Michael Salfino

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Michael Salfino provides quantitative player and team analysis for the Wall Street Journal and Yahoo! Sports.

  • Pitching by the Numbers: Stat that can help you find fantasy value

    Last year was not a good one for projecting pitcher performance based on the prior year’s strikeouts and walks, the way we do it here is (K-BB) divided by innings pitched.

    But it worked wonderfully in 2014. Of course, the truth lies somewhere in between. This stat is the best tool we have in the pitcher projection toolbox but that is all contextual. It just means that players who demonstrated elite ratios of Ks and BBs in the prior year are bettable to have similar ratios in the upcoming year. They are not bankable to do this. Nothing is bankable. 

    [Sign up for Fantasy Baseball | Play for $40K | Expert rankings | Mock draft ]

    What this methodology comes down to is betting on stats. We hope the (K-BB)/IP stat is as bettable as the obvious stats that directly impact our fantasy categories — ERA and WHIP especially. It generally should be. But individual mileage varies. So to gamble on the outliers — the pitchers who were much better in Ks and BBs than they are currently projected to

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  • Pitching by the Numbers: Studying most misunderstood projection stat

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    Let’s start the 2016 season of Pitching by the Numbers by examining batting average on balls in play and the false assumptions that make it the most misunderstood and dangerous statistical tool in our projection toolbox.

    BABIP was designed explicitly to isolate luck. Last year, the league’s BABIP was .299. If a pitcher allowed a higher BABIP, he was unlucky. Anything lower, he was lucky. We should expect him to allow exactly a .299 BABIP because that’s what hitters do against pitchers. Or so the theory goes.

    [2016 Yahoo Fantasy Baseball is open for business. Sign up now]

    But the first problem is batted ball types — ground balls and fly balls result in hits at much different rates (about .240 for ground balls and .205 for fly balls). The rest are line drives (.700-ish). But the range for batted ball speed for line drives is widely variable as trajectory is the defining characteristic of a line drive and we’ve all seen many soft ones. What if we could just isolate the BABIP that was

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  • Week 16 Fantasy Football Power Rankings: Stacking all the games

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    Let’s put a fantasy spin on the this week’s action by ranking the games in expected order of point-producing relevance using the over/under totals from Las Vegas, specifically as listed at VegasInsider.com.

    Note: Dollar values in parentheses denote a player's current week price in the Yahoo Daily Fantasy game. It is displayed for point of reference.

    [Yahoo Daily Fantasy: $10 could win you $25K in our $250K contest for Week 16]

    The Big Five

    1. Jaguars at Saints, Sunday, 4:05, O/U 52: First of all, Happy Holidays! It’s too early to know if Drew Brees ($34) will play with his foot injury. But he says he expects to. Blake Bortles ($36) should be golden against the awful Saints defense. Brandin Cooks ($26) is an interesting story in that people want to point to the emergence of other weapons as giving him the opening to thrive. I think that’s the kind of story we look for, but Cooks’ emergence is probably just random variance disguised as something more meaningful. In other words, a story

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  • Saints-Lions tops Week 15 Fantasy Football Power Rankings

    Let’s put a fantasy spin on the this week’s action by ranking the games in expected order of point-producing relevance using the over/under totals from Las Vegas, specifically as listed at VegasInsider.com.

    Note: Dollar values in parentheses denote a player's current week price in the Yahoo Daily Fantasy game. It is displayed for point of reference.

    [Yahoo Daily Fantasy: $10 could win you $30K in our $300K contest for Week 15]

    The Fab Four

    Lions at Saints, Monday, 8:30, O/U 51: Calvin Johnson ($33) basically eliminated his owners last week. The Saints should be a good play at home unless they have decided their leader Sean Payton will not be back. I consider Drew Brees ($33) a top play and it’s nice having something in reserve come Monday. The Lions defense has been all over the map but as I keep saying, matchups are just a tiebreaker. There are not many and perhaps not even any quarterbacks you should play over Brees at home.

    Cardinals at Eagles, Sunday, 8:30, O/U 50.5: David

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  • Week 14 Fantasy Power Rankings: Eyes on Bengals-Steelers clash

    Let’s put a fantasy spin on the this week’s action by ranking the games in expected order of point-producing relevance using the over/under totals from Las Vegas, specifically as listed at VegasInsider.com.

    Note: Dollar values in parentheses denote a player's current week price in the Yahoo Daily Fantasy game. It is displayed for point of reference.

    The Trinity

    1. Saints at Bucs, Sunday, 1:00, O/U 50.5: Drew Brees ($36) on the road again against a hot team that’s playing better defensively and is actually No. 1 in yards allowed per play and above average in yards per pass play, too. So this is not a good matchup. But a theme here all year is that you should not run away or toward matchups based on the opponent of your fantasy player because we’re usually talking about a 5 percent expected boost in points from average to best or worst. There is a bigger effect for better players against bad defenses but we are playing the better players anyway. The Saints are an outlier defense on the

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  • Week 13 Fantasy Football Power Rankings: Brady will find way minus top targets

    Let’s put a fantasy spin on the this week’s action by ranking the games in expected order of point-producing relevance using the over/under totals from Las Vegas, specifically as listed at VegasInsider.com.

    Note: Dollar values in parentheses denote a player's current week price in the Yahoo Daily Fantasy game. It is displayed for point of reference.

    The Triplets

    1. Panthers at Saints, Sunday 4:25 p.m. O/U 49.5: Drew Brees ($39) looked bad last week but the Texans defense is playing top-notch right now. The Saints offense has been about as expected, however, averaging a third-best 401 yards per game. But the Panthers defense has been even better, allowing an NFC fewest 312 yards per game. Cam Newton ($40) kills the Saints (who doesn’t?) with five passing TDs and two rushing scores in his last two games against them. The Panthers defense leads the NFL with 18 picks and four pick-sixes. Devin Funchess ($14) is getting a lot of snaps now (118 last two weeks) and could surprise with a

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  • Week 12 Fantasy Football Power Rankings: Saints-Texans should provide fireworks

    Let’s put a fantasy spin on the this week’s action by ranking the games in expected order of point-producing relevance using the over/under totals from Las Vegas, specifically as listed at VegasInsider.com. 

    Note: Dollar values in parentheses denote a player's current week price in the Yahoo Daily Fantasy game. It is displayed for point of reference.

    [Yahoo Daily Fantasy: $10 could win you $50K in our $350K contest for Week 12]

    The Fab Four

    1. Saints at Texans, Sunday, 1 p.m., O/U 47.5: Should you worry about playing Drew Brees ($40) on the road? Since 2014, he’s averaging 21 points per game at home and 17.8 on the road. That’s still clearly playable on the road, however. Ryan Fitzpatrick would have had a pretty big day vs. this Texans if 1) Devin Smith could catch (he dropped a TD bomb) and 2) if he wasn’t playing the final minutes after seemingly suffering a head injury. So I would not run away from Brees and Brandin Cooks ($29) in this game. You obviously want to play all of your

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  • Week 11 Fantasy Football Power Rankings: Bengals-Cardinals has plenty of intrigue

    Let’s put a fantasy spin on the this week’s action by ranking the games in expected order of point-producing relevance using the over/under totals from VegasInsider.com.

    Note: Dollar values in parentheses denote a player's current week price in the Yahoo Daily Fantasy game. It is displayed for point of reference.

    The Triplets

    1. Bengals at Cardinals, Sunday, 8:30 p.m., O/U 48.5: We’re always going to look for fleas on Andy Dalton ($35). And he gave the naysayers plenty of ammo on Monday night. Now, he gets another prime-time game. On our Breakfast Table Podcast, Yahoo colleague Scott Pianowski and I talked about how Cincy just needs to bench Jeremy Hill ($15) and make Gio Bernard ($22) the lead back. The opposite of what they did last year. Carson Palmer ($37) leads the NFL in averaging 10.8 air yards per attempt. Essentially tied with Cam Newton ($34). And he’s far and away the leader in average per completion. The NFL average is about 6.2. Michael Floyd ($22) is the team’s best

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  • Giants-Patriots tops Week 10 Fantasy Football Power Rankings

    Let’s put a fantasy spin on the this week’s action by ranking the games in expected order of point-producing relevance using the over/under totals from Las Vegas, specifically as listed at VegasInsider.com. 

    Note: Dollar values in parentheses denote a player's current week price in the Yahoo Daily Fantasy game. It is displayed for point of reference.

    [Yahoo Daily Fantasy Football: First place wins $100K in our $500K contest for Week 10]

    1. Patriots at Giants, Sunday, 4:25 p.m., O/U 54: Eli Manning ($42) may be overrated because of his two Super Bowl wins over the Patriots, each in the last four-year cycles when they faced New England in the regular season, but he’s not afraid. That’s his greatest strength in spots like this and it’s his greatest weakness because it leads him to throw too many picks. But his teammates will feed off of his fearlessness in this spot. And don’t kid yourself: A big factor in the Patriots’ historic dominance in the NFL is their championship aura. Remember,

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  • Week 9 Fantasy Football Power Rankings: Patriots will keep rolling

    Let’s put a fantasy spin on the this week’s action by ranking the games in expected order of point-producing relevance using the over/under totals from Las Vegas, specifically as listed at VegasInsider.com.

    Note: Dollar values in parentheses denote a player's current week price in the Yahoo Daily Fantasy game. It is displayed for point of reference.

    [Yahoo Daily Fantasy Football: First place wins $100K in our $500K contest for Week 9]

    The Big Five

    1. Redskins at Patriots, Sunday, 1 p.m., O/U 52: Kirk Cousins ($30) is 6-for-6 with five TDs on third-and-goal passes. A normal rate is about 40 percent. Cousins is only 6.5 yards/attempt this year and thus the prospects for 40 or so attempts due to game flow isn’t that enticing. Let’s give him 250 yards and a TD. LeGarrette Blount ($23) has five doorstep carries (inside the three) and has three TDs. Overall teams are 95/219 in these situations (43.4%). I don’t think anything can stop Tom Brady ($48) and the Patriots passing game this year.

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