Thursday, January 30, 2014

All Overrated Fantasy Team for 2014

By Joe Pisapia the creator of the revolutionary statistic RPV (Relative Position Value) and the author of The Fantasy Baseball Black Book 2014 Edition. Available on Amazon Kindle Store and iTunes for Apple Devices. Check out www.fantasyblackbook.com for your fantasy baseball news and listen to him on Sirius210/XM87 Fantasy Sports Channel Going 9 Baseball Every Tuesday 8-10PM EST.
Every year for different reasons, player values fluctuate. The key for fantasy owners is identifying which players are undervalued and which are overvalued. This can be much trickier than one might think. The first step is trying to separate your personal rooting interest from the equation. A Yankee fan might have always overrated Derek Jeter because of his undying allegiance to the captain. But you can’t draft a fantasy team that way and expect to win. The bi-product of this kind of loyalty can lead to a roster that is top heavy with stars and lacking depth.

The next step is learning what makes a player overrated/underrated. Let’s first take a look at overrated players. What makes a player overvalued? Sometimes it's a young player who gets called up and has a great two months of production. Then many owners think that player can sustain that level for an entire season. Rarely does this happen. More often than not, a young player struggles the second time around the league and has to learn to make adjustments in order to be successful. Fantasy writers are very much to blame for over-hyping young up and coming players as well. While in dynasty leagues these players can be crucial building blocks, they very rarely have a significant impact on a single season league. There is real danger in taking a player with a small successful sample size and projecting that over a full season at the same high rate.
Some players have mediocre careers and then see a tremendous one year spike in production. This is something I like to call the “Brady Anderson Effect”. Most of us remember the light hitting Brady Anderson who hit 50 homers one year out of the blue. Before that, his previous high was 21 homers. Jacoby Ellsbury is a perfect example of this type of thing happening in recent years. His 2011 season was worthy of an MVP, but he has never been that player before or after. Sometimes players do turn a corner in their career. Look at Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion for example. Both were languishing into their late 20’s early 30’s then became middle of the lineup threats out of nowhere and sustained it. This is more the exception than the rule.
The last overrated problem can actually stem from players returning from injury. This happens to even the most astute fantasy player. When a good player is coming off an injury some owners see that as a “buy low” opportunity and actually end up overpaying for a talented player who is not 100% healthy or able to live up to past production. A great example of this is Brandon Morrow. He teased with some real flashes of brilliance then was subsequently overvalued. Then injuries struck, but instead of owners shying away, they continued to actually overpay for a player who was fragile and never offered consistent production. This is the perfect storm for failure.
Now that we have a clearer picture of how players have their value inflated, here is my:
ALL-OVERRATED TEAM FOR 2014
C Brian McCann NYY Yankee Stadium does not make him a lock for a big year. Plus, the new league and pitching staff could actually have a negative impact on his offense.
1B Chris Davis BAL He had an incredible career year, but he still strikes out way too much and will have trouble coming close to that gaudy homerun total.
2B Ian Kinsler DET Some owners still see him as the guy who went 30/30, but those days are long behind him.
3B Manny Machado BAL He is a bright young talent, but fell off considerably in the second half and is coming off a major injury.
SS Jean Segura MIL Dreadful after the break and had little minor league pedigree to suggest he can maintain his ridiculously good first half stat line.
OF Matt Kemp A guy who had one great year and a bunch of good ones, Kemp is still looked at as a first round talent. In reality, he has only that one huge year to support that theory and is coming off yet another shoulder injury.
OF Yasiel Puig Has big talent and comes with even bigger question marks regarding his maturity. A very risky pick based on his box office hype.
OF Billy Hamilton CIN Steals are great, but you have to get on base in the first place to steal more bases. Hamilton has had a tough time adjusting to higher level pitching so far and may be over-drafted based on one category.
RHP Jordan Zimmerman WAS A terrific pitcher, but his value is tied to wins and wins are fickle. Not a flamethrower that puts up big strikeout totals.
LHP Jon Lester Just because he is the ace of the Red Sox does not make him a fantasy ace. He is above average, but not an ace. Pitching for a high profile Boston team inflates his value.
RP Koji Uehara BOS Had one brilliant season as an untouchable closer late in his career. So did Fernando Rodney two years ago…remember?
Now they are no doubt a very talented bunch. The problem is their cost to value ratio is out of whack. RPV is a great way of stripping the player down to his statistical core and actual value. Actual value can be quite different from perceived value.

Lamas ready for UFC 169

He had to wait longer than planned, but eventually Ricardo Lamas has the fight he wanted. This Saturday, February 1st will face Jose Aldo in UFC 169, which will take place at Prudential Center, home of the NHL New Jersey Devils.
The fight for the featherweight title faces the Cuban and Mexican descent with the Brazilian, who can sneak to the number one of the ranking with a win. Aldo is the favorite in the odds to win this fight, and you can see the complete list of combats in MyTopSportsbooks.com.
Aldo has not been defeated since November 2005 Jungle Fight while Lamas is 4-0 after joining the UFC and is recognized as one of the best in the division. "I feel good, the hard part is over and now I'm going to fight on Saturday", explained Lamas.
Despite his confidence in the short distance, he knows that Aldo can end a fight with his knees and fists. “He is the champion and one of the most dominant UFC fighters, but I trained for over three months, and I'm more than ready “, he added.
After the UFC announce that UFC Channel Network can be seen in most pay -TV services in Mexico, Lamas recalled his last visit to that country a few months ago.
"Loved Mexico City, I went to promote the new UFC Channel Network. People turned out very nice, very friendly and I enjoyed the trip “, said Lamas, who wears the Mexican and Cuban flags in his trunks during fights.
UFC 169 represents a major commitment to the company because despite being the first pay per view of the year in the U.S., the event will have two title fights, including the main event that features Renan Barao and Urijah Faber.
Lamas said he is happy with the challenge and promised that fans will not be disappointed at this event that also includes the fight between Frank Mir and Alistair, in the heavyweight division, and Ali Bagautinov Russian versus John Lineker for the flyweight title.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Tanaka in 2014 and Beyond


Joe Pisapia is the creator of the revolutionary statistic RPV (Relative Position Value) and the author of The Fantasy Baseball Black Book 2014 Edition. Available on Amazon Kindle Store and iTunes for Apple Devices. Check out www.fantasyblackbook.com for your fantasy baseball news and listen to him on Sirius210/XM87 Fantasy Sports Channel Going 9 Baseball Every Tuesday 8-10PM EST.

One of the toughest things to predict in major league baseball is the impact of a rookie. In this year's Fantasy Baseball Black Book 2014 Edition, I talk at length about young players and their place in fantasy. Every new player enters the big leagues under different circumstances, at a different age and developmental stage of their career. Masahiro Tanaka is no different.
Yes, he is coming over the the states at a relatively young age (26), but he also has a lot of mileage on him. In fact, the last player who has thrown as many innings at this age in his MLB career was Frank Tanana in the early '80's. How's that for a throwback name? The Japanese professional league has greatly improved over the last two decades and has produced many players that have made successful conversions to the American game. It's safe to say at this juncture, if players dominate in Japan they are certainly likely to have mid-to-high level success in the big leagues. But how successful will Tanaka be in fantasy terms? That is the real question.
WHAT THE STATS SAY:
The first thing we need to do is not overrate his recent 24-0 record in his final Japanese season. Records can always be misleading, and wins are a fickle mistress. What it tells us in that Tanaka has poise and above average make-up on the mound. That usually equates to wins in any league and is just as valuable in fantasy as reality. The 24 straight wins however is a fluky stat much like a hitting streak, or scoreless innings streak. There is always an element of luck involved and that is not something you can bank on.
With that out of the way let's look closer into Tanaka's secondary numbers. In seven seasons, Tanaka has posted a 2.30 ERA over 175 games (172 starts). His H/9 rate of 8.1 is good, not great. Tanaka makes up that ground with a microscopic walk rate of 1.9 and a very solid K/9 (8.5). With a career K/BB rate of 4.50, he should be successful in any league. Pitchers like Cliff Lee who allow few walks are usually able to pitch longer into games and don't allow many "big innings" against them. When you can consistently work into the 7th and 8th innings you will be in line for more wins that the average pitchers. Hence the 24 victories. Tanaka's "winning mentality" is a tangible thing.
THE NY FACTOR:
The fact that he plays for the Yankees is not quite the boon it was a decade ago. The ballpark is certainly hitter friendly. The team behind him is one of the oldest in the league and the defense is not exactly first rate. These are all negatives for a control pitcher like Tanaka. The spotlight of New York should not intimidate him considering the national attention he received at home. Having Ichiro and Hiroki Kuroda in the clubhouse should help ease the transition as well. The fact he has an opt out clause after four years is incentive to shine and roll this big time deal into a gigantic payday ala C.C. Sabathia. The AL East is very competitive and there will be no "off days" when it comes to in-division match-ups. All in all, the park and competition will be more of a challenge than the big city lights.
WHERE TO RANK TANAKA:
Now we all know he doesn't have the same arm as Yu Darvish, who is a rare talent. What Tanaka clearly does have is great control. That is a skill worth bidding on. The tricky part is how much do you bid? Like any rookie, Tanaka is more likely to have a better first half, than second half. The league always make adjustments to players the more exposure they get and Tanaka will be no exception. That means if you end up drafting him and he has a great first half, you are wise to consider dealing him at the height of his value in single season leagues before he makes it around a second time.In keeper leagues, the inning totals are a real concern. I would be fine with a short term commitment since he is still very young. In dynasty leagues, he is a riskier investment and I would bid conservatively. The Yankees look at Tanaka as a #2 starter, but in fantasy terms I would only rank him as a #3 at this stage. I would say after C.J. Wilson and Mike Minor, but right around Homer Bailey and Mat Latos. Those are his comp set if you will heading into draft day. As an unproven entity you shouldn't "overdraft" him and expect him to anchor your fantasy rotation. That is asking for too much.There is a good chance someone will over value and reach for him to soon based on the hype, but there is nothing you can do about that. As a #3, I think he could be a very good value in 2014; just make sure you don't put too much stock in this "rookie"

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Last Waltz II?

I don't think I am unlike a lot of folks, but in what is now the Twitter world, I track my personal timeline with football games over the years.

When I was young we spent every xmas at my Great Aunt Catherine's house. The xmas I remember most is the one when I postponed eating because I was watching a 6-quarter classic between the Dolphins and Chiefs. On that day, Ed Podolak was my favorite player.

My Grandpa introduced me to football and analyzing stats. I remember watching a game with him when I said "I like this Stabler guy" after he ran for a TD to put Oakland up 7-6 only to lose to an immaculate reception (that hit the ground).

I got my drivers permit the day after Harvey Martin and Ed "Too Tall" Jones stifled the Orange Crush.

I wrote my first headline (For The San Diego Union) when the Raiders "tanned" the 'Skins after Marcus Allen (who I played against in High School) ran roughshod over the "Team in DC."

Truth be told, I have always been about good stories that are sports driven.

For the folks whose point of NFL reference started after 2000, I am reasonably sure it revolves around Manning vs. Brady. The widely acknowledged 2 best QBs of the era. Seven of the Super Bowls since 2001 have involved one of them. The NFL TD pass records have ping-ponged between the two of them for years. The gold standard of playing QB in the NFL can't be discussed without considering both of them.

I had my Stabler-Bradshaw years. But then they ended. Sorry to say Sunday may be the Last Waltz of Manning-Brady. I feel for all of you. I loved Stabler vs. Bradshaw so much that when it ended, I actually didn't watch much football (OK, it was maybe a year).

Manning-Brady is about to have its 15th act. Most plays are 3 or 4 so this is a long-ass production.

Manning is widely acknowledged as the best statistical QB ever. Brett Favre and Warren Moon are 2 and 3. But, Brady is widely acknowledged as the better QB because he has 3 rings and has a chance to get to his 6th Super Bowl (More than anyone).

To me this sounds like "Mary Ann or Ginger"..."Paper or Plastic." How do you lose choosing either of them?

My stepsons are watching the game this weekend knowing one is beholden to the Patriot mystique and the other roots for the Colts-Broncos Manning.

At the end of the day, I just want to see and enjoy the game. I don't care who actually wins (though my NFL.com team is loaded with Broncos).

I didn't savor the last Stabler-Bradshaw tilt. I wish I would've. It was a great game, but I was blinded by my Raider bias. I can only hope that the Brady-Manning rooters enjoy the game, regardless of result, because it is probably the last meeting between the two best gladiators of an era.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Hue Jackson's Impact on the Bengal's Offense

 By Jack Grotkowski
Twitter Handle: FFBosses
Website: Fantasyfootballbosses.com


Dan Snyder has done it again. Let me just give it to you straight, Jay Gruden was an uninformed, ill-fated hire. Let’s go over the weapons he had at his disposal while spitting out the 14th best offense, adjusted for strength of schedule, per numberfire.com. They include Giovani Bernard, BJGE, A.J. Green, Mohamed Sanu, Marvin Jones, Jermaine Gresham, Tyler Eifert, and a promising young QB in Andy Dalton. I can hear the screams already, but they had “the 4th best offense according to nfl.com!!” Using total stats without looking at the defenses they faced is only paying attention to half of the information. Go ahead and break down the numbers yourself and you will see they absolutely beat up on the teams they should have, while completely underwhelming, against any defense with a bit of talent and a decent game plan. Now that I got that out of my system lets move on. Hue Jackson, the new Offensive Coordinator of the Bengals, bounced around as a positional coach in college starting in 1988 and landed his first NFL gig with the Redskins in 1996. He really made a name for himself in Oakland in 2010, first as the Offensive Coordinator, then as the Head Coach in 2011. With Jason Campbell at the helm, he had a top 10 offense both years with Oakland, including the second ranked rushing attack in 2011, as well as doubling the scoring output in 2010 from the previous year. Considering the gap in talent between those Raiders teams and the Bengals, I have high hopes he can make this offense elite in no time at all. He has had success coaching quarterbacks as well, with Baltimore in 2008 and 2009, helping Joe Flacco win more playoff games in his first two years than other quarterback in history. Dalton clearly needs a bit of help and hopefully this is just the guy to give it to him. I believe all of his experience and outstanding track record should increase the value of every fantasy relevant player for this offense. Now, your drafting A.J green high no matter who the Offensive Coordinator is, and you’re still taking Dalton in the latest rounds as the QB position will be very deep next year, but there is a big question mark about exactly when you should be drafting Giovani Bernard. He finished the year as the sixteenth best RB in standard non-PPR leagues. He was, however, very inconsistent due to the time share with BenJarvis Green-Ellis. His value will solely be determined by the amount of carries he receives, as I think his pass blocking is just fine, as he didn’t allow a sack all year per profootballfocus.com. Let’s take a look at his numbers this year compared to the man known as “lawfirm.” Lawfirm: 220 rushes for 756 yards, 3.4 average with 7 Touchdowns, 4 Receptions for 22 yards. Gio: 170 rushes for 695 yards, 4.1 average with 5 Touchdowns, 56 Receptions for 514 yards, 9.2 average per Reception, with 3 Receiving Touchdowns. Bernard ended up with 44% of the touches, but was however the much more effective player. He is a dual threat back, whereas BJGE is very one dimensional. I expect Bernard to increase his carries and production quite a bit while having top ten upside. Hue Jackson has also been quoted as saying Gio can “do it all” so hopefully his percentage of carries increases somewhere north of 60%. The preseason should be a huge indicator of how much work he will get, so remember to watch your tape. Also remember the golden rule for judging fantasy players, Talent times opportunity equals fantasy production; don’t forget that opportunity is usually more important than talent for our beloved fake football. With all that being said, this Offensive Coordinator change will positively impact every fantasy relevant Bengal's player, so consider moving them up a few spots in your mock drafts this offseason.