Photo by Rodney Chen – Ultiphotos.com
We’re officially half way through the regular season with 20 games in the books. While the Stags are the first team to lock a playoff spot there is still a lot of season to play out and a lot of questions unanswered. This weekend we are getting treated to the first MLU regular season cross conference game as well as the first game with an east coast team coming out west.
There has always been an undercurrent of belief that the western division isn’t as strong as the eastern and this isn’t entirely unfounded. The east has has three straight championships under it’s belt and there has always seemed to be just a little more parity in that conference. With cross conference games coming into the picture we are going to be able to test these theories to the test a little bit better. While the bottom of the east might not seem like the best matchup, it is going to give us some interesting input how these teams fair against opponents they don’t see three times a season. Personally I’m pretty amp about this game.
It has been sunshine all week out here in the west so we’ll be sipping on some Liquid Sunshine (Breakside Brewery) this evening.
Appetizers – Again with the Mid-Field Pulls
Like playoff pictures, the mild-field pull (MFP) is something I like to delve into a few times. As I mentioned earlier we are at the halfway point through the season so I thought it might be time to see how the MFP is fairing so far this season.
With only twenty games we are already past the 2015 total for the MFP, which we can largely credit to the additional timeout granted per half per team this season. But I don’t think that tells the entire story. I’ve already stated that I’m not a fan of the additional timeouts because I think you should be sacrificing something for the advantage of the MFP and additional timeouts take away from that sacrifice. That said the change to 20-second timeouts for the MFP was a great move, both in saving time during the game and that it does help with that sacrifice idea. You don’t have the time to draw up a play or give your guys a breather with a 20-second timeout, you call it and you need to get your guys out on the field.
The other part of this increase comes from the fact that coaches are embracing the MFP a lot more this season. Again additional timeouts help with that since it doesn’t feel like you are giving up as much to call a MFP earlier in the game. Looking at the break down of MFPs by quarter compared to last season is pretty telling in this regard.
Just look at those numbers in the first and third quarters, coaches are using the MFP to play the advantage and get their teams rolling. Nearly doubled in the 3rd quarter and tripled in the first – that is more than just having a possibility of an extra 80 timeouts over the course of the first 20 games. What we’re seeing is a shift in how coaches are using the MFP. I don’t know if this is simply because they have more timeouts to use or if having a season of data to look at coaches decided that the MFP was a strategy they wanted to embrace.
Glancing up at the MFP BSE we see a 4% increase rate that teams are producing breaks. At nearly 40% only three teams have a better natural DSE (Spinners, Stags and Rainmakers) and I imagine if I had teased out the data we might see those teams have an even better MFP DSE individually. The reason not to break it down by team at this point in the season is the inequity of the schedule – comparing three games from the Dogfish to five games from the Spinners doesn’t really tell you a lot.
While MFP DSE does give us some insight into how well the MFP works it isn’t that precise. I mean if you have a point with a lot of turns was it really the MFP that got you that break? You could argue that at least the first turn came from the added pressure of the defense getting down on the pull quickly, but the rest of the point is kind of a wash and just fits in with their normal DSE. I was thinking that FBSE (First Break Scoring Efficiency) might be a good supplement to this but as we discussed last week, not all turnovers are created equally. So along with DSE and FBSE I think there are other stats we could look at to determine how well a team in performing the MFP.
The first thing I’d like to look at is how many throws a team gets under the pressure of a MFP before either scoring or turning the disc. That is just interesting data and mainly just tells us how teams might be getting out of a high pressure situation. The real stat I want to look at is how short field turns is the MFP producing. For me this would be looking at any turn a team produces before the brick mark. I’d like to also include hucks from inside this zone that get turned, or at least a separate stat that included that number.
The reason I want to look at these short field turns is to see how many scoring opportunities the the MFP is producing and anything within 20 yards of the endzone is less than a huck away from a score. Perhaps it would be fun to combine this with stats from last week and just look at how often teams get shots on goal on both offense and defense during the MFP.
While I do complain a lot about the additional timeouts, I will say I really do appreciate the extra data we are seeing.
On Tap – Matchups
It’s a short weekend with only two games going on, but…
Spinners at Whitecaps
I’m not honestly sure if we’ve seen the Spinners tested yet this season. We’ve seen them play Rumble three times, the Whitecaps on the second day of their double header – admittedly so were the Spinners, but they were at home and coming off a blowout against the Rumble – and then a game against an inexperienced Current team. I don’t say this to take away from 5-0, that is an impressive record regardless of who you are playing, it just means I’m not sold on the Spinners yet. I was looking forward to seeing both the Whitecaps and Spinners take on each other fresh, but perusing through the injury reports things look pretty rough for the Whitecaps. They have nine players inactive including Christian Foster. I’m not counting the Whitecaps out but they have the deck stacked against them this weekend.
Rumble at Dogfish
I came up with a prediction for this game but I just made it up. There’s no history to look at, no numbers to ponder – even the injury reports don’t tell me that much. Sure the Rumble is traveling with a bit of a small squad and missing a couple key guys like Mason Compton and Quinn Hunziker. Yeah that hurts your chances, but by how much? I certainly don’t know. Given the travel and the rosters I’m giving the Dogfish the edge. It should be a fun game and I can’t wait.
Last Call – Fantasy
I’d be surprised to see many fantasy teams that don’t have it rough this weekend. It was a bit disheartening to log into the waiver wire and just see that entire first page of players on bye. With only four teams playing this weekend things are already bad enough, but to top it off there are 31 players on the inactive list on those rosters. That is an entire team of people, we essentially are going into this weekend with only three teams of actives players. This is the time to dig deep if you want to get some mid-season wins and make that playoff push.
I’ve been shouting for people to pick up Dogfish for the last couple of weeks and here is where it is supposed to pay off. If you can still pick them up guys like Jason Edelman, Daniel Naruo and Devon Williams could pay dividends. Looking at the Rumble you might be able to also get some decent points out of their depth. With the Rumble playing with such a short squad someone is going to have to play those points. A John Irvine or Jacob Doyle might be worth slotting into your depleted ranks.
Both the Rumble and the Whitecaps are adding to their rosters this week as well, but as we saw with the Current, draft with caution.
One more note on fantasy for this weekend is to not be tricked by those darn Spinners. They’ve got a lot of defensive players with overly inflated numbers right now since they’ve mainly been playing the Rumble and blowing them out. Expect the fantasy numbers on the Spinners d-line to regress to the mean.
Catch me on twitter this weekend to let me know how I’ve ruined your fantasy season or to let me know what I should be drinking next happy hour.