Rotoman Is Part of the 2016 FSWA Hall of Fame Class!

screenshot-2016-12-16-12-37-30About a month ago I’d heard from Ron Shandler that I was nominated for inclusion in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame. But being nominated was a first step to induction, which might take some years, if it ever happened.

Except that it happened today. I join my friend Lenny Melnick, and Ian Allen, whose Fantasy Football Index I have long admired, in the 2016 FSWA Hall of Fame class!

I also join a Hall full of friends and colleagues whose work has uniformly impressed me over the years, inspired me to work harder and better, and in whose company I am honored to be included.

Thanks to the HoF committee of the FSWA and in particular to director Andy Behrens and board member Ron Shandler, who I know worked on this. I’m very appreciative.

 

There’s Going To Be A Mock Draft Tonight! UPDATE.

This is not a song by the Eagles.

Jimi at Couch Managers, a fine mock draft site, has invited a bunch of roto experts for a 5×5 draft tonight (February 3) at 8pm ET.

You can watch if you want at Couch Managers, and you might want to. The draft and chat room will be visible. This will not be a caucus.

The lineup is full of personality and includes  Cory Schwartz, Adam Ronis, Tim Heaney, Gene McCaffrey, Joel Henard, Doug Anderson, Tim McLeod, Paul Sporer, Mike Gianella, Lawr Michaels, Ryan Bloomfield, and Chris O’Brien, plus someone named big magoo, from Razzball. Oh, and I’m playing, too.

The draft is over. You can see the results here.

UPDATED: The upshot: I took Kershaw with No. 5. Scherzer went at 15. There was then a pause, and then near the end of Round 2 pitchers started to fall off the board.  All the shiny bubbles, the most desired players (Cory Seager went No. 30) kept being taken in the round ahead of where I had them ranked and so I ended up drafting boring productive hitters, until I had enough of them. Guys like JD Martinez, Adrian Gonzalez, Cargo. Closers went early, too. We really need some research on these different approaches. Do they matter? After all, if everyone is taking pitchers early the hitters they’re not taking early will be there later.

If you look at the draft, feel free to comment on who did best in the comments (and why).

Can Something New Be Said About the Choice Between Running and Passing on Second Down in the Super Bowl?

As the clock counted down to the end of the Super Bowl Sunday night, the announcers speculated that maybe Bill Belichick should stop the clock, to give his team a chance to march the length of the field after the inevitable TD. But Belichick didn’t.

I would like to say that I assessed the situation and determined what the right thing to do was, for everyone, but mostly riding on the giddy head of Jerome Kearse’s insane catch moments before, all I was thinking was that the Seahawks were going to win in a most improbable manner. No way could they fail, I was thinking.

Iwouldbutidied

After the interception the social media blew up with astonishment that the Seahawks didn’t give the ball to Marshawn Lynch, and let him run for a touchdown. That seemed like the safe thing to do, and it certainly would have covered Pete Carroll’s ass, but Matthew Iglesias explained on Vox yesterday why throwing the ball on second down made good sense. In short, and ignoring the significant third possible outcome, a pass would have led to a Touchdown or a stopped clock, which would have allowed the Seahawks, if they didn’t score, to either run or pass on third down—since they had only one timeout left. In other words, by passing, the Seahawks would have time for three plays. If they ran they would have had time for two (or would be obliged to pass on third down, with everyone knowing the pass was coming).

Now, this is kind of true, but not only didn’t Pete Carroll use this explanation after the game for his decision, but such rational thinking about the situation gets in the way of game theory, and the need to mix it up in order to keep your opponent off balance.

Justin Wolfers explains in today’s New York Times that good and effective strategy depends on randomizing one’s choices. If the best choice is to run, and you always run, your opponent will defense against the run and running will no longer be your best choice.

Which raises the interesting question: If Belichick is so smart, shouldn’t he have realized that the Seahawks better strategy was to pass? And if he realized that, wouldn’t he assume Pete Carroll would also realize that? And, if Pete Carroll thought passing was the better strategy and he assumed that Belichick would also assume so, wouldn’t he be obliged to change up his plans and call for a run?

It’s important to remember that game theory helps us figure out the competing motives, but before time runs out a decision has to be made.

That it was to pass was fine, I think, but I wonder about throwing the ball into the middle of all that stacked defense. Why not throw over the head of a receiver running to the corner after a play action? Or have Russell Wilson roll out and throw if a receiver was open, with at least the option of carrying the ball in if they were defensed?

What we know for sure is that, no matter what the coaches were thinking, Malcolm Butler saw what was happening and stepped up at the right time. Nice play.

15 Hall of Fame Voters Decided the Big Unit Wasn’t Hallworthy.

Trace Wood’s campaign to get Randy Johnson elected unanimously to the Hall of Fame, initiated after 16 voters failed to vote for Greg Maddux last year, was only a little successful. Fifteen of those deemed by the Baseball Writers Associaton of America qualified to vote for the Hall, neglected to name Johnson on the 2015 ballot.

Presumably one of old guard died in between ballots. Call that incremental improvement. At this pace, only 14 will leave Ken Griffey Jr. off next year’s ballot.

2014 Doubt Wars Results are Released

doubtwarslogo-150x150Glenn Colton and Rick Wolf wowed us by finishing first overall for the second year in a row, and this time actually won the Tout AL title, too, but the real eye opener was Bob Russo’s Triplets, which won the Doubt Wars mixed title with 23 points. He finished first of 61 teams in eight categories!

Get all the results at Toutwars.com: AL, NL, Mixed.

Patton and Co. CBS NL Co-Champions

My favorite fantasy baseball website (and it should be yours), PattonandCo.com, had two entries in the CBS NL Fantasy Expert League, and wouldn’t you know it but Phil Ponebshek and Keith Cromer tied for first place! PattonandCo.com Co-champions for 2014.

In the CBS AL Fantasy Experts League, Cromer was outblasted the last two weeks of the season by Derek Carty, and ended up finishing a none too shabby second.

Another PattonandCo.com regular, Tim McLeod, took home the Tout Wars Mixed Draft league title this year, after a fierce battle with Perry Van Hook that was settled on the season’s final day.

Congratulations guys! Well played!

LINK: Origins of John Holdzkom.

Screenshot 2014-09-10 10.49.21John Holdzkom landed in the Pirates pen a few weeks ago with a spotty history. He started this year in an independent league in Texas, for instance.

A friend of our friend Tim McLeod, Brook “Boris” Kilpatrick, has some first-hand experience with Holdzkom in Australia in 2013, and shares it at his website that covers Australian baseball. It’s a fun piece.

New York Daily News Follows The Fantasy Football Guide 2014’s Lead

Screenshot from NYDailyNews.com
Screenshot from NYDailyNews.com

One of the country’s largest circulation daily newspapers announced yesterday that they’ve changed their policy, and will not publish (with the exception of reader letters and quotes in which the name is relevant, as well as packages supplied by outside vendors, though they’re going to try to strip it from those) the Washington NFL team’s name. I suspect they’re going to get some letters.

Andy Goldstein’s Latest August 15, 2014: A Fantasy Football Guide Update

Screenshot 2014-07-27 18.58.42Andy Goldstein writes for and edits the position pages of the Fantasy Football Guide, and has for many years now.

One of the things that happens when you commit to ideas and opinions is that some turn out not to go the way one expected. Here are Andy’s thoughts about some of those this year:

So if we had to do that one again…

In order to put out a gorgeous, comprehensive fantasy football magazine, certain deadlines come into play. Sometimes major fantasy-shifting events occur and I’m here to remedy that problem. Now, I’m just one humble writer branching off from the team-effort consensus the magazine illuminates. It should go without saying that while I anticipate my Fantasy Football Guide cohorts would more or less agree with my assessments, they are still not to be mistaken as “official” for whatever that really means!

Johnny Manziel (Magazine Rank – 32) – When we compiled the rankings for the magazine, it hadn’t been that long since Brian Hoyer had compiled nearly 600 yards and 5 touchdowns in stunning back to back performances. Of course, Hoyer was seriously injured and Cleveland drafted Manziel to much fanfare in the draft. Even heading into training camp, it looked like Manziel would have to start the season as a backup. Obviously, we figured Manziel would see playing time. But had we known that by the second week of the preseason, Manziel would be the favorite for the Browns starting job, we probably would have moved him up. His current ADP is actually #17 for quarterbacks which is certainly too high. But I think cutting the difference, which moves him up to 23rd or 24th, is fair. He’s still not an ideal fantasy backup, but as a late round flier? Sure!

Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams (Magazine Ranks – 28 + 42) – When the magazine went to print, David Wilson (ranked 48th by us) was still very much in the picture. Sadly, the supremely talented Wilson was forced into early retirement due to his neck injuries. I could go on and on about how good Wilson could have been, but that would be outside the scope of this article. Jennings and Williams both stand to benefit from Wilson’s departure. And both looked particularly good in New York’s first preseason game. Jennings’ ADP (#18 for RBs) has jumped almost a full round just in the last week while Williams’ (41st for RBs) is just starting to climb. At this point, the current ADP for Jennings feels about right. I think Williams could climb even further as a host of other rookies with cloudier situations continue to sit ahead of him. I’d bump Williams up into the 30’s as a high-ceiling player who looks to be in line for 100-150 carries if Jennings stays healthy for 16 games, which hasn’t been his strong suit.

Josh Gordon (Magazine Rank – Unranked) – Sorry Cleveland fans. We didn’t really believe. Gordon was seemingly facing a year long suspension before he was involved in another traffic stop. Obviously, we still have no idea where this soap opera ends. As the World Turns with Josh Gordon has surprisingly headed towards a friendlier conclusion than any of us really thought possible just months ago. The latest information seems to suggest the phenom might “only” be facing an eight game ban. That’s not good, exactly, but having Gordon for a fantasy playoff run could be a difference maker. The problem, of course, is getting to the fantasy playoffs with dead roster weight for eight games. It’s no easy trick. Gordon’s ADP has gone from off the chart to #43 for wide outs, just behind Tavon Austin! I am still not quite that high on Gordon, at least not until we know for sure it’s just a half-season absence for him. Right now, I’d take him around 48th or so, but he definitely needs to be on the radar now.

Jordan Reed (Magazine Rank – 17) – Of all the rankings in this year’s publication (600+!!!!), this is the one I think we just missed on, myself included! Reed’s 2013 was quietly really great. He was on pace for nearly 1,000 yards, something only Mike Ditka has done as a rookie in NFL history. IN NFL HISTORY. That’s pretty great for a player that wasn’t really on many radars last preseason. Of course, the concussions are a major problem and Reed stands as a fairly high injury risk. But at tight end, his current ADP (#7 for TE’s) is closer to being right than our ranking was. Consider this my personal mea culpa!

LINK: The Power of PR

Screenshot 2014-07-30 00.42.11Josh Levin and Jeremy Stahl at Slate do some sleuthing about a website that has popped up that presents itself as the work of former Redskins players, but is actually (apparently) the work of the PR firm Burson-Marsteller.

Which is fine. I could list all of Burson-Marsteller’s heinous clients and former clients, as a way to cast doubt on this enterprise, but that’s the way PR works. Those who want to shape public opinion hire experts to create arguments that appeal to regular folks, whose regular voices resonate more widely than regular advertising or political graft might. Or give ideas authenticity, at least. And I’m sure BR also has some non-heinous and virtuous clients.

It is not unreasonable, of course, for people to question the veracity of claims made by those buying ad and airspace trying to shape public opinion. We all should. There’s no smoking gun here, no defining moment of cynicism, but rather an example of how far people who have money will sometimes go to try and sway the world to their opinion.

The story also links to a Washington Post story from last November about William “Lone Star” Dietz, the legendary coach for whom the team was named. If you’re interested in this issue it is a must read, since it clearly lays out the evidence about whether or not Dietz was actually a Sioux, as he claimed his entire adult life.

And it also raises the question of whether that matters. If Dietz was able to make everyone think he was a Native American (well, one fourth), and advocated for Indian rights and respect throughout his life, wasn’t it a sign of respect (as claimed) when team owner George Preston Marshall named the team in his honor?

Read the story to come to your own conclusion about that. Then we have to decide whether, even if that was the intent (then), that matters now.