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Archive December 2011

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Payne's Picks

A look at this weekend's action:

Jaromir Jagr Leaves a Mark (Again)

Jaromir Jagr's glass-shattering slap shot during Wednesday's practice serves notice that he's back in Pittsburgh following a tumultous summer. It also brings this writer full circle 21 years and four days later. 

Revisiting Preseason Predictions & Week 17 Predictions

20-11-1 against the spread after a 2-0 Week 16, and we're back for more analytically driven Week 17 predictions.

Calm Ahead of the Storm?

We've hit a very quiet time in the baseball off season. All it really means is that things will heat up again in the New Year.

NFL Notes


A look around the league:

Week 16 Observations

Everyone says Peyton Manning's the MVP because the Colts were winless without him after winning 10 games or more since the dawn of time. Well, it's pretty clear the Colts are a 6-10-type team with Dan Orlovsky under center, rather than last year's 10-6. Four games is a lot, don't get me wrong, but it's Jay Cutler/Matt Schaub at this point. Maybe Manning circa 2004 would be worth 10-plus games, but let's stop with all the hyperbole this year. It might be that Manning to Orlovsky is worth four, and and Orlovsky to Painter is worth another four actually.

NFL Week 16 Live Blog

Welcome to Championship Saturday. Here's hoping you have a Super Bowl going this week. I made four finals out of 10 leagues - but I have a miserable team in the Steak League and will be paying heavily. Need big games again from Calvin Johnson and C.J. Spiller to defray the costs. Who's your key this week?

Thoughts on the Raptors

Some musings on the Association's north of the border franchise heading into the season.

NBA Preseason Notes

Kyle McKeown covered the Nets' acquisition of Mehmet Okur in this space yesterday... but to expand on what he said:
  • I really like this deal for both teams. Okur wasn't part of Utah's long-term plans, and his presence on the roster was going to make it more difficult for Ty Corbin to juggle Al Jefferson, Derrick Favors, Paul Millsap and Enes Kanter at the four and five spots.
  • Okur fits on the Nets in several ways. In the short term, he can fill in for Lopez. When Lopez returns, Okur can play alongside him as a stretch four at times, giving New Jersey a pretty solid rotation at the four and five in Lopez, Okur and Kris Humphries. And as Kyle noted, he shouldn't have much trouble getting used to playing with Deron Williams; they were teammates for years in Utah.
  • Lopez had surgery on his broken foot today and will reportedly be sidelined for 6-8 weeks... but I'm betting the over. Dallas guard Rodrigue Beaubois suffered a similar injury and has been sidelined for the better part of a year... and lower body injuries always seem to be more complicated when seven-footers are involved.
  • The biggest loser in all this? Could be Shawne Williams. Williams reportedly signed with the Nets for a chance to start... but in Okur, New Jersey has a player that does most of what Williams can, but is better able to guard opposing big men. It's hard to say how Avery Johnson intends to use Williams this season; Williams missed both preseason games against the Knicks due to a virus.
Of course, Williams is only the biggest loser from a fantasy value perspective. Nets general manager Billy King is in a much worse boat. I suspect the Lopez injury - particularly if it sidelines the center for more than that eight-week span - will take the Nets out of contention in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes. And that will make it very difficult for the soon-to-be Brooklyn franchise to hang on to Deron Williams this summer.

In other news:

Andrew Bynum's five-game suspension has been reduced to four games, so the Lakers' center will make his season debut a little earlier than anticipated. While he's out, the Lakers will shift Pau Gasol to center and start Josh McRoberts at power forward. Plan your lineups accordingly.

Charlie Villanueva also had his suspension shortened by a game, but if he's starting for your team, I'm not talking to you. Just on general principle.

Back to the Lakers - second-year forward Devin Ebanks has been named the team's starting small forward. With the artist formerly known as Ron Artest set to come off the bench, that will leave very little playing time for Matt Barnes. (Sorry, I just cannot bring myself to type "Metta World Peace." Wait, I just did. Easier than I thought it'd be.)

Keep an eye on Bonzi Wells. The veteran reportedly looked very good at a free agent camp held by the Knicks this summer. He was just cut by the T-Wolves, but that team has about 46 guards under contract. Don't be surprised if he catches on somewhere and starts getting regular playing time.

Some position and rotation battles to watch: second-year pro Justin Harper has reportedly landed a rotation spot in Orlando. A very good shooter at the collegiate level, Harper could be a sneaky source of threes this year. Dante Cunningham is headed to Memphis, where he'll likely take over as the primary backup to Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph - a rotation spot vacated when Darrell Arthur tore his Achilles' tendon. Jared Dudley looks like he'll be the Suns' starter at shooting guard, with Shannon Brown coming off the bench. And now that Chuck Hayes has been cleared to play, he's back with the Kings and is expected to start at power forward. Downgrade Jason Thompson and J.J. Hickson accordingly.

Payne's Picks

A look at this weekend's action:

NBA Preseason Notes

Mike Barner breaks down the day's preseason news and fantasy developments.

NFL Notes


A look around the league:

Recent transactions: my take

Two more weeks of the NFL regular season, but baseball is coming...

The 12 Days Of Playoffs (Super Bowl Edition)

With the Super Bowl upon us, here are 12 bold predictions to make the holidays bright.

Trust Your Studs In Week 16

A few of fantasy's top players have some grueling matchups in Championship Week. But that doesn't mean you should abandon ship now after they've done so much to get you to this point.

Preseason Notes

A look around the Association as the regular season nears.

The Runaway Cart: Week 16 Predictions

18-11-1 against the spread, and we're back for more analytically driven Week 16 predictions.

Tuesday's Notes

A look at the happenings in the NBA:

Christmas Wishes for the NHL

As the NHL and its followers approach the Christmas holiday, I thought I would express some wishes that I have for the league, its players, and fans.

Week 15 Observations

It's unsporting of the Lions to block Sebastian Janikowski's potential game-winning 65-yard field goal. I get that they would have lost the game and possibly missed the playoffs, but when someone's going for an all-time record, I want to see if the kick has the distance. Incidentally, I might have had the Raiders plus half a point.

NBA Training Camp Notes: Dwight Howard To New Jersey?

Dwight Howard: Heading To New Jersey? The Dwight Howard rumor mill is turning yet again. This time, John Ireland, Lakers play-by-play man is turning the wheels: tonight on ESPN 710, the Lakers' play-by-play man said he expects the Nets and Magic to complete a trade involving Howard by tomorrow. The Magic recently rejected a trade in which they would send Howard for Brook Lopez and five first round picks (every other year from 2012 through 2020), so one would imagine the Nets would somehow have to sweeten that deal, and I'm not quite sure what kind of asset New Jersey can dangle there -- they already traded most of their young assets to Utah to acquire Deron Williams. We'll see if Ireland was right or if this is just another loud rumor.

NHL Power Rankings


One team from the Pacific Division makes biggest jump in the top 10, even though it ranks just sixth in the Western Conference standings.

NBA Preseason News Wrap

Nick Young re-signs with the Wizards for the one-year qualifying offer, but is he still the starter?

NBA: Weekend News Wrap

RotoWire NBA writer James Anderson breaks down the news that poured in through Saturday night.

NFL Week 15 Live Blog

Nearly panicked when I went to find my Bengals game on the Sunday Ticket package and it said that the game wasn't available there - my subscription didn't fail, did it? Then I noticed that we actually get the Bengals-Rams game locally here in Southern California - apparently plenty of people are still hung up on the Rams. To each their own, I guess.

If I'm A Reds Fan-I'm In Shock Today

If I'm a Reds fan, I'm in shock today.

Payne's Picks

A look at this weekend's action:

RotoWire NBA Mock Draft

A group of RotoWire basketball writers and some other fantasy experts gathered together Thursday to hold a mock draft on Mock Draft Central. Standard eight-category scoring rules applied (FG%, FT%, points, three-pointers, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks), no turnovers. We drafted based on the assumption that the league was for head-to-head competition.

An Early Look as Some Rays

Some notes of interest from the team:

Surprising Running Back Stars For Remainder Of The Season

Injuries have crippled the running back position this season. That means many fantasy owners need to get real creative at the position now in order to win their league title.
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Do Analytics Take the Fun Out of Sports?
Apparently that was the topic of one of the presentations at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston last week. The presenter, Yale's Edward Tufte, opined:

Don't let people tell you analytics are reductionist and take the joy out of sports. They mostly just take the stupidity out of sports.

Is he right?

RotoWire's AL LABR Squad
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The Problem With Drafting Billy Hamilton
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Payne's Daily Fantasy Basketball Experiment
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My 12-Team NFBC RotoWire Online Championship Team
I drafted out of the 11-hole for the "Beat Chris Liss" league. I had done a fair amount of research on optimal roster construction from that slot, and I decided I'd go hitter in the first round, three pitchers in 2-4 and then hitting for the next 10 rounds or so before filling in with upside pitchers late. Of course, few battle plans survive the actual war. Here are the results:

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