Photo by Sean Carpenter –

The playoffs are all but set with really only home field advantage to be decided. While the Dogfish are technically still in the race for the west they’d need seriously turn around their season and go on a four game run while the Rainmakers go on three game losing streak – and two of those games are between the Dogfish and Rainmakers. It feel like the season has blown by and I can’t figure out where the last two months have gone. 

With all the teams having played 6-8 games we finally really have a good picture of what all these teams can do, and while we definitely have a top half and bottom half I think we could have some really interesting games this weekend. While I hope I got all my predictions right, I’d be happy to see some upsets.

We’re bringing back Breakside Brewery this week with their Salted Caramel Stout.

Appetizers – Turnovers

One of the fun parts of working on this article is that I get to look at numbers. More over I get to ask questions and see what the numbers actually say. Sometimes my questions are fairly straight forward, like what happens at double headers or how do does the MFP effect defensive production. With those questions you can gather the data and just see what it tells you. But other weeks I start at something a little more vague. These weeks are especially fun because I just get to pick a data set and find out if it has anything to say. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. It is all about teasing out the data and seeing what it tells me. This is one of those weeks. I wanted to know what we could find out about turnover data. 

More than anything ultimate is a game of errors and you win by mitigating the errors your team commits. As such the turnovers are a primary indicator of how well your team is doing in game. Forced or not, having more turnovers than your opponent is going to lead to a loss. So we’ll look at a few of things involved in turnovers. First the number of turnovers every team has committed and the number of turnovers created by those teams (directly or indirectly – just turns in games against). Then we’ll look at blocks, blocks against, number of throws, and throws against.

TeamTurnsTurns AgainstBlocksBlocks AgainstThrowsThrows Against

Now the first thing I want to mention is that these are raw numbers and by that I mean nothing has been done to them and that is important to note because we have an unequal number of games played. So while the Nighthawks have 48 more turnovers than the Dogfish, the Dogfish have also play two fewer games. Normally I’d like to look at averages at this point, but I think that would just muddy the data and isn’t really what I’m looking for here. Instead we’re going to take a quick look at the differentials to normalize that data.

TeamTurn Diff.Block Diff.Throw Diff.

Right off the bat throws differentials are what jump out at me and the reason they do that is that they don’t fit a pattern. Also the fact that the Stags have thrown nearly 500 less passes in their games than their opponent speaks volumes about their strategy (huck often). I am also interested in the fact that Boston only has 6 more blocks than they’ve produced this season compared to the 34 from Philadelphia. This could simply come from the fact that the Spinners have already played out their series with the Rumble who are getting blocked the most in the east and the Whitecaps still have two games with them. 

We can clearly see the divide from the top four teams to the bottom four teams. The Current seem to be the closest to jumping up to competitive level despite their 2-5 record. The Dogfish’s positive 28 turnovers makes me even more concerned about the rest of their season. They are averaging 5 more turnovers than their opponents every game. You’ve just got to be better than that if you want to win games. 

But here is where we can get to some really interesting numbers. Were going to look at some percentages that we can draw from the numbers above. 

TeamPercent of Turns from BlocksPercent of Throws BlockedPercent of Turns from Blocks Against

Percent of Throws Blocked Against

Percent of TurnoversPercent of Turnovers Against
Rainmakers49.4%5.1%49.7% 4.3%8.7%10.2%
Rumble44.9%4.4% 47.6%5.8%12.3%9.9%
Nighthawks46.4%4.3%56.8%6.4%11.3% 9.2%

I won’t lie the titles I are a bit complex and I had to refer back to the numbers they use a couple of times while putting this together. Really what we are looking at is just the percentage we see these things occurring, so the percent of the turns from blocks is just what it sounds like, the slice of the turnover pie that came from blocks. Where it is a bit tricky is the against categories. These are the percentages against your team, so in that 4th column of percent of turns from blocks against, we are looking at the percent of turnovers that team committed that came from the other team’s blocks. Those final two categories are a bit funny since they are really just the opposite of the completion percentages. So the Stags have a completion percentage of 91.4% which means they turn over the disc 8.6% of the time, the numbers here just differ because of rounding error somewhere along the line.

What we can get from this is that the top teams aren’t just getting lucky on their turnovers, they are producing those turns by getting blocks. It is interesting to see the diverse numbers on how teams are turning over the disc. The Spinners are only being blocked 42.6% on their turns, does that mean they are throwing more unforced errors? I’m not sure. There certainly is something to be said about passive defense that forces errors without blocks, for example look at the Whitecaps who kill opposing team’s completion percentage with a 14.5% turnover against rate. This means that when playing the Whitecaps teams are turning the disc more often than any other team. Or at least that teams are hucking on the Whitecaps more than any other team at least (from above we see the Whitecaps have only face 1174 against, easily the lowest in the league) – and not hucking well at that. 

Interestingly we also see the Dogfish 49.4% turnovers from blocks, equal to that of the Rainmakers and Whitecaps. You’d expect a team that is on a five game losing streak not to be creating a lot of blocks. What we’re seeing is that the Dogfish defense is good at creating opportunities for scores, they just aren’t able to convert them. This is made even clearer with their defensive turnover efficiency of 55.8% while on having a defensive scoring efficiency of 30.1% – and really we don’t expect any team to be converting all their break opportunities, it just very stark in the Dogfish’s case.

On Tap – Matchups

We finally have a week with some juicy matchups ripe for the upset. The Whitecaps are heading into the their double header weekend with 21 of their 36 players on their injury report (with 11 inactive). While that is impressive, the Whitecaps still have the core of the team traveling and really almost all of their top players. With Boston leaning on their talent they could see a late game drop off and New York has an excellent chance to steal a game on Sunday against a tired Boston team. In the West both the Rainmakers (11 inactive) have impressive injury reports as well, in an important game the Dogfish could really capitalize on Seattle’s short numbers.

Whitecaps @ Spinners

The Spinners need this win way more than Boston does. While the Whitecaps would like home field advantage in the playoffs they have more consistently shown they can win on the road, while the Spinners have had almost no luck taking it to Boston in Hormel Stadium. With the Whitecap’s low numbers and playing at home the Spinners should handily be able to take care of Boston by the end of the fourth quarter. Simply put, if the Spinners can’t win on Saturday we are seeing the Whitecaps in the MLU Championship for the third time. This is an important game both for home field advantage, but also just mentally Philadelphia needs to get past Boston.

21-18, Spinners

Rainmakers @ Dogfish

Despite Seattle traveling without a lot of their top handlers I don’t see the Dogfish getting the better of them this game. Yes the Dogfish have some of the best homefield advantage in the league, but I just haven’t seen enough from them to be convinced that they’ll make anything happen this weekend. Their offense is anemic and while their defense is great at producing turns, they don’t know what to do with the disc once they have it. Winning this game secures the playoffs for the Rainmakers and keeps them in the running for home field advantage during the playoffs. While winning does keep the Dogfish’s playoff hopes alive, they’ll still be on life support and need another three wins.

22-18, Rainmakers

Nighthawks @ Stags

The Nighthawks are missing too many of their top players to keep this game competitive. The Stags are going to come out hard after their loss to Boston and the Nighthawks are just the unfortunate recipients of that wrath. Expect to see a lot of hucking from Portland and a lot of turnovers from Vancouver.

25-10, Stags

Whitecaps @ Rumble

Two games in a weekend is hard, and while I’m sure Boston could do it, they just aren’t fielding enough of a team this weekend to pull it off. This is the Rumble’s best chance to move out of the basement in the east and get their best record in the last three years. While the Rumble are out a few players they still have all their top guys and should really bring it against a team that they have historically have had a lot of trouble against. We can blame the Whitecaps double loss this weekend on a hangover from playing the Stags.

Score: 18-19, Rumble

Last Call – Fantasy

Did you make it through bye-week hell. I barely did, but we are moving onto better greater things as playoff approach. This weekend we’ve got a short handed Whitecaps team to fill in with which means you can look to go fairly deep with their active players. Everyone should be seeing a lot of playing time with the long weekend. Make sure to slot in another Whitecaps you already have on your roster and if you’ve got one of their top players that you’ve got them in the superstar position.

At this point in the season there are not going to be a lot of pickups available and most of the picks are going to be situation on what you really need to look for on your roster. Make sure that you are sorting the player list by whatever position you need rather than superstar as you are unlikely to find anyone who can fill in at superstar this late in the season. Some options for this week might be Eric Shaw, Will Shaw, David Janinis, Daniel Naruo, Ben Hubbard or Peter Ostergaard. Also remember to hang onto any Dogfish for their week 10 double header (first week of fantasy playoffs). You can also look at picking up any Current players your league mate may have drop as they also have a week 10 double header.