Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Standings Management: How Much is Enough?

With most teams having played somewhere between 12 and 14 games so far, we’re still only about 15-18% of the way through the season. What that means for your fantasy team is that it’s still early. Really early. Early enough that with all the trades (both in real life and in your fantasy league), injuries, PT battles, and other factors still to come, it’s not yet time to really take a look at your standings to find statistical categories that you think you can make a run in. Remember, your goal is to be in first place at the end of the year, not the middle. And no, I’m not just saying that just because I’m not in first place right now in my league.

Anyhow, the biggest part of fantasy basketball, obviously, is getting the best players on your team, keeping up on who’s worth picking up, and all the other things that we talk about here at FBB on an almost-daily basis. But another important part is managing the standings with an eye on the end of the year. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today, and we’ll revisit the subject every couple of weeks as the season progresses.. And despite it being really early in the year, some teams might be in position to take advantage of some things going on in the standings.

Some teams are right now dealing with some extremes. Some might be woefully far behind and thinking about punting a category (which is a whole different article). Others, though might be way far ahead in a category. How do you play this situation? For example, if you’re dominating the field in blocks, is it worth having Alonzo Mourning on your team? After all, if you’re really that far ahead in blocks, his value is really being wasted on your squad.

But, how much is enough? How far ahead do you have to be in a certain category before you can start trading for other concerns? Well, it’s different in every situation and I’m sure there’s some crazy algorithm to figure out an exact number, but instead, let’s look at some things to keep in mind:

Look at averages, not totals.
Sure, your standings are generally in rotisserie-style totals, but it’s just a quick cut-and-paste into a spreadsheet and you can turn your total numbers into averages. This will give you a much better idea of just how much leverage you have. For example, if your team as a whole is averaging 10 blocks per “night” (with a “night” being defined as all of your starters playing one game), and the guy behind you is averaging 8 blocks per game, you can trade away 2 blocks and still maintain your lead.

Where’s the “bunch”?
In a lot of statistical categories, you’ll notice bunches of guys in the same area. Now, as I said in the beginning, these bunches will shift as the season progresses, but nonetheless you have to be worried if the category you’re dominating has a bunch at the next tier, for a couple of reasons. One, the more teams there are somewhat near you, the more teams there are with a chance to make a move and pass you. Two, if you suffer an injury to a contributor in that category, you’re now at risk of moving really far down the standings there. If the bunch is further down in the standings, you’re at far less risk if you do decide to trade a contributor.

Who’s ready to make a move?
Remember, this early in the season, some teams’ current output is not necessarily representative of what they will do over the course of the year. Just like an injury can bring your team down, a player returning from injury can boost another team’s numbers. A great example is the return of Samuel Dalembert. If you’ve got what seems like a great lead in blocks, but the guy behind you has Dalembert, your lead really isn’t as good as it seems, because Dalembert will help the other team catch up to – and quick.

Now, if you take a look at all of these things and still decide that you can give up some of your advantage in that category, don’t just look to trade one-category guys. For example, if you’re dominating boards, don’t just try to trade players like Zach Randolph or Ben Wallace. Trading strong-rebounding PG’s like Jason Kidd or Andre Miller is just as helpful for your team if you can get quality guys who don’t rebound like Chauncey Billups or Steve Nash in return.

Remember, this early in the year, it’s dangerous to make moves like this, but making the right call could have huge benefits for your fantasy squad down the line.


Blogger Rook said...

Very useful piece. As we manage our standings, how often do you recommend we play our bench players? A Yahoo column a few weeks ago advocated getting a 2-3 games ahead of the pace at each position (especially if the reserves are playing well) so we're in better position in case of injury.

12:11 PM  
Blogger bv said...

Well, this year is a little different from years past with the lack of an IL. Getting 2-3 games ahead isn't a terrible idea, but i sure wouldn't want to be caught in the last week of the season with nowhere to play one of my top guys. I'd just try to stay on pace, making sure to play my bench players whenever there's an injury rather than stashing away games for use later in the year.

12:43 PM  

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