Monday, February 28, 2011
Per user request, we have added several additional hockey scoring settings to our playoff hockey fantasy game.
These new scoring settings for Skaters are:
Power Play Goal (PPG), Power Play Assist (PPA), Short Handed Goal (SHG), Short Handed Assist (SHA), Game Winning Goal (GWG), and Hits.
The new scoring settings for Goalies are:
Goals Against Average (GAA) <= 2.0, and Save % (SP) >= .920.
The goalie settings are threshold settings and points are award to fantasy players when those thresholds are met. For example, if a goalie has a 1.8 GAA for a game, that goalie will receive the points associated with the GAA <= 2.0 scoring setting.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Even though I am doing a countdown, the one thing you will never read from me is reference to the national polls. I think the polls are not meaningful, yet they dominate college basketball conversation throughout the season. Does it really matter who is number one in at any particular point in the season? I’ll answer my own question and say no. A cottage industry has been set up by college basketball writers who criticize other writers for their poll rankings. It also means that “upsets” are created. If “no. 10” Wisconsin beats “No. 1” Ohio State at the Kohl Center, where the Badgers haven’t lost all season, is it an upset? The only thing that gets upset in that situation is me when it is described as an upset. My rant is now concluded. I like to make it at least once a year and now I feel better. Thank you. Here are the top two players heading into the tournament.
2. Nolan Smith, Guard, Duke Blue Devils
Smith was having a nice season before Duke’s point guard, freshman sensation Kyrie Irving, injured his toe on Dec. 4. Since Irving went down, Smith has become a National Player of the Year candidate. Many people figured that forward Kyle Singler would lead the Blue Devils in their attempt to repeat as champions, but Singler is a well-formed product (approximately 17 points and seven rebounds in each of the last three seasons). Meanwhile, Smith has blown up and is leading the ACC in both scoring (21.3 points) and assists (5.2, although the Tar Heels’ Kendall Marshall is lurking at 5.1 assists). In ACC play, the 6-foot-2 senior has not been held under 18 points. While his three-point percentage has dipped a bit from his junior season (37.4% from 39.2%), his overall field goal percentage has improved to 47.6% (from 44.1%). He fearlessly attacked the rim and converts 82% of his free throws. With their loss to Virginia Tech last night, the Blue Devils may not be assured a one-seed, but they will not drop much even if they lose to North Carolina next weekend and/or in the ACC tournament. On the other hand, they could win out and be the tournament’s top seed. Either way, Smith is one of the most reliable options.
1. Jared Sullinger, Forward, Ohio State Buckeyes
It may seem a bit risky to put a freshman as the top option in Fantasy Postseason tournament leagues, but I think Sullinger is the National Player of the Year and could easily double as the fantasy player of the year, if there were such a thing. Because Blue Ribbon Yearbook had Sullinger listed as a center, he received center eligibility in my Big Chief Leagues, which allowed him to fill the two toughest spots (our leagues require all teams to start a center and a freshman). The 6-foot-9, 280 lb Buckeye wins for position scarcity, but he also produces top notch numbers. He is averaging 17.8 points and 9.9 rebounds, and he doesn’t mind crushing smaller opponents: witness his 40 points and 13 rebounds against IUPUI on Dec. 12. He did pretty well against bigger schools as well with 30 points and 19 rebounds in a win over South Carolina, despite the presence of shot blocker Sam Muldrow. You could be concerned that the Buckeyes have lost two of their last four games, but those two losses have been at Wisconsin and Purdue (who also has not suffered a loss at Mackey Arena). Even before the brackets come out, I can tell you that I am going to pick Ohio State to win it all and Sullinger is the key to their success.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Perhaps I have not been reading or listening to the right places, but I have not witnessed the usual debate about which conference has been the best this season. The Big East certainly has the most depth with a potential of 11 teams getting into the Big Dance, but I just haven’t found the nation’s biggest conference as compelling as I usually do. It may be because the top team, Pittsburgh, is not laden with fantasy stars, although Brad Wanamaker and Ashton Gibbs aren’t bad. The Big 10 was supposed to be the best conference coming into the season, but some of the conference’s luster has been wiped away with Michigan State being a bubble team. Ohio State and Purdue match up well with the Big 12’s best, Kansas and Texas, but no one is talking about the Boilermakers as a one-seed. Both Kansas and Texas are vying for a top spot, while Missouri and Texas A&M. If Nebraska and/or Kansas State can get a few Big 12 tournament wins, the conference could look quite strong. As such, I am giving my third and fourth slots to members of the Big 12. They might not be as exciting as some of the lesser seeded players below them, but both are the offensive foci of their teams.
4. Marcus Morris, Forward, Kansas Jayhawks
Early in the season, I thought the Jayhawk offense was one of the most beautiful I had seen in quite awhile. There was very little dribbling and constant passing that probed the defense. In the middle of the offense was Morris, the more offensively skilled of the Morris twins. Markieff (13.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, 1.2 blocks) is a nice player as well, but much like Stanford’s Lopez twins, one of the brothers seems to concentrate on offense while the other is defensively oriented. Marcus has scored in double figures in all but two games and has topped 20 points eight times. He scored a career-high 33 to go along with 13 rebounds in a Jan. 12 win over Iowa State. With Thomas Robinson back from his torn meniscus, the Jayhawks have size along the frontline to allow Marcus to take advantage of all of his offensive skills. Even with Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins on the team last year, Morris was the most valuable Jayhawk. That has not changed in his junior season and he has been very efficient on offense (60.3% from the field). While some Jayhawk fans worry that this year’s edition reminds them of the 2005 team that was upset by Bucknell, last year’s tough loss to Northern Iowa in the second round won’t be far from many of the player’s minds.
3. Jordan Hamilton, Guard/Forward, Texas Longhorns
Last year, the Longhorns were one of the most disappointing teams as their talented players never meshed and they fell apart in Big 12 conference play. In 2010-11, perhaps Texas was written off and has become the pleasant surprise of the season. They might not have as much talent as last year’s squad, but the pieces fit together better. The team has tenacious defenders, including freshman Tristan Thompson and veteran guard Dogus Balbay. As a freshman, 6-foot-7 swingman Hamilton was lost on the bench. He did manage to score 10.0 points in 19.9 minutes, but he has burst onto the scene as a sophomore. Hamilton is averaging 18.8 points and 7.5 rebounds, which is a great stat for a guard-eligible player. He has only been held to single digits once – in a blowout win over North Florida, and has scored at least 15 points in his last eight games. The sophomore has a nicely diversified offensive game: he can hit three-pointers (40.7% from long range) or hit mid-range jumpers over smaller perimeter players. The Longhorns only played one game in the tournament last year, but Hamilton had 19 points in the overtime loss to Wake Forest.
Friday, February 25, 2011
Some people have mentioned that maybe Tier 1 should be expanded to include the Mountain West. This is certainly a banner year for the newest conference to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. You wouldn’t get much argument from me that the the top half (especially San Diego State and BYU) of the MWC is better than the top teams in the Pac 10 and SEC. However, Tier 1 conferences expect to get multiple teams in the tournament every year. [It should also be noted that BYU, the bellwether of the conference, will leave to the WCC next year.] The Mountain West received invites for four teams last year (the top two, UNLV, and New Mexico) and may get that many this year (with Colorado State, which is right on the bubble, replacing New Mexico). This weekend’s clash between the Aztecs and Cougar in San Diego is must see TV for any college basketball enthusiast and could determine which team gets a one-seed. As such, each team’s best players are smack dab in the middle of the top ten prospects heading to the NCAA tournament.
6. Kawhi Leonard, Forward, San Diego State Aztecs
Leonard is a fun player to watch because he can do so many things. The 6-foot-7, 225 lb sophomore has a great nose for the ball and excellent hands to grab rebounds. He is averaging a double-double (15.2 points, 10.7 rebounds) and has some offensive facilitation skills as well (2.6 assists). Similar to his freshman year (and this could be said for almost every frontcourt player in college), Leonard might be better served not taking quite as many three-pointers. He is converting just 26.6% of his three-pointers and has only converted more than half of his trey attempts once this season (4-for-5 in Nov. 21 win over IUPUI). Nevertheless, it is easy enough to overlook the slight warts of Leonard’s game to see the smoothness. He has five double-doubles in his last six games, and was just one rebound short in the sixth game (a win over New Mexico). The Aztecs should be set up nicely to get to the Sweet 16 and Leonard should be the star to watch.
5. Jimmer Fredette, Guard, BYU Cougars
The Jimmer needs little introduction. “Jimmer-mania” blew up when Fredette scored 43 points in the Cougars’ Jan. 26 win over San Diego State. That game came on the heels of two other 40-point explosions. Fredette has quieted down a little in his last six games. In fact, he has failed to reach 40 points, but has scored at least 23 points in each game over the span. The thing that sets the 6-foot-2 senior apart from other shooters is his ability to take and make shots from well beyond the three-point arc. He is converting 41.1% of his threes. When he decides to take the ball to the basket, he can get easier points at the free throw line (after, of course, he absorbs the foul) and is making 89.5% of his free throws. While some people are expecting a Stephen Curry-like run through the tournament, that might be hoping for too much. The Jimmer did score 37 points in BYU’s first round double-overtime win against Florida in last year’s tournament, but was held to 21 in the second round loss against Kansas State. Hopefully, Fredette can put his stamp on the 2011 tournament and give us a few Moments in Time.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
If you play fantasy sports long enough, you learn that there are players that are players you never take to, for whatever reason. I have nothing against long-time Pistons guard Richard Hamilton, but it seemed like I would end up with in every fantasy basketball league I was in every year. I also have nothing against this round up’s number seven and eight players, but they have not been my favorite players this season. I can’t really explain it, but I will try to anyway.
8. Kemba Walker, Guard, Connecticut Huskies
I predicted big things for Walker prior to his sophomore season, but Walker chose to (or simply got the opportunity to) break out as a junior. Perhaps it is my professional pride (of what little there is) that has been wounded by Walker who is in the conversation for national Player of the Year. He is averaging 22.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.9 assists, which are top notch numbers of any player. Somewhat predictably, however, Walker has cooled off in Big East play. In his last nine games, he has only bettered his scoring average once (an impressive 31-point, ten-assist game against Georgetown). Over that same span, Walker has only converted 32% of his three-pointers to bring his season’s rate down to 35.6%. The Huskies are currently slated for a four-seed, but they have lost four of their last seven games. The Huskies will likely have too much size and athleticism for their first opponent, but I don’t like their chances once they get into the 4-5 match ups. Walker is a fantastic talent, but he won’t score points for your team if UConn gets eliminated early.
7. JaJuan Johnson, Forward/Center, Purdue Boilermakers
My dislike of Johnson is less rational than my Walker aversion. I kind of like Purdue (any school that provided Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson as a place to play is ok with me) and Johnson has progressed nicely in his career. So, what gives? Maybe I think he is too skinny. I don’t know. Whatever the case, Johnson has benefited from the loss of Robbie Hummel for the second straight year. Because Hummel missed the season, Johnson and E’Twaun Moore have had to carry the Boilermakers’ offensive onus. And, for the most part, they have been up to the task. For the fourth straight year, Johnson has improved his scoring average and is putting in 20.4 points. He seems more comfortable on the perimeter, although he has made just 28.9% of his three-pointers (11-for-38) after missing all nine of his attempts in his first three years at Purdue. Johnson has eight double-doubles, but just two in Big 10 conference play. The 6-foot-10 senior is also a factor on the defensive end with 1.0 steals and 2.3 blocks. Purdue seems slated for a two-seed. Don’t forget Moore in your draft as well. In addition to his 38-point outburst against Purdue, he has scored at least 17 points in his last five games.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
While many people look forward to the reporting of pitchers and catchers in baseball as the first sign of spring, I like to think the thaw begins with the best sporting event of the calendar year: the NCAA tournament. I am one of the few people who supported a 96-team tournament with the idea that more one-and-done basketball can never be a bad thing. I’ll take four extra teams…for now. To get you ready for Fantasy Postseason’s NCAA tournament game, I’ll be going over the top ten prospects over the next week. If you need more college basketball news and advice, please stop by at College Fantasy Hoops Insider. In order to heighten the drama, I’ll start at the end of my top ten list and work toward the top over the next five days. As such, I present to you the number nine and ten players heading into the tournament.
10. Derrick Williams, forward, Arizona Wildcats
There is no end of forecasts for the teams and seeding for the NCAA tournament, but I generally use Joe Lunardi’s projection at ESPN. Right now, he has Arizona as a five-seed, but the Wildcats may be able to improve their seeding if they roll through the rest of their four conference games (which includes a tough trip to southern California) and the Pac 10 tournament. As the conference’s top dog, Arizona also boasts its best player (with apologies to Klay Thompson and Isaiah Thomas). Williams is a 6-foot-8 sophomore who has improved his game by adding range. He has converted an incredible 67.5% of his three-pointers, which indicates both that he can make long range jumpers when left open and, for whatever reason, opponents have been leaving him open. He doesn’t take a lot of threes and has only attempted more than three bombs once this season (and has only missed two in the same game twice). Williams showed in his freshman season that he could score around the basket and that has continued. He is converting 63.1% of his shot to provide 19.7 points. He is a good, but not great rebounder at 8.1 boards and has eight double-doubles. The La Mirada native can get in foul trouble and has been eliminated from five games, including three straight conference games earlier this month, but he makes a solid first pick toward the end of the first round.
9. Jon Leuer, forward, Wisconsin Badgers
While some people might think that I have chosen the wrong Badger, I did give guard Jordan Taylor some consideration before going with the 6-foot-10 forward. Frontcourt players are generally more consistent because their shots come closer to the basket. Leuer is making 48.4% of his shots from the field and 42.6% of his threes (compared to Taylor’s 46.1% on field goals and 41.3% on threes), and adds healthy rebounding totals to his scoring (19.3 points, 7.3 rebounds). When you factor in that Wisconsin plays at the slowest pace in Division 1 (according to KenPom.com) and that Taylor tends to dominate the ball, Leuer’s production is pretty incredible. He has three double-doubles in his last six games, and five double-doubles on the season. Leuer is not quite as selective on threes as Williams and has actually been slumping on his trifectas (4-for-15 in his last four games), but the senior will present match up problems for any opponent. The Badgers get another shot at Ohio State on the last day of the regular season and could improve their seed (currently projected as a three-seed) with a nice run in the Big 10 Conference tournament. Leuer gets the nod over Williams because he rarely gets in foul trouble and has tournament experience (which may be overrated, but the difference between the two players is not great).
Perry Missner is the editor and lead writer at College Fantasy Hoops Insider and the Treasurer of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.
Friday, February 18, 2011
There are three primary models that fall out depending upon those factors.
Pick 'N Root
This is the traditional playoff player pool where each manager selects 15, or 20 players and roots for those players to advance and perform throughout the playoffs. This game model is suited for a large number of players such as an office pool. In these pools, free agency is usually turned off and the expected expertise range is level is low to high. In most cases these leagues are also configured to allow players to be drafted an unlimited number of times.
To configure your league on FantasyPostseason.com for a Pick'N Root model, set MAX MANAGERS to the number of expected managers, set LEAGUE FORMAT to 'Total Points', set ALLOW FREE AGENTS to 'No', set ALLOW TRADES to 'No', set your roster positions, and set the # OF TIMES A PLAYER CAN BE DRAFTED to 'Unlimited'.
Draft 'N Trade
This model most closely mimics regular season leagues. These leagues are configured with benches, free agency, and trades and typically use normal sized fantasy rosters (7-10 players per team). Given that the playoff player pool shrinks as the postseason proceeds, often commissioners allow players to be drafted and owned 2 or 3 times to allow for more engagement in the later rounds of the playoffs when only a few teams are left. The expert level of these leagues is high and managers are expected to engage their team daily or several times a week. These leagues usually contain less than 12 managers and can be played in either a Total Points or Head-to-Head format.
To configure your league on FantasyPostseason.com for a Draft 'N Trade model set MAX MANAGERS to the number of expected managers, set ALLOW FREE AGENTS to 'Yes', set ALLOW TRADES to 'Yes', set your roster positions with bench slots, and set the # OF TIMES A PLAYER CAN BE DRAFTED to '2' or '3'.
Tournament Style Player Pick'em
The most common complaint about playoff fantasy is that there's too much emphasis placed on picking players on teams that advance in the playoffs. This new approach to playoff fantasy addresses that. It allows players to be drafted an 'Unlimited' number of times, but limits the # of times that a player can actually start for a manager. The manager has to choose their lineup based upon matchups. This is an expert level game that requires a high degree of league management interaction. This game type can be played in either a Total Points or Head-to-Head format.
To configure your league on FantasyPostseason.com for a Tournament Style Player Pick'em, set MAX MANAGERS to the number of expected managers, set LIMIT PLAYER STARTS to 'Yes', set the # of STARTS ALLOWED, set ALLOW TRADES to 'No', set your roster positions with bench slots, and set the # OF TIMES A PLAYER CAN BE DRAFTED to 'Unlimited'.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
A new feature that allows you to limit the number of times a player can start has been added to Fantasy Postseason. This provides for "Tournament Style" gameplay where team managers need to decide when to start particular players. It adds a new level of strategy to postseason fantasy gaming. Do you start that player against a first round opponent or do you wait until later, hoping for a better matchup? That's a decision you'll need to make.
Like many of our features, this feature was requested by our user base. If you have an idea for a cool feature let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, February 7, 2011
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
One of the many great things about the Fantasy Postseason leagues is that they allow us to continue caring about sports often when fantasy addicts like myself used to stop giving a hoot. For most fantasy players, the highlight of the season is the draft. This is, of course, backwards to most sports fans who become increasingly interested as the season continues, but I don’t need to worry about that anymore. Fantasy drafts are still great, but championship games are getting their due. And I still care! So, this weekend we have the Super Bowl in Arlington, Texas.
If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you know that I am very biased when it comes to the Steelers playing those accursed Packers. One might think my feelings would even be stronger because Green Bay knocked out my beloved Bears ten days ago. However, I had to be honest: the Packers were the more talented team. Once Jay Cutler went out with the injury, I knew the Bears had little chance to win. The fact that Chicago made the game competitive made me happy and added to an already very satisfying season. Speaking of Cutler, those critics who thought he should have played with an injured knee should have shut up. Say what you want about Cutler, he doesn’t seem the type to sit out without being injured. He’s no Randy Moss!
Even though I will be rooting for the Steelers, I should able to analyze the matchup with some objectivity. While it hurts me to write it, Green Bay is very good. In the playoffs, they have achieved some balance on offense and James Starks has provided a spark for the running game. Starks had his best game against Philadelphia, but he continued to garner handoffs (and not fumble) through the playoffs. I doubt the Packers will have more success running the ball against the Steel Curtain than they did against the Falcons and Bears. Starks ran for less than three yards per carry in the last two games.
Aaron Rodgers’ arm still carries the bread and butter of the Packer offense and he has continued his excellent season throughout the Playoffs. While he did not throw a TD against Chicago, he did run for one and his ability to stay away from the pass rush set up much of the Packer offense. He will need that ability against the Steeler defense, which is not afraid to blitz in any situation.
The same could be said of the Packer defense – they like to blitz and one would suspect that they will have plenty of success against the second string Steeler line. Much has been made of center Maurkice Pouncey’s injury. The rookie center was named to the All Pro squad, but he is dealing with a high ankle injury and may or may not play. Injuries to the Steeler offensive line are nothing new and I think the team is probably best equipped to deal with one more. The backups have shown that they are not chopped liver because they have held the Ravens and Jets at bay for the most part. It helps that Ben Roethlisberger has the ability to improvise. I am not sure how much his past Super Bowl experience will come into play, but it can’t hurt.
Rashard Mendenhall had a nice week against the Jets, especially in the first half. One way the Steelers can keep the Packer blitzers away from Roethlisberger is by running the ball effectively. The Bears only ran for 3.5 yards per rush, but Matt Forte ran for 70 yards in 17 carries. The weight will once again be on the Steeler offensive line.
All in all, I expect it to be another exciting Super Bowl (although I hope the Steelers win by 40). Hopefully, you find yourself in a good battle for a Fantasy Postseason championship and can enjoy the game on one more level (and win your league). Good luck!