Tag Archives: fantasy sports

I Hurt Myself Today

Well, not me.  A couple of my (fantasy) baseball players did.  As irrelevant as it is, it ruined my day.

I’m in the championship matchup for one of my baseball leagues.  I have never played in a championship game before; this is only the second year I’ve been in a head-to-head league, so opportunities haven’t been plentiful.  I built my squad, Baseball So Hard, through good drafting, shrewd free agent pickups, timely trades, and understanding the keeper rules of my league.

(I joined the league last year, the first season they used keepers.  Each team can keep up to five players, and they are drafted in the same spot each year you keep them.  For example, keeping a guy you took in the fifth round in 2012 cost you your fifth round choice in 2013.  Undrafted free agents are counted the same as 25th round selections.

In 2012, I selected Mike Trout in the 25th round, making him my last draft pick every year for the rest of eternity.  Or at least until they change the rules.  I then picked up Bryce Harper after someone dropped him (!) before he made his debut.  He was drafted in the 24th round.  I had drafted Edwin Encarnacion in the 19th round, and picked up an undrafted Manny Machado in August.  This season, someone drafted Wil Myers in the 23rd round and cut him.  I stashed him on my bench until June.  I then picked up Jose Fernandez, who was undrafted, and have carried him on my roster even after the Marlins shut him down.

So here are my last five draft picks in 2014: Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Wil Myers, and Jose Fernandez.  Myers is the oldest of this group.  He’s 22.)

My team is stacked for the present and the future; I can afford to deal high draft picks because I have five guys who will be taken in the top five rounds stashed away at the bottom of my draft.  I am set up to start a dynasty.

Of course, building a dynasty requires something else aside from good young players.  Before you win a string of championships, you first have to win one championship.  And coming into today, I was set up nicely to do just that.

My offense is a little bit better than my opponent’s, and he has more guys with off days this week than I do.  He has a couple more pitchers, but on the whole, mine are much better.  We weren’t looking at a blowout, but I certainly liked my chances of winning.

The Orioles and Rays played an afternoon game today, which meant four of my hitters and one of my pitchers were in action.  Late in the game, Machado suffered what some have called a gruesome knee injury (I haven’t seen it, and probably won’t) rounding first base.  This is terrible for Machado and for Orioles fans, but my second concern (after the well-being of the player, because you hate to see a bright young star go down) was with my own team.  I don’t have a backup third baseman, and I’m not about to dump Machado back into the draft pool on the off chance he might be out for an extended part of next season.

As I was thinking about how to deal with this (I have already used three of my six allowed moves for the week), I put on the Phillies game.  I picked up Roy Halladay this morning; not because I thought he would suddenly return to form, but because I would be able to get two starts out of him over the course of the week.

I got a third of an inning.

Halladay left the game after three batters and 16 pitches with arm fatigue.  He’s done for the season.  Most likely, so is Baseball So Hard.

And yet, checking the numbers after one day, I am in the lead.  I’m getting crushed in the pitching categories, but once the guys on my roster have their starts, the gaps will close.  But the pair of injuries will certainly hurt, if only for the fact that I might have to burn a move on a batter that I was saving to use on a pitcher.

I’ve never had overwhelming success with fantasy sports.  For someone who puts the time and effort into my teams that I do, you would think I’d either win every year or learn my lesson and give up.  I’ve done neither.  And this baseball season doesn’t seem like it’s going to be the one where I start.

As they used to say in Brooklyn, there’s always next year.  Get well soon, Manny.


Where Are We Runnin’?

So that fantasy football draft I mentioned last week was tonight.  If you don’t like football, or fantasy football, or don’t care, just skip this entry.

Picking 11th out of 12, I wasn’t in a horrendous position.  It actually kind of decided my strategy for me.  Because I was only going to get two of the first 34 picks, I was pretty much forced to take a pair of running backs.  I ended up with Steven Jackson and Maurice Jones-Drew.  I took both just a little bit sooner than is probably recommended, but then again, I think they’re both going to perform well, and when I have to wait almost two full rounds to make another pick, I did what I had to do.

The draft was conducted on Yahoo, but I also had ESPN’s rankings handy, and ESPN ranked Darren Sproles as the 12th pick overall in a points-per-reception league.  He was still available at 35, so I added him to my stable of backs.  I reached a little bit three picks later with Dwayne Bowe, but I think playing for Andy Reid (and with a quarterback not named Matt Cassel, Brady Quinn, Brodie Croyle, Tyler Thigpen, etc.) will make him a good performer, and again, my next pick was at 59.

After that, it was back to the running back cupboard for D’Angelo Williams.  It’s about time the Panthers abandoned the idea of a two-headed monster at running back, and while Cam Newton will poach a lot of goal-line attempts, for my fourth running back, Williams will do just fine.

I picked Matthew Stafford in the sixth round.  He threw the ball over 700 times for nearly 5,000 yards last season.  I like the chances of him racking up some points this year.  I followed that up with Shane Vereen and Rashard Mendenhall in the seventh and eighth rounds.

To sum up: eight picks, six running backs, one quarterback, one receiver.  I basically have cover for any sort of RB situation that might occur with my team (or anyone else’s that may want to trade with me).  Plus, with the depth available at the quarterback position, and the lack of any major distinction beyond the top few wide receivers, I got two guys I targeted without having to compromise the “get all the starting running backs I can get my hands on” ethos.

From there, I filled out my receiving corps with Chris Givens, Greg Jennings, and Ryan Broyles.  Broyles is going to be on the end of a number of those attempts from Stafford, and Greg Jennings has been a top receiver in the league fairly recently, and for a 10th-round pick, I think he’ll produce just fine.

I took Jordan Cameron of Cleveland as my tight end.  I will freely admit that most of the tight ends on the draft rankings were guys who I had either never heard of, or had never seen drafted before, and I heard/read someone say/write (I honestly don’t remember which) that they liked him.  If I wasn’t getting Jimmy Graham, and wasn’t willing to take the risk of drafting Rob Gronkowski, then whatever, you know?

Joe Flacco is my backup quarterback, and I can live with that.  I also took the Steelers’ defense and Robbie Gould as my kicker; I’m one of those guys who will swap out defenses like empty rolls of toilet paper, and Gould is a Penn State guy and someone who I feel like spends at least a few weeks on my team every year.  If either Pittsburgh’s defense or Gould are on my roster at the end of the season, it will be a minor upset.

So there it is, my “drafted at the bottom, now I’m here” squad.  I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it.  And for me, that’s progress.

I’m Always Last to Be Picked and In Some Cases Never Picked At All

Tonight was our annual captain’s meeting for my bowling league.  Yes, league, singular; I’m down to one this season, and seeing how my back is, I don’t know when I’ll even be able to start bowling.  The season starts next week, so…yeah.

More importantly, tonight was my fantasy football league’s draft lottery.  No, not even the actual draft; the draft lottery, as in, let’s draw numbers and figure out who drafts where.  I’m the commissioner of the league, and I could theoretically conduct this myself a month before the draft, but in the interest of fairness, I like to do it with at least one other league member around.

It’s my favorite thing to do as commissioner.  First, we randomly draw divisions.  Even though it changes every year, I feel like I end up competing with the same two guys each season.  I generally end up on the wrong side of that competition, too.

Once the divisions are set, it also helps decide our schedule.  I’m clever – or, I spend way too much time on these sorts of trivial things – so I came up with a schedule matrix for the league.  Each teams plays its divisional rivals twice (the first three and last three weeks are for divisional play) and every other team once for a total of 14 games.  Again, I once spent way too much time matching teams up so that I could simply plug different teams into slots each season – Team A1 vs. Team C3, for example – so that the schedule is varied but consistent from year to year.

Finally, the highlight of the night is the lottery.  We use last season’s records to give teams their proverbial ping pong balls (which are actually just slips of paper) – there are 12 teams, and the team that finished 12th gets 12 slips.  11th place gets 11, so on and so forth, until the defending champion gets one.  There are some modifications in there – teams that have the same record get the same number of slips, regardless of any tiebreakers – so the number of slips is usually a little over 80.

There were 82 this year, and as the fourth-worst team last season, I had nine of them.  That’s just a hair under 11 percent.  The worst team only had 14.6 percent of the slips, so I had almost as good a shot as any of getting one of the first couple picks.

We started drawing.  The first pick went to one of my divisional rivals, the guy who was third-worst last year.  The second slip…was the same guy.  The third…same guy.  If I hadn’t written them myself, I would have thought it was rigged.  I’m still not entirely sure it wasn’t.

The second pick went to a guy who was 7-7 last season.  An anomaly, but it’s one of the vagaries of a lottery.  The third pick went to last year’s worst team.

And so on and so forth for the next six picks.  My name was nowhere to be found.  I half expected to see all my slips on the floor.  There were only three slots left, and the last three teams without draft slots are in my division.

The 10th pick came up and went to the two-time defending champion, the guy with one slip in the hat.  Finally, one of my nine slips came out for pick number 11.  Last year’s runner-up was 12th.

To sum up: of the three guys picking at the end of the first round, two of them played for the championship last season.  The other one finished 6-8 and is THE GUY WHO SET UP AND RAN THE WHOLE DRAFT LOTTERY.

They say that if you don’t get one of the top three picks, then drafting in the bottom three is preferable.  I won’t get any of the top 10 players, but I will get two of the top 14 due to the snake draft format (last pick in the first round picks first in the second and so on).  Small consolation.

It looks like I’ll have to rely once again on my draft savvy and shrewd waiver wire moves to succeed.  And as a quick look at my past finishes shows…

::looks at past finishes…6th…9th…10th…4th…9th::

Oh, crap.

I Want to Win So Aaron Baddeley

The golf season’s final major, the PGA Championship, begins on Thursday.  While there’s still time before it starts, I thought I would share a fun fantasy game that I play with some friends that you can feel free to co-opt yourself.

We started it before the U.S. Open, since a number of us would be attending.  We had fun, so we decided to do one for the Open Championship as well.  I also won, so that made it easy to run another one; I promptly finished dead last next time out.

It’s pretty easy to run one of your own.  First, recruit between four and seven other players to join you, and make sure you have people who are able to respond to emails reasonably quickly; otherwise, you risk your draft taking way too long.  We have seven players and run a snake-style draft; last pick in the first round has first pick in the second round, etc.  We do four rounds, so each player has four golfers on their roster.

After the tournament is over, each person gets credit for the money earned by the players on their roster.  Most golf tournaments give much larger prizes to players at the top of the leaderboard than those further down, so drafting the winner and three guys who finish in the 30s will probably beat someone who has four guys who finished between 10th and 20th.

(This is how I won the U.S. Open; Justin Rose was my second round pick.)

Every player who makes the 36-hole cut (usually the top 60 or 70 players, plus ties) earns a paycheck, but if one of your golfers misses the cut,  you don’t simply get a zero: you also suffer a penalty.  If one golfer on your roster misses the cut, you lose 10% of your earnings.  If two miss the cut, the penalty is 25%, and if three of your golfers miss the cut, you get docked 50%.  Obviously, if none of your golfers make the cut, you end up with no money, but that could never happen, right?

(This is how I finished last at the Open Championship; all four of my golfers missed the cut.)

It’s that simple.  It gives you a rooting interest where maybe you didn’t have one, and it gives you a chance to beat your friends at something.

Because we can’t help ourselves – okay, I can’t help myself – we added a couple wrinkles before our second tournament.  First, we decided the draft order for the Open by reversing the standings from the U.S. Open.  Then we decided to add the popular fantasy staple of keepers to our little “league.”  Any golfer on your team in the previous major (our “season” consists of just those four tournaments) who made the cut is eligible to be kept, and he will be drafted to your team in the same round that he was drafted last time.

(For example, Rose was my second round pick for the U.S. Open.  I kept him, meaning he became my second round pick for the Open Championship.  He proceeded to miss the cut, so I was not able to keep him – or anyone else for that matter – for the PGA Championship.)

After the PGA Championship is over, we’ll add everyone’s totals for each tournament together and declare a season winner.  There’s nothing on the line, but we do enough pick ’ems and prediction contests that calling yourself a champion really matters.  To us, at least.

Next season, we’ll kick off the year in April with The Masters.  I’m sure I’ll tweak something between now and then because, like I said, I can’t help myself.  But it’s a simple contest, with simple rules, and it’s fun.

And sometimes, that’s all you need, you know?

Sweet, Sweet Fantasy, Baby

So I might as well just come right out and say it: I have four fantasy baseball teams.

I know, I know.

I didn’t do it on purpose.  I’ve been in the same league with friends from college for something like 10 years now (aside: holy crap), and about four or five years ago I joined a league that my cousin runs.  I never won, but I was usually competitive, and I wasn’t the type of player to mail in the season when I was out of contention by August.  I kept up with my lineups for the most part, made waiver pickups, all that stuff.

Then, last year, I was offered a spot with another friend in a third friend’s league.  We both accepted, and suddenly I had three teams.  And wouldn’t you know it, another offer came, from a friend who really needed to fill a spot.  One team became two became four.  Happens to everyone, right?

All four leagues have different rules, so it’s not like it’s repetitive.  Well, that’s not true; I find myself picking the same players for all of my teams, with generally disastrous results.

However, I am set up to dominate that last league I joined.  It’s a keeper league, and I have Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Manny Machado as my last three draft picks for the rest of their careers.  Oh, and I just picked up super-prospect Wil Myers off the waiver wire.  If I don’t win that league for the next decade, then I must really suck at this.

(Which is entirely possible.)

* * *

NIT: I told you Baylor was going to win!  I totally nailed that one!  Chalk one up for…ah, crap.

CBI: It all comes down to this.  The final game of the non-NCAA Tournament tournaments.  I’ve been riding George Mason this week, and I’m not changing horses midstream.  Patriots for the win.

NIT: 18-13

CBI: 9-7

CIT: 21-10

Irrelevant Postseason Total: 48-30

Lead Pipe Locks: 9-4

NCAA Spread Picks: 10-12-1