Photo by Pete Guion –

Its so easy to call a season before the first upset. I thought I was getting some of my questions answered this weekend, but I find myself with even more. The Rumble’s win over the Current certainly changes the tone out east and while the Stags had a six point win over the Dogfish I thought the San Francisco team looked better than they performed. If the Rumble get another win this weekend can they carry that momentum into Week 5 against the Spinners? Are the Dogfish going to have late season surge like the Nighthawks did in 2014? And what is going to happen in the cross conference games?  I’m real excited to see what the Dogfish can do once they get going in the second half of the season. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of them yet. We’ve got a lot of season left and anything can happen.

Its no secret that I’m a Portland fan and so it shouldn’t be surprising that I’m also following the Blazers in the NBA playoffs. After our rebuild Portland is happy that our team even made the playoffs and now with the unfortunate injuries to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin the Blazers have a good chance at winning this first series. No one wanted to see those injuries happen but they did and the game goes on. The point is that just because something looks inevitable doesn’t mean it is going to happen. The Stags have looked like the team from the west twice already and missed the championship twice. Don’t take anything for granted. 

Appetizers – Eating my words

Making predictions is about finding the signal in the noise. It is tempting to look strictly at results so that you aren’t distracted by the rest of the game, but that never gives you the full story. This weekend we got reminded that these teams aren’t static, but that they are growing and evolving as the season moves forward. 

It is hard to argue that the Rumble beating the Current wasn’t an upset despite them coming into the game with same record. The Rumble certainly looked the worse of the 0-2 teams. Going to the film the Current looked like the better team as well having only been outscored by 4 points in their first two games while the Rumble was blown out twice for a combined 19 points. Additionally the Current had home field advantage that has been historically good at the Dojo. Of the nine people making predictions last week, exactly zero picked New York to win on Saturday. The average we saw them losing by was five points, with a low of one from Tim Brubaker and high of nine from myself. I got that game really wrong and really got the feel of those two teams wrong.

Looking into the rest of the season I’ve got a feel that these two teams are going to continue to surprise us. I don’t see the Current going winless and I don’t see the Rumble as the punching bag anymore. I honestly would be just as surprised to see the Current at 0-5 as I would be to see them at 2-3. I’m ready to be proved wrong again and see these teams show me something new.

Every year we’ve seen dominant teams that have taken over a conference and become the easy favorite. We’ve also seen teams that struggle to even get just one win. While the Stags have been the team in the west for a few season now there has been a lot more movement in the east. The Whitecaps in 2013 and Current in 2014 were clearly the dominant teams. Last season both the Spinners and Whitecaps finished 6-4 with the Spinners strong early season and the Whitecaps finishing it out. The Spinner are looking strong again this season and based on my chart from Week 2, they look like they are locked into their second playoff appearance. They would need an epic breakdown to not see the postseason.

I’d also like to issue a correction to that post. I said that seven win guarantees you the post season. That isn’t quiet correct. We’ll go out west for this one. Let’s say the Dogfish always beat the Stags, the Stags always beat the Rainmakers, the Rainmakers always beat Dogfish and Nighthawks always lose (sorry Nighthawks, not a prediction). At the end of the season the Dogfish, Stags, and Rainmakers would all have three losses and seven wins (given both the Dogfish and Stags win their cross conference games). As such we’d have a three way tie for playoffs with each team having a tie breaker over the other and so it would go to point differential. The point being though that it is possible to get to seven wins and still miss the playoffs, it just is really hard for that scenario to play out. Conversely an undefeated team could give the possibility of three teams reaching the end of the season 3-7 and getting that record into the post season through tie breaker or point differential.

I got some questions about locking playoffs and the quickest lock can come with a 6-0 record, but only if you’ve got two wins over each of the other teams in the conference. It’s a bit complicated but it comes down to winning the tie breaker at 6-4 at the end of the season. You might be playoff bound at 5-0, but the lock comes when the rest of the way the conference plays out doesn’t matter. The Stags are the closest team to 5-0 (Spinners are on bye this week). At 5-0 the Stags could miss the playoffs if they go 5-5, although losing out doesn’t guarantee that they would be out. Because of their schedule the Stags first six games are split even throughout the conference and so they will be able to lock their playoff slot in Week 5 if they win against the Nighthawks this week and the Dogfish next week. The Spinners are the other team on their way to 6-0, however their path to 6-0 takes them through the Rumble three times. If they drop two games to the Whitecaps and two games to the Current we could see Spinners team at 6-4 and the Current at 6-4 that have their series tied 2-2 and have to go to point differential. However if the Current lose out this weekend the Spinners should be able to lock things up at 6-0.

Now this had been itching my brain all week. In a world where we can have three teams with 7-3 records and three teams with a 6-4 record how can you lock with only six wins. I’d done the math and knew it was possible to lock at six but I felt like I was over looking something. What it comes down to is two factors. One is that you aren’t locking top seed at six wins, just a spot in the playoffs. Second is that if you have 2 wins over every other team that means they are all at least 0-2. This means that for any other team to go at least 7-3 their needs to be one other team that at least 6-4 and since your team has the 2-1 time breaker over them you are locked for playoffs. 

I’ll run through a quick example – follow along with the table below. Let’s say the Rumble were to get to 6-0 with two wins over every team (Set 1). First let’s look at getting one team to 7 wins from here. If the Whitecaps take their 3rd match up with the Rumble and their cross conference game with the Stags that’s two. We’ll say they take their series with Current and we’re at five wins (Set 2). At this point the Whitecaps only have three games left, all against the Spinners, this means to get to seven games two of those wins needs to come from the Spinners, so we’ll split that series 2-1 to get the Whitecaps to 7 wins (Set 3). At this point it should be clear that the Spinners also can’t get to seven wins because they already have four losses. Filling in the final column with everyone taking their revenge games on the Rumble (the Dogfish taking the cross conference game) and the Spinners cleaning up on the Current (Set 4). 

TeamSet 1Set 2Set 3Set 4

We see that the Whitecaps took the #1 seed, but the Rumble would still get into the playoffs with their 2-1 lead in their series against the Spinners. Now of course the season doesn’t play out in the manner I used in the example, we won’t see one team with six games while the others only play two, but I separated it out that way to help illustrate the point. When the games happen doesn’t matter, what matters is that wins have to come from somewhere and when one team gets a W another team is saddled with a loss.

On Tap – Match Ups

Tap: Redhook ESB 

Current (0-3) at Whitecaps (2-1)

I’m not sold on the Whitecaps yet this season. They had an impressive comeback over the Current in Week 1 but followed it with a lackluster game against the Spinners. Their blowout win over the Rumble didn’t tell me much either. The fact that the Current allowed a second five point comeback this season in their game against the Rumble spells a lot of trouble for D.C.. With the weather not looking to be as big a factor this game I see the Whitecaps taking control while the Current struggle while missing some of their big names.
Score: 19-17, Boston

Stags (4-0) at Nighthawks (0-3)

Despite being blown out for the third week in a row I like what I saw from the Nighthawks last week. They are looking like a more polished team and the game was closer than the final score as the Rainmakers went on a 5 point run to finish the game. The big things we need to see from the Nighthawks is an improvement on their end zone offense and even more so they need to reduce their unforced errors. Of the Nighthawks 99 turnovers (second in the league) 42 of them came from throwaways and drops. If the Nighthawks can work on their possession and convert a few more breaks they should be able to get a win by the end of the season. But not this game.

Score: 27-11, Portland

Current (0-3) at Rumble (1-2)

I really wrestled with this game. Did the Rumble finally put the pieces together? Is the Current falling apart? I don’t know. What I do know is that the Rumble get to play at home, the Current are on the second game of their double header and the Rumble already know what they have to do to come away with a win. 

Score: 19-18, Rumble

Nighthawks (0-3) at Rainmakers (1-2)

As I alluded to above the Nighthawks have a lot to work on. While the Rainmakers started the season 0-2 they don’t look like an 0-2 team. Last week they were able to take care of the Nighthawks and should have no trouble dealing with them on the second game of their double header. 

Score: 20-13, Seattle

Last Call – Fantasy

This weekend we’ve got two teams to look to for some great double header double points. If you were able to grab Erik Hunter a couple weeks ago when I first suggested him you should be in good shape. A couple other great grabs from the Nighthawks include Sascha Lo and Graeme Barber. Of course don’t discount the teams the Nighthawks are playing. The Nighthawks have given up an average of 22 points a game and 18 blocks per game (as in the other team is getting 18 blocks). Rainmaker and Stags defense should be in high demand as they take on the Nighthawks, especially the Rainmakers as they are going to be getting the tired version of a shorthanded Nighthawk squad. I wouldn’t go too deep into either roster but guys like Peter Ostergaard, Tremont Miller and Grant Cole could be a great pick ups.

Out on the other coast we’ve got Current on their double header and they’ve got some interesting pick ups as well. The Current just roster three more players this week, two practices players and Frederick Tsai. With the number of people on the Current’s injury report Tsai could be an interesting pick up. Last season he mainly played on the d-line and we can probably expect that to continue as a late season pick up. Other depth players on the Current to look at include Gabe Webster and Andrew Gravunder. With such a short roster going into the double header we could definitely see these guys getting more field time. Despite the similar record as the Nighthawks, the Current have been far shrewder with the disc with 12 fewer turnovers and having lost their last three match ups by a combined six points. I wouldn’t count on the Whitecaps or Rumble having significantly higher fantasy points than you see in any other game.

Looking ahead, week 6 is going to be a tough weekend for larger leagues. With only two games going on we are only going have have four teams to draw players from and only one team from the west coast. We will get treated to a match up between the Dogfish and the Rumble – it might be prudent to grab a few extra Dogfish to fill in on your roster that weekend. This is also a time to look for people dropping guys that haven’t produced yet. I just picked up Dan Suppnick off the waiver – he has been out due to injury for the last four weeks and while he won’t have the same year he did last year, he should put up solid handler numbers by the end of the season. 

It’s an easy weekend for me with and I actually get to just watch a game. If I’ve ruined your fantasy season let me know at Nighthawks at Rainmakers or find me on Twitter.