Monday, October 20, 2014

The Criminally Irresponsible World Series Pick

We Legalized This, And Now KC Wins
It's been the kind of year that makes you walk away from the sportsbook. The Royals are undefeated; the Giants have lost twice in two series. I didn't pick the Royals to win any of the three events that they have been in to date, and I'm not going to pick them now. You can thank me in the better part of a week, KC Fan...

But the Giants do nice work against the running game, the Royals have been off for a really long time, and could be remembering that they aren't the 1927 Yankees, and it's not as if the Giants aren't good at winning these things.

Giants in five.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Deep fantasy basketball sleepers

Oddly Prophetic, Really
Quick and dirty, the way you like it.

Point Guards

Patrick Beverly, Houston. Jeremy Lin is gone, and Chandler Parsons has been replaced by Trevor Ariza, aka a catch and shoot 3 kind of guy. Beverly is never going to be a monster provider, as he just plays too hard on defense to conserve his energy and fouls, but he's clearly got the capability to get up to a 12/7 kind of guy, with solid threes and steals to boot.

Evan Turner, Boston. Is he a point guard? Hell no, he's a terrible basketball player. But he's a terrible basketball player who seems to have the confidence of his coach, and he might get playing time for a half of a season or more while his team tanks. Marcus Smart is the long-term play here, and Rajon Rondo is the real point guards, but you might be able to ride ET for a few months.

Trey Burke, Utah. Last year's can't shoot at all guy is this year's team leader, mostly because Utah is just so young and bereft of leadership. Burke and the Jazz have looked surprisingly frisky in pre-season, and while Dante Exum is also looking useful, he won't poach enough minutes to harm. Look for Utah to compete harder this year, and Burke to minute his way to fantasy relevance.

Shooting Guards

Jimmy Butler, Chicago. A classic case of less is more, Butler's failed move to prominence last year comes true this year. He's not good enough to create on his own, but with Derrick Rose back amongst the living, he'll have some more free space, and rookie Doug McDermott will also keep him fresh. I'm looking for his percentages to improve, and his defensive counting numbers to go up despite less burn.

Rodney Stuckey, Indiana. Someone's got to lead the Pacers in scoring this season without Paul George or Lance Stephenson, and Stuckey's one of the few guys on the roster that thinks he's better than he is. That confidence will lead to gunning, and fantasy hoop is all about opportunity, more than talent. He'll try enough on defense to help there, too.

Danny Green, San Antonio. Is this the year that Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili just gate-check the entire NBA regular season? Very possible, and that time off for the greybeards leads to minutes for the sharp-shooting Green, who also benefits from a Paddy Mills injury to get a little more PT. The fact that he's not really a SG helps as well, since it means you get assists that your average 2 does not provide.

Small Forward

K.J. McDaniels, Philadelphia. He should have been a first round pick and knows it, having rejected the Sixers offer to extend his deal already. He's got elite level defensive abilities on the wing, unlike every Sixer since Andre Iguodala, and will get as many minutes as he can stand due to that. Offensively, he's not hopeless, and not hopeless is all you need when you get 35+ minutes a game.

Draymond Green, Golden State. New coach Steve Kerr has to know that the reason why his team loses despite breakthrough offensive talent is that, well, David Lee might be the worst 4 in the NBA on defense, right? That should translate into the minutes -- and it's only the minutes -- that Green needs to drive real benefit. Remember, he dominated in the second half of the season last year, and also showed well in the playoffs. On the rise.

Danilo Gallinari, Denver. The closest thing on the roster to a closer, recovering nicely from a knee problem. He does enough of everything to help, will have a clear path to minutes, and could perform at an All-Star level, especially later in the year.

Power Forward

Josh McRoberts, Miami. Now on his third pro team and a winner of no beauty prizes, McBob is a sneaky-good source of assists from the power forward, and with the paucity of production from the meh platter of Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole and Shabazz Napier, I think he's got a shot to keep kicking out numbers. He's also fighting for minutes with guys who should not be in the league any more. That helps.

DeMarre Carroll, Atlanta. As under the radar as it gets, Carroll is an NBA vagabond who put it all together for last year's surprising Hawks squad. This year, he's supposed to lose touches to the returning Al Horford, but they really don't do the same things, and Carroll has startling utility as a steals magnet. It helps that he plays for an NBA team that is as anonymous as it gets, too.

Carlos Boozer, Los Angeles Lakers. Oh, yes, he's terrible; a defensive sieve and offensive black hole who does not give you numbers beyond points, boards, and a superficially tolerable shooting percentage. You should never, ever, watch him play ball, and Kobe Bryant is going to snarl at him more than, say, LeBron James snarled at Chalmers. But he's the best they have, Julius Randle isn't ready for the NBA, Jordan Hill is flighty and flaky, and his coach is dumb enough to just go with counting stats. Draft Boozer, then shower.

Centers

Gorgui Dieng, Minnesota. Think that Minny is going to want to slow things down with Nikola Pekovic, after they've swapped out Kevin Love to get flying young guys? Hells and no; this will be a run and fun team that smiles their way to 35 defense-free wins, which means Peko is going to develop some very convenient injuries and/or a trade out of town. Dieng will swoop up the athletic defensive numbers, and slam home enough garbage to not kill you in points, either.

Mason Plumlee, Brooklyn. Kevin Garnett was too old five years ago, and he's positively embarrassing now. Brook Lopez can't stay healthy, and the other Net bigs are either head cases on on the decline. Plumlee is going to get all of the minutes he can handle, and do good things with them. He's an especially nice target for keeper leagues.

Jared Sullinger, Boston. It's either him or Kelly Olynyk, and I just don't think Olnyk is an NBA player. Sullinger isn't going to be an All-Star, but he is going to have a career, and play 30 minutes a game for a team that spreads the ball. You could do a lot worse.

Top 10 NFL Week 7 Takeaways

Sad Seattle Rain
10) St. Louis won due to a dominant special teams performance, which is pretty hard to do, really

9) Carolina put up so little right against Green Bay, Fox nearly switched off the national game in the first half

8) The refs tossed a Colts defensive lineman for reasons that were more or less incomprehensible to the naked eye

7) Buffalo won due to the last-second heroics of Kyle Orton, which is one of those sentences that hardly seems possible in English

6) The Bears were held to 14 first downs in a desultory home loss, adding to the Flip A Coin legend that is Jay Cutler

5) Detroit came from behind to beat the Saints, as Road Drew Brees threw a devastating fourth quarter pick, and Saint Fan is really starting to hate Road Drew

4) The Washington Slurs won on a last-second field goal drive that was engineered by Colt McCoy in a sentence that ends all future earning potential for Kirk Cousins

3) Jacksonville won convincingly over Cleveland at home, proving that the Browns really aren't ready for prosperity

2) Baltimore beat Atlanta 28-7 in a game where they turned it over three times, and only got it back once

1) If the season ended today, Seattle isn't in the playoffs

Top 10 NFL Week 7 Ad Questions

Must... Murder... Lizard
10) Given the Bucs' year, is the Bud Light guy who got his background converted now considering legal action?

9) If I get Direct TV, will it inspire schizophrenia?

8) Why does Packer Fan think they need to tell us how to dress warm?

8) Does eating KFC make you want to eat in inappropriate places?

7) If I get the new iPhone, will I be compelled to tell people what I eat?

6) Why is State Farm helping to get tanks into the hands of colossal idiots?

5) If I use Visa, will Pizza Hut deliver to the ocean?

4) Does anyone else want to not watch football, just to make sure you aren't like the people who watch the NFL Network?

3) Isn't the concept "there's a winner every 15 minutes" impossible while in connection with Taco Bell?

2) Will Geico pay out for murder by serial killer?

1) If you are a Ford van owner who commutes every 15 minutes, aren't you homeless and/or a registered sex offender?

In this year's fantasy baseketball news you can not possibly care about...

The time that you worry...
Here's the results of today's fantasy basketball draft. Asterisks denote keepers, and I was second in the league last year, so a lot of folks had more to work with than me. Also, um, this is a really smart league.

Player TM UNIT
PG Stephen Curry * GST 56
SG Andrew Wiggins * MIN 5
G Kobe Bryant LAL 26
SF Danilo Gallinari DEN 8
PF Dirk Nowitzki * DAL 29
F Al Jefferson * CHA 46
C Marcin Gortat * WAS 6
U David West IND 11
U Josh McRoberts MIA 1
B1 Omer Asik NOP 4
B2 Ersan Ilyasova MIL 1
B3 DeMarre Carroll ATL 1

(How was Wiggins a keeper? Because I drafted and stashed him for all of 2013 through a loophole that the rest of the league didn't think about. Call me Hinkie-esque.)

Here's the problem with being late in the draft and with little cash; I totally whiffed on getting a second point guard of any note to supplement Curry. I tried to get around this with passing big men (McRoberts is a nice $1 stash, I think), and maybe the multi-cat vengeance of Bryant, but I'd feel a lot better about this team if Asik was, say, Jeff Teague or Jrue Holiday. Hell, even Patrick Beverly or Trey Burke would have made me feel better. But it was not to be.

The problem with this roster? Blocks (projected last, as these bigs are more crafty than athletic) and assists (6th, and if Curry got hurt, we'd be totally hosed). The nice parts? Points, boards and percentages.It's not a team that's going to run out and hide on anyone, but I think it will show up every day and grind out some money.

And well, I'm OK with that. The top team in our league has nine blue-chip keepers, most of which are at absurd prices (James Harden, John Wall and Kyrie Irving, all are $27, when they would all easily go for twice that at open auction). Short of an injury epidemic, he's got the league won, and everyone else is just playing for second. If Wiggins can deliver real value, if I get a bounce-back year from Ilyasova, or continued goodness from Carroll (look at those 2013 numbers, they are sneaky great), I think I can contend. And if Bryant has a high-usage year in the barren wasteland that is Lakerland, maybe I do enough to turn a profit.

But it's also quite possible that league is a lot better in 2014, and my shot at second-place money is just delusion. My prep wasn't as solid as past years, running the auction while participating in it takes away from your shot at working out bid levels as more than whim, and might have given me the big clue that Yahoo had not classified Wiggins as a guard.

The lesson? Nothing ever comes easy. And you can't win a league on draft day, but you can sure as hell lose one.