Bracket Projections - Jan 31

1/31/2008 0 comments
Here's my latest bracket projections, based on the up-to-date Colton Index with extra weight for quality wins and performance over the last 10 games.

1: Memphis, North Carolina, Kansas, Washington St
2: Duke, UCLA, Tennessee, Georgetown
3: Drake, Michigan St, Butler, Xavier
4: Connecticut, Indiana, Wisconsin, Pittsburgh
5: Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma, Arizona
6: Marquette, Mississippi, Southern California, Stanford
7: Gonzaga, Notre Dame, St. Mary's, Ohio State
8: Kansas St, Vanderbilt, Dayton, Florida
9: Texas A&M, Rhode Island, Kent St, Clemson
10: Massachusetts, South Alabama, Purdue, Miami (FL)
11: North Carolina St, Louisville, Saint Joseph's, BYU
12: Arkansas, West Virginia, Oregon, UNLV
13: Davidson, CS Northridge, VCU, Oral Roberts
14: UNC Asheville, Siena, Utah St, Wagner
15: Northern Arizona, UMBC, Hampton, Lafayette
16: Cornell, Austin Peay, Lamar, Jacksonville, Alabama St

Last 4 In: BYU, Arkansas, West Virginia, Oregon
First 4 Out: Seton Hall, Arizona St, Creighton, Stephen F. Austin
Next 4 Out: Villanova, Illinois St, Syracuse, Providence
If you look at the top 5 most inflated RPI's, you'll see some familiar faces on the list. Syracuse, Arizona and Tennessee have it figured out. Remember Bruce Pearl's shock at getting a 2 seed two years ago? The inflated RPI numbers helped his case tremendously. Bracketologists are considering Tennessee for a one seed this year, certainly the RPI of 1 and SOS of 2 has to play some role. I'm not bashing Arizona, Syracuse or Tennessee...I just wonder why more programs haven't figured this out. Better seeds = better draws = better chance of making the Final Four. A better RPI can only help you get a better seed.

Inflated RPI's
1: Tennessee (RPI:1,Colton:9)
2: Arizona (8,25)
3: George Mason (49,78)
4: Massachusetts (21,38)
5: Syracuse (39,56)

Bracket Projections - Jan 16

1/16/2008 0 comments
The Colton Index is up-to-date through games on Tuesday January 15th, and here's my latest bracket projections. Again, this is not who I think will make the tourney, but who I think should make the tourney if the season ended today, based on body-of-work with extra weight for performance over the last 10 games and quality wins.

1: North Carolina, Kansas, Memphis, Washington St
2: UCLA, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Duke
3: Mississippi, Dayton, Wisconsin, Georgetown
4: Texas, Marquette, Drake, Michigan St
5: Rhode Island, Butler, Texas A&M, Indiana
6: St. Mary's, Xavier, Vanderbilt, Clemson
7: Gonzaga, Ohio State, Baylor, Duquesne
8: Oregon, CS Northridge, Arizona, Kent St
9: Miami-Florida, Arkansas, Stanford, West Virginia
10: Oklahoma, Florida, Connecticut, Illinois St
11: Arizona St, Creighton, Notre Dame, Villanova
12: Florida St, South Alabama, Southern California, Cleveland St
13: San Diego St, Davidson, Oral Roberts, Niagara
14: UNC Asheville, Brown, Hampton, Utah St
15: Wagner, Northern Arizona, Austin Peay, Delaware
16: Lafayette, Jacksonville, McNeese St, Hartford, Texas Southern

Last 4 In: Notre Dame, Villanova, Florida St, Southern California
First 4 Out: Minnesota, Stephen F. Austin, Massachusetts, Providence
Next 4 Out: California, Boston College, Sam Houston, Syracuse

If you've followed the Colton Index in the past, you know that I believe Arizona has figured out how to beat the system through smart scheduling. They generally avoid the bottom feeders in the non-conference, leading to consistently inflated overall RPI numbers. Two years ago, they made the tourney because of their inflated numbers, not because their performance warranted it. (Part 3 of my presentations show how through smart scheduling, Arizona created a win-win situation for itself. Perform well and it's easy to justify a top seed. Underperform and you still get in.)

So far in 2007, it looks like Arizona is up to its old tricks again, with an RPI of 10 despite a record of 10-5. Since the RPI is 75% SOS, it's more who you play instead of how well you do. Better yet, it's more who you don't play instead of how well you do. Arizona's non-conference schedule has only one bottom feeder in it, UMKC (257 RPI last year). Most of the remaining opponents are right in that 'sweet spot' of 50-150 range, games where Arizona has a good chance of winning without killing their SOS. Plus, because of changes to how the NCAA defines home/road games, their game against Illinois at the United Center is now considered a road game (40% bonus), when previously it would've been considered neutral (like last year's game against Illinois in Phoenix).

Right now, I have Arizona in the tourney as an 8 seed, but that's based on a Colton Index of 33 and SOS of 15. If their RPI of 10 and SOS of 1 play any role in the Committee's decision making, you'll likely see a much higher seed.

The John Salmons Dilemma

1/14/2008 0 comments
One question is on the mind of many fantasy basketball owners this week: what in the heck do I do with John Salmons? That is, if you're lucky enough to own the guy.

That's all I'm thinking about right now since I own John Salmons on 25 teams!

One thing I've realized this year is fantasy hoops success requires a very high level of commitment. Most nights you'll find me pouring over live boxscores on Yahoo. Yes, I am a loser. Somehow, my marriage and my sanity manages to stay intacy (likely both barely). Basically, I don't go to bed until all of the games of a given night are completed. A Nuggets-Sonics triple overtime game is my worst nightmare.

So about six weeks ago I was scrolling through boxscores while in bed on my iPhone when I noticed Kevin Martin had left the game injured (he was having a sweet game too). It wasn't too long until the word spread that he would be out 4-6 weeks. So I hopped out of bed and went back down to the warroom. There was work to do.

The biggest challenge of managing so many fantasy teams is being nimble. Making roster moves takes time, and I need to be quicker to the trigger than the guy who has 1 or 2 teams and knows his roster intimately. I missed out on Salmons at the beginning of the year while Ron Artest was suspended, I was not going to be denied here. Fortunately, because of the late game there wasn't a tremendous amount of competition for Salmons' services. I was able to rifle through my rosters and pick him up in nearly half of my leagues, a good number without being too overexposed.

Looking back, I wish I had picked him up on all 52 teams. Salmons has been ballin' the last six weeks. While Martin was on the shelf, all he did was average 19.5 PTS, 5.7 REB, 3.9 AST, 1.8 STK, 0.5 BLK, 1.0 3PM while shooting 54% from the field and 82% from the foul line, numbers that put him at 17th overall over that time period. You don't find production like that in the free agent pool very often.

And although I owned Martin on 12 teams, his injury was probably the best thing that could've happened to me. Let me be the first to publicly thank his groin. Overall, my teams were struggling at the time, but have surged dramatically over the past 5-6 weeks. From week 7 to 11, the 25 teams with Salmons improved by 4.6 pts in the standings, compared to 3.3 pts on the non-Salmons teams.

However, all good things must come to an end, and the clock is striking midnight on this Cinderella story. Martin came back last Saturday and didn't miss a beat (and hardly missed a shot). Bibby and now Artest are schedule to come back this week. The first time Artest came back, Salmons dropped off the face of the Earth. If the same thing happens this time around, I'm in a lot of trouble. Because CBS doesn't have multi-postion eligibility like most other sites, the forward position happens to be really thin this year. The list of forward available in 15% or more of my leagues includes guys like Shane Battier, Wally Szcerbiak, Jeff Green, Kyle Korver, Andrea Bargnani, Darko Milicic and Charlie Villanueva. Hardly an awe-inspiring bunch of guys.

I think that Salmons will be able to maintain value in the 90-110 range even coming off the bench. Hopefully he has shown enough to earn an increased role. Plus, there's a real chance that Bibby and/or Artest might get trade in the next month (not that I would hold Salmons just for that possibility.)

That said, holding on to Salmons is not a bet that I'd like to make on all 25 teams, so I spent most of last weekend trying to lower my exposure through trades. I mostly targeted the following mid-tier forwards: Hedo Turkoglu, Andrei Kirilenko, Rasheed Wallace, Danny Granger, Richard Jefferson, Corey Maggette, Kevin Durant, Lamarcus Aldridge, Lamar Odom and Luol Deng. In a few cases I was set at forward and targeted guards in the Monta Ellis/Leandro Barbosa range.

Now, I know what you are thinking. I'm crazy for even sending these offers. No one in their right mind would accept these offers. Certainly, there's no way I would trade any of those players above for Salmons right now. So why send out 200+ trade offers?

A) Because you never know what the guy on the other end is thinking, and B) if just one of those offers is accepted, it's worth the time and energy spent sending all of them.

As it turns out, all of that work was worth it. Here is what I came up with:

Amare Stoudemire and John Salmons for Yao Ming and Monta Ellis
John Salmons for Hedo Turkoglu
John Salmons for Andrei Kirilenko

Three nice deals. As is the case with most trades on CBS, they received the 4+ objections and are pending approval from the fiefdom otherwise known as CBS Ron. They should both go through, but with Ron you never know (three months ago, could you imagine living in a world for any trade for Hedo Turkoglu would be considered vetoable?).

The moral of the story is you just never know. If a trade has a 2% chance of being accepted, you need to make that offer. Aim high. Test the market. What's the worst thing that can happen? Maybe you tick off a couple of your competitors...who cares? I received a number of colorful responses to these Salmons trade offers. For some, I would've had a better response if I had run over the family dog. And I learned a few new words that aren't in the dictionary (why do people get so bent out of shape over trade offers? Just hit 'reject' and move on.) One of the nicer guys called me an idiot for even trying to get Hedo Turkoglu for John Salmons. But considering another Turkoglu owner accepted the deal, I think I'd be an idiot for not trying it elsewhere. It's interesting that out of all the players I was targeting, Turkoglu and Kirilenko were the highest-rated of the bunch. In my mind, it justifies sending to the rest of the players on the list.

So 3 down, 22 Salmons to go. All I can do is hold on to him and hope for the best...a Bibby and/or Artest trade. Does anybody have Danny Ferry or Pat Riley's e-mail?


Below are the trades that I've made since the last update.

SP37: Pierce,Paul, Jamison,Antawn and Davis,Ricky for Wade,Dwyane, Howard,Josh and Nelson,Jameer
SP12: Allen,Ray and Barbosa,Leandro for Paul,Chris and Brewer,Ronnie
SP10: Stoudemire,Amare and Salmons,John for Ming,Yao and Ellis,Monta
SP10: Brewer,Ronnie for Gibson,Daniel

SP20: Gay,Rudy for Jamison,Antawn
SP29: Barbosa,Leandro, Ellis,Monta and Smith,Josh for Nowitzki,Dirk and Billups,Chauncey

SP33: Camby,Marcus, Nelson,Jameer and Horford,Al for Nash,Steve, Ilgauskas,Zydrunas and McCants,Rashad
SP34: Iverson,Allen, Okur,Mehmet and Barbosa,Leandro for Wade,Dwyane, Gasol,Pau and Aldridge,Lamarcus
SP11: Salmons,John for Turkoglu,Hedo
SP19: Salmons,John for Kirilenko,Andrei
SP43: Aldridge,Lamarcus and Miller,Mike for Garnett,Kevin and Evans,Reggie
SP09: Robinson,Nate for Thomas,Kurt

SP21: Marion,Shawn, Iguodala,Andre and Gay,Rudy for Garnett,Kevin and Paul,Chris
SP33: Camby,Marcus, Iguodala,Andre, Nelson,Jameer and Horford,Al for Nash,Steve, Duncan,Tim, Ilgauskas,Zydrunas and McDyess,Antonio

I did get some feedback from Ron on the above deals.

KG/Paul Deal
When are you going to come around on Rudy Gay? He's playing like a 3rd rounder in Roto (ranked 36th overall). He's above average in every category except for many 7-cat players are there in roto? Owners are willing to pay up for him. But you shoot down nearly every deal that he's in. I don't understand how you can give Chris Paul credit for playing well above his initial expectations and not give Gay credit for doing the same. If you treat them both the same (either their ytd stats are both real or both not real), then the following deal is more than fair. Iggy is a true 2nd rounder and playing like it. Marion and KG are a wash.

Your trade offer of Rudy Gay,Andre Iguodala,Shawn Marion for Kevin Garnett,Chris Paul to Marbury's Backseat has been vetoed by the commissioner.

As I said, different owners in different leagues are willing to provide 3rd round value for Rudy Gay, and he's playing at that level, so shouldn't that be the going rate for him? Look at what he's been going for in plat and diamond roto leagues.

Would you take garnett and paul for marion and iguudala. Garnett and Paul are way better players. So gay and marbury are of no value in this trade. Lets say the cancel each other out or Gay a slight advantage, it still does not make up the difference in paul and granett.

Marbury wasn't in the is the guy's team name. It's KG and Paul (and he'd drop Bonzi Wells) on the one side. Marion and KG is a wash. Outside of week 1, Marion is ranked 7th and KG 8th. In case you haven't noticed, KG has really tailed off. I own him on 18 teams and I have experienced it first hand. He's still a top 5-6 player, but Marion is right there too. Marion ranks 6th over this year and last year, and was #1 overall the year before that.

So the question is Iguodala and Gay enough for Paul, and I would argue that he is. If you're going to count Paul as a top 5 player, then you have to give Gay credit as a top 35 player. Iggy is ranked 23-24 and should be viewed a 2nd rounder. So is a 2nd rounder and late 3rd rounder enough for a 1st rounder. It should be, especially if it meets category needs, which this does.

In your assessments, you generally always hold KG to a higher esteem while not giving Marion the credit he deserves. I always have an easier time getting deals through for Marion, and basically I'm indifferent between the two. Marion may be a better fit on some of my teams, KG better on others. I'm not so sure KG deserves the same criteria that he has had in the past. So if anything here you are undervaluing Marion, overvaluing KG and really undervaluing Gay...all three working against me in this deal. It's equally likely and equally reasonable that you could have the opposite opinion on each of these three players and the deal looks much different. You should be measuring reasonableness, not whether you would do the deal. This is a reasonable deal.

Nash/Duncan Deal
Nash (rk 10) / Duncan (32) / Zydrunas (74) / McDyess (113)
Camby (rk 11) / Iguodala (24) / Nelson (96) / Horford (101)

Vetoed because of Nash's injury (flu) or some other reason? The rankings are very close for each player down the line.

Nash's injury currently, but Nash and Duncan are better then any two on the other side. Horford and Mcdyess are irrelevant. Nelson for Z is fine. but camby and AI or two mvp candidates?. Not happening. Nash and Duncan in any format is better then AI and Camby.

One of these days I'm hoping you'll understand that Duncan is not as good a roto player as he's is a real basketball player. You cost me $600 with that Butler/Duncan reversal last year and you're killing me here again. The fact that he is one of the top 5 players in the NBA does not mean anything. MVP trophies are not a category. Steals and Blocks are and count just as much as points and rebounds. Iguodala is a much better roto player than Duncan. All knowledgeable roto players know this. Iguodala was drafted 20th on average in diamond and platinum roto leagues, and is performing right at that level. There's no way I would trade Iguodala for Duncan straight up unless I really needed FGP, REB and BLK. There's a reason I own Iguodala on 10 teams and Duncan on zero. Camby is a fantasy stud who has been pretty healthy the last two years. Before you play the Mr. Glass card, he has missed less games than Nash or Duncan this season. Those 3.8 blocks per game are miles above everybody else other than Josh Smith.

Just let the numbers speak for themselves...look at the ratings this year and last.

Basketball Monster
2006-07 Per Game
Nash 6
Camby 11
Duncan 18
Iguodala 19 (14th after the Iverson trade)

2007-08 Per Game
Nash 9
Camby 16
Iguodala 27
Duncan 33

Don't believe BasketballMonster? How about ESPN...
Nash 9
Camby 11
Iguodala 23
Duncan 29

The guy that you are trying to protect in this deal put out an 'on the block' with Zydrunas and Nash, requesting blocks and rebounds. He told me he wants Camby. This deal meets exactly what he is looking for. Basically, he would do Camby for Nash straight up, but I'd need a center so that's where you get Jameer for Zydrunas. He's first in AST so Nash isn't quite as valuable for him. Obviously he's acting in his best interests here.

Colton Index College Basketball Ratings 2007-08

1/02/2008 0 comments
The first Colton Index ratings for the 2007-08 are finally up. Don't put too much weight into the early results...there are a lot of 0 and 1 loss teams at the top. That will change now that conference play is underway. Now if I could do something about that 115th ranking for my beloved Illini...

Fuzzy Math

Happy New Year! Not much activity on the trading front over the holidays, but I did land a handful of deals in between the presents, egg nog and games of Guitar Hero III on the new Colton-family Wii. Guitar Hero has the potential to derail my fantasy basketball success more than any competitor or CBS commissioner combined.

Effective Week 8
SP01: Gasol,Pau for Pierce,Paul
SP01: Artest,Ron and Jackson,Stephen for Butler,Caron and Ellis,Monta
SP03: Granger,Danny for Brewer,Ronnie (finally passed after multiple attempts)
SP10: Smith,Josh for Kidd,Jason
SP15: Lewis,Rashard, Stoudemire,Amare and Wallace,Gerald for Allen,Ray, Kirilenko,Andrei and Nowitzki,Dirk
SP17: Ming,Yao for Garnett,Kevin
SP24: Kirilenko,Andrei for Billups,Chauncey
SP24: Smith,Josh for Nowitzki,Dirk
SP26: Davis,Ricky and Dalembert,Samuel for Ginobili,Manu
SP38: Dalembert,Samuel for Ford,T.J.
SP44: Bosh,Chris and Roy,Brandon for Wade,Dwyane and Thomas,Tim
SP47: Allen,Ray for Lewis,Rashard
SP49: Dalembert,Samuel for Turkoglu,Hedo
SP49: Smith,Josh for Kidd,Jason

Comment: Some nice deals rid of Gasol right before he went down, and Pierce has been playing very well since. Plus Boston has more games left than any other team so this deal should continue to reap the rewards (no, it's never to early to think about this). On the flip side, I'd gladly take back the Ricky/Dalembert for Ginobili deal and the one time I make a deal for TJ Ford, he goes off on a stretcher the very night the deal goes through. Ford's return is uncertain...ultimately I had to drop him. Essentially I gave away Samuel Dalembert for free.

Effective Week 9
SP02: Nelson,Jameer for Gordon,Ben
SP02: Ellis,Monta for Granger,Danny
SP17: Durant,Kevin and Mohammed,Nazr for Miller,Mike and Wallace,Ben
SP30: Gay,Rudy and Dalembert,Samuel for Billups,Chauncey and Crawford,Jamal
SP47: Gay,Rudy and Mohammed,Nazr for Williams,Deron
SP51: Odom,Lamar and Williams,Maurice for Camby,Marcus and Wallace,Rasheed
SP51: Wade,Dwyane, Kirilenko,Andrei and Gordon,Ben for Boozer,Carlos, Nash,Steve and Stevenson,Deshawn
SP52: Arenas,Gilbert and Lewis,Rashard for Butler,Caron and Brewer,Ronnie

Effective Week 10
SP22: Carter,Vince and Gordon,Ben for Wade,Dwyane and McDyess,Antonio
SP23: Chandler,Tyson and Mohammed,Nazr for Kaman,Chris
SP41: Allen,Ray and Lewis,Rashard for Iverson,Allen and Kirilenko,Andrei
SP42: Artest,Ron, Aldridge,Lamarcus and Ellis,Monta for Anthony,Carmelo, Lewis,Rashard, Calderon,Jose and Hinrich,Kirk
SP07: Dalembert,Samuel and Barbosa,Leandro for Camby,Marcus

Comment: I was quick to pick up Nazr Mohammed after he got traded to the Bobcats whether I really needed him or not, and was even quicker to deal him when he came out of the gates blazing in his first few games as a starter. Basically I used him to upgrade at a few positions - Gay for Deron, Chandler for Kaman, Durant for Mike Miller. The Week 10 deal for SP42 was very good even before Artest went down for elbow's looking like a huge steal now.

SP03: Moon,Jamario for Bargnani,Andrea
SP03: Granger,Danny for Brewer,Ronnie
SP22: Carter,Vince and Gay,Rudy for Bryant,Kobe
SP29: Iguodala,Andre, Ellis,Monta and Gibson,Daniel for Wade,Dwyane, Odom,Lamar and Francis,Steve
SP31: Wade,Dwyane and Battier,Shane for Garnett,Kevin and Ellis,Monta
SP22: Jamison,Antawn and Gay,Rudy for Bryant,Kobe and Jaric,Marko
SP22: Jamison,Antawn and Gay,Rudy for Bryant,Kobe and Butler,Rasual
SP29: Iguodala,Andre, Ellis,Monta, Gibson,Daniel and Mohammed,Nazr for Wade,Dwyane, Haslem,Udonis, Murphy,Troy and Smith,J.R.
SP31: Granger,Danny and Gay,Rudy for Garnett,Kevin
SP31: Lewis,Rashard and Gay,Rudy for Garnett,Kevin and Moon,Jamario
SP33: Gay,Rudy and Horford,Al for Iverson,Allen
SP08: Jefferson,Richard and Ellis,Monta for Bryant,Kobe
SP21: Iguodala,Andre and Rondo,Rajon for Garnett,Kevin and Moon,Jamario

No real surprises here. When it comes to CBS, I'd feel more comfortable if they tossed a coin to decide on deals. One particular deal stands out...Lewis/Gay for KG/Moon in S31. I wasn't really surprised that I got vetoed, but it sticks out because literally minutes after the veto notification the following deal was approved in a different league: Lamarcus Aldridge and Stephen Jackson for Carlos Boozer and Raymond Felton. Huh? If that deal is deemed fair than there's no way my KG deal is unfair. Essentially it breaks down to this:

1. If given a choice, most fantasy owners would choose A: Boozer (ranked 9th at the time of the decision) and Felton (72nd) over B: Garnett (5th) and Moon (118). I hate Felton and I would do that deal in a heartbeat.

2. Unless you were brain dead, all fantasy owners would choose C: Lewis (38th) and Gay (33rd) over D: Aldridge (79th) and Jackson (45th). That's a no brainer.

So if A>B and C>D then a deal between B & C has to be closer to fair than a deal between A & D, right? I'm getting the lesser pair on one end and giving up the greater pair on the other end, right?

In the vortex otherwise known as CBS Fantasy Sports, the basic rules of algebra no longer apply.

When pressed for some rationale behind the decisions, my ol' buddy CBS Ron said that when you're trading for a top 5 player such as Kobe or KG, you need to include a top 5 player in the deal, essentially eliminating any chance to deal for one of these guys. This stance may be a sound strategy for running your fantasy basketball team, but it's absolutely absurd to assess the fairness of potential deals by using this criteria. Garnett is a top 5 player (although hardly top 5 recently), he's only slightly better than Boozer. If Boozer can be had for a song and KG is, say, 10% better than Boozer, than KG should be able to be had for Song + 10%. There's no way one deal is fair and not the other.

Excuse me while I vent my frustration with a little Guitar Hero III...


More of the same after looking at the projections through Week 9 (plus one day in Week 10). The Colton Index numbers are beating the consensus picks and blowing away the competition. And anybody who shelled out $8 for the Fantasy Lounge projections should demand their money back. Recall that the first ranking measures the improvement in accuracy over simply using the 2006 numbers as a baseline. The second ranking looks at each player and gives 14 points for the closest projection down to 1 point for the worst.

3 ROTOFREAK 17.46%
4 ESPN/TMR 14.69%
5 NBA.COM 13.69%
10 ROTOWORLD 9.09%
12 CBS SPORTS 3.99%
13 2006 BASELINE 0.00%

3 ESPN/TMR 1848
8 NBA.COM 1643
11 CBS SPORTS 1540
12 2006 BASELINE 1513
12 ROTOWIRE 1465
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