Pitcher Rankings Based on Steamer

I ran the Steamer pitching projections through my basic formula which compares players across categories based on standard deviations above replacement in each category. The merits of the approach are it generates a good overall value based on the projected the player pool. The weakness is it doesn’t account for the way people actually fill their pitching slots, i.e., it assumes everyone’s trying to maximize overall value of the nine slots rather than doing so for seven while separately trying to score well in saves in the last two. As a result, one-dimensional closers – those projected to help in saves but little else – are ranked lower than they would be in a typical draft or auction.

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DFS Hoops For After The Break

With the All-Star break upon us it seemed like a good time to track a few players that should be on your radar coming out of the break for DFS purposes. There were a few trades before the break and some teams have already looked towards the future moving players into new roles. Listed below are some good values to take advantage of until their price catches up to their minutes/production. Prices listed are for both Draftkings (DKs) and Fan Duel (FD), in some cases they were not available.


Ish Smith, DET, DKs ($3,900) FD ($4,200) – Quietly Smith has eaten into Reggie Jackson’s minutes this season and he finished the break with at least 22 fantasy points in four of his last six games before the break. Jackson has been the subject of trade rumors for teams needing a backup point guard so he could be on the move in the next few days. Even if Detroit gets back a point guard in a deal there should be a bit of a “grace period” before that player is active and Smith would be starting point guard for the Pistons.

Yogi Ferrell, DAL, DKs ($4,700 before break) FD (?) – Ferrell had trouble finding a home and it was Mark Cuban who ultimately chose to sign him to a 10-day because he was a Hoosier. Since then, Ferrell has been a fantasy darling especially when he’s been a starter for the injured Deron Williams. Williams has missed a lot of time due to injury this season and his name has been mentioned in trade rumors over the last few weeks. The fact is Ferrell has more of a future in Dallas than Williams averaging 14.2 points, 4.7 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.6 steals since joining the Mavs. Deploy him whenever he gets the start over the next couple of weeks.


Derrick Williams, CLE, DKs ($3,500) FD ($4,100) – After expressing his concern about bringing in more players for a playoff run, Lebron James has also expressed his pleasure with the team signing Williams. James typically comes in early in the second quarter playing with the second team and has actively tried to get Williams involved. Williams has scored 17 and 22 fantasy points over his last two games with Cleveland playing minutes in the mid-20s. While the ceiling is limited here Kevin Love is likely out for another five weeks and Williams is still just 25-years-old.

Terrence Ross, ORL, DKs ($3,800) FD ($3,500) – Ross should be in line to play Thursday for Orlando which would mark his first game with his new team. With no Serge Ibaka he should be in line for more playing time than he was getting with the Raptors (22.4 minutes per game) and see a higher usage rate. Ross There’s a lot of upside with Ross from a scoring perspective but he won’t contribute a lot in the other fantasy categories. Aaron Gordon ($4,900, $4,500) is another option to look at as the team’s new starting power forward with over 30 minutes a night.


Kosta Koufos, SAC, DKs ($3,500) FD ($3,500), Willie Cauley-Stein, SAC, DKs ($3,600) FD ($3,800) – It’s seems like it’s a 50/50 proposition as to if DeMarcus Cousins will be with the Kings in a week from now. In the case he gets moved (the Pelicans are the latest rumor, the Celtics are in play as well) it would be a huge boost to both KK and WCS. Between the two there’s more potential with Cauley-Stein who is almost five years younger and is still developing his offensive game. If Cousins is dealt don’t be afraid to use both of these guys on Draftkings; when Cousins was suspended on 2/8/17 they combined for over 52 fantasy points at similar prices.

Jusuf Nurkic, POR, DKs ($4,300) FD ($3,700) – Nurkic replaces Mason Plumlee in Portland and there isn’t much in the way of competition considering the upside of Ed Davis and Noah Vonleh. Myers Leonard ($3,300, $3,500) is probably the second-most intriguing big man but it’s Nurkic who has more upside. In his first contest with his new team he scored 29 fantasy points in only 21 minutes of playing time. Those minutes could easily go up and while it was one game it was against the Jazz one of the better defensive teams in the league. The return of Al-Farouq Aminu will cloud things a bit here.

Kelly Olynyk, BOS, DKs ($4,500 before break) FD ($4,600 before break) – Olynyk didn’t want to see the break come as he was one of the hotter players in DFS when taking his price into account. Before the break scoring at least 24 fantasy points in six straight games and over 30 fantasy points in three of those contests. The second team offense runs a lot through Olynyk and his ability to knock down three-pointers only adds to his value. The Celtics figure to make a move before the trade deadline and Olynyk could be part of a deal moving him to an even better fantasy spot.

NFBC Category Targets

I don’t believe in shooting for strict categorical target goals during a draft, but thought it might be useful to get a rough idea of what it takes to win the 450-team NFBC Main Event overall. Typically it’s around 80th percentile in each of the 10 categories, or 360 out of 450 possible points for each. Last year, 3600 total category points would have put you in ninth place, so it’s ballpark for what it took, though the winner, Rob Silver, had more than 4,000. But let’s keep it simple and aim for 80 percent or 3600.

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It was 20 years ago today

It was 20 years ago today that fantasy sports’ first player news update was written. The very first update was about Roger McDowell. A second update that day was written on Jason Bere. RotoNews.com had launched in January, but added a new system of player news with a searchable database on this date. RotoNews later morphed into RotoWire.com and the player news has remained in the same database. The original updates can still be viewed on RotoWire.com:

Roger McDowell
Jason Bere

Since 1997, RotoNews-RotoWire has written 590,801 MLB updates and more than 1.8 million updates among 14+ sports.

Before 1997, there were some web sites and print publications that had nuggets on players for fantasy purposes. However, RotoNews’ format of having a “news” and “analysis” (then called “recommends”) section for each update has become a standard that even competitors follow. And RotoNews’ player news system was the first that featured a searchable database.

An article from USA Today Baseball Weekly on April 16, 1997 below heralds the launch of the RotoNews player news pages (RotoNews didn’t even have it’s own URL at the time, that would come a few months later).


In 1997 we gathered information mostly from print sources, TV and a few online newspapers. With the invention of blogs and then Twitter, the amount of information available on players has increased dramatically. We write many more player notes per player each year as a result. Given those caveats, here are the top 20 most updated MLB players over the past 20 years. It’s a mix of big stars and frequently-injured players.

  1. Carlos Beltran    1,179 updates
  2. David Ortiz    1,044
  3. Alex Rodriguez    1,032
  4. Hanley Ramirez    984
  5. Carl Crawford    923
  6. Josh Hamilton    890
  7. Chipper Jones    889
  8. Jose Reyes    885
  9. Coco Crisp    875
  10. Albert Pujols    874
  11. Aramis Ramirez    842
  12. J.D. Drew    820
  13. Pedro Martinez    813
  14. Miguel Cabrera    809
  15. Jake Peavy    809
  16. Bartolo Colon    804
  17. Kerry Wood    802
  18. Derek Jeter    791
  19. Ryan Howard    788
  20. Joe Mauer    784

RotoWire’s Jeff Erickson has authored the most MLB updates with 45,282.

I’ve chipped in 23,352 MLB player notes since writing the first two and 66,136 overall in all sports (at least the ones we tracked).

Thanks to everyone who has read our work the past two decades on RotoNews, RotoWire or the many partners who utilize our player news (currently ESPN, FoxSports, NFL.com, CBS Sports, FanDuel, Yahoo! Sports, DraftKings, MyFantasyLeague and many more). Here’s to another great 20 years.

Super Bowl 51 Observations

This is a week late because I was on vacation the last 12 days. I could have written something about it while I was away, but honestly I wanted to think about the game as little as possible once it ended at 4:30 am Barcelona time. I had the Falcons plus three, the Falcons -7.5 at +335 and Matt Ryan at +180 for MVP.

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What Went Wrong – NFBC Main Event

Let’s continue my “learn from my mistakes” tour. Take my NFBC Main Event team. Please. I finished in ninth place (of 15) in my league with 69 points, and never really challenged. That translated into 333/450 in the overall contest. Just terrible.

For those unfamiliar with the NFBC, the National Fantasy Baseball Championship is a series of high-stakes leagues run by Greg Ambrosius and Tom Kessenich. There are multiple live and online events, both with an individual league component as well as an overall contest. The Main Event is a series of 15-team mixed league teams where one can compete for the individual league title in addition to an overall grand prize of $125,000. Teams are selected via snake draft, and there’s no trading allowed.

I agonized about how to tackle starting pitching from the 12th spot in the draft in my league, debating whether to leap early to take Max Scherzer in the first round, leap early to take Chris Sale, Jake Arrieta or Madison Bumgarner at 2.4 (19th spot), or take what came to me in the third round or later. The NFBC pushes starting pitching harder than any other format both because of the trading ban and because of the overall contest, so waiting much later really wasn’t a viable option. I decided to open Door #3, and take what was given to me in the third round.

I chose ……. poorly.

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