Tim Heaney’s Real Mock Draft Simulation

FFG15-coverIn the Fantasy Football Guide 2015 Professional Edition mock draft, we had a glitch (as discussed earlier on the corrections page). Tim Heaney, sportswriter at USA Today, friend, and all around good guy, was unable to connect with the draft room, and his team was autopicked.

The problem was that we did not have time to gather another 14 fantasy experts and have another mock draft, and while Tim’s team was not one he would have picked in a million years, it wasn’t a total joke. Tim agreed to comment on his autopicks, and we decided to run with what we had.

Kind of like having an online draft with 13 regs and that one guy who always screws up.

While writing this up for the correction page it occurred to me that I should have had Tim write up who he would have taken with each of his picks, if he’d actually been drafting. Shoulda, but I didn’t, then. But I did this week, and here are the guys Tim says he would have picked if he’d been able (he had the 12th pick) :

1 Calvin Johnson WR1

2 C.J. Anderson RB1

3 Keenan Allen WR2

4 C.J. Spiller RB2

5 Matthew Stafford QB1

6 Charles Sims RB3

7 Charles Johnson WR3

8 David Johnson RB4

9 Pierre Garcon WR4

10 Tyler Eifert TE1

11 Danny Woodhead RB5

12 Rueben Randle WR5

13 Jameis Winston QB2

14 Dan Herron RB6

15 Indianapolis Colts DT1

16 Matt Prater PK

 

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Corrections for the Fantasy Football Guide 2015

FFG15-coverWe sometimes make misteaks. Sometimes big misteaks. This is the place we list them and try to make it right.

We very much appreciate your helping with this. Send any errors to askrotoman (at) gmail.com. Thanks.

The first email I received about the magazine was this one:

Dear Editor,

 I am disappointed with your magazine. You have several players as this years breakouts and as overhyped players. Can you explain why they are in both categories?

Your mock draft is a joke. I enjoy reading different writers strategies on why they picked who they did and what adjustments they had to make during the draft. All you did was a auto draft.

 I would not recommend your 2015 Fantasy Football Guide to anyone.

Sincerely…

I hate letters like this, because I feel misunderstood, and worry I didn’t communicate what was happening clearly enough. Here’s what we have in the magazine that think is worth recommending:

The front section of the magazine are one line comments by the magazine’s writers about NFL awards and the top Rookies, Breakout and Overhyped players for 2015. It is a jumble of different opinions by different writers, who are identified by name. Some writers think some players are potential Breakouts, while other writers think those same players are being Overhyped.

This is a feature, not a bug. It is the conversation about these competing points of view that should help us sort out who to take earlier this year, and who to take later.

As for the Mock Draft, we had a mix up and 13 owners drafted their teams live, and Tim Heaney did not. Because of the timing it was not possible to redo the Mock, and Heaney kindly enough wrote about the draft software’s picks.

I wish it were different, I would like to know Heaney’s actual choices for those spots (hmm, I think I should have asked him), but those of us involved with the draft thought the information was still valid and useful, even if not pure.

I’ll post other issues here as they come in.

Peter

Page 53, Larry Fitzgerald Profile: Should have a Cardinals helmet.

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ASK ROTOMAN: Quantity Quality for Quality Quality?

Rotoman:

Would you trade Shelby Miller and Sonny Gray for Clayton Kershaw?

“Arms Race”

Dear AR:

There is no answer to this question. No thoughtful answer, anyway. You’ve left out an important component: Who replaces Gray when Kershaw replaces Miller?

Without that piece of information it’s impossible to judge the wisdom of this deal. The answer is different if the missing sub is Mark Buehrle or Noah Syndergaard or Bartolo Colon or Jose Fernandez. See what I mean.

Or, since you asked what I would do, I would trade Miller and Gray for Kershaw because I’ve got Jordan Zimmermann on reserve right now. But I don’t know what you’ve got.

But let’s say you don’t have JZ on reserve. Let’s say you would acquire Kershaw and replace Gray with a replacement value starter. That’s a $1 player, expected to earn $1. If that’s the case than you would want Kershaw to be better than the Miller and Gray combined.

So far this year that’s not the case. So far this year Gray is on pace to earn $40 and Miller is on pace to earn $44, while Kershaw is on pace to earn $16.

But you’re not buying pace in your trade, you’re buying future performance. Preseason expectations for the three were starkly different. Tout Wars Mixed Auction paid $36 for Kershaw, and $17 combined for Gray and Miller.

So, you have three questions to answer:

Clayton-Kershaw1Can Kershaw return to form? Of course he can. He’s throwing about as well as he has in the past, but he’s allowed homers on fly balls at twice the rate as last year, and well above his career mark. Still, he’s allowed six homers in 60 or so innings. Last year he allowed nine in 190. That costs runs. He still excels in every category except BABIP. There is some speculation he’s tipping his pitches. There is other talk that he’s throwing too many first pitch strikes, and hitters are swinging earlier in the count to avoid the slider. Hard to say for sure, but both of those things are both small potatoes and fixable. He’ll be fine.

How good is Sonny Gray? Good, but not quite this good. He’s a ground ball pitcher, so it isn’t surprising he hasn’t allowed many homers. But he’s allowed homers on only three percent of fly balls. That number is lower than Kershaw’s rate last year, and should rise to closer to 10 percent. With homers, again, come runs allowed, and the ERA and Ratio will go up.  Gray looks to me like a $25-30 pitcher, which is plenty good.

And what the heck is up with Miller? I’ve often wondered why people give Miller such a bum rap, and have been pleased that so far he’s been showing that I’m right and everyone else is wrong. But it isn’t really true, I’m afraid to say. Nick Lampe at Beyond the Boxscore does a good job of killing the straw man of Shelby Miller’s Cy Young Award candidacy this year, one I wasn’t arguing for, but what matters to you is whether Miller can sustain his $40 season, or whether he’s going to regress to the $2 expectations. Like Kershaw and Gray, Miller hasn’t allowed many fly balls. He’s also allowing few line drives and is getting lots more soft contact than ever before. We don’t know if that’s because he’s taking a new approach or getting better results with his old approach. He changed teams in the offseason and is working with new coaches, which can sometimes make a difference. He’s throwing more cutters and fewer curve balls, which can make a difference, too. Still, he’s not an elite strikeout guy and his control is fine, not great. Even if he gets lots of ground balls, as he has been, he’s going to give up more runs. But that might make him a $15 to $20 pitcher the rest of the way.

Hmm. $25 for Gray plus $15 for Miller equals $40 for Kershaw. If you have a strong replacement for Miller, make the trade. If not, you’re likely treading water unless you land a waiver wire find.

Sincerely,
rotomansignature

 

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The Ecstasy and Agony of Daily Fantasy Baseball.

My friend Ron Shandler does a good job describing the daily fantasy game in this story at Shandler Park, about a near-win in Tout Daily at FanDuel last week.

justinbourThe question is whether he did better because he put more time and effort into making those picks. It looks to me like you can certainly make bad picks by taking guys who don’t play that day, for instance, but there is so much variance from day to day that the reasonable picks (Bour versus Adams, on any particular night) are essentially a crap shoot.

Once you throw out the bad picks, the way the games play gives winners the illusion of control, while losers can only wish they’d picked better.

 

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Rotoman’s 5×5 Roto Earnings Through May 4th!

Which pitcher earned the most in the season’s first four weeks? Dallas Keuchel earned $40.

Screenshot 2015-05-06 16.45.28Which pitcher who wasn’t bought was earning the most after four weeks? Nick Martinez earned $24.

Our best hitter the first four weeks? Nelson Cruz earned $51.

And Tim Beckham is the undrafted hitter who is earning the most, with $12.

Each month we publish the 5×5 roto prices, along with a listing of what these player’s cost on auction day, so you can judge how players are performing versus expectations. This month we let the stats run into May a bit because of the late start to the season.

These are 5×5 stats based on a 24-team mixed league, so AL or NL peculiarities are ignored. This makes the prices a little less exact, because league context does affect them, but the differences are small and complicate issues significantly.

You can find the spreadsheet here on Google Docs.

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Rotisserie Baseball: Carved In Stone

Dan Okrent talks about the game he invented.

http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/7417714/v103509783

 

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ASK ROTOMAN: Is Jake Elmore Perfect?

Hi.

This could be a dumb one but I cant find the answer anywhere. Last week I picked up Jake Elmore. In his first game he went 1 for 1 giving him a batting average of 1.000 on that particular day. If I don’t play him again and remove him from my roster do I retain that batting average towards the category? There’s nothing in my league settings that states you have to use a player a minimum amount of times. Is this a loophole that could be used towards batting average and also ERA and WHIP for pitchers? I really don’t want to question my Commissioner in case I have stumbled onto an advantage. I’m a first time player so I hope I’m not coming across as an idiot. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.

“Idiot Wind”

Dear IW:

jakeelmoretwitterThe short answer is that without knowing your league rules, it’s hard to say exactly what having a 1-1 Jake Elmore means.

What can be said with certainty is that your ignorant question goes to the very heart of fantasy game theory when the game is played with category rankings.

That’s because one maximizes the qualitative categories (BA, OBP, ERA, WHIP) by reducing the number of AB or IP relative to productive evens (Hits for hitters, Outs for pitchers) by reducing the number of AB and IP, trying to prune away the bad ones and focus on the productive ones.

jakeelwoodFor instance, a pitching roster of middle relievers would almost certainly win ERA and WHIP, but would do very poorly in Wins, WHIP, and Strikeouts, the quantitative categories.

The challenge of Rotisserie style scoring is to find the balance between these two inexorable and mostly contradictory forces, though the challenge was reduced as the game moved from 4×4 (in which 37.5 percent of the categories were qualitative) to 5×5 (in which they are 30 percent). Still, in recent years a lot of roto thought has turned on how to take advantage of strong middle relievers in 5×5.

Still, it’s hard to see the advantage you’re going to get out of a 1 for 1 performance by Elmore. That’s just one of thousands of at bats your team is going to accumulate over the course of the season, which makes it the smallest of advantages possible.

Sincerely,
rotomansignature

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ASK ROTOMAN: Addison Russell at Second Base

WHEN WILL CUBS RUSSEL BE QUALIFIED 4 2 BASE?

No Signature

Dear Shouter:

There are so many things wrong with your question, they must be addressed.

A salutation isn’t required, but it is nice. I’m fine with just Rotoman! or Hey Rotoman! or Hey! Or even something without an exclamation point.

Secondly, we are too deep into the 21st century for anyone to not know about the caps lock. Don’t use it to communicate. It is that easy. WHY? Because it feels like shouting.

It isn’t that hard to type “for.” Or FOR if you must.

If you’re going to type 2, you might as well type 2B. That gets it done. 2 BASE sounds like a small boy band.

The premise of your question is either impossibly specific or hits the sweet spot of my opinion.

Screenshot 2015-04-27 16.23.16If you want to know how many games it takes for Addison Russell (LL at the end, or I prefer ll) in your fantasy league to qualify at second base, I have no idea because you didn’t say what league you’re in.

And since looking up rules is easier, there is always a link on your stat service, than typing with thumbs, you should look there.

If you’re asking how Addison Russell is performing as a second baseman, since he has always played shortstop until this year, I’m interested, too.

Russell had only played five minor league games at second base before the Cubs called him up to the major leagues. And he’s played five major league games at second base. He made one error in each five-game set, which is too many, but errors are not a fair way to grade a fielder, at least not entirely.

Joe Maddon says Russell is doing a fine job as a fielder at second base, which could be the truth, or Maddon could be blowing smoke. We do know that Russell is a fine shortstop, so any problems he has at the less-demanding second base position are likely due to the learning curve, which he should quickly move along.

The big issue for Russell right now is the bat. He drove in two with a double yesterday, but he’s struck out 12 times in 22 AB. Even for a Cubs player that’s a lot. But Maddon seems fine with letting him work it out, and the Cubs have been winning, so maybe he’ll get a chance to develop his big league talent in the big leagues.

Sincerely,
rotomansignature

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ASK ROTOMAN: A Dank(s) House Is Not A Home

Dear Rotoman:

With Cam Bedrosian (LAA) being called up from the minors, I have a tough decision to make:  I hold both TJ House (CLE) and John Danks (CHW) on my squad.  I think Bedrosian has a closer in waiting feel about him and LAA looks like they will need one before the season wraps, so one of my starters needs to go.  I see nothing on the projected pitchers list about House in CLE and Danks has been stinking up the joint in CHW.  I need innings and can afford a bad outing or two if I can get 6 IP per start.  Your suggestions on who to keep and who to toss? (12 team AL only 5×5 Roto with regular categories, with the exception of S is S+1/2H).

“A Chair”

Dear Chair:

With a 14.14 ERA, why is this man smiling?

With a 14.14 ERA, why is this man smiling?

I’m listening to the Luther Vandross version of the Bachrach-David classic (see below). Thanks for putting me in mind of it.

First off, you might be right about Bedrosian, though if the Angels were to move Huston Street it’s hard to see the job going to anyone other than Joe Smith first. That makes Bedrosian a real longshot, but since your league values holds he has some potential value.

As for Danks vs. House, I had Danks as a $1 pitcher in the preseason, and House as a $5 pitcher. Not much has changed since then.

House is not a big strikeout guy, but gets lots of grounders. He’s been terrible so far, and his velocity is down, but it appears this is more a question of finding a rhythm than health. So, expect him to get back to the decent-enough form he showed last year. Maybe not quite as stellar an ERA, but lots of ground outs and something close to 7 K per 9.

Danks has shown in recent years that as bad as he can be sometimes, he’s not an overall disaster. He only strikes out five or six per nine and shouldn’t be expected to have an ERA better than 4.25.

So, House is clearly to be preferred, despite his cold start. He’s slated to be the Indians starter this coming Tuesday. I can’t promise he’ll go six innings, and would probably have written different advice if the Talking Heads Burning Down the House was the first song that came to mind.

Sincerely
rotomansignature

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Tuesday Bloody Tuesday. A Daily Fantasy Sports Story.

I’m new to DFS. So new I still have to think about what DFS means. Daily Fantasy Sports. I’ve just started playing DFS this year, beginning with a FanDuel Opening Day Challenge to beat Rotoman. Only four did, beat Rotoman I mean. I finished fifth, and took home $20. That was fun.

Since then I’ve played in the two Tout Wars Daily contests and finished in the middle of the pack, and a freeroll in which I picked fairly capriciously and didn’t do very well. But I hadn’t really tried, so whatever.

In the meantime, I also set up an account at Draft Kings, because I wanted to compare the two games and it bought me a Baseball Prospectus membership. In my first game there I finished fifth, won $15, and thought, gee, this is easy!

Actually, not. What I mostly thought was that I’d done well in small stakes games in which I spent some real time making real decisions after real effort to set a good lineup. To do that and make $10 or $15 each time is simply not worth it. Who has the time?

Yesterday, thinking about this, I got interested in two big contests, one each at FanDuel and Draft Kings.

At Draft Kings some 38,300 $3 entries would be competing for $100,000, paid out to 785 places.

At FanDuel, 6,850 $5 entries were chasing $30,000, paid out to 1,296 places.

brettandersonI’m not going to go into details about my rosters, but the only common players on the two teams were Bret Anderson, pitcher, who was a late replacement for Taijuan Walker, who I chickened out on, and Alex Rodriguez, who seemed a likely beneficiary of a stiff breeze out to left field at Comerica Park against Kyle Lobstein.

Notice how his name starts with L-O-B? He’s not a flamethrower.

In Draft Kings I had the bright idea of taking Michael Fiers as my second starter, which didn’t help, but the fact is that both my teams, checkered with stars and power bats playing in ballparks with the wind blowing out and bad opposing starters, were disasters.

My Draft Kings team, which featured no Reds, who knocked the bejeeziz out of the Brewers whole staff, and finished 36,826, finishing ahead of only the 1,500 souls who built their teams around Bud Norris.

And FanDuel was worse. My pathetic squad finished 6,879 out of 6,896.

Who were the winners? In both leagues, teams that loaded up on Reds and Blue Jays, not the Yankees and Indians I focused on. The same guy finished first, second, third, and fourth in Draft Kings, starting Francisco Liriano in two, Colin McHugh in three, Chris Archer in one and Nick Martinez in the other.

All four of his teams had Joey Votto, three had Brandon Phillips, all had Jay Bruce. They all also had Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart and Billy Hamilton. Did I mention that the Reds scored 16 runs last night? Many of them against Michael Fiers?

Many players make multiple entries. The team that finished last yesterday in FanDuel, also finished next to last. Multiple entries don’t increase your odds of winning, unless you win all your bets, but they do increase your action. Looking deep in the standings I found teams that submitted four identical entries that finished in the mid 37 thousands in Draft Kings. Presumably on other days things go better than that.

A more interesting question is whether it is better to load up with players from a single team, or to take them from a variety of games. Is it easier to pick the game with the most outsized scoring results, or the players facing the best matchups in the best parks? And how much do player prices shift to adjust from day to day? I don’t know, and clearly I have more to learn before I’ll be taking these games seriously.

Have I learned any other lessons? Well, the key one is the one that got me interested in the first place. Any single day’s results are pretty arbitrary. Before yesterday’s brawl, the Reds were the fourth lowest scoring team in the NL, while Milwaukee was the lowest. So the race is a long one, maybe best measured by the year and its winnings, just like regular year-long fantasy. The big difference, I don’t ever have to roster Fiers again.

 

 

 

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