Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Punting For the Win.

We’re just over 1/4 of the way through the fantasy season, and at this point your team’s strengths and weaknesses should be pretty clear. Unless you undergo a major overhaul, the characteristics of the team you have will probably be pretty similar to those of the team you end the year with.

Now is the time to see if you have any glaring weaknesses. Let me give you a good example. Last year, around this time I was lamenting the fact that I had Tim Duncan, Baron Davis and Antoine Walker all on my team. Now, all of them can be good fantasy players, but also, last year each one couldn’t make a free throw to save their lives. I had two options. One was to punt the FT% category, and simply focus on improving everywhere else. The other was to try and climb out of the hole I had dug for myself in FT%. I tried option B, and it didn’t work. I traded away Duncan, and managed to end up with maybe 2 or 3 points in FT% while falling a little everywhere else.

The lesson was that maybe punting a category is a viable option. Had I held on to Duncan, and maybe traded some of my better FT shooters away for better all-around players, I could have come out on top of my league. A few pointers on punting, though:

· The earlier you decide to punt a category, the better. Making a decision like this in April probably won’t do you much good … deciding in December could put you in a great spot to improve your team.

· One you decide to punt, you MUST stick with your decision. It’s gonna take a miracle for you to make up a 50 block deficit, for example, in a month.

· Make all your moves on the trading block, not on the waiver wire. For example, let’s say you decide to punt assists, and you have Brevin Knight on your squad. Don’t drop drop him – he’s got plenty of value! Use him in a trade to see who needs assists, and get something back that can help you.

Now, with that said, let’s take a category-by-category look at who you may want on your team if you decide to punt:

Blocks: Brad Miller, Eddy Curry, PJ Brown, Marc Jackson.
If you’re going to punt blocks, you can afford to get some of the most spineless big men on the planet onto your roster. Of the above players, none averages more than 1 block per game, but each one scores reasonably well and can help you in other categories.

Steals: Michael Redd, Corey Maggette, Sam Cassell, Damon Jones.
Punting steals is a great idea, particularly if you’re looking for help in the 3-pointers category. Of the guys above, none gets more than a steal a game, but all are pretty valuable fantasy players.

Assists: Chucky Atkins, Damon Jones, Mike Bibby, Chauncey Billups, Gilbert Arenas.
When punting assists, you can go cheap or pricey. Going cheap, you can get a guy like Atkins who will help you a bit in 3’s. Or go for the big shot, and get Bibby, Billups, or Arenas, PG’s who have a ton of value, but don’t get 6 assists a game.

Rebounds: Peja Stojakovic, Kyle Korver, Mike Miller, Mehmet Okur, Cliff Robinson. Rebounds are a very tough category to punt. Guys who get rebounds are generally the guys who will help you in blocks, FG%, etc. That said, your best bet is to go with either the stay-outside, catch-and-shoot SF type, or the for-some-reason-they-can’t-catch-the-ball centers.

3PM: Dwayne Wade, Steve Francis, Andre Miller, Speedy Claxton, Richard Hamilton.
3’s are a great category to punt. You can find really valuable guys who would be first-round picks if they’d only hit a couple 3’s a game, like Francis or Wade, but because they don’t, they’re 2nd or 3rd round values. If you punt 3’s, they become first round values that can be had on the cheap.

Points: Andrei Kirilenko, Chauncey Billups, Steve Nash, Brad Miller, Rafer Alston, Ben Wallace. If you’re thinking about punting points, you’re probably in trouble. I wouldn’t recommend it, and it probably can’t be done, but if you do, here are some players that provide a ton of non-scoring value, and some will even help in 3’s.

FG%: Kobe Bryant, Chauncey Billups, Allen Iverson, Jamal Crawford.
You get the idea. Find the ballhogs, and put ‘em on your squad. This one’s easy.

FT%: Baron Davis, Tim Duncan, Antoine Walker, Shaquille O’Neal, Jamaal Tinsley, Ben Wallace.
Probably the best category to punt. You can find stud centers, point guards, all-around guys, defensive stoppers, just about any kind of player you want.

So there you have it. Hopefully we’ve inspired you to go out there, and give up!

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