The Fast and Fantasy: Tokyo Draft

Written by :
Published on : September 2, 2017

 

 

Welcome fantasy football fans and anyone else who wandered here. Currently, it’s NFL preseason, which means two things: real football is very close and many fantasy leagues are having their drafts. As we all know, the draft is a huge factor in determining success for the season. It’s the single biggest element in regard to who makes the playoffs. But this isn’t a draft guide, it’s a journal entry of a man who just went through the ringer. This is my 2017 fantasy football draft story.

 

I’m in two leagues. Which isn’t that wild. At my worst, I was in five. But that was way back in college. Crazy times. Back to 2017, The Prison League (12 team, non-ppr) where we base our team names on all football related run-ins with the law. In the last few years I’ve been:

  • Ray Lewis Killed a Guy
  • Larry “Choke out” Johnson
  • Titus “Twice in a day” Young
  • Don’t Jim and Drive Irsay
  • Bad Cellmate Phillips
  • Aqib “Shot myself” Talib
  • Jerry Sandusky’s Kids (current team)

 

The funny thing is, we never run out of new names. It’s like the players and coaches know about our group and get in trouble just to help out. Then, there is my new fantasy venture, the Dynasty League (10 team superflex, ppr, 5 year keeper). I’ve never done a keeper league before. But it is the closest you can get to running a real franchise so it should be fun. The two draft dates were one week apart, on consecutive Sundays.

 

 

The Dynasty draft came first. I met with my two buddies here in town and we face-timed with a crew back in Michigan. All 10 of us were connected via wifi from different places and devices. Pretty cool experience. Would still love to do a full on live draft with all owners in one place someday. The original plan was to pick the first 10 rounds (of 27) then do the rest over text. We had some convoluted way to determine draft order and I got the short end of the stick with the #9 pick. At least the last player gets to pick twice in the snake format. Needless to say, I was a little salty. My petty super villain brain started turning. What could I do to the rest of the league to show my displeasure?

 

My first idea was to slow everything down. Drag my feet whenever possible and make the whole process as little fun as could be. As outlined by the commissioner, each owner is entitled to 6 minutes for each pick during the draft. My plan was to use every second. Make it slow and painful. Make the others feel my anger. Your classic spite-based filibuster. This plan backfired because the draft took place at noon on the west coast and I had closed the restaurant the night before. That means I wasn’t home till 5am. So I was tired and hungover. Slowing down this marathon was going to kill me. I just didn’t have the intestinal fortitude for it. I am weak.

 

As the rounds continued, a new plan came to mind. Try and use the insane depth of the bench (16 spots) to create an imbalance. What I mean to say is, how can I exploit the numbers to invent an advantage? The idea was to waste 8 picks on the top defenses (D/ST) which would force owners with good rosters to potentially start a sub-par unit. The scoring is setup that defenses are some of the most likely units to post a negative score. What if you could make an opponent to start a shit D/ST and maybe even negate some of their own offense? That would be huge. Even if the other owners smelled the ruse and stocked up, then at worst everyone is back to even (in terms of this scheme).

 

 

I picked the Broncos, Chiefs and Cardinals in consecutive rounds. A few owners took the cue and grab one of the other top 10 defenses. My turn came back around while I was digging through my handwritten draft notes (in it’s own special notebook) and I discovered a number of quality players had gone undrafted. Gasp! How did no one take Darren Sproles? It’s PPR. That changed everything. Finding great talent, late in the draft is a REAL advantage. Not the joke defense short I was trying to manifest. It’s the most Wall Street thing I’ve ever done since I did blow in the bathroom of that trendy joint in American Psycho.

 

The Dynasty draft started Sunday then continued on a group text for the last few rounds. But there were so many damn rounds that it went all week. It went until the Prison League draft started the next Sunday. That’s just crazy. And kind of awful. For perspective, in that week, one owner welcomed two new members to his family. Their births were technically mid-draft. FYI, getting twins in the 21st round is a total steal.

 

The Prison League draft had its own issues. Mostly technical. The draft was 3pm Los Angeles time, so I set my alarm for 2:57pm. Woke up, after a dozen chirps from my iphone 4S, rolled out of bed and opened my computer. I try and launch the “Live Draft” window on ESPN’s Fantasy Football site. But I get some bullshit flash plug-in bullshit error message. I launch “Diet Draft” or whatever and login to see it’s my pick and there are 4 seconds left. AutoDraft has me taking Odell Beckham Jr. Good enough for me. Rough start but I’ll take OBJ all day at #7 overall. That overall draft went pretty well. A the Dynasty madness, it felt like smooth sailing. But everyone thinks they have a good team right after the draft. I believe the term is roster-bate or rosterbating.

 

I wish everyone a good season and for some reason, if someone slights you then try and get petty revenge. Or better yet just win the whole damn thing and then gloat like a teenager.

 

Make believe.

 

 


Fantasy Football Draft Strategies

Written by :
Published on : August 1, 2016

 

 

Thank God, football is coming back. And with it, comes the evil step brother known simply as fantasy. Many drafts are still weeks away but some crazy leagues do them at the start of training camp. So it’s not too early to start talking about it, even though my girlfriend would disagree. But for once, this isn’t about her. This is all about the fantasy football draft and how you should decide to pick players. I’m talking Winston Churchill war room level. The draft is one of the biggest determining factors to who wins the championship. Waiver wire is hugely important but if you select a top trio of QB, RB, WR and they all stay healthy and productive then your path to a trophy is much easier. The big question is, who do you take? And when?

 

If the draft scares you or you think this sounds like too much work then just set your team to auto-draft and sleep easy. We call these people “draft dodgers.” To be fair, I’ve had some pretty decent squads the few times I let the computer pick. My first team back in 2003 was auto drafted and I made the playoffs. Another year, I was hungover and a slept through the draft. Still made the playoffs. Damn, maybe the robots know more than me? Fuck that. I reject that theory. Let’s get to business.

 

1st pick

 

The old fantasy football draft rule was go running back, running back with your first two picks. This is still a viable route because the value of a solid RB is unmatched. Then we saw freak wide receivers and quarterbacks going in the top ten. Players like Aaron Rodgers and Calvin Johnson changed the game. These guys are fantasy studs. No question. But is it smart to use your first pick on a WR or a QB? I say no, because of the the drop off between the production of ball-carriers versus other positions is way out of balance.

 

That means a top QB may get 30 points in a week while a waiver QB may score 20. But when it comes to RB’s it will be a difference of 30 to 3. If you play in a 10+ team league then there just aren’t quality and consistent players available to add. You can find a serviceable QB while there will be zero starting RB’s. For example, last year, I used a combo of Kirk Cousins and Ryan Fitzpatrick (both claimed off the waiver wire) in the final weeks and playoffs. They equaled or out performed my highly drafted competition. I also won the championship. There will always be these type of finds.

 

So, your first pick should be a running back. You can never guess who will get hurt but try and draft someone with a decent o-line and hopefully, a short injury history.

 

2nd pick

 

With your second pick, go either a top pass-catcher (WR/TE) or another clear starting RB. If the back is in a timeshare situation then I go with the receiver who is most likely to either see higher volume and or lots of red zone targets.

 

Note: tight end is another role that has little middle class. Getting an every week starter is a blessing. One less slot to stress over. Just leave Gronk in the lineup until the bye.

 

3rd pick

So we have an elite running back, a big WR and we are back on the clock. I’d still go after a RB. There are lots of attractive QB’s and number two wideouts but they will mostly be there next round. Get that other bell cow now and then you can move to deep threats while everyone else is scrambling and buying high on guys who only see 10 carries a game.

 

4th round and beyond

So far we picked RB, WR, RB. Now get that TE. The top three names will be gone but there’s plenty talent left. If for some reason, all good the tight ends are drafted then grab another WR or your favorite of the remaining QB’s. These are the suggestions for next round anyways. After rounds 4 or 5, it’s hard to recommend position picks, mainly because we don’t know what the board will look like. The draft is all about finding value.

 

The one stat that would best explain this concept is the baseball metric WAR (Wins Above Replacement). WAR relates to a players performance against the average athlete. Keep that idea in mind when you are picking. Where are you finding the best values? And don’t fall into trends. If WR’s are going like hot cakes, don’t sell out your plan just to not be left out. Because after all those teams have receivers, they are going to start taking the other things you need. Stick to your guns.

 

The double down and handcuffing

 

No, I’m not talking about a wild weekend in Las Vegas, I mean the double down aka the double dip, which is drafting players on the same team. Like Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown. So when Ben tosses a TD to Antonio, you get points from both players for one touchdown. It’s nice when it can happen but I try and not count on it. Don’t move up/change your draft plan just for a double down. The NFL season is crazy. Tons will get hurt, traded, arrested. Who knows. Diversity is key to a deep squad. Don’t bet the farm on Tony Romo playing all year with Dez Bryant.

 

Handcuffing is when you draft the backup to a popular player. Just in case they get injured. I like this for one skill player per roster. Find that guy you would be screwed without and invest in their nightmare. Look, if your first round pick goes down and someone else scoops the backup then your team lost a huge asset and you handed it to your jerk friend. At least this way, no other franchise gains because of your loss.

 

Wrap up

Take backs early and often, then top pass catchers and more backs. Wait on the QB and stock up on depth. Standard formats see lineups with two RB and two WR with one TE and a FLEX (can be any RB, WR, TE) so it makes sense to address the biggest need. Yes to hand cuffing but no to the double down. And always beware of the celebrity trap. It tricks us, makes us take Russell Wilson too early or draft a defense in the 6th round. Stay strong and you can get through this.

 

Champs

 

 


How to Swat Away Tanking in the NBA

Written by :
Published on : July 10, 2015

During a recent podcast by the website fivethirtyeight.com, the show hosts asked fans to submit solutions to the notion that the NBA draft structure is broken which is leading to struggling teams “tanking.” I was very intrigued with this article, being someone who agrees with this belief, and judging by the nearly 7,000 responses on the website, many fans out there also believe the NBA needs to address this potential problem.
Before divulging some of fivethirtyeight.com’s favorite responses and sharing my solution to help prevent tanking, first let’s answer the question what exactly is tanking? The biggest misconception in regards to “tanking” is that it is when teams are deliberately trying to lose. Well, that isn’t exactly the case. After all, it wouldn’t be too hard to spot if on a yearly basis a few teams were all intentionally throwing games. Instead, tanking is essentially when a team doesn’t do everything it can to win, and then doing that for an extended period of time.
Now, the latter part of that is huge. Any game where a team rests a star player or two shouldn’t send up a red flag for tanking. For example, Gregg Popovich, head coach of the San Antonio Spurs, is known for, and even has even been fined for resting his trio of stars on occasion. While he runs the risk of losing that game, it’s to his team’s benefit during the season that his trio of veterans get the rest they need to make deep playoff runs. His five championship rings over the past fifteen years can also remove any doubters of his strategy I’d say.
Instead, the evidence of a team tanking is generally found near the bottom of the standings where a team has a strong chance at landing a top pick in the following year’s draft. In recent years especially, the NBA drafts haven’t been very deep with talent so teams, especially the smaller markets who struggle to land marquee free agents, are desperate to land a top pick.
The main problem I have with tanking is that it is disingenuous to the supporting fan base. Consider a family of four taking in an NBA game for a fun family night out. Estimate maybe around $100 for tickets, another $10-20 for parking potentially, the rising costs of food and refreshments, and you’re looking at around $150 to take your family out for a game. Obviously a win is never guaranteed, so the least your hometown team could do is give you their 100% effort to win the game for you, right? Unless, of course, franchises let fans know ahead of time that they have given up on trying to win games, and are instead looking to improve their draft picks all at the risk of losing all revenue from ticket sale…yeah, didn’t think so.
Fivethirtyeight.com’s only ground rules for this contest were that the fan’s proposal had to be viable, understandable and as they put it, “cool.” Otherwise, everything was fair game, so here’s a quick look at some of the top responses.
An idea titled “The Tombstone Date” suggested the amount of lottery balls a team receives will be determined by “Elimination Wins.” The author of this proposal defines Elimination Wins as victories that occur after that team has officially been eliminated from playoff contention. That day would also be known as that team’s Tombstone Day. Whichever lottery team has the most Elimination Wins after their Tombstone Day, receives the most lottery balls in the upcoming draft.
Another idea called for a lottery playoff that would immediately follow the regular season. At the end of the regular season, teams that made the playoffs will receive a week off to mentally and physically prepare for their first round opponent, while the fourteen teams who missed the playoffs will partake in a single elimination tournament to decide who gets the top picks in the draft. The top two teams would receive a first round bye, and the winner of the tournament would receive the top pick while the runner-up received the second pick. The rest of the lottery would be determined by regular season win totals giving the incentive to still win as much as possible in the regular season.
Perhaps the most thought-provoking idea, and the chosen winner by fivethirtyeight.com, was one termed The NBA Futures. In this proposal, we disregard the fact that teams own their draft picks all together, and instead, teams own stock market-style futures on other teams. In other words, teams would get to predict other team’s finishing position and therefore get that team’s pick as their own. So this year, the Minnesota Timberwolves hold the number one pick, if they wished to do the same next year, they would have to correctly guess which team would finish in the bottom next year.
I thought all of these ideas were creative, and all would hypothetically help to make even the worst of teams fight until the bitter end of the season, which as a fan, is all that we really ask. My idea was a much simpler plan, but perhaps still would be effective. The premise of my idea is very similar to what is used often in professional soccer leagues overseas known as relegation. With this rule, the bottom few teams in a league get kicked out of the league, and sent down to a lower tiered league the following season. On the flip side, the top three teams in the lower league then move to a higher tiered league to replace them. The perk here of course is while the top teams are fighting for the league title, the struggling teams near the bottom are fighting just as hard but just for them to stay in the league. Obviously from a franchise standpoint, the higher the league you are in, the more money you make from things like sponsorship and ticket/merchandise sales, and then thus the likelier you sign better players, and ultimately win games.
Now, my idea of relegating teams of course wouldn’t fall into the “viable” category which fivethirtyeight.com required because here in the United States, we don’t have any other professional basketball leagues that could compete with the NBA, so I tweaked it a bit. In my scenario, the bottom three teams wouldn’t get relegated out of the league, but instead would be relegated out of the lottery itself, and would instead automatically pick 12th, 13th, and 14th in the upcoming draft. The remaining eleven teams would make up the lottery and the lottery balls would be divided amongst those teams in a similar fashion to how they are currently distributed in today’s NBA Draft Lottery system.
My thought is, usually when you question how many teams are tanking in the NBA, it’s only a few. Sixteen of the league’s thirty teams make the playoffs to begin with, and there’s always a couple teams in each conference vying for the playoffs so they’re also not tanking. That typically leaves just a handful of teams that can see the writing on the wall and therefore know their season is all but over well before the rest of the league. However, those teams will want to win as many games as possible to stay out of the bottom three. Directly from that, teams that are just above those bottom teams, won’t be able to sit comfy either knowing the teams below them still want a shot at the number one pick.


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