (we’ll call them your MVRs or MORs for Most Valuable/Most Outstanding Rookies) will not be given the Rookie of the Year nod unless voters have a serious change in their standard views of the award. That makes the actual Rookie of the Year race relatively wide-open, and with that in mind I turn your attention to the candidacy of another Toronto Blue Jay, rookie catcher J.P. Arencibia.
More after the jump!

Intentional Grounding - Grounding Your Fantasy in Sunday’s Realities (Week 1)

Note: Updated Sep 13 for Monday Night games.

The hope is that this will be a weekly Monday column for me throughout the football season, analyzing the prior day’s NFL games with an eye towards the fantasy implications. Over the next couple of weeks I will probably toy with the format a great deal, and I’d love to get some feedback on the format and content. As it stands, I’ll briefly run through all the games from Sunday’s slate, noting significant performances and how the result compared to the spread and over/under. I’ll then hit up any injury notes, and any recommended fantasy action by position at the end.

So far for Week 1, I’m 10-6 in my picks but lost my survivor team (Week 1!!) in the Cleveland Browns. It looks like I’ll go 2-1 in fantasy match-ups, and come out down a small amount on the gambling front. All of that is, of course, a warning that any recommendations should be analyzed through your own, hopefully more successful, interpretation. Not that 10-6 and 2-1 isn’t good, I just mean….uhh, Cleveland. C’mon Son.

More after the jump!

Week 1 NFL Picks and Other Bets

For the first time, I’m going to try and post a weekly picks column on Friday or Saturday of each week. The lines will generally come from Bet365, my online sports book of choice, and will be pulled the day I write the column (I will make note if I jumped on an exceptionally juicy line earlier in the week and saw it move). For Week 1 in a post-lockout year, we’re all pretty clueless, but a decent track record the past two seasons and a plethora of pre-bet reading has me fairly confident in my first set of published picks. Take a look after the jump to see my picks against the spread (“ATS”) for each game, a brief explanation of my logic, and any other bets (over/under, money line, teasers, etc) I found to be particularly enticing this week.

2010 Record ATS: 139-117 (54.3%)
2009 Record ATS: 135-121 (52.7%)
Picks after the jump!

Fantasy QB Strategy

There are dozens of different draft strategies a fantasy player could choose to employ on draft day. This is obvious - the old fashioned Triple-RB strategy, the QB-TE “elite options” strategy, a PPR-focused WR-RB-WR strategy, and many, many more. I’ve touched on some end-game WR and RB strategies in the past week, but today I wanted to look at the roster strategy that varies in the most significant way - Quarterbacks.

Unlike in real football, a QB isn’t necessarily the lynchpin of a great team or dynasty. While some would prefer one of the elite options and a set-it-and-forget-it approach at the position, others choose to stack up on the skill positions early and wait for a later wave of signal-callers. Either strategy has its merits, as long as the strategy is thorough and well thought out. In the past few articles I’ve spoke to using bench spots on high-upside players, this doesn’t hold across the board for your QB2, where your selection will be dependant almost entirely on your QB1.

I should also note that this article does not at all apply to my 14-team 2-QB league, where I’m stuck with two starters with the same bye week (Romo and McCoy), and will basically be punting Week 5. Seriously, don’t concern yourself too much with bye weeks in general, but make sure you have a look for QB2.
More after the jump!

Underowned Running Backs

8-team, 10-team, 12-team, tiny league, gigantic league, I’m of the opinion at least 24 Running Backs should be owned in all leagues. I’ve never been in a league where less than two RBs are started, and most allow two plus a flex play. Add in bench options (at least one of which you’ll be keeping for bye week fill-ins, handcuffs, etc), and many more than 24 should be owned, but the top-24 must be owned. That’s three RBs per squad in an 8-team, two in a 12-team, and so on. Beyond those 24, I’d highly recommend stocking your bench with RBs over Quarterbacks or Tight Ends, and maybe even Wide Receivers depending on your scoring and roster format.

And that brings me to today’s topic, under-owned RB properties. Using Yahoos’ ownership rates, I looked through the ranks to see who I feel should be owned in more leagues. Keep in mind, I tend to focus more on deeper leagues, and it’s generally my philosophy to fill a bench with high-upside plays, outside of one semi-reliable plug-and-play option. Thus, a lot of these options will be back-ups with either a high probability of getting the chance to start, or a high chance of success if given an opportunity. I don’t necessarily believe in “handcuffing,” just filling the bench with high-upside players.
More after the jump!

Wide Receiver End-Game Strategy

Now that my own personal fantasy leagues have drafted, I can finally take the writing shackles off and scribe about fantasy football, without the risk of my competitors stealing my secret recipes from within these pages. In reality, probably none of this is groundbreaking, but in a competitive league there’s certainly a chance someone would look here to glean information about my drafting strategy or rankings. With that possibility now behind us, I can delve into some fantasy thoughts and theories, and today I’ll start by focusing on end-game Wide Receiver strategy. Since this is my first fantasy football article of the season, I should note that I tend to focus on deeper leagues, with a lean towards PPR leagues as well, but I’ll try to keep advice as general as possible.

In terms of general fantasy strategy, people seem to either build for high-floor or high-ceiling, and in my leagues there isn’t a lot of variance within rosters. I don’t really understand that. That is, while owners seem to trend towards one or the other, I think it’s most logical to feature a hybrid of low-risk and high-risk players, diversifying your fantasy portfolio. This seems intuitive, but I suppose it may not be. Specifically, I’m a believer in high-floor for starting lineups and high-ceiling for the bench. Basically, once I’ve crafted a starting lineup that I’m comfortable with, I’ll begin to gamble a bit more to fill out the bench.

And I think the strategy here makes sense. Yes, throughout the fantasy regular season, depth and low downside will keep you consistently competitive week to week. But personally, I have universal faith in my ability to make the fantasy playoffs almost regardless of the strategy I’ve employed, simply based on smart drafting and aggressive in-season maneuvering. So if you’re a well-travelled (or highly egotistical) owner that is relatively sure of a playoff spot, and a high-floor team will only do so much for you. In the fantasy playoffs, you’re going to need some upside to win against the best teams in the league.
More after the jump!