Category Archives: sports

Winning $250K and Riding Off Into the Friscalating Dusklight

 

Richie T

“Vámonos, amigos,” he whispered, and threw the busted leather flintcraw over the loose weave of the saddlecock. And they rode on in the friscalating dusklight. – Eli Cash, The Royal Tenenbaums. 

At the end of the regular season, I brought you a recap of our performance in the NFFC Main Events. We placed two of our four teams in the Classic’s regular season Top 10. Unfortunately, both of those teams were led by Calvin Johnson. They faded in the playoffs.

On the bright side, we also placed seven of our Primetime teams in the Top 30. That gave us quite a few shots at the $150,000 Grand Prize. If you’ve been following along on RotoViz, you probably know Banana Stand co-owner Tyson Siegele and I were lucky enough to finish first overall. Due to great good fortune, we also ended up in second place by a mere 0.9 points. Including the various regular season prizes, we crested the $200,000 level and now have pushed our career winnings in the NFFC over the quarter million dollar mark.

It was a bizarre playoff stretch with many elite players disappearing and a few monstrous performances whittling down the types of rosters that could theoretically win the title. The teams that finished 1-2 were our third and seventh best during the regular season. The key ingredient, not surprisingly, was the best running back in the NFL: Jamaal Charles.

Here’s a look at the drafts for these two teams. Terms of Enrampagement won most points and best record during the regular season and finished No. 1 overall.

Friscalating Dusklight won most points. By virtue of finishing No. 2 overall, it was also able to win its league playoff against the team that posted the best regular season record. Playoff starters are in bold. Continue reading Winning $250K and Riding Off Into the Friscalating Dusklight

PFF Fanium Draft – Rounds 5 through 8

 

walter

If you haven’t already, check out the first four rounds of the PFF Fanium Draft. My philosophy at the Banana Stand is to provide content with content, but sometimes that means pointing you in the direction of the actionable info craved by true football fans (and fans of dominating fantasy leagues). In this piece I’m giving you a quick snapshot of how the PFF writers approached the Fanium format and links to ridiculously deep content on the players involved.

Round 5

41. Vernon Davis – Jonathan Bales does an excellent job covering Davis’ prospects in The Tight End Volatility Rankings.

42. Sam Bradford – This is a Bryan Fontaine special and shouldn’t be surprising since PFF’s reigning dynasty champion thinks the Rams signal caller could throw for 50 touchdowns. I am much more skeptical of his chances. (For those new to the format, keep in mind that this is an ultra-QB-heavy league.)

43. Reggie Wayne – Wayne’s efficiency is collapsing.

44. Marques Colston – Colston is a RotoViz favorite who projects better even than Julio Jones and A.J. Green.

45. Pierre Garcon – A pure lottery pick, Garcon was up with Andre Johnson in yards per route.

46. Steven Jackson – Jackson’s outlook in St. Louis makes him a Matthew Freedman pick for fantasy MVP. I’m worried that S-Jax has appeared visibly slower the last several years and could barely change direction at all in the first preseason game.

47. Vincent JacksonThe most underrated player in fantasy?

48. Reggie Bush – Another Freedman special, I’m moving higher on Bush than Jackson.

Round 6

49. Danny AmendolaWelker 2.0 might be my favorite player for PFF’s unbelievably cool contest, Going Deep.

50. Maurice Jones-Drew – Varoon Bose and J.J. Zachariason weigh in on MJD.

51. Kyle Rudolph – Rudolph is one of the 10 Most Overrated Players in fantasy. I expect him to finish outside the Top 15 tight ends.

52. Dwayne Bowe – Davis Mattek points out how the Andy Reid teams like to spread the ball around. This is a legitimate concern, but I think Bowe in his prime is the second best wide receiver to ever play for Reid.

53. Wes Welker – Another player who would have to hit his absolute ceiling to return value at his ADP, Welker is an example of a player even the experts are missing badly on.

54. Jordy Nelson – If you haven’t read Jon Moore’s take on Jordy Nelson, you could be missing a golden opportunity for value. Get him now while he has a double injury discount.

55. Jermichael Finley – Ridiculously under the radar, Finley’s ADP represents an obvious and easily playable inefficiency.

56. Stevan RidleyRidley is the RB2 on my All-Trap Team. (If there’s a takeaway from Week 1 of the preseason it’s that everyone is going to look awesome against Philadelphia.)

Round 7

57. Darren SprolesSproles came in No. 33 in my RB rankings, which is probably too low. But that’s the beauty of Sim Scores. They tend to see things we can’t.

58. Torrey Smith – Bryan Fontaine is all Torrey Smith all the time.

59. Hakeem Nicks – I’m starting to feel like Nicks will either be dominant or worthless. He’s a difficult fit in a league where the cost to also own Rueben Randle is pretty steep.

60. Ben Roethlisberger – I’m expecting a massive season from Big Ben, but also check out his schedule concerns.

61. Eric DeckerNo. 3 on my Undervalued List, Decker could be this year’s James Jones (but, you know, also be a decent all around receiver).

62. Owen Daniels – I’m high on Daniels because Matt Schaub is going to make everybody remember 2009 while DeAndre Hopkins opens the field for the underrated tight end.

63. Darren McFaddenInjury-prone runners see their stocks crushed in this format.

64. Steve Smith – Could Smith be undervalued because of his potential role in the slot?

Round 8

65. DeMarco Murray – If you’re about to start a Fanium draft, consider how far the runners are falling. But there’s no format in which a potential post-hype superstar should be immediately followed by Cook, Wallace, and Eli.

66. Jared Cook – I’ve broken down the Bradford/Cook lovefest and suggested both players are individually overrated and a trap tandem. I’ve also updated that analysis to move into the neutral camp on Cook.

67. Mike Wallace – The arrow has always been pointing down on Wallace and now it’s fallen on the floor.

68. Eli Manning – This is the perfect year for Late Round QB, but there are still dangers. Eli is the perfect example of how not to play LRQB.

Okay, you get the idea. I had a blast with the Fanium draft. Moreover, you can use the same tools to crush your opponents in this novel format as you can in more traditional leagues. If you haven’t purchased the PFF Draft Guide and subscribed to Fantasy Gold, you’re going to miss out on features from award-winning writers along with reel upon reel of advanced stats that simply don’t exist anywhere else. If you aren’t on RotoViz taking advantage of the apps, well, your competitors are and when you meet them on the field of play or on the computer or in the box score . . .

You can now also follow and/or heckle the Banana Stand on twitter. No word yet on when the first actual tweet will occur. But it’s coming.

Shawn Siegele has finished in the Top 10 of the NFFC’s Main Event Classic for two consecutive seasons and is one of only a handful of players to own three or more Main Event league titles. He also contributes to Rotoviz and works as Lead Writer for Pro Football Focus Fantasy.

Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, and QB Schedule Analysis

foles
“My feeling is that if you’re not self-obsessed you’re probably boring.”
― Dave EggersA Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Hopefully if you’re a Banana Stand fan you believe we’re self-obsessed in a good way. We’re definitely obsessed with the QB position. If you’ve been following my QB Workshop over at RotoViz, you know I believe it’s important to have a comprehensive approach to the position. I’ve tried to cover it from all angles.

Schedule analysis is probably the final piece of the puzzle. One of the reasons I like to play Late Round QB is the ability to take advantage of plus matchups. If you select a stud quarterback, you’re pretty much set playing that guy come hell or high water. We’re getting close enough to the real draft season that it’s time to start examining schedules and trying to find exploitable matchups.

I have a bit of skepticism about most schedule evaluations for a variety of reasons – reasons that are simultaneously too complicated and too boring to explain here – but you should maintain a healthy skepticism about my analysis as well since it’s of the “soft” variety. I went through the schedule for every NFL team and marked the game as favorable, neutral, or unfavorable to the quarterback based on my own intuition.

Here are a few ways in which my approach might provide some information that most schedule-based analyses will not.

1. I focus on the opposing team’s offense almost as much as the opposing team’s defense. This is important because defensive strength regresses to the mean more than offensive team strength. Green Bay and Detroit may be much improved defensively this season, but they’ll almost certainly have high-powered offenses. Even if your quarterback struggles in the first half, he’s going to see a lot of garbage time value against such offensive juggernauts.

2. I focus on home and away. The same team that might be a plus matchup at home could be a neutral matchup on the road. Again, I’m considering the opponent’s likely profile both on offense and on defense when trying to project the quarterback’s matchup. Contrary to what you might think, quarterbacks actually do well on the road from a fantasy perspective, in part because they spend more time playing from behind.

3. I focus on weather down the stretch. The difference between playing in a dome or playing at Buffalo is gigantic.

5 Guys Who See the Biggest Boost

1. Nick Foles – The likely Philadelphia starter played well in limited opportunities last season. He sees a big boost from the NFL’s easiest schedule. The NFC East is overrated defensively, and the Birds also benefit from playing the last place schedule (Tampa, Arizona) and crossing over against the pitiful AFC West. They also face the NFC North, a division with three potentially up-tempo, attacking offenses. That’s serious shootout potential.

2. Eli Manning – Manning is my most overrated quarterback this year, but his easy schedule might thwart that prediction. The Giants benefit from the same divisional weakness as the Eagles. The one caveat is a brutal Week 15 matchup against the Seahawks. If you pair your quarterbacks properly, you can avoid starting Eli in that one and then come back with him in Week 16 inside the Lions’ dome.

3. Matt Ryan – Ryan also shows up on most of my negative lists. I contrast his upside with that of Aaron Rodgers in Why Cheaper Isn’t Always Better and he just misses the starting job on my All-Trap Team. Fortunately for Ryan, he owns a favorable schedule in perpetuity. The NFC South is a train wreck defensively. Combine that with at least nine dome games a year and the relatively pleasant climes of Tampa and Carolina, and you have the makings of a fantasy utopia.

Two things to keep in mind. Ryan’s schedule was arguably even easier last season, which means his good schedule may already be priced into his ADP (since most people are just drafting off of last season’s numbers). Secondly, the Falcons do play at San Francisco in Week 16. Although the Niners were exploitable after Justin Smith’s injury last year, that’s a brutal matchup for a guy you pretty much have to play in your Championship Game if you own him.

4. Alex SmithCharles Kleinheksel and I have been promoting Smith at every opportunity. (Don’t worry, his ADP isn’t going anywhere. Rotoworld just compared him to Colt McCoy in a recent blurb, and that hilarious note probably sums up what the fantasy world thinks about him.)  All of the AFC West teams own plum schedules, but Smith might be your best candidate to take advantage. Philip Rivers and Matt Flynn are too low end, while Peyton Manning doesn’t need the schedule boost to get drafted super early.

5. Tony Romo – This is our third NFC East quarterback. Romo finishes with a Week 15 game against Green Bay and a Week 16 game against Washington. The Packers tilt should be one of the highest scoring games of the season, and by the time your fantasy championship game comes around, RG3 will have Washington scoring at will. Romo was one of the only QB1 candidates to not be overvalued.

5 Guys Who Get Crushed

1. Ben Roethlisberger – If you’ve been following my RotoViz series on quarterbacks, you know Big Ben profiles as the somewhat rare veteran breakout candidate. He owns a spectacular projection in both upside and in safety. Unfortunately, Roethlisberger comes in dead last in my QB schedule rankings. There’s very little good news attached to having the worst schedule in the NFL, but I offer this silver(ish) lining. Roethlisberger also had a terrible schedule last year and the app loves him anyway. So this is my takeaway: BB’s awful schedule may already be priced into his ADP, but his potential breakout isn’t.

2. Andy Dalton – Dalton is my No. 1 QB breakout candidate for 2013. He’s poised to become a cheaper Matt Ryan, or, in an extreme upside scenario, the next Drew Brees. Playing in the AFC North isn’t quite as bad as it used to be. All four squads are poised to be much more explosive. That’s a rising-tide-lifts-all-boats situation. Despite this, Dalton’s schedule will be a serious liability. Many pundits are focusing on the late season swoons the third year signal caller experienced in 2011 and 2012. Schedule, not talent, played a huge role in that.

3. Joe Flacco – Flacco is the star of my QB Safety rankings. Even more than Big Ben, he represents explosive breakout potential. In fact, he should be the next quarterback to undergo the Tom Brady 2007 mid-career fantasy explosion. If Flacco does go supernova, it will be despite another difficult schedule. From Week 7 to Week 13, he has zero plus matchups. Why shouldn’t you worry? Well, Flacco took apart a number of elite defenses in last year’s playoffs. And after the horrible mid-season stretch he gets Detroit and New England in the fantasy playoffs.

4. Tom BradyBrady is a definite trap player this season. Sure, he’s overcome a lack of targets before, but this is an extreme version of that scenario. In recent years, the Patriots have begun to struggle in big games against elite defenses, which should give you pause about pulling the trigger on the Pats’ trigger man. They face a rebuilt Jets defense twice and play the entire AFC North. A tilt with the Ravens during the fantasy finals brings back memories of last year’s playoff debacle.

5. Aaron Rodgers – I’ve been promoting Rodgers as the perfect combination of safety and incredible upside. Unfortunately, even star quarterbacks put up very different numbers in difficult matchups. The NFC North crosses over against the AFC North this season. Although it doesn’t always stop them, Green Bay’s weather is not a plus, and facing another division with serious climatic issues doesn’t help. The Packers start the season with San Francisco and finish with Pittsburgh. You don’t want to bookend your season with losses.

Can You Play the Schedule Strength Issues to Your Advantage?

If you draft Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers, you basically have to play them every week. A bad schedule is a clear negative, plain and simple.

The opposite might be true for Flacco and Roethlisberger. In competitive leagues your opponents are probably going to engage in some serious schedule analysis, which could play to your advantage. If Flacco and Big Ben are devalued due to schedule, it could make two guys with spectacular risk/reward profiles even cheaper. I’ve been advocating the Flacco/Roethlisberger committee as the perfect way to maximize your roster value in 2013. When you pair their schedules, most of the problems go away. A combined schedule gives you 10 favorable matchups, 3 neutral matchups, and 3 negative matchups.

You could further remedy that issue by adding E.J. Manuel or Jake Locker when necessary. After a brutal start to the season, Locker has a dream schedule down the stretch. He’ll almost certainly be available on waivers. His temporary pickup would give you 12 favorable matchups, 3 neutral matchups, and 1 negative matchup. The ability to cheaply take advantage of such efficiency glitches is yet another reason to consider Late Round QB as the dominant strategy.

“We are all feeding from each other, all the time, every day.”
― Dave EggersA Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Shawn Siegele has finished in the Top 10 of the NFFC’s Main Event Classic for two consecutive seasons and is one of only a handful of players to own three or more Main Event league titles. He also contributes to Rotoviz and works as Lead Writer for Pro Football Focus Fantasy.

Josh Freeman and Inscrutability

freeman

Josh Freeman is an interesting test case for predicting quarterbacks in both fantasy and reality. I’ve been fairly certain Freeman is a bust for over a year now, but some aren’t so certain. Chase Stuart is one of the ten best football writers out there, and he recently took Freeman as the 32nd pick in the RSP2 draft project.

Freeman came in as the No. 13 quarterback in fantasy a year ago, but is being drafted as the No. 21 QB off the board in summer mocks. This would seem to indicate Freeman owners are receiving a discount to his 2012 season and getting the potential breakout tossed in for free.

So let’s generate some comps and see what we come up with.  Continue reading Josh Freeman and Inscrutability