Guillotine League Week 15: Semifinals

In this series, I track weekly progress in my guillotine league. For the main post, covering the league’s details and my overall Bid Low, Bid Late strategy, click here.

Three teams are left. It is the first week in which all the teams are really good. For this week and next, it feels like any team can get eliminated, even one that is much better on paper than the others. I picked up a few players, swapped out my quarterback, and feel ready.

Last week I finished second with 181.8 points. Luckily,  I decided to start Smith-Schuster over David Johnson, as I wrote about last week. I’m in the final three teams with the highest projected score on ESPN in the last several weeks, but I don’t think I have ever finished first overall on any given week. I’ll need to hit this milestone next week if I am going to win this thing, which I still think is more likely than not.

The top team last week scored 189.6 on the strength of Kittle’s 34 points and Julio’s 30.6. The third survivor, missing Hunt, Sanders, Conner and OBJ, got 154.9.

My team got 33 from Smith-Schuster, 31.2 from Elliott, and 29.7 from Saquon, but suffered from several players’ underperformance. Cam Newton got 10.9, and his underperformance in the last few weeks prompted me to drop him in favor of Ben Roethlisberger, who is somehow the number 2 QB. Todd Gurley was held to 8.8 points by the Bears. And my top 2 WRs, Thielen and Hopkins, only produced 26.4 points between them. Here was my final lineup.

My Week 14 Lineup

QB: Cam Newton 10.9
RB: Saquon Barkley 29.7
RB: Todd Gurley 8.8
WR: Adam Thielen 12.8
WR: DeAndre Hopkins 13.6
TE: Travis Kelce 20.7
Flex: Juju Smith-Schuster 33
Flex: Ezekiel Elliott 31.2
Flex: Davante Adams 21.1

Total: 181.8

Bench: David Johnson, Robert Woods, Joe Mixon, D. Cook, Boyd, Ertz, Evans, Ekeler, Brandon Cooks, Ebron

The Chop

Some great players got chopped: Michael Thomas (the New Orleans one), Melvin Gordon, Leonard Fournette, and Julian Edelman among them.

I started off with a 127 – 25 – 0 advantage in FAAB. The team with 25 bid extremely conservatively and did not get any contested players. I ended up spending 14 each on Thomas and Gordon to guarantee I would get at least one of them. See my article on two player endgame strategy for more details.

I ended up getting both. I also got Fournette for $9. I bid $6 on Edelman but I must have accidentally had him in the same slot as another player, so I didn’t end up getting him.

This leaves me with a 90-25-0 advantage heading into the final waiver wire of the season. If I survive this week, and the team with $25 gets axed – which looks like the most likely scenario, given that they only picked up 8.1 points from Keenan Allen and Tyreek Hill on Thursday night – I can get my pick of Kamara, Julio Jones, Keenan Allen, George Kittle,  Tyreek Hill, Nick Chubb, and Aaron Jones. If I survive along with the $25 team, I can get six of the top seven players, as shown by the formula I discussed in the two-player endgame article: y = n(x/(a+1) + 1). The following values show that the amount needed to get 6 out of 7 top players when

x = 25
Let n = 6
Let a = 1

y = n(x/(a+1) + 1)
= 6(25/(1+1) + 1)
= 6(25/2 + 1)
= 6(12 + 1)
= 6(13)
= 78

Getting 7 of the top 8 would require bidding 91, which I don’t have.

The players who I would get 6 out of 7 of include OBJ, Christian McCaffrey, Pat Mahomes, Philip Lindsay, Antonio Brown, Amari Cooper, and Stefon Diggs. In fact, that’s seven players right there.

Deflation

Outlook

My team got off to a meh start with Kelce’s 13.3 points Thursday night, but that puts me well ahead of the team that flopped with Keenan Allen and Tyreek. I do think it is very likely I survive the week.

Right now I am projected to score 174.3, and my opponents are projected to score 154 and 120.8.

The survival calculator says I have a 99.5% chance of surviving, assuming the ESPN projected team points as means, and assuming a standard deviation of 15. However, I think this way overstates my actual probability of winning based on me underestimating the standard deviation. Increasing it to 25 reduces my probability of surviving to about 95%, which feels more realistic.

Starting Lineup

My starting lineup will probably look like this.

QB: Ben Roethlisberger
RB: Saquon Barkley
RB: Todd Gurley
WR: Adam Thielen
WR: DeAndre Hopkins
TE: Travis Kelce
FLEX: Joe Mixon
FLEX: Ezekiel Elliott
FLEX: Michael Thomas

I feel strange not starting Davante Adams of Juju Smith-Schuster, but one is facing the Bears and the other New England, who decide to try to shut him down instead of Brown. I might decide to bench Thielen for one of them, given that he has only one game of more than twenty points since Week 8.

Good luck to all guillotine league semi-finalists!

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