Captain's Log

FF Final Draft Prep PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Friday, 29 August 2014 00:00

This weekend and next week, many of us will be drafting our high stakes fantasy football teams. Right now, you really need to finalize your draft plans.

First and most important, you want to be sure your positional rankings and cheat sheets are specific to the league. You can’t use ESPN rankings, for instance, unless you are doing a 10-team league, and even then I think their leagues are non PPR, so if you are in a PPR, you must use rankings that include projected receptions.

Sounds basic, I know. But I am surprised how often people grab a magazine or print out rankings that are not exactly based on league rules – even in high stakes leagues. Especially in Las Vegas. Yeah, I know it's Vegas but did you spend all that money to draft a good team or is it just a party weekend? If it is the latter – thanks, we appreciate the dead money.

Secondly, scrub your rankings to account for recent news. To me, this means lowering Cam Newton (who I think people had too high anyway) and his receivers in Carolina at least a little as there is real concern about him playing in Week 1 if the ankle problems persist. I would also move former Tampa Bay TE Tim Wright up at least 5-10 spots with news that he has been traded to New England. Belichick and Brady have proved they can use multiple tight ends and while Wright is a poor run blocker, he is almost a Hernandez clone size wise and has very good hands. Jay Feely lost the kicking job in Arizona to rookie Chandler Catanzaro and the Lions settled on Nate Freese to kick for them.

In sales, we had a saying – Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan. It is just as important in drafting your team. You should have already decided (at least roughly) where you will take your starting quarterback (I suggest you wait at least eight or nine rounds) or your tight end if that is required in your league. There is excellent depth at both positions this year, so unless you feel it is necessary to draft Manning, Brees or Rodgers, you should wait at quarterback. Go through some mock drafts and get used to your draft plan because you don’t want to be surprised by Rodgers dropping to the fourth round and confusing your draft board. If you think there is a point at which you would “have to” take him, then you should have two draft plans – either wait on QB or take one in X round and then.

If you already know the answer to questions like these, you will be much calmer in your draft and you will have a much better chance for an optimum draft.

I also like to have a separate listing of true sleepers, maybe blocked off in an unused spot on one of my sheets. Speaking of cheat sheets or draft sheets or whatever you want to call them, you really should try and get them down to as few sheets as possible. You don’t want to be shuffling ten sheets of paper or flipping back and forth to pages in a binder. The best idea is to put them in an excel file so you have separate columns for each position. Depending on how much information you want on each player, you could for example put all the QB, RB, WR and TE on one page using a vertical layout. But if you want bye weeks and team or any other ranking or projected points, you probably want to use a horizontal view and now you would have two sheets for the skill positions (all the QB and TE and top 35-40 RB and WR on page one and all the extra RB and WR on page two). In either case, you would have just one more page for K and DST and perhaps some extra notes.

Really, the best way is to modify whatever rankings you use to suit your own feelings about the players. I generally approach that with a simple “Who would I take next?” approach for each position. So Peyton Manning is QB1, then Brees and Rodgers. In my world, Andrew Luck would be next because I just don’t see Matthew Stafford with a more conservative (read run oriented) offensive coordinator this year throwing as much as he has been in prior years.

What you start with is up to you. All the pay fantasy football websites have their rankings in some form. One of the advantages to is that they have already done the heavy lifting and customized cheat sheets for many popular league settings and scoring with extra ones for all the high stakes leagues so you can just pull that up, copy into excel and then tweak their rankings to your taste.

You should also look at ADP to get a better sense of where players are really being drafted. But one of my strongest suggestions is that average draft position must be specific to the league you are going to use it for. That is why many of the high stakes players do cheaper satellite or Draftmaster format leagues run by the contest(s) they are prepping for. This is imperative to give you a sense of which players are being overvalued or undervalued – at least in early drafts. Remember that at the big money contests, either your home league or in the national contests, ADP from those early drafts goes out the window when people sit down with that much money on the line. Especially in Las Vegas.

Good luck in your drafts and if you are in Vegas for the Fantasy Football World Championship leagues at the Mirage Hotel, stop by and say hello.

Last Updated on Sunday, 31 August 2014 17:34
September Roster Expansion PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 27 August 2014 00:00

If major league teams expand their rosters in September, why shouldn’t fantasy teams? Well, in some leagues – especially my almost 30 year old AL-only league, they do.

On whatever the first Monday of September is, teams can pay $50 real money to add a 24th player. That player can be either a tenth pitcher or a second UT (which they can vary with weekly lineups). The extra player can come from teams' three-man reserve squad, be a new free agent addition from that weekend, or perhaps one of their own FARM players who was called up (although unless in a dash for cash they likely wouldn’t want to start the clock for a minor league player).

Usually it is only the four or five teams fighting for the top spots that spend the 50 dollars. But a team fighting for the $260 second half prize or 5th place, which is the first pick in next spring’s minor league draft, might also be tempted.

This is a great way to add a few extra dollars to your league’s prize pool and also adds to the strategy and fun for the last month of the season. Being in a tight race for 3rd place (currently tied with another team just a half point back), I will add a player, although unless one of my DL hitters gets a new lease on at-bats, I will have to add a pitcher. But I do have pitchers who can help try for an extra point in strikeouts or the tightly bunched wins category.

Our AL league also does two other things in September you might want your league to adopt. First, while free agents throughout the year carry a 10F14 salary designation, meaning they can be kept next year for ten dollars, we give all players added in September a designation of 25S14, making it very unlikely they will be kept next year. A large part of this is to prevent our salary structure on minor leaguers from being undermined by someone adding a player called up in September who would have been a very early draft pick next April – Rusney Castillo, I am looking at you.

The other changes we make in September are related to DL players. With 40 roster spots, major league teams often won’t bother to put a player on the DL even if they won’t play for the balance of the season. Once players are declared out for the year, we allow teams to DL them – of course should there be a miraculous cure, they aren’t allowed to come off the DL, but it does help with roster management.

We also relax the requirement of players coming off the DL or players recalled from the minor leagues to be transacted in a timely manner to aid in September roster management.

These things really help mono keeper leagues and you might want to consider suggesting them to your league mates.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 August 2014 00:58
Possible September Saviors PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 20 August 2014 00:00

At the end of this week, we will have six scoring periods left in the 2014 baseball season. Getting enough at-bats will be a big key to how high your team can finish this year which is hopefully rewarded with cash or perhaps the consolation of a better minor league draft pick next April.

I say at-bats because it is much harder to find those in September than pitchers to throw out there. I suggest reading the stories filed on each team’s website by the writer for some clues as to who the manager (or team) may want to take a look at in September. You need to differentiate between minor leaguers who are just being given a chance to sit on the major league bench in September versus those who are really being given a tryout with the big league team.

Players to get before or during September

Joc Pederson, OF, LAD – With any other group of outfielders on a MLB team, Pederson, who is on pace for a 30-30 season at Triple-A Albuquerque, would already be playing in the Majors. But with an outfield of Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier, there is too much money committed and not enough at-bats for them or Scott Van Slyke, who murders lefties. Pederson is currently the 18th best minor league prospect according to and will be in Los Angeles when rosters expand on September 1. He is also the only true centerfielder amongst Dodger fly chasers.

Alex Guerrero, SS/2B, LAD – The Dodgers have also said they will bring up Guerrero in September. It is not as clear how much he will play given his fielding deficiencies, but the former Cuban star has a lot of pop in his bat and he could easily outproduce weak MI slots in NL- only leagues.

Carlos Rodon, LHP, CWS – Rodon, who was the third overall pick in the June draft, has just been promoted to Triple-A and with a few starts there could easily get bumped up another level to pitch in U.S. Cellular Field in September. He would be a very good starting pitcher for those in AL-only leagues or deep mixed leagues who need a fresh arm for the final month of the season.

Kris Bryant, 3B, CHC – The power hitting third baseman leads the minor leagues in home runs with 40 for Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa and should be in Wrigley in September.

Other teams to watch for September callups are:

The Chicago White Sox, who are going nowhere fast and might want to see what 2B Micah Johnson can do. Johnson has been injured this year, thus the “only” 22 stolen bases in 2014. But remember he stole 84 bags in the Minors in 2013 and Gordon Beckham is not the long term answer at second base.

The Baltimore Orioles haven’t ruled it out and I think we see the debut of RHP Dylan Bundy in September, especially if the Orioles have a chance at a postseason berth. Bundy did say his elbow still feels good following his recovery from Tommy John surgery. Bundy started nine games between two Class A stops, posting a 3.27 ERA with 37 strikeouts and 16 walks in 41 1/3 innings of work.

The Arizona Diamondbacks would at least like a terrible year to end without the worst record in baseball (likely) and finish 3rd in the NL West if they can overtake the San Diego Padres (much less likely). One way to do both would be to upgrade their rotation internally and that could mean the long awaited big league debut of Archie Bradley. But with his injuries and ineffectiveness, it is very possible that Arizona might call up their best minor league pitcher this year and promote Aaron Blair, another big (6’5”, 230 lb.) righty who in 143 innings across three minor league stops this year has struck out 160 batters with a WHIP of 1.14. Blair, the #4 Diamondbacks prospect, has pitched better than Bradley or Braden Shipley, who were both ahead of him at the beginning of this year.

(I would also suggest reading Rob Leibowitz's columns for more players to watch for)

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 August 2014 08:51
Rookie Drafts in 2014 PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Thursday, 14 August 2014 00:00
One of the best things about keeper or dynasty fantasy football leagues is the draft of the new kids on the block – last year’s college football stars who were drafted in May.

ADP from mock drafts is largely irrelevant in my opinion, so I thought I would give you the results of one from this week. Now I know that many of you who play in these leagues have already done yours. But I also know that several people have drafts coming up.

This is a 12-team, PPR league with starting lineups of QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, TE, Flex, K, and DST.

1.01 Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo
1.02 Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay
1.03 Brandin Cooks, WR, New Orleans
1.04 Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco
1.05 Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Carolina
1.06 Bishop Sankey, RB, Tennessee
1.07 Jordan Matthews, WR, Philadelphia
1.08 Terrance West, RB, Cleveland
1.09 Odell Beckham, WR, New York Giants
1.10 Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta
1.11 Tre Mason, RB, St. Louis
1.12 Eric Ebron, TE, Detroit
2.01 Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay
2.02 Cody Latimer, WR, Denver
2.03 Marqise Lee, WR, Jacksonville
2.04 Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Minnesota
2.05 Jeremy Hill, RB, Cincinnati
2.06 Johnny Manziel, QB, Cleveland
2.07 Allen Robinson, WR, Jacksonville
2.08 Andre Williams, RB, New York Giants
2.09 Donte Moncrief, WR, Indianapolis
2.10 Charles Sims, RB, Tampa Bay
2.11 Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Tampa Bay
2.12 Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville
3.01 Jace Amaro, TE, New York Jets
3.02 Khiry Robinson, RB, New Orleans (free agents included)
3.03 Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City
3.04 James White, New England
3.05 Troy Niklas, TE, Arizona
3.06 John Brown, WR, Arizona
3.07 Jerick McKinnon, RB, Minnesota
3.08 Lache Seastrunk, RB, Washington
3.09 Latavius Murray, RB, Oakland
3.10 Paul Richardson, WR, Seattle
3.11 Martavis Bryant, WR, Pittsburgh
3.12 Dexter McCluster, RB, Tennessee

Last Updated on Friday, 15 August 2014 08:15
August & September - The Final Push PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 06 August 2014 00:00

At least in AL and NL-only leagues, trade deadlines either should have come or gone or perhaps have one more week before they are done.

Not only does that parallel the MLB non-waiver trade deadline but it gets us to the final third of the season on a level playing field – you won’t have a competitor able to make another deal to surprise you. On the other hand, you won’t be able to surprise them. Everyone can duke it out with the rosters they have now and the few free agents that might be available.

And that is the way it should be, having most of two months without outside influences. Those leagues that have an August 31 or September 1 trade deadline should really rethink this and move it back a month.

Now we are down to the pennant races.

Or if you aren’t competing to win the league, you are hopefully finishing in the money.

August, even with some tired players, at least continues with pretty much the same players we have seen all year. Yes, the Cubs just called up Javier Baez, who will likely man second base with Starlin Castro having a good year. This will push Arismendy Alcantara to the outfield – likely centerfield – but both should be in the Chicago lineup every day…and if you are lucky, in yours.

As the month goes on, you need to be very careful to see which teams are conducting “tryouts.” All well and good for their organization but not good for your fantasy teams if you are counting on those players being in the lineup in September.

Roster expansion in the major leagues on September 1 can be a land mine for your existing warriors, but it can also provide some players to help if you have lost some at-bats.

Most pitchers coming up in September won’t affect rotations. Rather, they will be extra arms in the bullpen. Whether long or short assignments, they shouldn’t affect your closers or good starters. But be very careful to watch each pitcher’s team so you aren’t surprised.

Many fantasy baseball leagues have September Roster Expansion, where teams who are competing pay $50 into the league prize pool and can add a 24th player, usually by just activating one of their reserves, but of course it could be a free agent pickup. This could be a tenth pitcher or a second UT as a 15th hitter, and teams can vary that in their weekly lineup. This is particularly helpful in leagues with a salary cap (which all auction leagues should have), as that extra player won’t count against the cap.

My AL-only league, like many mono leagues, has some rules in place to prevent teams in the second division from sneaking minor league players onto their rosters when they really should be in the minor league draft next March. While normal free agents have a 10F14 contract, we change that in September to 25F14 so that we maintain the integrity of the minor league pricing structure.

Maybe something your league should look at.

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 August 2014 00:50
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