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League Office | Public View

Jon Loomer: For the third consecutive week, we showcase the writing talents of a member of the PFC. We began with Justin Esposito of the PFC Milwaukee Bucks and followed that up last week with Ben Swets of the Sacramento Kings. This week, we throw another Ben front and center. Ben Falk of the PFC Golden State Warriors

"Lady Mutombo"
by Ben Falk of the PFC Golden State Warriors

If you’ve ever been in a head to head league, you know the feeling. And if you’re in the PFC, you’ve probably felt it multiple times this year. You’ve been comfortably ahead in three pointers all week. It’s Sunday, you’re up by six threes, and the other team only has Daniel Gibson and Gerald Wallace playing. Chances they combine for seven threes? Let’s just say I’d be less surprised to hear Isiah Thomas got signed to a five year extension as Knicks’ GM than to log in and see that. So you’ve chalked that category up as a win, you sign into, click “Live Scoring” with a smile on your face, and wait for the stats to load up. Your smile drops faster than Manu Ginobili in the lane—etched in a bright blue color is the shocking, unbelievable reality. Daniel Gibson has drained four threes, and Gerald Wallace notched three of his own, both season highs. “B-but,” you sputter. “I had 26 three pointers on the week, that’d beat 90% of the teams in the league! How could this happen? Gerald Wallace hitting three treys?!” You look in disgust at your Gerald Wallace voodoo doll, and chuck it in the trash—it’s failed you once again. Your week is officially ruined.

That’s the greatness and torture that is head to head fantasy basketball. On the one hand, in a high stakes league like the PFC (because after all, the stakes can’t get any higher than being the first inductee into the Fantasy Hall of Fame, right?) the drama is as palpable as a Dikembe Mutombo elbow to the face. On the other hand, who wants an elbow to the face? Luck becomes an enormous factor, and when it swings against you, you better watch out or you may end up wearing a Rip Hamilton facemask for the playoffs. (Getting carried away with the NBA analogies? Perhaps. So much so that my point is getting obscured? There’s a chance. Will it stop? Um, no. It’s more fun than a Suns-Wizards game.)

Bad head to head luck can come in a couple of forms—you could end up facing a couple randomly great games, like the Gibson-Wallace example. You could have a horrible match up, where your totals would beat any other team but the one you’re facing. Your players’ schedules could fall out so that you’ve got a games disadvantage against the worst fantasy teams (making them competitive) and a games advantage against the best fantasy teams (where it’s much harder to capitalize on that advantage). Or you could end up facing the Rockets with Ming and the Heat with Wade only to see them get injured the next week. Clearly there are other forms of bad luck—your own players getting injured, variations in playing time, etc.—but these aren’t unique to head to head. Only the head to head style can make you feel the Mutombo elbow of luck in so many ways.

Looking at the PFC, then, can we figure out who has gotten the LeBron treatment (broken left eye socket), who has escaped with only the McGrady treatment (concussion) and who has been Mutombo himself? Well, we need a way to filter out the effects of the head to head style—and we can do that by taking the totals from each team and turning it into a roto league. Rank each team in each category, and then assume that on any given week each team should be able to beat all the teams below them in that category and lose to all those above them. For example, if Indiana is fourth overall in FG%, they should be able to beat anyone ranked from five down, but they would lose to the numbers one, two and three teams. That means they’d be expected to win FG% 89.7% of the time. If we do this for each category we can come up with how many wins each team would be expected to get each week. The numbers look like this:

Team Weekly Wins Projected Losses
1. DAL 6.0 33.4
2. CHA 6.0 34.6
3. POR 5.9 35.2
4. UTA 5.7 39.3
5. IND 5.5 42.2
6. MIA 5.3 46.3
7. DEN 5.0 50.4
8. ATL 5.0 50.4
9. WAS 4.9 52.8
10. MIL 4.7 55.7
11. SEA 4.3 62.7
12. DET 4.1 66.2
13. GSW 4.1 66.8
14. SAS 3.9 69.8
15. TOR 3.9 70.3
16. MIN 3.9 70.3
17. HOU 3.9 70.3
18. ORL 3.8 72.1
19. PHX 3.8 72.1
20. LAC 3.7 73.9
21. CLE 3.5 76.2
22. SAC 3.5 77.4
23. PHI 3.4 78.6
24. LAL 3.2 81.5
25. NJN 3.0 84.4
26. BOS 2.4 95.0
27. NOH 2.4 95.0
28. MEM 2.4 95.6
29. CHI 2.1 100.8
30. NYK 0.9 120.8

“Projected Losses” is how many losses the team should have at this point in the season if there were no luck involved. As you can see, Dallas checks in as the top team in the PFC, with Charlotte and Portland following close behind. Utah and Indiana round out the top five. At the bottom we have the lowly Knicks, projected to get less than one win a week. Chicago, Memphis, New Orleans and Boston round out the bottom five.

If you pay attention to the PFC at all you should already be able to spot the two teams that stand out more than Shawn Bradley at a kindergarten. Boston and Indiana have the exact same record, despite Indiana being ranked fifth overall in the roto rankings and Boston #26 overall. Indiana, then, seems to be the proverbial LeBron and Boston the proverbial Dikembe. Let’s check out the full list of lucky and unlucky teams:

Team Projected Losses Losses Luck
1. BOS 95.0 66.5 28.5
2. NYK 120.8 101.0 19.8
3. CHI 100.8 84.5 16.3
4. TOR 70.3 55.5 14.8
5. PHI 78.6 65.0 13.6
6. MEM 95.6 82.0 13.6
7. NOH 95.0 82.5 12.5
8. ORL 72.1 62.0 10.1
9. CLE 76.2 70.0 6.2
10. NJN 84.4 79.0 5.4
11. HOU 70.3 65.0 5.3
12. MIN 70.3 65.5 4.8
13. LAL 81.5 77.0 4.5
14. MIA 46.3 43.5 2.8
15. SAC 77.4 76.5 0.9
16. PHX 72.1 72.0 0.1
17. DET 66.2 66.5 -0.3
18. LAC 73.9 79.5 -5.6
19. ATL 50.4 56.5 -6.1
20. WAS 52.8 59.0 -6.2
21. POR 35.2 42.0 -6.8
22. SAS 69.8 77.5 -7.7
23. DEN 50.4 59.0 -8.6
24. GSW 66.8 76.5 -9.7
25. SEA 62.7 74.0 -11.3
26. MIL 55.7 67.5 -11.8
27. UTA 39.3 54.5 -15.2
28. CHA 34.6 56.5 -21.9
29. DAL 33.4 57.0 -23.6
30. IND 42.2 66.5 -24.3

The “Losses” column is the actual PFC losses plus half of the ties. We can then subtract actual losses from projected losses and find out how many more or less games a team should have lost. The outliers are confirmed—Boston is indeed the biggest beneficiary of the head to head style so far this season, and Indiana has been hurt the most.

One thing to notice about these numbers is that there are no extremes. The Knicks look really lucky because they were projected to be so horrible. Teams like Dallas and Charlotte look really unlucky despite the fact that they’re still near the top of the overall PFC standings. That’s because all of these factors of “unluck” help to bring extreme teams back to average. You’re not usually going to see any one team run away with the standings in a head to head league because there’s just too much randomness involved.

This whole issue actually sparked a debate on the PFC message boards about the best format to have for the PFC in upcoming years. Mark Pion, GM of the PFC Sixers weighed in: “I think a rotisserie format should be explored for next season. It's more determinant of who did the best job and cuts to the point more (without the H2H luck and randomness).” Of course PFC head honcho Jon Loomer squashed all thoughts of possibly going roto next year with his counter: “Watching roto is like watching paint dry.”

I withheld my opinion, knowing I could use this platform to address the issue. So here goes. My feeling is that the bad luck sure does hurt (I know with my -9.7 “unluck factor”), and if we really want to crown a proper champion roto is the way to go. However, there’s no question the heightened value of each individual game sure makes your team a lot more fun to follow. It’s definitely an issue. Both options have Rudy Gay-like upside, but Darius Miles-esque downside. I didn’t really have a solution until I read what Julian Cone, GM of the PFC Raptors, wrote. He said he had played in a head to head league where you played two teams at once, and that meant you could face more teams. It occurred to me: why not face ALL the teams at once, every week? In other words, have a roto match up every week. You’d be ranked against every other team in the league and at the end of the week get the appropriate amount of wins, losses and ties. This would take away the luck factors of who you’re playing and when you play them, but it would leave the randomness factor that makes each game so important each week. For the playoffs every team would play all the other playoff teams, with the top half of the standings advancing each week, until the top two teams meet in a final head to head showdown for the championship. You get the best of both worlds—keep the drama but eliminate a lot of the luck.

This article is already longer than Tayshaun Prince’s arms, so I’ll end with this point: even after being repeatedly bludgeoned by “Lady Mutombo” I’ve enjoyed the PFC experience immensely. But if I could do it over again I’d beg someone to please pad that elbow!

Beware of the Mutombo elbow!
(Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images)

PFC Quick Facts
The PFC is a global fantasy basketball competition with 30 of the world's best players vying for the title.
More than 9,000 people worldwide applied for the opportunity to compete.
Each participant is the fantasy general manager for an NBA team. Each GM picked a franchise player from their assigned team and built their roster - with players from any other NBA team - from there.
Every general manager has selected eight players for their fantasy squad.
Participants run the risk of losing their spot in the competition should they underperform. The public votes who will lose their job, and another top applicant will take over as a new GM.
For more in-depth information on the PFC, read here.

Overall Records

Eastern Conference

Detroit Pistons 68 65 3
Indiana Pacers 68 65 3
Milwaukee Bucks 68 67 1
Cleveland Cavaliers 65 69 2
Chicago Bulls 49 82 5

Toronto Raptors 80 55 1
Philadelphia 76ers 68 62 6
Boston Celtics 68 65 3
New Jersey Nets 54 76 6
New York Knicks 33 99 4

Miami Heat 91 42 3
Charlotte Bobcats 78 55 3
Atlanta Hawks 79 56 1
Washington Wizards 77 59 0
Orlando Magic 72 60 4

Western Conference

Portland Trailblazers 92 40 4
Utah Jazz 81 54 1
Denver Nuggets 75 57 4
Minnesota Timberwolves 69 64 3
Seattle SuperSonics 60 72 4

Phoenix Suns 63 71 2
Golden State Warriors 58 75 3
Sacramento Kings 57 74 5
Los Angeles Lakers 57 75 4
Los Angeles Clippers 55 78 3

Dallas Mavericks 77 55 4
Houston Rockets 69 63 4
San Antonio Spurs 57 76 3
Memphis Grizzlies 53 81 2
New Orleans/OK Hornets 52 81 3