2015/2016 Premier League Fantasy Result

Not that I have a big following when it comes to the “beautiful game” but even less of an interest when you bring the fantasy aspect to the forefront. Talking fantasy fútbol , which ended this past Tuesday for the English Premier League thus concluding my third season participating. I admit, it was my best showing to date scoring 2,170 points (winner scored 2,458 points), which was up 119 points from last season giving me a final ranking of 75,025 (out of 3,734,001)! Inside the top 100k was my goal this year and I achieved it. I ended on a streak of three green arrows and five out of the last six week I improved my overall position, undoubtedly my best run of the year, when it’s needed most.

When you start breaking down the numbers on a weekly basis, that 288 point difference between my final standing and the winner ends up as a difference of 7.57 points a week. That’s not many points. Drop in 4 points for a clean sheet and number decreases even more! Looking over the season, I am still on the upswing of the learning curve. However, I did get in on some of the “template” players earlier than later in during the season. It took only 3 game weeks and I had used my first wild card introducing Hart, Williams, Ward, Mahrez, Sanchez, Ayew, Silva, Aguero and Gomis. Picked up an early injury on Calum Wilson, who was added prior to game week 2. I did benefit from the use of the early WC, seeing my ranking and team value rise over the next 4 week, climbing to 536k and £102.6m respectively. Unfortunately I left 50 points on the bench during game week 3 and 4.

The triple captain chip was dropped into play for game week 4 on Kun Aguero vs Watford resulting in 6 points, as City won 2-0 and Aguero was held scoreless. Not how I planned on seeing this potential bonus going down, as I had paid heavily for the striker’s services, which meant he won the captain’s arm band often. Game week paid off nicely as Aguero scored 5 goals vs Newcastle scoring 50 points and lead my team to best (non DGW) score of 103. It also vaulted my team to the top 65k my best overall ranking in 3 years. Unfortunately the international break arrived, Aguero got injured and this started a run of red arrows through game week 14 dropping my overall rank to 582k.

Game week 9 saw my all out attack chip played starting Cresswell and Francis as my sole defenders, Chadli, Ayew, Sanchez, DeBruyne and Mahrez in the midfield and Pelle, martial and Ighalo up front. I finished this week with just 43 points, my 5th lowest score of the year and another red arrow following by best score, the week before. I was frustrated, as my decisions were not paying off, weeks of 43, 53, 48, 42, 44 and now 56 capped off my worst run of the year.

Week 15 I made two transfer, which cost me 4 points, the third time this early in the season I had done so. Five weeks prior I had jumped on the Vardy bandwagon, but that was after his 11 game goal scoring streak had ended, yet Jamie was still scoring and Leicester was still winning. Lukaku and Alderweireld made an instant impact on the transfer in, scoring 16 and 6 respectively. Mahrez also hit for 21 points, things were looking up!

What I learned this year, as this was the first year for the three chips, I should of held this chips for the DGW or double game weeks that appeared during the later part of the season. I got antsy and attempted to play catch up by using the chips early in the year, which through 14 weeks had scored my only an additional 4 points! Not how I saw my chips playing out this season.

For the next 8 weeks it was a mix of red and green arrows, never really establishing a consistency on the pitch. Even a good week of 72 points in game week 17 saw a red arrow when the average points scored was just 59. Yet the season started to turn around during game week 23, when my team put up 88 points behind top performances of Alli, Firmino, Ighalo and Aguero. This total propelled my team 324k spots in the ranking to 279k, my best ranking since game week 11.

The next 3 game weeks, scores of 61, 63 and 60 saw just average returns but two green arrows the final two weeks. Looking forward we were starting to get an idea of DGWs and teams with no games because of cup action. The final 13 games weeks saw 9 green arrows and only 4 red arrows, as I chipped away moving closer to 100k.

Week 29, a score of 90 points with 6 players on the dream team pushed me inside 200k, jumping my team 103k for the week. Behind just a single transfer of Schmeichel, for the week, he was key in 28 points for my defensive players with Mahrez, Payet and Aguero scoring 11, 13 and 22 respectively.

One notable issue I need to address next season, the number of transfers that take a point hit in the mini-leagues. I recorded 9 weeks of -4 points and a single week of -20 points (game week 37). Speaking of mini-league action, I started the season 6-0, suffering my first loss, 58-41 in game week 7. The next 8 weeks I would go 2-6, losing 2 game weeks (14, 15) by a total of 3 points. Toss in a draw during week 16 and my team would not recover falling from the top of the table. I did win my final 3 matches, but never moved higher than 5th for the rest of the season. Go ‘Orns finished the season 20-1-15 scoring 2,170 points, outscoring the next closest team by 231 points.

DGW 34 put me in a great position to finish the season, 139 points (avg. 72) powered by Sanchez (25 pts) and Aguero (52), who wore the captain’s armband pushed me inside 108k, my best position since game week 8. After the first games, I was thrilled to see just how well my team and expected bigger points for the second games teams were playing, yet I set my expectations too high and some of the bigger names disappointed.

As the season was winding down, it was one more toss of the dice in game week 37, I took a -20 point hit and made big changes to my squad in hopes of improving my final standing. Introducing Van Aanholt to my defense and giving Hazard the armband accounted for 41 of my 97 points, Payet and Sanchez continued to pay dividends, while Defoe scored another goal. The season closed with a final week of 56 points thanks to a shutout from Bellerin and Monreal as well as a flier on Mane, which resulted in 13 points.

Looking back on the season, I realize I must listen to my head more than I listen to some pundits or polls. Many of us can relate, talking yourself out of a starting certain players or changing the captain’s armband just before the lineups are locked. The bonus points for the three chips absolutely killed me this season, planning on a big reward, which yielded a single digit total. These will be held much longer next season.

The final factor is challenging, starting the season with players who end up on the “template” for much of the season. This year, Vardy and Marhez impressed much of the season. Kane, didn’t hit early on but came back very strong. Ozil was a consistent assist machine for the Gunners. All were template players, but it would those 2-3 players outside the template who hopefully made a positive difference in your team.

After 3 years of playing I set personal records for most points, 2,170 and rank, 75,024. Last year’s score of 1,912 saw a finish of 531k, while my inaugural year was 2,041, finishing 877k. This year was a huge step forward and a cornerstone on which to build for next Premier League season.

Fantasy EPL – DGW 37

This post will fall mainly on deaf ears since football (aka soccer) is not taken seriously in the United States. Sure, we have the MSL, USL and NASL but none of them compare to the game that’s played abroad, but I am not here to drag my soapbox out about the inferior play and leagues in America. This is about the fantasy aspect of football, which is big business, especially in the Barclay’s Premier League. Just like the NFL and countless leagues that pop up when the season rolls around, football in England takes center stage for a 38 week season.

Outside of hockey and basketball I have played fantasy sports since 1983, when I started my own fantasy football (NFL) league with 5 friends. So while my expertise flourished with stats, players and strategy, interest in the NFL has waned the past 10 years and while I still participate I do out of friendship for the guys I play with. It’s the EPL that has taken center stage for me, played on a very large scale with 3.7 million players taking part in the Fantasy Premier League. This is just the third season I have participated, but after 36 weeks I will post my best score to date based on a very hard to predict EPL season.

Compared to my past NFL expertise, I am a 3 year “newbie” to the fantasy world, sometimes learning the ropes, “the hard way.” Each year is a new experience, a new piece of the puzzle to implement in hopes or fielding the best 11 players on the pitch. Yet 2015-2016 has already seen the league turned upside down with Leicester City, a 5000-1 long shot winning the league. Past performances of top players have been questionable at best sometimes, but subscribing to “form over fixture” seems to hold true more often than not. In the past it was “the law of fantasy football averages” as it related to the NFL (read The Ogletree Factor). “This is a law that dictates there are only so many yards and TD’s to go around and mediocre guys who have really good weeks will have to have really bad weeks later on to average their stats out. It also works in reverse for good and/or great players. Those who have really bad weeks will have to have some really good ones to again, average it out by seasons end.”

Form over fixture is important, as hot players can quickly go cold, so being able to predict “who” will move is based purely on speculation. When it goes in your favor, you are genius! Sometimes a few weeks can make your break you entire fantasy season. For me, my season broke in week 9, on the heels of a 109 point week. thanks in part to Kun Aguero dropping a 5 goal performance on Newcastle which netted me 50 points! These two weeks were separated by the international break, which saw an injury to Aguero. I took a -2 hit point restructured my team transferring Aguero out and bringing in Graziano Pellè and Kevin De Bruyne, a move that accounted for just 4 points in week 9 and started a run of red arrows the next 5 out of 6 weeks.

At the end of week 8 I was ranked 65k, my highest ever ranking. After week 14 I sat at 583k, a drop of some 520k positions. I thought I turned the corner after consecutive green arrows in weeks 15 and 16 (66 & 69 points), but 72 points in week 17 saw another down arrow. Continuing to read the fantasy sites, take advice and participate in weekly polls, it was tough to see much change. The dynamics of my team continued to shift, I did however maintain a 3-5-2 formation, but hurt myself by playing my chips too early in the season. It makes great sense to hold these gems (all out attack, triple captain and bench booster) until the DGWs or double game weeks begain.

Entering week 34, the first DGW I was ranked 161k, coming off a solid 76 point performance, 20 points above the average. By this time, Aguero was back on the front line and Alexis Sanchez was transferred in. When the DGW ended I was score 139 (-4 points for 2 transfers), 60 points above the average. You can play the “what if…” game every week in fantasy sports. “What if I would have held my triple captain chip?” “What if I played my bench boost?” You can drive yourself to a white, padded room thinking about the “what if…” scenarios. I saw a green arrow and my highest rank, now 107k since week 9.

Since week 1 the team has changed considerable. In this game getting in on “the template” is imperative. The template are those players that many of the top 10k players own. What make one team flourish and the other flounder are those “differentials” you have on  your team, any given week that score to make a difference in finishing with a red, down arrow or a green, up arrow. Week 3 saw me burn my first wildcard (WC) in order to bring my team close to those players on the template but passed on Leicester City’s, Jamie Vardy for weeks on end during his 11-goal scoring streak. The use of that WC helped me gain 520k spots in just 4 weeks.

Now we stand on the edge of week 37, another DGW. Many owners have held onto some of their chips or even a WC and are preparing to make that final push to close out this strange year in the EPL. Entering this week with 2041 points, I have matched my best point total from 2013/2014 but 300 points off the overall leader. That equates to less than a 9 point/week difference. That’s a defender gaining a shutout or a midfielder being awarded 3 bonus point. Even easier points, holding the chips until the DGWs. Regardless of how the year ends up, I will end the year on a positive note, even if I happen to go tits up with two red arrows.

week37dgwAs for this week I am hoping for BIG things, taking a -20 point hit to field a team of 10 starters all playing in the DGW. It’s a big gamble, but 140-160 is a distinct possibility given the form of the players I transferred in. Like the end of any season, it becomes a crap shoot as manager rotate players or rest players depending on European matches left to play. However, confidence is high in this starting IX, just don’t like seeing Harry Kane on the bench, based purely on his potential. Then again I have been playing Kun Aguero nearly all year because of his explosive potential.

Chalk this year crazy year up to another learning experience, ending the year knowing more now than when I started the year. Using a few fantasy sites to my advantage, while going with gut instead of with the pundits. Ending in the top 100k will be an achievement but it will require a big leap forward to break into the top 10k next year, which is a more coveted position come the end of the year.

Put Up or Shut Up

This is the week my wife and I have been waiting on since prior to closing escrow our new DeNova home. If you have following along, things haven’t gone well after writing our deposit checks and selecting our upgrades at their design center. Our initial walk through with the warranty manager was less than acceptable, which required a second walk through a week later, the result was still less than satisfactory. Many items on our punch list were not addressed or corrected and still more required repairs.

What we should have done suspended closing escrow and forced the hand of DeNova, but we were in a bind because of our move out date at the home we were renting. Begrudgingly, we signed the closing documents after talking it over with our realtor. We had a copy of the initial walk through signed by the warranty manager, which would allow some leverage to get something done.

Since closing I have sent 4 emails (read #1, read #2) requesting service, detailing all the current issues with accompanying images to show the flaws, unsatisfactory work and problems we want addressed. Their detailer did stop by however after a walk through with my wife, he felt the job was too big and would require a crew to fix the list of issues.

I feel everything I have wrote about DeNova is fair, even going as far to hashtag #denovahomes and #dontbuydenova. Some might consider me boarding crazy, but as of today, 38 days later only 2 out of 63 items have been addressed. Not sure how ANY company sees that as good customer service. Their canned responses on Twitter, their seemingly “don’t care” attitude speaks volumes. However, I am willing to give them one more chance to make right, which comes this week as the outstanding issues will be addressed.

Since that time my wife and I have spoke to some of neighbor, who, like us have recently moved in. Javier, across the street has some of the same issues we face, to date nothing has been accomplished by the warranty manager. In fact, he hasn’t been very easy to get a hold of, so the story goes. Next to us, Nate, met him last month and talked to him again on Sunday, inquiring about their walk through.

Like us and Javier, he hasn’t been impressed with DeNova Homes to date. The walk through yielded quite a bit of blue tape and some of the similar problems, such as fans and switches not working. He went as far to call DeNova and speak to some female manager, who drove out in her uber expensive Mercedes, but obviously didn’t know the details to his loan or closing information. It seems this is becoming a standard and poor practice as witnessed now by three separate families living within earshot of each other.

As I am reminded by my realtor, I must give DeNova a chance to fix the problems and have remained rather quiet. Still we continue to see more problems. There is some question as to the proper appliances in our kitchen. The range seems to be an updated piece, but the microwave and dishwasher are entry level pieces. This was brought forward by the warranty manager to my wife. None of the tile on the floors or our kitchen back splash were sealed. Huh? $5200 back splash and they can’t seal the grout? Did we not spend enough on it? Or like our list of discrepancies, it was missed.

To be honest I am not sure what it will take, to make me a happy homeowner. As of now, we haven’t enjoyed our home, it’s been a scene out of The Money Pit, with every day a nice item for our list. DeNova’s website talks about “quality and integrity” and even CEO, Dave Sanson is committed “to providing complete customer satisfaction.” Guess he hasn’t read my response on the DeNova Welcome Survey. Needless to say, it was not positive, nor was there anything I saw that represented “quality” or “integrity” and as a customer I am not satisfied…yet.

We are not asking for compensation or the moon. We are simply asking to fix our home, as it should have been prior to moving in. A punch list with 63 items tells me their quality control sucks! Nate echoed this sentiment to me as well during his walk through. We are well aware, as we were told by a DeNova representative, “you didn’t purchase a custom home.” Hopefully something positives comes out of this debacle by Friday. Not sure what a crazed homeowner will do when pushed to his limits.

3-3-3’s: 2016 AR50

333Finishing a 50 mile race is unlike any other experience I have ever had. It’s amazing to see what your body can do, just how and hard you can push and achieve a result. I am still astonished at my improvement on my finish time at the American River 50 Mile Endurance Race, 13:40 over last year’s result with a 12 minute improvement. Like many ultra runners, I was sore, fatigued, blisters were forming on my feet, my butt was chaffed (no, I didn’t bring my Glide), muscles were tightening, yet through it all I was able to push myself and run the fastest I did that day crossing the finishing line.

Talking to Michael L., our pacer this year for the race, he bought attention to another ultra friend of his, who includes a unique piece in her write ups at the conclusion of each race. I must give credit to The Running Pen , who provides three extra sections in her race assessment, called ‘The 3-3-3’s’:

  • Three things I did right
  • Three things that didn’t go well
  • Three things I could improve on

Usually as I recall race day I will usually tangent off on different aspects of the race, such as fueling and hydration, split chart or shoes. This year I hit a few of these as I attempted to recall just what really happened that day. Even now, I draw a blank on Granite Bay. Did it really happen? You can read my 50 mile experience, Adventures in Running: 2015 American River 50. So without further ado, here’s my version of ‘The 3-3-3’s.

Three Things I Did Right

  1. Prepared a split chart for the second year, based off last year. Thankfully Michael tweaked our plan to slow our pace down to a 16 min/mile for the first 24.31 miles up to Beal’s Point) in order to save our legs for the remainder of the race, which truly begins at mile 31 and the Meat Grinder
  2. Unlike past years and past races, I decided to drink the “HOKA Kool-Aid” and purchased two pairs. For the first half of the race, which was dominated by hard surfaces I ran in the HOKA Constant 2. It was a nice shoe to run, provided my feet a bit of extra comfort and had minimal foot pain, which I experienced a few weeks prior during our 6-hour endurance run at Razorback. On the trails it was the HOKA Stinson 3 ATR with a much meatier sole, wore different than the road shoe and seemingly kept my feet fresh for the second part of the race, which was nearly all trail running.
  3. This was the first race using a pacer, which was a godsend pulling into Beal’s Point, seeing and hearing Michael encouraging us up to fuel up and get out of the checkpoint. His insight and information, while not valuable for this race will be points to consider in my next 50 mile attempt. Unfortunately, I didn’t run with him much as he dropped back to take care of Brian, N. and the heat exhaustion he was battling. But 7 hours later I would welcome him back as he picked me up for the last 3 grueling miles of the race, keeping my spirits up and remaining positive in order to help me finish. He also took a video of me crossing the finish line, a moment I will always cherish.

Three Things That Didn’t Go Well

  1. It probably doesn’t even need to be said that you need to run in order to break in new shoes. The HOKA Constant 2 were a comfortable shoe, while I didn’t run in during the 6-hour endurance race, I was wearing them regularly in order to “break them in.” That alone wasn’t enough, as hot spots developed by mile 20, turning into blisters that caused discomfort for the rest of the day.
  2. Fueling continues to be challenging. Last year I attempted to remain “PD compliant” (no meat, cheese or dairy, added oil, sugar or additives) during my run. Unfortunately I failed early on, using dates (natural sugar) in the bars I made. This year I basically said, “f#ck it” I need to fuel with what will help me cross that finish line. Honestly, I didn’t put much thought into my fueling. I picked up some chia bars, Larabars and chews for fuel between aid stations. On the hydration side, I dropped fresh Nuun Hydration tablets in my bladder through out the day. The worst offending item, a veggie burrito from Chipotle when I made it to Beal’s Point. Probably 15oo calories in this burrito, but damn! This was the best burrito I have ever. However I expended a consider amount of energy chewing and digesting, which has me rethinking how I fuel next race.
  3. Brian and I have now run 4 races together, two 50K and two 50 mile, we run well together, similar ability and pace but we are able to push each other to keep going when the going get’s tough. We knew it was going to be warm during the race and the heat was a concern. By Beal’s Point (mile 24.31) Brian was struggling with the heat, as the day warmed, his pace diminished. Before long I saw him losing distance behind me. This left me as a solo runner with no one to run with for nearly 23 miles! Missing from my race was the camaraderie, know we had each others back, continually pushing each other to the next aid station. Mentally, I was strong but had to focus much more when our pacer told me to go on without him, as he went to support Brian. I never saw Brian until I approached the finish line.

Three Things I Could Improve On

  1. Stick to the plan, man! Discussing our split chart, we knew we were going to be running hot for much of the first 24.31 miles. We were set up with a 16 min/mile pace. That folks is a walking pace, fairly brisk, but nothing that could not be achieved, even if you are head up an incline. At one point early on we were nearly 2:30 ahead of our planned pace, which would provide time on the back end of the race, but would also see us expending more energy during the first half. We slowed, realistically we could have walked the entire first 24.31 miles and still had time to finish.
  2. My training leading up to AR50 was terrible, almost non-existant. I had maybe 2-3 training runs and one 12-hour endurance race, which saw some terrible rainy and cold weather, we decided to drop to the 6-hour time limit. Aside from that I can’t make any excuses, I didn’t train enough. Then again, do you ever train enough for an event? Add some quality training and a few long runs and I believe finishing around 12 hours would be a reality.
  3. Fueling and hydration go hand in hand with what I didn’t do well. Next year I will take some of Michael’s advice and look at using bottles versus a bladder, carrying two water bottles on my hydration vest and a 22 oz. bottle in hand filled with electrolytes. This will allow for a known amount of calories (250) per hour or between aid stations. Easier to fill than a bladder when a volunteer helps out to fill it. Never been one for using a handheld, I do when I run shorter distances, just to get comfortable running with it in my hand.

All in all I was pleased with my performance this year at the AR50. There is something special, almost magical about this course. No matter how you look at it, the day is long, physically challenging and mentally draining. But I cannot wait to take what I learned this year, apply it to next year and see a new PR when I cross the finish line.

#dontbuydenova

dontbuydenovaI’m consider a new banner for our new home, which is built by DeNova Homes out of Concord, California. As of today we have owned the home for 25 days and have a service request list that currently stands at 57 items (with a few more to be added on before our 30 day warranty window closes). To date, we have an electrician out, the GE repairman, twice and Carlos, described as “the detailer” by DeNova Homes. On Friday we FINALLY received some confirmation that our growing list of unacceptable items was acknowledged, receiving an email for a 30 day appointment.

Receiving this email was not without some concern, as NOTHING has been done by the developer in the first 25 days to address 55 of the 57 issues. Yet the email spoke of scheduled contractors between April 27 and April 29.

The purpose of the 30 day  inspection is to view anything new that has been discovered after moving in. Seeing as how you have already created a list of items we can bypass the inspection on Tuesday as I am currently in the process of scheduling Carlos along with several other subcontractors to complete  repairs on April 27th through the 29th. Leading up to that date I will email you a list of all the subcontractors scheduled along with their arrival timeframes. If you should happen to discover anything new prior then please let me know and I will add it to the list of repairs.

This is a bit disconcerting, since it will be 11 days past our 30 day warranty window. “Adding it to the list” doesn’t necessarily mean it will be corrected. Such as my master bathtub, pony wall or newel post as the top of the stairs. While I am still reading all the “fine print” we have listed our problems and communicated them to DeNova Homes before 30 days, based on what I have read they are responsible to make the necessary repairs. While the email sounds positive, I am of the belief some of the problems won’t be address, such as the e-stone around the master bathroom tub, which has been an issue before we provided the developer with a closing date.

Since that time DeNova’s silence has only infuriated us to the point of seeking legal council, contacting the local media, who is “on your side” and communicating the “I don’t care” attitude we have received to the owner of the company. Hell, I think we might purchase a bright red banner with yellow words:

banner

Wonder if this would get the attention of DeNova Homes? More important, I hope it would make prospective buyers think twice before spending their hard earned money with this developer, especially at Emerson Ranch in Oakley. The entire experience has been very disheartening and frustrating, as days go by and nothing is resolved. My wife and I still have not had a chance to actually enjoy our purchase, relax or hold a house warming party.

To date. it’s been 3 service request emails, the last detailing our displeasure in finding out the ceiling fans were installed improperly and wired wrong. If the fans were turned on with proper wiring, there was a good chance the rotation of the blades would have brought the ceiling fan crashing down onto the couch in the great room. Bad thing would have been someone could have been severely injured or killed. DeNova Homes has not commented on this. This is the sort of “craftsmanship” we have seen since taking ownership this home.

In my opinion, there is no excuse for the sort of challenges we have faced since the keys were placed in my hand. Many of the discrepancies I have brought to their attention are punch list items, but based on our dealings with DeNova to date, I don’t feel some of them are going to be addressed. I could be wrong and maybe I should give them the benefit of the doubt, but won’t. As each day rolls by we look at our house and yard and those on our streets. It appears that the finishing work was rushed because there was not enough time to do the job properly.

Friends and co-workers are continually asking how we like our new home and many are surprised by our response. It’s getting to the point, the frustration and disappointment aren’t worth the price of the home and we want to move! Expectations were not exceeded, they weren’t even close to being met by the builder. As my wife was told, “you didn’t buy a custom home.” Talk about a slap in the face, but it will be their reputation as a builder that will take the hit because of our home buying experience.

I still won’t give DeNova Homes a favorable review. It was nothing more than smoke and mirrors up front that convinced us that Emerson Ranch as “a place of a different pace” as it is advertised. It’s different alright, the developer moves at s slow pace to resolve any issues found in your new home. If you are considering buying a DeNova Home, I suggest you consider an alternative because this developer has done nothing to win us over since we took ownership, we are just another number to them.