Digits: Draft Gauge


Earlier this month, The Stride Report contributors came together for two pre-season drafts - one for women and one for men. Although the official winners will not be declared until after the NCAA Indoor Championships in March, we thought it would be good to check on the progress our teams have made through the first part of the season.


For this midseason update, our fantasy track teams will be scored in two ways. The first is to score the current national rankings like they would be scored at NCAA's (10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1).


The second method is to score the number of potential NCAA qualifiers. To do this, an athlete earns one point if their current mark A) would have qualified for the NCAA meet in 2018 or B) they own a time that is currently in the Top 16.


An athlete will also receive a ½ point if their mark is not in the Top 16 in the NCAA, but is projected to qualify based on TSR’s Scratch Tracker. Athletes qualifying in the DMR will receive partial points in the first scoring technique and receive individual points in the second scoring method.


TL;DR - We have two scoring methods to measure the performance of our fantasy teams


MEN


The results above are all the top 25 results for the drafted athletes. Those early season results create the following team scores...

Based on the current scoring methods, Garrett’s team is clearly out in front in both scoring methods thanks to major points from Nahom Solomon, Kyle Mau, and Amon Kemboi. Mau’s current status of project qualification in four different events clearly benefits this early scoring method.


Although he won't be running four events, Mau’s versatility is rewarded in our scoring system because of the high likelihood that he will appear at the championships even if he knocked out of qualification in one or two events.


Likewise, teams that selected Oregon runners benefit from the second scoring system since there is a higher likelihood of them running at NCAA's (even though each athlete on the relay will only earn fractional points).


Sean’s team looks to be a potential high scoring team in the final totals based on the current standings, but suffers in the second scoring method because his projected points come almost entirely from Kasey Knevelbaard and Oliver Hoare. On the other hand, Ben and Michael own teams with fewer projected points. However, they will have more opportunities to score points at NCAA's.


Elliott’s team is similar to Sean’s as Tyler Day accounts for 2/3 of his projected points and is the only active scoring option at Nationals for the moment. John’s team mimics that trend as well with Devon Dixon holding his only NCAA points.


Sam’s team depicts the other major trend in the men’s side of the NCAA – the fact that a bunch of big names have simply not raced yet. Only Jonah Koech of Texas Tech has even stepped on a track for competition from his team. This fact really hurts Sam’s team, but applies to Morgan McDonald, John Dressel, Grant Fisher (to a degree), and a whole host of other competitors and pre-season favorites. The return of these athletes could drastically swing these draft totals in Sam's favor come March.

WOMEN


The results above are all the top 25 results for the drafted athletes. Those early season results create the following team scores...

Ben’s team is clearly taking the lead based on the NCAA scoring method, which is a great sign for his chances of winning the overall title at the end of the year. Garrett’s men's team has a ton of projected points thanks to Kyle Mau, but that won’t go his way at the national meet because a distance quadruple at NCAA's is almost impossible. Ben’s scores, however, are reasonable for each athlete.


Weini Kelati likely won’t appear in the mile given her past NCAA choices, but since Kelati has not yet raced a 3k, her mile/5k scores in these mid-season point totals is the rough equivalent to a 5k/3k double at NCAA's. The rest of Ben's draft selections are running almost exactly what they were expected to run at Nationals based on our predictions.


The fact that Ben’s team is also 2nd in our qualifying scoring metric shows that there’s a high likelihood that his athletes will appear at the National Championships as well. His team (and Michael’s) benefit from how fast the women’s mile is in comparison to last year as 15 athletes have already run faster than last year’s final qualifier. The 5k is similar with 14 women having already toppled last year’s 16th qualifier.


As noted above, Michael’s team benefits from those two events almost exclusively. This is a great sign for those athletes as they are clearly excelling early on in 2019. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the entire NCAA is succeeding in this early season portion. Both the 5k and mile could be much faster than the 2018 version of the championships and could knock some of Michael's athletes out of contention.


Zach had a great draft as well with a lot of certainty in the top eight of the 5k. Those eight are likely safe and should qualify for Nationals, bringing in some massive points for their respective teams.


One of the clearest takeaways from this draft is how few athletes have attempted the 3k. Only Millie Paladino has competed in that event from this draft, and only one athlete in the entire NCAA has run a time that would have qualified in 2018 (Abbie McNulty). It will be very intriguing to see when people start to race the 3000 and how the event evolves, especially as individuals might see it as the easiest spot to qualify for Nationals.


A secondary effect of that will be how the transition towards the 3k affects the 5k and mile competition. My guess is that the mile and 5k races before the conference meets might be slightly lighter than normal as the 3k gets more focus. A handful of savvy coaches might hammer a few fast attempts at those events though hoping to sneak in as others focus elsewhere.


A final takeaway from the NCAA spectrum is the absence of several stars and full teams. Colorado and Virginia Tech have yet to attempt any NCAA qualifying events, while Christina Aragon, Erin Finn, Katrina Robinson, Anna Rohrer, and Jazmine Fray have yet to appear this season. No one knows where (or if) these athletes will appear and how they will impact competition around the country. All we know for certain is that they will leave their impact on this draft and the NCAA landscape whenever they appear.