Monday, May 5, 2008

TSO Fantasy: Thinking Like Penske

After the disastrous beginning to my TracksideOnline Fantasy season, I decided I needed a little edge heading into Kansas. I ran to my hope chest big steel army surplus locker and grabbed my WWRPD booklet.

And I asked myself: "What Would Roger Penske Do?" The answer is obvious... he'd find a way to turn a limitation into an advantage through innovation.

So I took a look at TSO's Fantasy web page, and recalled a task I've found difficult to perform: selecting 5 drivers that stay under the $1.6M salary cap. Look and the 5 drivers selected below, and notice that you have no way to know how much you are over the cap:

If you click 'Enter Your Picks' at this point, you will get this error:

How much do I need to cut? Clearly, I needed to create my own tool. So I brushed off my HTML skills (kidding, I do this for a living) and created my own entry page which uses nothing but client-side javascript. In my selection tool, all the drivers are presented together:

As I select my drivers, the 'Total Budget' and 'Remaining Budget' numbers recalculate automatically, allow me to play lots of what-if scenarios. Once I reach 5 selected drivers, the rest of the checkboxes automatically disable themselves. Entering the same 5 drivers as I did earlier, I can now see that I'm over budget by exactly $210,000:

So how did this perform for me at Kansas? With some experimentation, I discovered that I could select Kanaan, Castroneves, Andretti, Scheckter, and Hunter-Reay -- a pretty stunning lineup in this league, but with the obvious drawback that I had to pass on the two Ganassi cars. It was a homerun swing which resulted in a strikeout, as Wheldon and Dixon finished 1-2 and Team Racemind had to settle for 183rd spot.

But even Roger doesn't win every time out. Staring up from the bottom of the league, I'll take whatever little edge I can.

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