Captain's Log

The Weather is Here, I Wish You Were Beautiful PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 00:00

My team in the Tout Wars Mixed draft league feels much like Jimmy Buffet’s lyric – the points are there for me to get but will I be able to do it?

Here are the current standings with less than two weeks left to play:


Tim McLeod 13 10.5 13 10 7 6.5 8 15 14 13 110 0.5
Perry Van Hook 14 14.5 15 15 15 9.5 5 9 11 1 109 2.5
Brent Hershey 12 13 14 1 14 6.5 3 13 13 10 99.5 -7.5
Ray Murphy 8 14.5 8 7.5 9 15 10 4 6 12 94 1.5
Adam Ronis 5 3 11 7.5 8 12 11 11 9 11 88.5 -3
Anthony Perri 6.5 12 9 14 5 9.5 15 7 3 3 84 -3.5
Tom Kessenich 11 5 3 13 10 13.5 3 6 7 9 80.5 0
Charlie Wiegert 10 2 7 12 6 11 6.5 5 4 14 77.5 3
Paul Greco 9 9 10 9 3 2.5 9 10 10 6 77.5 3
Scott Engel 1 1 1 4 2 13.5 12 12 15 15 76.5 -0.5
Grey Albright 3 7.5 5 2 1 6.5 14 14 12 4 69 7
Paul Sporer 2 4 2 5 13 6.5 13 8 5 8 66.5 0.5
Nicholas Minnix 15 6 6 11 12 2.5 3 2 1 7 65.5 1.5
Greg Ambrosius 6.5 10.5 12 3 11 4 1 1 2 5 56 -1.5
Eno Sarris 4 7.5 4 6 4 1 6.5 3 8 2 46 -3.5

I can easily pick up that last half point in home runs – I had 12 dingers last week while Ray Murphy had nine. The point in Runs is a little iffy – I have 950 and Nick Minnix has 959 but I did have eight more than he did last week. And sure I have to maintain in RBI and OBP but I have a huge lead in steals.

The categories where I will likely get the points to overtake my Canuck friend Tim McLeod are Wins and Saves. I am not sure why so many writers tell you not to chase wins – invariably that single category leads to more wins or losses than any other. Today I have 86 wins, tied for sixth for 9.5 points, so there is the easy half point and there is an 87 above me. I will send Jered Weaver, Doug Fister, Jarred Cosart (two starts), Danny Duffy and two new recruits for this week, Cory Rasmus (two starts) and Brad Peacock (was scheduled for two starts but now looks like just one assuming his back is okay) to try and get the Wins.

In the Saves category, I have 55 for five points but there are two teams with 56, each of whom had just one save last week while I had two, with Casey Janssen, Neftali Feliz and LaTroy Hawkins in my bullpen.

And I need nine more strikeouts to overtake Eno Sarris and add another point.

It would be great to bring this title home to Mastersball, so if my hurlers aren’t costing you money in your league, I could always use a few extra cheers.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 September 2014 00:14
Potential AL/NL Free Agent Help PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 10 September 2014 00:00

Heading into the last meaningful week for free agent bidding, there are two groups of players for fantasy players to add for the final full week of the season (maybe they will help in the short week 26 as well).

First, if you are contending, you need to plug any/every hole in your lineup. If not contending and in a keeper league, you should be looking to add players who might make your team out of spring training next year (assuming that is legal/affordable).

This is certainly not meant to be all-inclusive but there are a few names that stood out to me when looking at my AL and NL keeper leagues yesterday.

In the American League, don’t be afraid to look to the improving Houston Astros for some pitching help. Scott Feldman has been better lately - only seven earned runs in his last four starts and Saturday he was dominant against Oakland with a shutout through eight innings. Sadly, they put him out for the ninth inning and then Chad Qualls allowed both his runners to score – still a solid effort. Feldman has a home start against the Mariners next week, scheduled to be against Felix Hernandez (but that could change depending on where Seattle is in the wild card race).

His teammate Brad Peacock has given up only four earned runs in his last four starts and was very good in his five shutout innings on Saturday in Seattle. Next week, Peacock is slated for two home starts, first against Cleveland and then he will face Seattle again late in the week.

Speaking of Cleveland, watch the Indians box scores this week to see if former Angel J.B. Shuck, acquired in a trade for cash this week, is playing enough because if Shuck gets the at-bats, he can help in the offensive categories.

I am not as bullish on Chris Young, the former Diamondback and Met who the Yankees signed a few weeks ago after the Metropolitans dropped him. The Yankees have now called him up and if Brett Gardner continues to be unable to play, Young represents some HR and SB potential – yes, along with a terrible batting average.

Keeper league players should look at the Red Sox. Matt Barnes, Boston’s first round pick in the 2011 draft who for some strange reason was just recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket, is likely to pitch out of the bullpen. But Barnes is a good bet to be a starter in the future for the Bosox and if possible, I would grab him now and see what happens next spring. I said strange because the Pawtucket team is now in the International League Triple-A playoffs, so you would think he would be trying to help that club.

And just promoted again by Boston from Double-A Portland was Cuban import Rusney Castillo. Castillo, who has double-digit HR and SB potential, will play in the Triple-A playoffs this week and then likely head to Boston next week. In a league where he is keepable, I would spend whatever I had left to roster him.

If you are looking for some stolen bases and Mariners outfielder James Jones is not available, then Terrance Gore, now up with Kansas City, would be a good target.

I don’t see as many clear choices in the NL (at least in my league) but there are a few very interesting players in the NL East. The Mets recalled SP Rafael Montero and while previous results did not reflect his long term ability, Montero is scheduled to get a home start against the Rockies next Wednesday. Also joining the Metropolitans after the Las Vegas B51s finished their playoffs (losing to Reno in the Pacific Coast League championships) is Gonzalez Germen, who might get a save chance or two in the final weeks.

And I am sure you know that the Dodgers number one prospect outfielder Joc Pederson was recalled last week. Pederson, who had a 30-30 season at Triple-A Albuquerque, hasn’t played much but that could change next week if the Dodgers have clinched the NL West. Pederson is the best centerfielder in the Dodgers organization, including the big league team.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 September 2014 23:13
Swinging for the Brass Ring$ PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 03 September 2014 00:00

In addition to the several very good high stakes fantasy football contests, there is the equivalent of the FF Lotto – the Football Guys Players Championship has the largest grand prize carrot with a first prize of $300,000.

The attraction for the six thousand plus entrants to this contest is not only the huge payout but the fact you might win that life changing prize on one $350 entry. Yes, several people will buy a three-pack for a thousand dollars and yes, every year there is some fanatic who buys 40 or 50 entries thinking that he will have a better chance of grabbing that elusive brass ring.

But the contest – run by FFPC and using their unique rule set which includes 1.5 points per reception for tight ends and a double flex for RB/WR/TE as well as “action” scoring (so your wide receiver would receive six points if he is a punt or kickoff returner and scores a touchdown on a runback) – does produce a very interesting draft. As you would guess, the top tier of tight ends will go off the board in the first or second round. And the rest of the highly projected tight ends will join them in the first five or six rounds. You could of course eschew the run but you better be very right or get very lucky with a later tight end selection, and of course you likely won’t have the option of flexing a tight end.

But again, that carrot beckons, so Greg Morgan and I set out to draft a “Captain Morgan” entry on Monday night, and if you are drafting in that contest today or tomorrow or in the FFPC main event this coming weekend, perhaps a review of our draft can help you in yours.

We drew the eight hole and immediately thought our targets would be 1) Jimmy Graham or 2) Eddie Lacy, or failing that one of the premium wide receivers. In actual practice, here was the start of our draft:

1.01  – LeSean McCoy, RB, PHI

1.02  – Jamaal Charles, RB, KC

1.03  – Matt Forte, RB, CHI

1.04  – Adrian Peterson, RB, MIN

1.05  – Calvin Johnson, WR, DET – nothing unusual so far...

1.06  – A.J. Green, WR, CIN

1.07  – Demaryius Thomas, WR, DEN

So we took Jimmy Graham, getting not only the best tight end in the game but giving us peace in not having to reach for a tight end and missing a more valuable RB or WR, and not having to jump to roster two or three maybes.

Eddie Lacy, Giovani Bernard, Montee Ball and Dez Bryant finished the first round in our league and the second round started with Brandon Marshall, Julio Jones, Marshawn Lynch and fortunately, Antonio Brown. Fortunate because while Brown is a very fine receiver, it left us DeMarco Murray for our second round pick and first running back and a very good one, which was much better for roster construction going forward.

At 3.08 our plan was just to take the best wide receiver available and we were fine with Andre Johnson, undervalued this year. Trust me, Ryan Fitzpatrick will get him the ball. Peyton Manning was the only quarterback taken so far (3.04 to the Julius Thomas 2.09 owner) so we thought it would be very interesting if Drew Brees was still available when we picked in the fourth round. Mind you, for the most part we are late quarterback drafters in most contests this year. But pairing Brees with Graham would allow us to try for the big scores in the playoff weeks needed to win a fantasy lottery like this. And make no mistake that is what this contest is – it only pays first and second place in each league whereas in the high stakes contests you can make a nice profit by winning your league and get into a much smaller field in the Championship round. So we think we are pretty well set with those first four picks – Brees at QB, Murray at RB1, Johnson at WR1 and Graham at TE. We would try and maximize the rest of our starting lineup and add as much depth and upside as we could after that.

So here is our entire roster, with bye weeks:

QB – Brees (6)

RB – Murray (11), M. Jones-Drew (5), D. McFadden (5), D. McCluster (9), B. Cunningham (4), I. Crowell (4), J. Grimes (10), D. Archer (12)

WR – Johnson (10), Michael Floyd (4), M. Colston (6), E. Decker (11), A. Boldin (8), A. Dobson (10), J. Jones (5)

TE – Graham (6), T. Wright (10)

K – J. Tucker (11)

DST – Houston Texans (10)

And a few notes about our strategy and the draft.

When you have a top tier quarterback, there is really no reason to draft a backup. You are only going to play that quarterback in your bye week and have plenty of time to decide who to drop and get one from the free agent pile. Those roster spots to gain both depth and upside with RB, WR and TE if needed are invaluable.

Because this contest pushes the better tight ends up – Graham 1.08, J. Thomas 2.09, Gronkowski 2.12, J. Cameron 3.10, Z. Ertz 5.11, J. Reed 5.12, J. Witten 6.04, K. Rudolph 6.06, Dennis Pitta 7.01, Vernon Davis 7.02 and Greg Olsen 7.03 – it pushes quarterbacks down. In this draft, Manning went at 3.04, Brees at 4.05, Aaron Rodgers 4.07, Matthew Stafford 5.05, and then Nick Foles 7.06 before the floodgates opened in the 9th and 10th rounds.

But again, if you draft a top tier quarterback and decide you absolutely need a backup, it shouldn’t be in the first ten rounds when you need to flesh out your starting lineup.

Hopefully, that will help you if you are drafting in this format later this week. If you have any specific player questions, you can post them below or in the forums.

Good Luck at your drafts and in Week 1.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 September 2014 03:23
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
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