Dynasty Football Buy / Sell / Hold, Week 8 Edition

 

In making dynasty league trades, it’s important to be aware of the factors that boost a player’s perceived value such as age, context (targets, touches and opportunity), and, perhaps most importantly, recent performance. Understanding when not to overreact to small sample noise allows us to overcome a potential pitfall that most owners can’t: recency bias.

TDG readers are smart and probably well aware of what it is, but as a refresher, recency bias is a cognitive bias in which people disproportionately weight things that have occurred most recently.

One of my favorite ways to take advantage of this bias is to identify the most vulnerable owners, which tend to be those at the bottom of the standings. By targeting sluggish players on struggling teams you can often benefit from a negative recency effect and work out trades to your advantage.

Below are some of my favorite dynasty assets to target as ‘buys’ and ‘sells’ by capitalizing on other owners’ overreactions to recent performance.

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Top 25 Dynasty Basketball Rookie Rankings, #11-25

This is part two of the top 25 dynasty rookie rankings. For part one, please click here. For our complete #Dynasty200 rankings, which differ from this list, please click here.

Tier 2: “Low Floor, High Ceiling” (Continued)

  1. Deyonta Davis, Memphis

The physical profile stands out. Davis checks in at 6-feet-10, with 7’2” wingspan, and a solid 240 pound frame. That impressive size is combined with exceptional quickness and fluidity for a big. In terms of athleticism, the only other big men in this draft who can compare to Davis are Chriss and Bender. Davis only played 18.6 mpg in his lone season at Michigan State, so he is definitely in need of seasoning, but even if his offensive game never develops, he still has the potential to be a force defensively.

Furthermore, the fit in Memphis is a positive one as the club is one of the few in the league that operates inside-out instead of outside in. Zach Randolph is nearing his end in Memphis and JaMychal Green is merely a placeholder.

Stat to Know: 3.9 blocks per 40 minutes

Prime Statistical Projection: REB, BLK

Tier 3: “Contributors with Questionable Upside”

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Top 25 Dynasty Basketball Rookie Rankings, #1-10

The 2016 rookie class was declared a two-player draft (Simmons and Ingram) by many experts, but at least for fantasy purposes, that list should be expanded to three by adding Kris Dunn. For reference, you can find our complete #Dynasty200 rankings written by Tom Trudeau, which has Dunn ahead of Ingram. Here I have broken down my Top 10 dynasty prospects into two tiers.  Tier 1 contains the aforementioned 3 players.  Tier 2 contains players with flaws and lower floors, but also tantalizing upsides.  These rankings reflect my philosophy that dynasty owners should look for the greatest potential payout in the future.  Don’t be afraid to draft a bust!  Playing it safe won’t help you unearth a superstar, such as a Paul George or Kawhi Leonard.

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TDG is seeking new writers

Dear Faithful TDG readers,

We’ve survived yet another wild season of fantasy baseball, and now it’s time to transition into what baseball fans might consider a dark period, but what we like to call ‘transaction season.’ While baseball slumbers, us dynasty baseball connoisseurs are wide awake and busy slinging deals, drafting top amateur and international prospects, and building our teams for an exciting 2017 season.

Here at TDG, our goal is to make the incoming avalanche of crucial roster decisions a bit easier. In addition to regular articles, we’ll also be rolling out the detailed dynasty rankings you’ve all come to know and love. But we need your help to accomplish this. You drive this site forward by reading our articles and providing insightful comments, and now is your chance to improve TDG as a new writer.

Each year, we uncover a number of hidden gems (undiscovered talent) in our search for new contributors, from the lead writers you’ve come to know at TDG to those you may have seen at other major websites. From Craig Goldstein, Ben Carsley, Jeff Quinton, Wilson Karaman, Greg Wellemeyer, George Bissell and J.J. Jansons (who now all write at Baseball Prospectus) to Jake Devereaux at BP Boston and Nick Doran at Rotoworld, TDG has provided a vital starting point in their journey to becoming well known dynasty baseball writers.

If you’re looking to start on a similar path and want a great place to receive exposure, TDG is perfect for you. Here’s how you can join the team:

– If you are a writer with experience at either your own blog or another site, send us an email (dynastyguru@gmail.com) with links and some information about yourself.
– If you are a dynasty league player without writing experience, send us an email explaining why we should consider you for a writing position at TDG and we will give you a writing assignment of approximately 600-700 words on a given topic. Those who have submitted entries before will be given first priority, as there were plenty of good submissions that we had to pass on due to the sheer number of entries received.

We look forward to hearing from those of you who are interested and hope you’re all excited to see what the future of The Dynasty Guru has in store.

The Top 250 Dynasty Football Rankings 5.0 – Week 6 Refresh

Rankings PSA: these #Dynasty250 rankings are designed for 2QB and superflex leagues, so if you play in single quarterback league, fade the QB’s.

What will stand out about my rankings is how low I am as compared to ADP on running backs. I’m a #zeroRB disciple and I play to have an elite contender every year, a combination that has me wary of ever holding expensive workhorse running backs when I can get much cheaper good-enough-options. The younger and more perceived job security and long term value that a running back has, the more I like to flip them. My priority is to make sure I always have X+1 blue chip wide receivers, where X = the max number of WR’s your league allows you to start each week. +1 allows you injury insurance and/or bye week help. I wouldn’t blame anyone who preferred X+2!

There’s no other position other than running back where you can stash a few players, almost for free (besides roster opportunity cost) and frequently have a must-start player within weeks due to running back carnage and churn. Sure, some weeks you’ll be at an RB disadvantage, sometimes even a large one, but if you build your team to have advantages at every other position you’ll have a more resilient and higher scoring team for multiple seasons.

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Let’s Be Patient: Aaron Nola*

Aaron Nola was selected by the Phillies in the first round (seventh overall) of the 2014 draft, and immediately breezed through the minor leagues. As a polished college prospect, the Phillies were aggressive with Nola’s development. The right-hander never saw competition below High A. All told, he spent 164.2 innings in the minors, posting a 2.57 ERA with a 1.057 WHIP. His strikeout numbers weren’t dazzling (7.5 per nine innings), but his meager walk totals (1.5 per nine innings) more than made up for his lack of whiffs. Nola entered the 2015 season as the 60th best prospect in the league, according to Baseball Prospectus, and his production did little to dissuade anyone that, at the very least, the Phillies had a no-doubt middle of the rotation cog for years to come.

Nola got the call to the big club in July 2015 and posted solid, if unspectacular numbers from the jump. In 77.2 innings after his call-up, he was perfectly serviceable, striking out 68 batters, compared to only 19 walks. He posted a 3.59 ERA, but was probably even a little better than that number, as his 3.38 DRA might suggest. Again, solid, if unspectacular. While Nola showed signs of promise in his first stint as a big league pitcher, none of his skills seemed to translate into him becoming an elite pitcher. His ERA ranked in the top 50 among starting pitchers, as did his 47.6 percent ground ball rate. His 7.9 strikeouts per nine innings were slightly better than league average, and the same can be said for his cFIP of 91. None of this is meant to disparage Nola in any way. A slightly above average major league pitcher is super valuable. Mike Leake got five years and $75 million, after all.

Then a funny thing happened. In 2016, Nola decided to stop being slightly above average. In 2016, Nola decided to be awesome. Now, I know what you’re thinking, and no a 4.78 ERA isn’t awesome. I agree, but there are factors that point to Nola being a little unlucky with his earned runs. Let’s unpack that number a little. One adjustment that Nola seemed to make heading into 2016 was an effort to throw his sinker more. In 2015, around 23 percent of his pitches were sinkers. In 2016, that number jumped to 44 percent. The result: more ground balls. This season, Nola induced 55.2 percent ground balls, a number that ranked 7th best among starters. Ordinarily, this would be great news for run prevention. However, the Phillies were the 8th worst team in baseball according to Baseball Prospectus defensive efficiency.  Hitters posted a .334 BABIP against Nola, good for 12th worst in the league. In addition, his 60.6 left on base percentage (league average is 72.9 percent) was second worst in the league among starters, with only renowned hurler Tyler Duffey posting worse numbers.  So, yes, a 4.78 ERA isn’t great, but bad defense paired with a little bad luck does not help with rate stats. To further illustrate the puzzling nature of Nola’s season, he posted a 3.08 FIP and 2.35 (!) DRA.

While Nola’s rate numbers weren’t great, he made serious strides elsewhere. The “knock” on Nola coming out of college was that he just didn’t miss enough bats, a symptom that would keep him from ever being a truly top of the rotation pitcher. By adjusting his pitch mix (relying more heavily on his sinker and curve), Nola added nearly two strikeouts per nine innings in 2016. He struck out 4.17 batters for every walk issued, a rate that would include him in the top 20 of all major league starters (Just an aside that has nothing to do with Aaron Nola: Clayton Kershaw led the league with 15.64 strikeouts per walk. Second place went to Rick Porcello, with 5.91 strikeouts per walk. Good lord.). Nola’s new arsenal unearthed a 75 cFIP, a number that put him in elite company, sixth best in baseball behind only Kershaw, Jose Fernandez, Noah Syndergaard, Rich Hill, and Carlos Carrasco.

*Ok, if you’ve made it this far, you’re probably wondering when I’m going to address the giant 600-pound elephant in the room. Nola was shut down on July 28, and diagnosed with a sprained UCL. There’s really no way to spin that into a positive, that isn’t good. That said, it could help to explain Nola’s dip in production. According to Brooks Baseball, Nola’s average velocity began to fall slightly in early June, basically coinciding with his slide. In his first 78 innings before the decline, Nola posted a 2.65 ERA and 0.99 WHIP while striking out 85 batters and walking only 15. After June 11, he tossed 33 innings with a 9.82 ERA and 2.06 WHIP. He still struck out 36 batters, but his walk rate took a huge jump, ballooning to 3.82 per nine innings. On one hand, it’s another lively round of “Fun with Arbitrary Endpoints”. On the other, it’s a tale of two seasons: one healthy and one not, with the injury playing the major culprit in Nola’s rough patch.

Within the last week, Nola has started throwing again to test his elbow. The fact that those dreaded three letters still loom over his head, or more aptly, his elbow, makes him a very tricky player to assess heading into 2017. Time will tell whether the strain is a bump in the road or a major setback in his career. That said, Nola was starting to show ace-level skills early in the 2016 season and right now it’s unlikely he’s being valued as an ace-level pitcher. If you have the stomach for risk, and if you can weather the worst case scenario, now might be the perfect time to scoop up Nola in your dynasty league.

Follow Mark on Twitter @hoodieandtie

The Top 200 Dynasty Basketball Rankings – October 2016

EDIT: Please see updated rankings here.

Welcome, to the inaugural #Dynasty200, fantasy hoops fans! If you’re reading this you already know that fantasy basketball is arguably the best fantasy sport. It’s a happy medium between high variance fantasy football, where the best team usually loses to the field, and the relative predictability of fantasy baseball where we can say things like “trust the back of the baseball card.”

These rankings are designed with head to head, nine category fantasy leagues in mind, but I will often note when a rotisserie league owner and/or 8 category owners might want to fade/increase rankings of players.

For example, Andre Drummond, due in part do his unwillingness to try underhanded free throws, will not be on many championship rotisserie league teams. His free throw percentage is just too poor to overcome in that format. However, he becomes a superstar as part of a “punt FT” h2h strategy in which owners seek out similar players discounted by their wart(s).

As for my methodology, I rely on non-equal parts experience, BasketballMonster.com historical rankings, PER (player efficiency rating), FiveThirtyEight.com’s CARMELO projections, Kevin Pelton Rookie WARP projections, ESPN’s rookie model, summer league performance, draft pedigree and genius. I try to have a balanced approach between future and present, but I prefer to set up dynasty owners with a chance to have a long run of success than narrow windows of contention.

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Wrapping Up

At this point in the fantasy season, there are likely no more suggested pickups that can help you win your league. In all likelihood, the money places have already been determined. Rather than suggesting players who won’t help you until next year or minor leaguers who haven’t played in nearly a month, I thought I’d use this space to reflect on a few controllable miscues that happened along the way for a team that was expected to be a contender from the first day of the season. With two days left in the season, I’m currently in second place with 130 roto points, just ahead of my bitter rival with 127. Although my chances of “winning” second place seem to be decent, it did not have to come down to this.

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