Monday, March 29, 2010

Fanduel Daily Baseball Contest Launch

Fanduel will be launching their daily baseball contests on Friday. In addition, they'll be launching multiplayer contests for all sports at the same time. New players can receive a $10 deposit bonus from them by entering LAUNCH10 in the promo code field of the registration form. Note that to enter a promo code, you'll need to register for the site using the small 'join' link in the upper right corner of the screen. If you register with the form on the main landing page (which doesn't provide anywhere to enter the promo code), then just send me an email and I'll get you credited for the $10 bonus.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My Full NFBC Roster

Here's my full roster for the NFBC Online Double Play team that I talked about yesterday. In general, my assumption was that I could pick up underrated pitchers and would also be able to improve my pitching stats through active roster management during the season, so I focused on hitters during the early rounds. As I mentioned before, I got a lot of hitters that I really like...in many cases by reaching a little. I don't think a lot of players on my team would be viewed as 'value' picks, at least when compared to their usual ADP. I'm not sure whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. I'll discuss the draft more over the next couple of weeks.

Round 1: Prince Fielder
Round 2: David Wright
Round 3: Dustin Pedroia
Round 4: Nelson Cruz
Round 5: Jon Lester
Round 6: Shin-Soo Choo
Round 7: Alexei Ramirez
Round 8: Carlos Gonzalez
Round 9: Carlos Quentin
Round 10: Brett Anderson
Round 11: Mike Napoli
Round 12: Chad Qualls
Round 13: Garrett Jones
Round 14: Mike Gonzalez
Round 15: Octavio Dotel
Round 16: Kevin Slowey
Round 17: Franklin Gutierrez
Round 18: Paul Konerko
Round 19: Kevin Gregg
Round 20: Ryan Theriot
Round 21: Marc Rzepczynski
Round 22: Phil Hughes
Round 23: Juan Rivera
Round 24: C.J. Wilson
Round 25: Brandon Wood
Round 26: Ivan Rodriguez
Round 27: Orlando Hudson
Round 28: Ricky Romero
Round 29: Daniel Bard
Round 30: Mike Adams

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

NFBC Online Double Play Draft

My main league for this year is an NFBC Online Double Play. For those who don't know, here are the key facts:

-$350 entry fee
-23 active players, 7 bench players
-5X5 scoring
-12 team leagues, with top two receiving prizes
-Additional prizes for top ten teams overall out of up to 1,080 teams

I'll probably be talking about this league a lot during the season. For now, I'll just cover a few of the highlights (and lowlights) from my draft last night.

The Good: I like my team and got a surprisingly large number of the players I was targeting. In two cases, a player I anticipated picking wasn't available, but a better player that I thought would be gone was available instead. I thought I'd get Miguel Cabrera with pick 1.10. He was gone, but I got Prince Fielder instead. I thought I'd get Josh Johnson with pick 5.10. He was gone, but I got Jon Lester instead. My offense is unusually balanced, with very few one dimensional players. I consider that an advantage, because an injury to one player generally won't have a disproportionate impact on any one category for me. My top two starters are a little better than I expected to end up with (Lester and Brett Anderson). I expected to get three low end closers, but ended up with four (Qualls, Gonzalez, Dotel, and Gregg).

The Bad: There were three players I really wanted who weren't available when I hoped they'd be. I thought that even with yesterday's news, Jose Reyes might slip to pick 3.10. He didn't. I was very surprised and disappointed that Matt Wieters wasn't available at pick 6.3 (or even 5.10). And Francisco Liriano went a few picks before I was set to take him at 15.10. Missing out on Liriano caused the middle of my rotation to be a little weaker than I hoped. Slowey is my #3, and then I have to sort through Rzep, Hughes, Ricky Romero and CJ Wilson for the remaining permanent spots in my rotation. I like all of those guys, but I really think Liriano is poised to return to be a top pitcher.

The Ugly: My plan if Reyes wasn't available was supposed to be that I would consider taking Felix Hernandez (if available) but would probably take Derek Jeter at 3.10. When the pick came up, Reyes and Hernandez were both gone. What threw me off was that Dustin Pedroia was somewhat unexpectedly still available. I had him projected for almost identical statistics to Jeter, but I almost always prefer the younger player in that situation. The one minor detail I forgot was that I had read about an injury to Pedroia a few hours earlier. I'm not sure if it was the excitement of the draft or what, but it completely slipped my mind until this morning. So I went ahead and picked Pedroia. Luckily for me, his x-rays came back negative today, so it looks like I may have dodged a bullet.

The other ugliness arose from Fanball's new draft software. Overall I think the interface is pretty good, and some tweaking could make it exceptional. Unfortunately, there were some bugs that caused nearly an hour of delays early in the draft. An additional half hour or so of delays were caused by one player having three or four separate problems where he was in autodraft mode and ended up with players he didn't want...resulting in the draft being stopped and rolled back two or three picks. So our 9pm draft ended up finishing after 1:30am. In Fanball's defense, their customer support for NFBC is really amazing. We were provided with a phone number at the beginning of the draft. During the course of the draft several of us briefly lost internet connections, and I was easily able to get Geoff from Fanball on the phone, where he told me the picks I had missed and manually entered the player I wanted for my next picks.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Interview With Daily Contest Player Who Made $8K in 2009

I've been doing some part time work for the folks at Fanduel and recently had the opportunity to interview ‘Headchopper’, who is one of the top players on the site. Headchopper (whose real name is David) is a 30 year old real estate agent from Texas. Some readers of The Waiver Wire might be interested in what he had to say. What follows are some of the highlights of our conversation.

Fanduel: You play in a pretty large amount of contests every day. I believe you’ve mentioned before that you were an overall winner in 2009. How much total profit did you make?

Headchopper: In 2009, I won various daily contests for $34,000+, and lost contests in the amount of $26,000. So there was a net profit of around $8,000.

Fanduel: Was your profit split among multiple sports, or did one sport account for the bulk of your winnings?

Headchopper: Football was my top sport this past season, followed closely by baseball. Basketball was a distant 3rd. Having the basketball season start while football is in full swing really detracts from the first couple months of basketball for me. And now as the basketball season winds down, preparation for baseball is taking place, so it takes a backseat again.

Fanduel: Do you play more traditional formats of fantasy games for any of those sports?

Headchopper: I used to play a lot of yearly leagues. But as I got into the daily sites, I have tapered off from those leagues.

Fanduel: How long have you been playing in daily fantasy contests, and how did you first find out about them?

Headchopper: I first found daily fantasy sports thru a link on a sports website in late 2008 or early 2009. I dabbled for a while, and then around June 2009 started playing in bulk.

Fanduel: Are you into sports betting, poker or any other forms of gambling?

Headchopper: I used to gamble on sports a lot. I also played a lot of internet poker. I found that ,although you can get on a hot streak and make some money, ultimately you’re not going to beat the sportsbooks. Fantasy sports lets you apply the same type of information to the daily sports games, but with a little more control over the outcome.

Fanduel: What do you think are some underrated aspects of strategy for daily fantasy contests that beginning players might overlook?

Headchopper: I always try to commit 15-20 minutes before lineups lock to update the status of players involved in that day’s contests. There’s nothing worse than being caught with a late scratch that could have been avoided. There are going to be times when you catch bad breaks with injuries and so forth, but knowledge is king. The more you know and keep abreast of the news, the better your chances to minimize those situations.

Fanduel: What’s your favorite thing about playing in the daily contests on Fanduel?

Headchopper: I love to find players who outperform themselves on that given night. And I love to see some guys cry about how lucky it was. But down inside, you know that you did the research and you had a hunch it was going to happen, so it's really not luck at all.

Fanduel: Is there anyone else playing on Fanduel that’s good enough that you’d prefer not to see them as your opponent very often?

Headchopper: I will, and have, played anyone who wants to play. But when dealing with the mathematics of winning percentage and what it takes to turn a profit, I would rather not be lined up against Tuffled1 or UCLA2 every night in basketball.

Fanduel: Is your opinion of Tuffled1 and UCLA2 based simply on their playing a lot, or can you tell from their picks that they're strong opponents?

Headchopper: When I first started playing at Fanduel, there weren’t nearly as many players as there are now. Every day I was up against those two guys. And they usually played the same players. I could tell right away they both had a great deal of knowledge about basketball and that it would be really tough to turn a profit if I were to play them every night.

Fanduel: Do you have any specific goals for your play in fantasy contests in 2010?

Headchopper: In 2010 I'd just like to establish some momentum to start baseball and carry it on into football season.

Fanduel: What’s something that you think could be even better about Fanduel in the future?

Headchopper: More games...More sports. Tap into the college fantasy market while it is still new. Because very soon it is going to grow to be as big as NBA and MLB fantasy. I fell in love with college football. So many players to choose from really benefits those who put in the research and I did quite well at that sport and hope you’ll offer it in the future.

Click here to register for the daily fantasy sports contests at Fanduel.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Random Updates

My main draft for this year (NFBC Online Double Play) is next Tuesday night, so I've been pretty busy preparing for that.

In the meantime, here are updates on a few other sites...

Citizen Sports (which was just acquired by Yahoo) launched their Salary Cap game on Facebook. There were some relatively minor rule changes, so if you're playing the game definitely read the new rules. Also, I wasn't able to find any mention of prizes.

ESPN launched their Baseball Challenge. Like all the full season salary cap games, prizes have been reduced to the point that they're worth almost nothing.

These are tough, tough times if you're a fan of full season salary cap fantasy baseball with daily transactions. There simply isn't any way to use your skills to make money at these games in 2010. Your best bet is to play in daily contests, where the top players from the full season contests should be able to maintain a high enough winning percentage to be quite profitable over the long run.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Why You Should Care About Average Draft Position

I've heard at several fantasy baseball players proudly state that they ignore Average Draft Position (ADP) when planning for their drafts. The reasoning seems to be that you should 'think for yourself'...which would imply that visiting blogs, websites, and other sources of information isn't a good idea either. Of course, anyone suggesting this is missing the point of ADP data. I'm not reviewing it to figure out which players are the most valuable. I'm reviewing it to see how early I need to pick the players I really like if I don't want to risk having them selected by someone else first. I may think that Carlos Gonzalez is worth a 6th round pick, but ADP data helps me determine that I can wait until the 9th round to get him. Thanks to knowing his ADP, there's a good chance that I can get another 6th round quality player along with Carlos Gonzalez, instead of picking him in the 6th round and getting a 9th round quality player in the 9th round. That's a big edge, and anybody who completely ignores it is almost certainly not drafting as efficiently as they could.

There are several well known sources of ADP data (Mockdraftcentral.com and the newer Couchmanagers.com). I'd also recommend Fantasy Game Day which gathers ADP data from a variety of sources, and provides a spreadsheet that groups players into 'tiers' based on their ADP and average round selected in different sized leagues.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Daily Fantasy Baseball: $20 Free With Promo Code

For anyone interested in trying out daily fantasy baseball contests this season, Fanduel is offering $20 free on all deposits by new players. So for a $10 deposit (the minimum), you'll get $30 in your account. Just sign up using the 'join' link and enter PADDY20 in the promotional code field between now and next Monday. Don't use the quick registration form on the main 'landing' page for the site, because it doesn't have anywhere to enter the promo code. Once the promo ends, you're only likely to get $10-$12 for your $10 deposit, so this is definitely the best time to make deposits if you're planning to play in the daily baseball contests. For anyone who hasn't tried these out, they're one day salary cap contests. Deposit money via credit card or Paypal, pick a team within the salary cap, win (or lose) based on the performance of your players that day, and withdraw money whenever you want by check or Paypal. The contests are a lot of fun - both because of the immediate gratification of seeing whether you win or lose the same day you make your picks, and because they give you an opportunity to evaluate aspects of the game that normal fantasy contests don't emphasize - strength of opponent, park, home/away, platoon advantages, etc.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mat Latos 2010

Mat Latos is a popular recommendation as a sleeper pick for 2010. People are looking at his long term potential, his strong minor league numbers, and the advantage he'll gain from pitching half of his games in San Diego. While all of those should help him out, I'm not convinced he's ready to excel in the majors yet. His strikeout ratees in A and AA were right around one batter per inning. Good (especially when coupled with good control), but not exceptional for a top prospect. I suspect that he's going to struggle this year, unless he takes a big step forward.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Setting Your Fantasy Baseball Goals

If you ask most people what they're trying to accomplish in any fantasy baseball league or contest, the answer will that their goal is to do as well as possible. Sometimes that's a reasonable answer, but in some formats you're forced to choose among multiple goals. One obvious example of this is in the high stakes contests like NFBC or WCOFB. Is your primary focus to win the overall prizes or to ensure that you win your league? You can try to balance both goals, but by doing you make your chances of accomplishing either one worse.

How to treat the current situation with Jose Reyes is a perfect example of this choice. Let's say you're drafting in the NFBC this weekend. Jose Reyes is supposed to rest for the next "approximately 2-8 weeks". If his thyroid condition has improved at that point, he can start getting ready to play. In other words, he could conceivably be back by Opening Day...or we could learn in mid-May that he needs to miss more time. Let's assume that his current situation causes him to be drafted in the 4th round, instead of the 2nd round where he was going in most drafts unil the latest news broke.

So is Jose Reyes worth a 4th round pick right now? That completely depends on your goals. If you want to ensure that you win your league, I think he's too high a risk. This guy could miss half the season. On the other hand, if you want to beat out hundreds of other opponents for the top overall prize, you need to swing for the fences...and getting a first round quality player in the fourth round would be a great way to do that. If you don't think through your goals ahead of time, you may end up with a blended strategy that fails on both counts. You'll pick some risky players, some safe players, and end up with less than your share of league victories despite never putting yourself in position for a high overall finish.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

NFBC Slow Draft - Full Roster

We finally finished my NFBC slow draft. I'm pretty happy with my team overall. With no trades or free agent pickups, it was important to have depth at every position. The only real hole in my team's depth is that I would have liked to have three third basemen, and only have two. I also wouldn't have minded getting another starting pitcher, but missed out on all the others that I liked. I obviously focused more on hitting than pitching...that was a calculated risk, because I think I'm good enough at evaluating pitchers that I should do ok with them anyway. We'll see if I'm right. I also expect to make more active use of my bench players than most owners, so I focused on getting guys who will get playing time, even if they didn't have quite as much upside as some of the available prospects in the later rounds. Here's my full roster:

1B Prince Fielder MIL R1 P9
1B Daniel Murphy NYM R24 P7
1B Gaby Sanchez FLA R32 P7
1B Ryan Garko SEA R33 P9
2B Brian Roberts BAL R3 P9
2B Kaz Matsui HOU R22 P7
2B Alexi Casilla MIN R44 P7
3B Aramis Ramirez CHC R4 P7
3B Jake Fox OAK R23 P9
SS Jose Reyes NYM R2 P7
SS Yuniesky Betancourt KC R35 P9
SS Tommy Manzella HOU R39 P9
C Matt Wieters BAL R5 P9
C Kurt Suzuki OAK R10 P7
C Gerald Laird DET R27 P9
OF Carlos Quentin CHW R7 P9
OF Garrett Jones PIT R9 P9
OF Nolan Reimold BAL R13 P9
OF Juan Rivera ANA R16 P7
OF Travis Snider TOR R17 P9
OF Scott Podsednik KC R18 P7
OF Luke Scott BAL R20 P7
OF Nate Schierholtz SF R28 P7
OF Micah Hoffpauir CHC R45 P9
DH Ken Griffey SEA R36 P7
DH Mike Jacobs NYM R40 P7
SP Javier Vazquez NYY R6 P7
SP Chad Billingsley LA R8 P7
SP Roy Oswalt HOU R12 P7
SP Marc Rzepczynski TOR R19 P9
SP Colby Lewis TEX R21 P9
SP Ricky Romero TOR R26 P7
SP Jon Niese NYM R29 P9
SP John Smoltz FA R30 P7
SP Andrew Miller FLA R34 P7
SP James McDonald LA R38 P7
RP Rafael Soriano TB R11 P9
RP Kerry Wood CLE R14 P7
RP Kevin Gregg TOR R15 P9
RP Chris Perez CLE R25 P9
RP Dan Wheeler TB R31 P9
RP Mike Adams SD R37 P9
RP Peter Moylan ATL R41 P9
RP Joe Thatcher SD R42 P7
RP Hong-Chih Kuo LA R43 P9

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Justin Masterson 2010

Justin Masterson is an intriguing sleeper in 2010. Pitching part of the season in relief and part of the season as a starter, he struck out 8.28 and walked 4.18 per nine innings last year. Combined with a very good 53.6% groundball rate, those stats make Masterson a highly effective pitcher. Normally a little bit of regression could be expected now that Masterson will presumably be pitching the full season as a starter, but given his age (about to turn 25) there's every possibility that Masterson could actully improve this season. If he can improve his control at all, he's going to very solid...far better than his current position in most drafts would indicate.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Fantasy Baseball Industry Updates

Thought I'd do a quick update on the current status of various sites in the fantasy baseball industry...

NFBC - just (in the past few days) gave players a first look at their new draft software and FAAB software. Overall, opinion seems to be lukewarm (or slightly better) on the draft software and somewhat more positive on the FAAB software. The good news is that they've been very active in forum discussions about the features, and I'm expecting a lot of the minor improvements people are looking for to be included very promptly. Compared to most software launches in the industry, I'd say they should be pretty happy with how they've done on this one. I'm definitely very impressed by their customer service - they're always on their own message boards, respond to most emails immediately, and I'm guessing that even though today is Sunday we'll see a comment from one of them in response to this post.

WCOFB - I didn't spend a lot of time looking, but I wasn't able to get a sense of how sign-ups are going from their message forum. If anyone has an idea how many people they've got so far, I'd be curious to hear from you.

Sporting News/Rotohog - These are basically the same entity at this point. Rotohog's site indicates salary cap and stock exchange games are coming soon. Players on the TSN message boards are furious at the lack of news and lack of responsiveness of the TSN staff.

Rapiddraft - Apparently will not be having baseball this year.

Fantasyworld - Also, apparently will not be having baseball. The lack of news on their site is a little odd, but at least one player reported receiving his football prizes recenty, so there's clearly nothing to worry about.

ESPN Baseball Challenge - No news yet on ESPN about this one. They never seem to give much advance notice when it launches, so I assume it will be back. That said, think they did eliminate the equivalent baseball game, so it bears watching.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Ricky Romero 2010

It's a little unclear to me why Ricky Romero isn't a more popular late round pick than he is. His performance in in 2009 was very solid. 7.13 strikeouts per nine innings and 3.99 walks per nine innings is more than good enough to be effective when combined with his exceptional 54.0% groundball rate. I assume people's hesitation to embrace Romero's success is based on Toronto's weak offense in 2010 combined with the fact that his minor league track record suggests that he might be in for some regression in 2010. Romero is only 25 years old though, so I'm going to guess that the improvement last year was real, and that Romero will make a nice sleeper for those of us playing in deep leagues.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Fantasy Horse Racing Contest

I realize that most people are coming to The Waiver Wire for fantasy baseball information, but once in a while I post something about other fantasy sports. If you're one of the five other people in the world who follows horse racing as closely as me, fantasy horse racing contests can be a lot of fun. There are a few contests running this year. In the most interesting on, you pay a $12 entry fee that makes you eligible for a $10,000 prize every month for the next year ($12 total entry fee, $120,000 total prizes). Select an 18 horse/5 jockey stable for the year. Each month activate 12 horses and 3 jockeys. Score points based on performance. Top score each month wins the $10K. The website is Derbydreamer.com. If you are going to enter, use my referal code (16228145) and I'd be happy to give you some pointers.

Jake Fox 2010

Last year Jake Fox hit .259 with 11 home runs in 216 at bats. That's pretty consistent with what he's done throughout his minor league career on a per at bat basis. The key for 2010 is how much playing time he's going to get. Interestingly for a guy whose weakness is his inability to field well, Fox has some additional value due to position eligibility (3B and OF). The thing to watch for is whether he fields either of those positions well enough to get much playing time at them in 2010, or will he just be splitting at bats at DH with Jack Cust. The other interesting question is whether his work in AAA last year was a fluke, or a sign of things to come: .409 with 17 home runs in 164 at bats!

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Update On Random NFBC Stuff

I've made two more picks in the slow draft since my last update:

Rd. 17, Pick #249: Travis Snider
Rd. 18, Pick #262: Scott Podsednik

I don't really like Podsednik much, but he's like to start most games to the Royals, and I felt like I needed someone capable of stealing a bunch of bases.

One word of caution to anyone who hasn't tried a slow draft before. Don't be fooled by the name and the 12 hour time limit. People will get cranky if you consistently take a long time with your picks. If you want to avoid that, let people know your schedule, give some of them your contact info, and put yourself on autopick or find someone who can pick for you when you're going to be out for too long.

At some point in the next few weeks I'm going to sign up for the NFBC Double Play. The online version of that contest (which is the one I'll be entering) has a $350 entry fee, small league prizes, and overall prizes for the top finishers, including a $60K grand prize. Drafts are scheduled at a variety of different times, and I'd love to hear people's opinions on when the competition is likely to be the weakest. I've heard several people suggest that the early drafts (held in mid March) aren't likely to attract as many of the top players as those in later March and early April. That probably makes sense. I'm also thinking that the 9pm drafts (especially during the week) are likely to have more people making hurried late round picks than the afternoon drafts or 7pm drafts. 9pm on St. Patrick's Day seems very promising although I don't know if my preparation will be done in time for that one.

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