Fantasy Curling: Yes, Really

I’m sure many of you fantasy junkies are trying to get by with NFL playoff games, hockey, or basketball- or even starting to brush up on your SABERmetrics. But the hardcore of you know it’s never enough; we all need more reasons to talk smack to our buddies and waste time at work. Well what if I told you I had another option for you during the fantasy nuclear holocaust that is the winter and it involved the greatest sport that can be watched at any bar? That’s right, Fantasy Olympic Curling can and will exist on this great planet of ours.

Cause how often do you get to post a picture with matching pants like these?

Some background on curling: Two teams alternate curling stones towards the other end of an ice sheet. Teams win when they have the most points after 10 ends, or win in extra ends [much like extra innings in baseball], or the other team forfeits. The team throwing second in the end is said to have the ‘hammer,’ and is typically most likely to win the end and earn points. ‘Stealing an End’ happens when the team going first scores in the end. The game is best enjoyed with a BAC above 0.10 at the bar.

The mechanics of it are pretty simple albeit different from normal fantasy games. As many of you curling enthusiasts know, there are no individual stats in curling. So here’s how it breaks down for February’s Curling in Sochi:

There are 10 teams for each gender, making a total of 20 teams. After relearning how to add and multiply, I found the best way to do a fantasy league (really more like mini-game) was to allow a maximum of 10 teams in a league with each team picking two teams from either gender. Teams are drafted one at a time in a serpentine draft order (or for people who really don’t care, randomly). And if you can keep track of the following numbers, I found this was the best way to ensure a fair league no matter the draft spot.

Scoring is a bit more interesting. Without individual stats, all points are based on team performance. I personally use the stats of: Wins (3 points), Extra Ends Loss (1 point) [equivalent to an OT loss in hockey], Points (1 point per point), Stolen Ends (1 point per stolen end), and Forced Forfeit Ends (1 point per end forfeited by opposing team. ex: team A forfeits after 8 ends to team B. Team B’s owner earns 2 points). You sum the points from both your teams in the Olympics up until the medal rounds. Tiebreaker is average shooting percentage of both your teams..

Another kicker to the league is in the olympics curling is played in draws of 8 teams per gender, with multiple draws played per day. So head-to-head is out. But I think that’s a good thing in this case; the league lasts all of a week, so a Roto league works pretty well with still tons of chances to yell at your buddies while falling out of a bar stool.

If you followed all that (or didn’t) here’s a summary:
-Maximum of 10 people per league, each gets two teams, picked in a serpentine draft or randomly.
-Roto league with 3 points per Win, 1 point per Extra Ends Loss, 1 point per Point scored, 1 point per Stolen End, 1 point per Forced Forfeit Ends. Points summed for both teams.
-Tiebreaker is average shooting percentage for both teams.

And the best part of all this: I have a pre-built Excel sheet here for anyone to use to keep track of it all and modify for curling or other sports. All you have to do is enter the numbers in. Or you could be lazy and check in on our site for my daily point updates per team and just remember what Far North teams are yours.

Bridging Fantasy Football 2013 and 2014

Ah that time of year where presents are exchanged, trophies are won, and expletives flow like egg nog. Some of you woke up this Monday as champs, if you did, congrats. Many factors can lead to a victory, most of all a good draft, good eye on the wire, and tying it all together, luck.

Virtually no one wins a fantasy season without drafting moderately well and/or being really good on the wire. Most all, don’t be afraid to take some chances on the two. This is important to remember for next year. Many players sulk from a bum draft pick or two, a great player they missed or dropped to the wire, and/or their injury situation. Fact is, you can draft as well as you want and have as good of an eye as you want, but luck and chance is the name of the game in fantasy. Let’s analyze the bulldozer of my league, my girlfriend’s fantasy team:

QB: Peyton
RBs: McCoy and Reggie Bush (MJD acquired for Decker), and DeAngelo
WRs: Demarius and Antonio Brown
TEs: Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker
DEF: Seahwaks
K: Prater

Obviously, the Broncos turning into the greatest passing offense basically ever seen bouyed her immensely. But picking Peyton was obviously a risky move, and it worked for her. Who knew at the start of the year he would average over 25 points a game. McCoy was another question mark- Kelly’s offense was never tested when the draft came around. Bush was, and remains, injury prone, but a PPR beast when on the field. Brown stepped up to be a great WR, but that was far from a given at the start of the year. Walker turned out to be a beast for her in both the TE slot when Vernon was on Bye and in the Flex. The Seahawks were probably the only spot that offered her little risk, but still substantial reward.

Long story short: she (probably unwittingly) took some big chances with this team. But all her chances worked. She could’ve picked Lynch and his consistent production or McCoy and his possibility of going bananas in a new offense. Can I say this is the safest route? No. But did taking chances reap her great rewards? Hell. Yes.

Remember this for next year redrafters: you only have one chance at the Shiva. Draft smart (i.e. don’t pick kickers prior to the last round), but remember to take gambles on huge upside players if the opportunity presents itself (player falls far down, or is a small reach). If you don’t take chances but draft safe, expect a middle of the pack finish. Sure there’s a chance you a pull a me and draft Martin and Finley, but I also stole DeSean and Lacy later on, so take the chances and then let  luck take over. It sucks, but fantasy is not a science; it’s more like craps. You can bet the good odds, but they’re still odds.

Go for the win at the draft next year; don’t fear failure, embrace the excitement for a chance to win it all.

Fantasy Football Playoffs 1/2

If you’ve survived this long, congrats. Gotta be in it to win it in fantasy and making the quarter finals of the playoffs is a feat in itself. But now you’re only a few imaginary points scored from a bunch of guys playing a kid’s game separating you from your homemade trophy from someone else in a bunch of guys you went to high school with. Here’s my ideas on how to make it this week:

Start Jacob Tamme and not check your lineup beforehand for a start/sit update and eat the point and half he gives you like I did

There’s the cliche/time-tested/eff-everybody-who-says-this tale to start your studs. Now, let’s take a sec and examine that: Stud isn’t someone you drafted high and just “hasn’t caught a break yet.” A stud is someone who is top at their position all season and every game they bring points home and have a chance to carry your team on their back. This includes the top 7-10 of QBs, the top 10-15 of RBs, and top 15-20 of WRs.

But Kevin, these are totally arbitrary numbers you say. You’re right. My only point from all this is start the people who produce, not who you want to produce. See Jacob Tamme above.

The old tale is meant to make sure when you have to pick between one of your tried-and-true fairly match-up proof players or a lower-tier player with a better match-up or a small hot streak, you should lean with the veteran.

This becomes much cloudier once you start having to choose between two very similar options in turns of consistent output history but different match ups. Then of course you play the match up.

The moral of the story is this: start the people not only you like this week but have liked and proven you right all year. That last bit is important, because if you definite stud differently and start someone vastly too volatile, then that’s for you and your team to deal with.

Applying this logic, let’s look at an interesting start/sit I’m sure many people are thinking of:

Jay Cutler – coming off an ankle injury and making the best QB on the team play second fiddle to him, he was producing before he went down, but will he go down again? He’d be a must start if the numbers McCown put up were his and he weren’t hurt. Therefore, he isn’t a stud, but a high ceiling-high risk start. Anyone else above him the ECR ranks from FantasyPros are more worthy of a start. I’d start him only over players who have no legitimate chance at breaking 15 easy.

Good luck out there applying your own crazy logic to your team. I know mine failed me this week.

MBK Week 14

Ah fantasy playoff season, where the weak and lucky (myself) face off against the strong and lucky. Only 3 wins away from hoisting your Shiva and doing dirty, dirty things to it to spite your friends. How do you polish off these 3 wins? Ride your studs, stream a hot hand, and bench all but the best.

Marry: Shane Vereen*
*(If you’re in a PPR league) This one is a no-brainer.
He plays on the Patriots with a great QB, Ridley sucks, and Blount is really a back-up in starter’s gear. Yeah they play the Browns, but they’ll squash out Gronk/Edelman leaving space for this monster. If you have any doubts at your RB or Flex spot for production, plug him and forget it.

Bang: Josh McCown/Jay Cutler
I banged McCown last week though still don’t trust him in full yet, but if I had to start him- especially in the playoffs- it’d be against the Cowboys and their near 300 yards/game given up to passers. If you have a passer on your team like Brees on your team that faces a really good Defense like Carolina, this is very much worth considering. It’s a stupid-obvious move in place of any QB not in the top-10, and a worthy proposition for any outside the top-5.

Kill: Antonio Gates
I’ll jump on the bandwagon for this. Gates is one of the greatest of all time, and still produces decent, but the sun is setting in San Diego. Ladarius Green is a great producer for the Bolts at TE, and with Gates hobbled only expects to see more targets his way. If I had Gates on my team, I wouldn’t throw him to the curb just yet (save that for next year’s draft) unless I had a top-10 option on my bench, but I’d be looking for a plan B just in case things go south in the next week or so if you don’t have that in your pocket.

Last week’s MBK:

M: Burleson – Swing and a big miss…
B: McCown – Bingo!
K: Texans – Watch them lose to the Jaguars in single digits again. Trust no one on that team, save maybe Andre.

MBK Week 13

Ah the (likely) last week of the regular fantasy playoffs. So many teams gruesomely fighting for oh so few spots. How do you push through to the promised land? By taking advice from a non-qualified expert on fantasy is how!

Marry: Nate Burleson
He pizza’d when he should have french fry’d. But now he is back and ready to make children cry at his and Calvin’s combined glory. I’m a Packers fan and this Thanksgiving may be rough. But when you’re the #deuce wide-out in a pass-happy offense against meh teams, you get a start in my book. Grab him if he’s still on your wire.

Bang: Josh McCown
In his time filling in for Cutler, he’s done admirably, even borderline really good. Top-10 play every week? No. This week, against the Vikings? Oh goodness yes. Stream him if you need help at QB.

Kill: All the rest of the Texans.
I called for a death of their passing game way back, and banged Keenum once, but things just look even worse for the whole of this team. Their passing game is rough, and Tate can only do so much when they play from behind. No one on this team is match-up proof anymore, dare I say it even Andre. Get out while you can (if you can), and otherwise pray for Texas.

Week 11 MBK:
M: Donald Brown- Mixed bag of epic and awful
Foles – Purtty good

B: Keenum – Meh

K: Bell – So so