Fantasy Football 2006

Last night I had an online fantasy football draft. It was a 12 team league, and by all accounts this year should be a running back heavy year. Just about every fantasy mock draft has running backs going 5th to 10th. In my draft, the first four picks were Larry Johnson, Shaun Alexandar, LT2, and Tiki Barber. So with the 5th pick, I decide to take… Peyton Manning. Earlier in the day Aaron Schatz (yes THAT Aaron Schatz) said in a BP Chat that taking Manning in the 4-5-6 range was justifiable “if all touchdowns are equal.” So with the knowledge that passing touchdowns are only 4 points in our league (compared to 6 for running or receiving), why did I do it?

First is that I felt the RB position was deep this year. Our league only starts 1 RB & 1 RB/WR, so I can get away with a single back if needed. I wasn’t in a position to get any of the big three, so I was left to choose from the second tier of the Rudi Johnson/Ronnie Brown caliber. In this league, 13 of the first 15 picks were RBs, and I didn’t feel that any of these guys gave me that much of an advantage over the other teams. While a few of these guys might be significant upgrades over the others, finding which ones could be tricky. In other words, these guys are so close together how I could I pick the one that will outperform the others?

My second line of reasoning is that the QB position isn’t that deep. After Peyton, Brady, & Hasselbeck, there is a clear drop in QB worth. Carson Palmer would have made it a ‘big 4’ if not for his tenuous return from injury. Not only is Culpepper returning from a similar injury, but he’s also coming off his worst season & now has a new surrounding cast. That’s too many question marks for my taste. While McNabb might be the best of the second tier guys, he’s had 2 major injuries in the last 4 seasons. I just wasn’t willing to take the injury risk on him. After the second tier, there is tier “Just For Men” (Bledsoe, Warner, Green, Farve, McNair), tier “Baby Mozart” (Michael Vick, Chris Simms, Vince Young, Leftwich, Leinart) injury tier — “The Sequel” (Brees, Rothlisberger, Pennington) and tier “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” (Brooks, Kitna, Carr, Volek, Lossman, Grossman, Alex Smith).

Finally I feel that my style of fantasy football play allows me to make up for draft day mistakes. I’m usually the fastest draw at free agency, and can grab a backup running back that’s been promoted due to injury or coach’s discretion.

Continuing with my strategy, I grabbed Larry Fitzgerald in the second round with the 20th pick. Steve Smith & Chad Johnson were taken before Fitzgerald, but I had Larry as my top rated WR anyway. By my 3rd round pick 17 other RBs had been taken, but I was still able to get Willie Parker (29th) and waited the long way back to me to get Frank Gore (44th) in the 4th. I’m really high on Gore. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry last year, is DVOA friendly, has sole occupancy of the starting RB job, and is averaging 5.4 yards per carry in preseason. That and one definition of his name is “murder, bloodshed, violence, etc.

To make up for my RB deficiency, I tried to grab guys that would improve their worth during the season. One of Lundy & Morency should win the Houston job & if Kubiak can emulate Denver’s blocking scheme one of them could hit 1000 yards. I also nabbed Mike Anderson in the hopes that Baltimore realizes that Jamal Lewis is history, and they need a veteran back on the season.

In any case here is what I ended up with. Feel free to comment:

Peyton Manning	IND	1	QB
L. Fitzgerald	ARI	2	WR
Willie Parker	PIT	3	RB
Frank Gore	SF	4	RB
Muhsin Muhammad	CHI	5	WR
Nate Burleson	SEA	6	WR
Chris Cooley	WAS	7	TE
Mike Anderson	BAL	8	RB
Michael Vick	ATL	9	QB
Wali Lundy	HOU	10	RB
Ben Watson	NE	11	TE
Roddy White	ATL	12	WR
Vernand Morency	HOU	13	RB
Braylon Edwards	CLE	14	WR
Michael Jenkins	ATL	15	WR
Chad Pennington	NYJ	16	QB
Lions Defense	DET	17	D
Jeff Wilkins	STL	18	K

Help Wanted

At the writing of this article, it has been 886 days since KnickerBlogger.Net’s conception. Although it started as a one man show, I’ve had a few guest bloggers along the way. Most notably is Dr. Dave Crockett who, despite my best efforts, stays around to give us exceptional insight on a host of topics. Including this one, my guests and I have written 382 articles give or take a few. That means KB.Net readers have gotten an average of 3 articles per week. Since I don’t normally write on weekends and there isn’t much to write about in the summer, the average during the NBA season is probably a tad higher. Over this span I’ve done my best to give hoops fans a bit of quality and quantity.

Unfortunately these days I don’t have the same free time as I did when I started, and I’d prefer for neither the quality nor quantity at this site to decline. So I’m opening the KnickerBlogger.Net human resources department to accept inquiries for writers.

The good news is that I’m not particular with the topics or style. You could cover the entire NBA, or give a basic post-recap of the Knicks games. You could be an X’s & O’s guy, or a stathead. Straight numbers guy, or knee-slapping funny. Or anywhere in between.

The bad news is that I’m not going to take just anyone. I’m looking for quality. I’m not asking for the next Hollinger, Dwyer, or Pelton, but whatever you have to offer I’d like to see you do it well with an attention to detail. If you just want to post something simple like the pre-Knick matchups statistically, make sure the formatting is the same every time. If you write an article, run it throught a spell checker & read it over a few times. Believe me readers can tell the difference when you rush through something and when you spend a few extra minutes on quality control.

Fortunately there is more good news: blogging is a enjoyable experience. Writing articles on a regular basis enhances your writing skills. I’ve used techniques that I’ve learned from writing on KnickerBlogger.Net in everything from work emails to holiday cards. Furthermore, becoming a blogger puts you in a community of NBA professionals. Since starting my blog I’ve been in contact with online columnists, newspaper columnists, NBA consultants, agents, book authors, editors, and all sorts of people who live & breathe hoops.

But most importantly, blogging is fun! Writing an article is much different than participating on a message board or even leaving a comment on a blog. An article makes your opinion the center topic, whereas on a message board you’re usually fighting for attention among different ideas. Additionally it’s a fantastic feeling when someone responds positively to your writing, because it means that your point of view has become validated by others.

All in all I’m enjoying blogging greatly, and I hope that I’ll be able to share that joy with a few more people this coming season. If you’re interested in writing or think you have something to offer for our little corner of the internet, send me an email with a little description of how you’d like to contribute. I’m looking forward to making this year the best at KnickerBlogger.Net.

Great Regular Season Knick Wins of the Past Decade

Okay, so training camp isn’t opening for awhile, and all the news in the papers is either about Jeffries (who I think we have covered) and the sexual harrassment thing (which I doubt any of us have much to say on), so let’s try something different. Let’s all share some memories of classic Knick wins of the past ten years! We all know the playoff wins by heart, so let’s try just regular season games that people may have forgotten – so no playoff games, folks! Read More

KnickerBlogger’s Official Take on the Jeffries Signing

At the end of David Crockett’s appraisal of the Jeffries signing, he states “So, numerous paragraphs later I’m still not sure how I feel about this. What about you all?” and Brian Cronin said in his Jeffries post “either Dave or Mike will be tomorrow to give us a more in-depth look at the signing.” So I guess it’s my turn. Like Dr. C, I’ll break it down on 3 separate issues.

1. Has Thomas overpaid for Jeffries? Personally I’d say yes, not necessarily in price but in years. In fact he’s similar to two SF that the Knicks had last year: Trevor Ariza & Matt Barnes. And neither has anything close to a 5 year deal (although Ariza’s deal wasn’t publicized it’s thought to be 3 years or less). Jeffries is young, but I don’t think his trade value will rise much over the next 5 years. Unlike most basketball players his weakness is easily seen through statistics, and his non-existent offensive game isn’t likely to become much better than it is now. GMs may not be able to determine a player’s defensive worth, but they’ll easily be able to see Jeffries offensive worth (or lack thereof) therefore lowering his trade value. For Isiah to hit the bullseye on this one, Jeffries has to start getting votes for the NBA All Defensive Team.

2. Do we need Jeffries? Again I’d argue no. With Jeffries on the roster I count 6 guys that can play small forward: Balkman, Q-Rich, Jalen, Lee, Malik, and Jeffries. Let’s assume that Lee & Malik Rose are more PF than SF, then the Knicks have 4 SFs. Consider that New York has 5 guards total for both guard spots and you can see a minutes crunch at the swingman spot. Additionally Jeffries skill set closely mirrors that of first round pick Balkman, so it will cut into Renaldo’s minutes and hamper his development. As Balkman does develop, having Jeffries on the roster will be redundant. Hence why the long contract (see #1) might not have been a good idea to begin with.

3. Does this make sense on a team level? I’m not a big fan of the “we’re already under the cap so this long term contract doesn’t hurt” argument. Let’s say Isiah is fired after (or during) the season and the next GM decides he wants to get under the cap. Jeffries contract will be yet another piece that needs to be moved. While it may be easier to move than some of the other Knickerbockers (Francis, Marbury, Jerome James, etc.) it’s still on the deficit side of the leger rather than the asset side. Any contract Isiah signs that is over the league value doesn’t help the Knicks regardless of the team’s salary cap status.

Secondly it’s hard to ignore that this decision comes on the heels of Jackie Butler’s departure. One week the Knicks don’t have the room or money to resign their 21 year old promising young center, and the next they’re paying more than double for a player with a lower ceiling. A year or two from now it would have been much easier to move Jackie Butler than Jeffries if for nothing else than Butler’s age & reasonable contract. In fact I would imagine some team might take a young, cheap, and talented player in Butler as a bonus for eating up a big ugly contract (Steve Francis). The Knicks’ roster doesn’t run deep at the center position, as the Knicks only have 2 true centers. When Curry is in foul trouble, Isiah Thomas may be forced into giving Jerome James substantial minutes which isn’t a palatable scenario. And on the nights that Curry and James are both in foul trouble, Frye will be forced to man the five, or heavens forbid Maurice Taylor or Malik Rose. Isiah should have been focusing on the team’s thinness at center rather than adding to the glutton at small forward.

So the Knicks overpaid for a player, that addresses a need that was already addressed in the draft, and in the process hurt themselves by not retaining one of their young prospects. For Jeffries to make this deal work, he’s going to have to become the lock down defender Isiah envisions or become a better offensive player. And I’m not banking on either.

Comments are closed. You can leave them in Brian’s thread.

The Knicks Want Jeffries

The Knicks have signed Wizards forward Jared Jeffries to their mid-level exception (i.e., 5-years averaging $6 million per). Because the team is over the luxury tax threshold it will have to match the contract dollar-for-dollar in taxes should Washington choose not to match it. The Washington Post is reporting that the contract has language designed to discourage Washington from matching or demanding a sign-and-trade. Jeffries? agent has also made it clear that his client wishes to play in New York. However, matching the offer is not?financially speaking?especially burdensome for Washington, who has the cap space.

So, is this a good signing for the Knicks? I?ll try to look at this from three related (but distinct) vantage points: production, roster management, and fiscal. Even as I type this I?m not sure where I stand, though I?ll note that I have always rooted for him.

Production. Certainly Jeffries? per game offensive numbers fail to jump off the page. Last season he scored 6.4 points and pulled down 4.9 boards. More advanced metrics don?t necessarily make him look any better either. His career PER is 10.5 and he has posted below league average offensive ratings each year of his career. I was particularly interested in seeing how turnover-prone he is, as I?d hate to add another butterfingers to the frontcourt. His career turnover rate is 14.4?not atrocious; an upgrade over Qyntel Woods but not as good as Jalen Rose (12.5 in NY) or Q-Rich (8.7). Fortunately, Jeffries? 13.3 usage rate suggests that his teams have never looked to him for offensive punch.

His calling card, such that it is, is defense. So, how good is he defensively? That is a notoriously difficult question to answer, and probably near impossible to answer for combo forwards using most easily accessible stats. There is no reason to think that Jeffries is not at least the defensive equivalent of any of the veteran small forwards on the roster. So the real question is whether he is an upgrade, and if so by how much? Kevin Broom wrote up a nice piece at RealGM about the 2005 Wizards defense as part of a team defensive charting project he?s been doing. (If you are in a hurry, scroll down to ?Defense By the Numbers? in boldface. Start reading there.) Broom?s game-charted data portrayed Jeffries as a good pressure and help defender, typically assigned the best frontcourt scorer to protect the defensively-indifferent Antawn Jamison. Broom?s criticism at the time was that Jeffries was too often apt to abandon his assignment to help in the post, leaving accomplished shooters wide open 3 pt. looks. That seems to be precisely the kind of thing a young player might get better at over time, though I have no idea whether Jeffries has. Again, the numbers don?t add much clarity. According to 82games.com his on-court/off-court numbers balance out exactly to zero.

From a production standpoint Jeffries is a gamble; not quite a Jerome James-type nonsensical gamble, but a gamble nonetheless. He?s a role player that doesn?t score. Unlike with an emerging offensive force, where widely available metrics are sensitive enough to provide a decent projection (think Jackie Butler), we are often stuck reading the proverbial tea leaves on defensive-oriented players. There?s nothing to suggest that Jeffries, who is at least 6?10? with really long arms and nice lateral quickness, doesn?t deserve the rep he has as a good young defender but then there is little to support it either.

Roster Management. Between the draft and this signing one might think that Isiah is channeling the dearly departed Larry Brown, given his sudden fondness for defense-first role players. Jeffries, who will play both forward spots, will join a semi-crowded front court. It is certainly reasonable to suspect that Jeffries, even with no other roster changes, will start at small forward alongside Channing Frye and Eddy Curry. Isiah however could also opt to start either of the more perimeter oriented forwards, Jalen Rose or Quentin Richardson. I strongly suspect that David Lee?s future is now at backup power forward rather than small forward, should he remain on the team. I certainly hope that the Jeffries signing portends the end of significant minutes for Malik Rose and Mo Taylor.

If Jeffries actually brings the defense and versatility to the table his reputation suggests then it would seem that Isiah?s strategy is to mix-and-match lineups, similar to the Dallas Mavericks. If this is true, it would seem to contradict his earlier pronouncements that he would shrink the rotation. Even should he be committed to chaining Malik Rose and Mo Taylor to the bench, and even assuming that Balkman?s minutes will be limited, it is difficult to see how Isiah manages front court minutes without thinning out the roster in that area.

Fiscal Impact. As mid-level exception signings go it?s hard to characterize this as outright horrible, if only because Jerome James still anchors the scale at that end?not to mention the training table. Jeffries is a big gamble because he contributes so little offensively that he must play stellar defense, at a position where there are few nights off, or he becomes a net negative. Anyway, if Jeffries really is just a decent defender backed by a pretty good defensive center then why not stay with less expensive options like Qyntel Woods?

I am willing to give Thomas the benefit of the doubt on Jeffries’ talent. I am far less charitable concerning Isiah’s ability to play the market. The full mid-level seems a bit pricey for a defensive role player that is not a bona fide shut-down guy at his position, especially when San Antonio basically turned their mid-level in to Jackie Butler and Francisco Elson. But then, if my understanding is correct, Jeffries already has turned down an even bigger contract offer to sign New York?s offer sheet. Also, the agent?s very public rhetoric?that Jeffries really wants to leave?seems to suggest that he has at least some fear that Washington may match New York?s mid-level offer.

So, numerous paragraphs later I?m still not sure how I feel about this. What about you all?

Balkman & Jeffries

BALKMAN

http://82games.com/vegas3.htm

Article on Balkman at 82games. I think Roland hit the nail on the head.

http://knicks.mostvaluablenetwork.com/general/breath-of-fresh-hair/

Father KnickerBocker’s take on Balkman.

http://www.hoopsworld.com/article_18030.shtml

Hoopsworld sees good thing happening to Balkman.

http://southcarolina.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=562913

GameCocks (South Carolina) article on Balkman. Great if you love a new paragraph every 2 sentences.

JEFFRIES

http://www.nysun.com/pf.php?id=37120

Martin Johnson article on the Knicks’ short sidedness of signing Jeffries.

http://www.nypost.com/sports/knicks/knicks_unlikely_to_bag_jeffries_knicks_marc_berman.htm

Post article about the Wizards probably resigning Jeffries. It’s the only NY sports paper that has printed an article stating Washington will match.