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Monday, September 3, 2007

conflicts in conditional moves - fantasy football

I ran into an interesting situation over the weekend. I had proposed a 2 for 1 trade with another owner. While the trade was pending, another owner waive a player. I decided it was worth an effort to claim the player although I was way down the priority list. BUT to make a claim I needed to conditionally drop one of my existing players. The most expendable in my mind was one of the players I had offered in the proposed trade.

What happens in ESPN Fantasy football when the same player is involved in 2 simulataneous conditional moves? The trade proposal would have expired about 36 hours before the waiver claims were processed. IF exercised, the trade was subject to a 48 hour wait while other owners had a chance to object. So the trade would not finalize until after the waiver claims were process. By exercising the trade, I would have a conditional vacancy for the player being claimed BUT would the claim be voided by the pending trade?

I decided I didn't want to take the risk especially once a 2nd player joined the waiver wire so my odds of getting one of the waived players increased.

So I go on not knowing. Has anyone completed such a scenario?

First NFL game is now just 3 days away. I have 1 player, Reggie Bush, who will be playing in that game

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Fantasy Football Update

I have learned a lot in the past week. The draft is just a small part of fantasy football. An important part, but still only 1 step.

With the draft I positioned myself to do well this season. But then I began to look at my head-to-head schedule and had a rude awakening. The schedule makes a huge difference. In week 1, my opponent had a weaker team on paper for the season BUT a stronger team in week 1 match-ups. His players were playing some fairly weak competition in the NFL week 1. Mine? My star player, Stephen Jackson had his worse game of the year last season against the team he plays week 1. Same for my RB 3. My QB is facing the team that finished tops in the NFL last season against the pass. Only in week 9 when I have several players on BYE did I have such a bad schedule for my players. And in head-to-head competition all that matters is how many fantasy points your players can score that week. Can they score more than your opponent? Scoring more points over the season will not win for you.

So having such a tough opening was a good thing. It created a situation where I began to evaluate my weekly match-ups now. And by doing so, I noticed my weak spots. First I noticed I really needed another rb. I had already used the Free Agent pool to strengthen my WRs and drop players who I saw little use for other than on Bye week or if injuries occurred. I decided to fore go a 2nd TE and a 2nd K. If I needed one I'd grab one from the FA pool when needed. My 2 QBs had the same Bye week (my mistake) so I dropped Losman and picked up McNair who I saw as the best available in the FA pool. Looking at the end of the season (weeks 14-17), I noticed again that my schedule was not favorable at all -- one RB had 3 of the 4 games against TOP 5 NFL defenses against the run last season. These games will be the Play-offs and Super Bowl for Fantasy football so I began to look to see how I could improve my end of season chances without overly hurting myself during the weeks 1-13. In the end I traded Willie Parker RB PIT (he had a great season last year and is expected to do well this season by most pundits) and my Denver Defense for Reggie Bush and the SD Defense. For the season stats, I probably lost more than I gained BUT in my weekly match ups especially at the end of season I improved.

I also added Brandon Jackson from the FA pool. He is now my 5th RB. He gives me depth I need on certain weeks IF he gets the bulk of the carries at GB. I know he will start the season and am debating between starting him week 1 or Brandon Jacobs of NYG. Jacobs is more heralded BUT also faces Dallas at Dallas and the WR situation at NYG is still in doubt. Can Jacobs have a good game without Plaxico keeping Dallas D honest? A better game than Rookie B. Jackson at Philadelphia? How many TDs can I expect NYG to score against Dallas with or without Plaxcico?

So entering week 1, I am still trying to decide who to start. My week 1 opponent did help me a little by trading Plaxico Burress (if Plaxico plays) for another QB - Joey Harrington. But still our matchup on paper is close. I am still hoping to improve my team.

I also created an NFL schedule for this year that shows opponents according to how they did defensively a year ago. Teams change so those color coded blocks are not absolute but they give me a clue on whether my player is facing an average defense, a poor defense or a good defense. That lets me look closer at the matchup. Also have the offense from 2006 charted and color coded. Check it out and tell me what you think

Friday, August 24, 2007

How to draft Fantasy Football -- by a novice owner

This was my first year to be involved in any fantasy league including football. So why should you listen to my advice? Because I didn't want to appear foolish, so I did all of the research to answer all of the questions I had. Chances are they are the same questions you now have.

First thing to success in a draft - Be Prepared. Don't go to your League's Draft without having a good solid drafting plan. That means some advance preparation.

Things you need to know in advance:

1. How will the scoring in your league be done?
2. How many players will you be drafting?
3. How many players will you be playing each week and at what positions?
4. Which players are the best at each position for your League's scoring format?

Your League administrator will be able to provide you with the first 3 answers. You will have to do some research to determine the 4th. The good news is there are some good websites which provide a lot of useful information. Check the bottom of this post for some I used.

My league used the standard scoring format of ESPN Fantasy Football as well as the Team format used by them. We each drafted 16 players. Each week we will designate 9 players to be our Team that week. The other 6 players if you have a full team will be on your bench. They are the ones you chose not to play that week.

We play:
1 QB
2 RB
1 RB/WR (sometimes called a flex player. You chose either to play a third RB or a third WR)
1 TE
1 K
1 Defense/Special teams

We then have 6 players we opt not to play that week.

So going into the draft using this format you know you need at least 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, a kicker and a defense/special teams unit. In addition you will need either a 3rd RB or a #3 WR.

Each team in the NFL has a BYE week. You don't. So you need to plan for that week when one or more of the 9 required players are not playing. You will need a substitute. You can draft a player as that backup or be prepared to get someone off waivers OR accept a 0 score from that position that week. I suggest either drafting a player as a backup or using waivers most of the time.

So now that we have outlined what we need, here was MY Methodology

I know this may sound like a lot of work, but since our League consisted of 10 teams with 16 Players each, I needed information on a minimum of 160 players. Of these 160 Players, I knew I would need a list of at least 20 QBS (one starter and 1 backup for each team); 30 running backs and 30 wide receivers, 20 Tight Ends, 20 defenses/Special Teams, and at least 10 kickers. In our scoring system, QBs, RBS, and WRs are going to account for most of each week's points. So I wanted more than the bare minimum of RBS and WRS. I was prepared to live with just 2 QBS, 2 Defenses, and 1 Tight End and 1 Kicker.

Next I did a spreadsheet that organized the draft options for the number of players I anticipated needing plus a few others. In my case I did my preparation as if there were 17 rounds of the draft. I then researched and listed on my Spreadsheet the TOP Players for a 17 Round Draft by anticipated Fantasy Points. These players were listed from 1 to last in column C of my Spreadsheet. What was columns A and B? A showed the week that player would have a BYE (not be available to play for me). Column B showed MY ranking for that Player. As with most people I had LaDainian Tomlinson, RB from SD ranked Number 1. Column D showed the team and Position (ie. SD RB), Column E listed the projected Fantasy Points (for LT it is 392), the next column showed the "experts" projected Draft number (where they think most leagues will draft that player), my next columns was for QB, RB, WR, TE, D/ST, K. In each column I would add the name of the player into his category by his row. For example, I had Peyton Manning listed as the 4th highest player based on projected Fantasy points. So in the 4th row under the QB column, Peyton's name is listed. The Top Tight End was Cage of SD at 161 points so after a bunch of blank rows in the Tight End column, you reach his name. Then there are several blank rows in that columns before the next name appears.

The whole idea was to know which player at which position was the most valued for fantasy points and how far down the draft the next best player at that position might be. I intentionally omitted Kickers from my initial list. I had them listed separately at the bottom. When I finished my listed for a projected 17 round draft using just the Top players by Point value (Kickers omitted), I was short a couple of Tight ends so I found the next 5 or 6 Top Tight ends and added them to the bottom of my list along with the TOP Defenses to give me a total of 2 per Team plus a few extra.

Now I looked at the players available. These were my draft choices. While QBS are listed with high projected Point totals, 1 only get to play 1 and there is not a lot of difference between 2 and 10. SO other than Peyton Manning I moved QBS down my list and elevated RBS and WRS. So in my projected first round of 10 players, I had 9 RBS and 1 QB. The RBS had higher Fantasy Points projected than the Top WRS. Round 2 was a mix of RBS and WRS. The BS I dropped appeared in Round 3 (or some of them). I arbitrarily chose to show only the next Top 4 QBS in Round 3. This I did for the entire field.

You have to be prepared to react to what is available. If you take a RB in the first Rd and in the 2nd a RB with a higher value is there than any WR, take the 2nd RB. IF a WR is ranked higher on your draft board, take the WR. In my draft, the first 3 rounds, a RB was the highest ranked player available other than QB. I chose to wait on QB. My 4th and 5th Rounds were WRS. IF a WR had been available in Rounds 2 & 3 ranked higher than the highest available RB I would have taken a WR. They weren't so I ended up with RB, RB, RB, WR, WR. By round 6, almost all of the other Teams had selected a QB. 2 QBS I liked were still on the draft board so I opted to get the best DEFENSE in round 6. The best Tight End was already gone. My needs were QB, TE, K and defense/special teams OR backups. Looking at what was available, I decided to gamble I could get my QB later and the Tight ends left were fairly equal. So I took Chicago Defense/Special Teams. The next round I took my QB just because I was afraid someone might take their 2nd QB and he would be gone. It was Jon Kitna who is listed as high as 2 on some lists. A Steal as the 9th or 10th QB taken. As a result I was able to get an excellent QB and better RBS than most teams. My next round, I took Deion Branch, WR Sea since I considered him the best available WR. I went into the draft wanting 4 RBS and 4WRs at least. Again I decided TE and Kicker could wait. Round 9 I took my Tight End - Ben Watson of NE. I now had an entire Starting team except a Kicker plus 1 bench player. I went ahead and took my kicker in the next round. Now I needed quality backups. The final 6 rounds of the draft I took: WR, Denver D/ST, RB, QB, WR, TE

That left me with the final Roster shown below. I made 1 mistake. My final Tight End, Owen Daniel has the same Bye week as my other Tight End. So after thinking about it, I went ahead and waived him from my roster although I considered waiting. The reason I waived him I will reveal in another post in a few days. His vacancy can't be filled until after Sunday Morning (have to wait 48 hours) and just in case any of my competition is reading this I don't want to tip my hand.

Final Tip. Look at some of the first week match-ups. I didn't and wish I had. Some of the better players such as Rudi Johnson of Cin are playing their toughest competition early. I will probably sit him in week 1. My first D/St of Chicago is playing SD the first game. I will probably sit them and play Denver as my D/ST. Knowing that would have allowed me to plan my backup better since I'd be playing them early in the season. As it happens, I was covered. But it was by luck rather than skill.

Promised Links: (main site also has stats from years past)

I am using a lot now as I try to prepare for each week's head to head match-up. Having a great draft is only step 1 to a fantasy football season. I am still learning step 2 - week to week decisions on who to play and not play

Take a look at the cheat sheets available online at places like ESPN and FFtoday that rank overall and by position.

BUT also pay attention to BYE weeks (shown on FFtoday's cheat sheet and maybe the others). You don't want all of your backup players at a position having the same Bye as your planned #1.

Draft is over - now the hard decisions must be made

Our Team draft has happened. The team is hosted on ESPN and is under standard ESPN rules. You have a 16 player team and start 9 - 1 QB, 2 RB, 2WR, 1RB/WR, 1 TE, 1 K and 1 Defense/Special Team. We have a 10 team league and use Head to Head matchups each week. I drafted 4th. My 16 picks were (not in order drafted but by position):

My Draft Roster:

QB Kitna - Det - Plays @ Oakland week 1
QB Losman - Buf - Plays Denver week 1

RB Stephen Jackson (Stl) - Plays Carolina week 1
RB Willie Parker (Pit) - Plays @ Cleveland week 1
RB Rudi Johnson (Cin) - Plays Baltimore week 1
RB Brandon Jacobs (NYG) - Plays @ Dallas week 1

WR Terrell Owens (Dal) - Plays NYG week 1
WR Donald Driver (GB) - Plays Philedelphia week 1 (assuming he plays)
WR Deion Branch (Sea) - Plays Tampa Bay week 1
WR Calvin Johnson (Det) - Plays @ Oakland week 1
WR Dante Stallworth (NE) - Plays @ NYJ week 1

TE Ben Watson (NE) - Plays @ NYJ week 1
TE Owen Daniel (Hou) - Plays @Kansas City week 1

K J. Wilkins (Stl) - Plays Carolina Week 1

D/ST Chicago Bears - Plays @ San Diego week 1
D/ST Denver - Plays @ Buffalo week 1

Since the draft I waived Hou TE Owen Daniel since both he and Watson had the exact same Bye Week (I had written down Daniel's Bye Week wrong on my draft sheet). I can add a player Sunday to fill that vacant position.

So what do you think? On paper it looked good, and then I started looking at the first week games. Ouch. Rudi Johnson at home but against Baltimore! I have a great #1 Defense in Chicago but week 1 they play at San Diego!

and my first week opponent has players who look good in their first round match-ups

Opposing Team Roster and week 1 opponent:

StL QB Marc Bulger car
SF QB Alex Smith ari

SF RB Frank Gore ari
NE RB Laurence Maroney @NYJ
Phi RB Brian Westbrook @gb
ATL RB Jerious Norwood @min
CAR RB DeShaun Foster stl

Was WR Santana Moss mia
Ari WR Anquan Boldin @sf
NO WR Devery Henderson @ind
NYG WR Plaxico Burress @Dal

Pit TE Heath Miller @cle'
SF TE Vernon Davis ari

Dal D/ST Cowboys D/ST nyg
Jac D/ST Jaguars D/ST ten

any suggestions? Who should I sit? Start?

Leave your comments or email me

Monday, August 6, 2007

Fantasy Football comes to Three Creeks

It's finally happened. Fantasy Football is coming to Three Creeks! And I am a complete novice to fantasy football. I don't even follow professional football much. Mostly I catch a game here or there and then maybe once the play-offs start I may watch a few more games. But really I watch more college football than I do the NFL.

So what is involved in fantasy football? How many Quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends do I need? How does the defense and special teams fit into the equation? And kickers? Do I just have 1? What happens if a player is injured or sick? How do trades work?

Yep I have a lot of questions as the fantasy football season prepares to kick-off. I wish this blog was a chat instead so some of you could give me that expert advice. You will probably be in your own fantasy football leagues but since I won't be competing with you, you could give me some valuable assistance.

At this stage I know that LaDainian Tomlinson is the supposedly best running back and should be the first player drafted. And I know that Peyton Manning is the best QB. But how many rbs are there ahead of him in the draft. If I am picking 6th or 7th and Peyton is still available, should I take him or is there likely a rb I should take instead? Or is there a WR that it would be better to take? Who are the best rbs to take after LaDainian? Should my first 2 picks be on rbs? especially if someone else already has Peyton? Should I gamble and pick a rookie QB like Russell? Or Tarvarius Jackson? Which would be the better pick of the 2? And where in the draft process should I make such a risky pick? or is it not risky?

As soon as I know some of the draft rules such as how many players of each position we will be drafting and also how many teams (people) are in the league, I may be able to start getting a handle on this. Either way, it should be an interesting process.