Thursday, February 02, 2006

Don't Ignore the Bench

Bench spots. They’re not very exciting. Some people ignore them. But they shouldn’t. Injuries happen. A lot. Depth is key. But it’s good to have a variety of types of players on your bench. Let’s take a look at some of those types.

The Unexciting Fill-In
It’s never a bad idea to use one of your bench spots on someone who is a pretty boring player with not much upside, but if you were forced to start him, he’d at least help you hold your ground. These are usually going to be older players whose best years are behind them, who aren’t too intriguing to most people in the league. Some possibilities:

James Posey – For all the minutes he gets, he should really be putting up better numbers. He averaged nearly 33 mpg in January, but was only able to put up a line of 9.1/5.7/1.3, but he added 2.5 3s and 1.1 steals. Those 3s alone make him valuable, even though he’s a crippling FG% guy.

P.J. Brown – Another totally unexciting player who can help hold down the fort in times of great distress. Brown’s numbers continue to decline just a bit, but he’s still close to 10 and 8 with solid percentages and not complete zeros in steals and blocks.

Smush Parker – His January numbers – 12/3/3.5 with 1.4 3s and 1.7 steals on 45% shooting actually make him a very worthwhile starter in most leagues. Because of his lack of game-to-game consistency, he’s best suited to the super-sub role for teams looking to actually win their league.

The Flavor of the Week
There’s nothing wrong with taking a chance on the guy with the temporary hot hand, but you probably don’t want to get too carried away with these guys. More often than not it will just be a flash in the pan, but sometimes you have to try to catch lightning in a bottle and roll with it. Some current possibilities here:

Qyntel Woods – I actually picked up Woods the other night when he had a strong game coming off missing a game with an injury. That’s always a good sign for me. I’m not sure if any of you bet on horses at all, but whenever I see a horse that has a good race coming off a layoff, I’ll always pay extra attention to him, same sort of theory in place. The Knicks are obviously a fantasy wasteland, and even though I sort of bought into bublitchki’s claim that Larry Brown loves Qyntel Woods like the pitbull abusing son he never had and he wants him to succeed with all his heart, I mean, people said the same thing about David Lee a few weeks ago and now he’s DNP-CD. Still, a three-game stretch of nearly 17/8/1 with good steals and 3s is hard to ignore. Worth a shot.

Marcus Banks – His 9/1/2 last night was nowhere near as impressive as his 20/1/6 debut with the Wolves, but it was important to note that he saw 31 minutes of action. I’m a Marko Jaric owner, and for the third season in a row, I’ve given up on him. I still haven’t dropped him, but man am I ready. All the usual caveats of bench players apply to Banks, but it might be worth taking a shot to see if he can unseat Marko.

The Temporary Fill-In
BV talked about this a bit yesterday in his column. These guys differ from the above category because they clearly are only going to have value for as long as the person they are filling in for is hurt. But if there’s one thing that’s been stressed here since FBB’s beginnings, it’s that more often than not, day-to-day means a week. We’re seeing that right now with guys like Allen Iverson and Jason Richardson. Some names…

John Salmons – He was worth consideration since he took over Kyle Korver’s spot in the starting lineup, but when AI is out, Salmons is money. This is how it works in Philly. Willie Greene filled the role last year, and now it’s Salmons’ turn. In three games sans AI, he’s been good for 18/8.3/5.7 with 2 steals, which is obviously just fantastic. Iverson is scheduled to miss at least one more game, and you know that he’s one of the more fragile superstars in the league.

Mickael Pietrus – It’s really all about the PT with these swingmen types. Give just about any swingman in the league 35 minutes and he’ll put up decent numbers. That’s how it works. In the Flying Frenchman’s three starts he’s put up a line of 16.3/6/2 with 2 3s per game. Solid stuff. Pietrus will never be a fantasy star until he improves his dreadful percentages – not to mention finds some consistent PT – but for a few games he’s not bad.

Fred Jones – What do you know, another swingman who can put up numbers when given the chance. Hey, is it just me or has Indiana had some bad luck over the past few seasons? Has anyone else noticed that? Anyway, Jones put up some big numbers last year when he was one of the team’s six players in uniform, and if Stephen Jackson is going to miss some

The Upsiders
Pretty self explanatory. Mostly young guys who are inconsistent and just waiting for that extended opportunity to show what they can do. Because of their upside, it’s easy to get excited and throw them into the lineup before they really belong.

Danny Granger – With Peja Stojakovic in town, the impressive looking rookie has lost his starting spot, but with the rest of the Pacers starters likely to come down with Bubonic Plague in the coming weeks, Granger could still have some value. He’s looking like a Shane Battier-type, one of those guys that will give you solid, but not overwhelming numbers in 3s, steals and blocks. The type of guys who can still have value even on an off night.

Charlie Villanueva – I grabbed CV after BV dropped him when I dropped B-Jax after he lost his starting job to CA. Sorry, enough of that. Anyway, I since dropped him for Woods, then watched Charlie put up one of his great lines last night. The main problem I see with him is that Sam Mitchell has shaken up his starting lineup plenty this year, but CV has never been put in there. But if Jalen Rose gets dealt or someone gets hurt, he might see his chance.

Al Jefferson – PR and I are gonna have a rumble one of these days of Jefferson. Like I said earlier in the week, he’s fine if you park him on your bench in the role of The Upsider. Yes, his numbers the past few games have been borderline starter-worthy, but it’s tough for anyone to continue to put up those numbers consistently with just 25 minutes per game. The total crappiness of the bottom the East is sort of working against Jefferson because the Celtics are nominally still in the race to get obliterated by the Heat or Pistons in the first round. Danny Ainge should fire Doc Rivers, hire someone who will start Jefferson alongside Perkins, Wally, Pierce and West and just see what they have. If that happens, I will stop all Jefferson bashing and jump on the bandwagon. Until then? Park him on the bench and hope for good thing.


Blogger JM said...

Nice article.
My bench currently consists of Chandler, Granger, and K.Perkins.

Normally I'd like to have a better balance of big men and guards, but having M.James (pg) and J. Childress (sg/sf) in my UTIL spots partially makes up for it.

As you noted, its clear that Granger is an "Upsider", and Perkins likely is too. How would you classify Chandler?

With Chandler's recent resurgence I've been playing him when one of my starting centers (Dalembert and Battie) is not playing. When all 3 are playing on the same night it's often a tough call between playing Chandler or Battie. Chandler's rebounds have been amazing, but Battie has been better all around - particularly blocks,FT%,TO (in the last month Battie has averaged a microscopic 0.6 TO!) Incidentally Battie has been the 10th best Center in 9-category leagues over the past month, and continues to be underappreciated. Battie and Childress definitely make my all-underappreciated list. More so in leagues that count TO...)

So as a result, I often decide between Battie and Chandler based on matchups.

Maybe Chandler's in a category unto himself: "Expected break-out season Flop with 2nd half resurgence" or something.

Anyway I'm guessing I should drop or trade Perkins or Chandler at some point and add in an "unexciting fill-in" like Tyronn Lue, a "temporary fill-in" like Salmons, or "flavor-of-the-week" like Q.Woods.

At this point I'm reluctant to drop Perkins, since the Celtics are still figuring out how to play with their new personnel. Even in the 4 games after the trade, Perkins has only been getting 24 min/game. I want to see if he can learn to stay out of foul trouble and average 30/game. The question is how long to wait for that to happen...?

4:16 PM  
Blogger T-Plan said...

Hey JM - Chandler is finally showing up and no one can convince me it won't continue. He was battling a bizarre injury and was also diagnosed with asthma earlier this season. It took him until after the holidays to get all this resolved, and then to get his conditioning back through the month of January. Dalembert and Chandler are unquestionably your best Centers from here forward.

As for Battie, he is playing well but know that a bunch of guys are coming back soon to steal away value from him. Grant Hill, Kelvin Cato, and Jameer Nelson are the 3 guys. That's a lot of points, boards, and (thru Cato) blocks. Francis, Howard, and Turkoglu will still get theirs, so Battie is the most likely candidate to suffer. Now that's assuming that Jameer's foot heals (the team is worried about the 2nd opinion he just got, but won't release the results yet until they figure out what to do about them - sounds bad), and also that Kelvin Cato and Grant Hill can stay healthy.

So if you buy into all that analysis, Battie and Perkins are your backups. Perk has less risk to his PT, but way less experience. Given the scarcity of good Centers, I recommend you shop Tony Battie for help at the Guard position if that's what you need.

Whatever you do, I do not recommend dropping him unless there are a slew of Centers out there with good value. We start 2 each night in my league, so it's a must to have 3, or go for 4 only if your best 2 are super studs like Chris Bosh and Z. Ilgauskas.

5:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's been a couple of games since the Minnisota-Boston trade. Do you guys still think Perkins is a better option to own than Al Jefferson?

6:12 PM  
Anonymous bublitchki said...

Jefferson will have more value than Perkins if/when he gains center eligibility. Right now, he's a PF only and there are simply too many more reliable options at PF for Jefferson to have much value. Perkins, while arguably not as good a player as jefferson right now, is center eligible and is already a better option than many of the stiffs who call themselves centers in the NBA.

Having said that, it might be a good idea to grab Jefferson now as center eligiblity might be coming soon. It seems that since the trade, he's been splitting time with Perkins at the center spot, so depending on what your league's eligibility rules are, he could be upgraded to center in the not too distant future. Should that happen, Jefferson would represnt one of the top 10 options at center, IMHO.

6:40 PM  
Blogger Domo_kuun said...

Would you take a risk of trading some of your good players for Brad Miller after his broken thumb? I REALLY need a center, but this injury scares me, especially considering the talent I stand to lose in the deal. Please help!

6:57 PM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

As for Jefferson getting C-eligibility, I don't know. Yahoo! usually gives C-status to guys who start five games at the position and appear that they will be playing it long-term. I agree that he should have it, as he is just as tall as Perkins for crying out loud, but Perkins has technically been the starting center.

I would like to pick Jefferson up too...I drafted him and have picked him back up once or twice this season already. But, my only spots to give up are Nocioni, Krstic and Woods. I'm lacking threes and like the prospect of Woods getting minutes, so that'll need to playout. Krstic has C-eligibility right now, so that definately is an advantage. As for Nocioni...if he only plays six minutes then I'll have to drop him, but if he gets 25 then he'll give 11/5 with a three pointer, which is nice to have. Jefferson does seem primed to breakout though (other than FT%).

I could definately use the help in blocks too.

I should note that I think the Bench is more important in head-2-head than in least in leagues where you "start" 10 players every day, because no one is ever "on the bench". You play everyone that you have room for on any given day because you need to maximize production. Thus, I can't keep someone on "the bench" based purely on speculation, as it will definately hurt me in the short run.

Given that this is my first time playing fantasy sports, I think I'll be much more ready for my draft next year, as I don't think I'll be fortunate enough to claim Dalembert or Boris Diaw off waivers again!

7:29 PM  
Anonymous al said...

Hey i picked up Kenyon Martin off the wire after his owner finally succumbed to frustration. However since i've picked him up he's put up healthy numbers: 18pts, 6.6 boards, 1 block&steal, and shootin above 50%.

i'm in a h2h daily league and so i do pretty much need max. production from all players on my roster.

do you guys think martin with his health risks is worth droppin for any of the guys that have been the buzz around here for that past few days: woods, jefferson, perkins. none of them can fill up the stat sheet like martin can if he can stay healthy, but thats a pretty big IF. also with camby comin back in, how will that impact on k-marts numbers? any PFs i should be targettin to trade k-mart for?

8:06 PM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

If you can get decent value in return for KMart then go ahead. A PF who has shaky knees, yet depends on explosiveness for his "game" is not a reliable guy in my opinion. I do think Camby may hurt Martin's overall production numbers, but who knows when either of them will go down again. Martin and Camby are the only really decent post players on the Nuggets, so they both will have value when the play.

He might be one of those horses you have to ride until he falls down again. By that time there will be a whole new slew of "flavor of the week" players based on injuries and trades.

BTW, I'd buy low on SAR right NOW. It just occured to me that with Miller out, he started the last game at Center. I don't know how your league works, but if Miller misses the next four games (which is likely IMO) then SAR could end up having Center eligibility, which would be pretty awesome in my opinion.

8:23 PM  
Blogger bv said...

al - do NOT drop k-mart for any of these guys. He is quite simply on a different level. When he gets a consistent 30-35 mpg he'll be a great value to your team. sure he'll be hurt now and then but his defensive numbers alone are reason enough to hold on to him. woods, jefferson, perkins ... they're all hot pickups right now but there are ALWAYS going to be hot pickups on the waiver wires. Martin is a surefire starter right now - you can't say that about the other three.

8:39 PM  
Anonymous bublitchki said...

Another emerging option at center is Andris Biedrins of Golden State.
After being virtually ignored for the first half of the season in lieu of an ineffective Foyle or a green Diogu, he finally seems to have caught the eye of coach Mike Montgomery.

Last night against the Sonics, he played 32 minutes and posted 16/8/3 with one steal and only one TO. In the first half tonight against a tough Spurs front line, he already has 6/4/1 with 1 steal and 1 TO in just 13 minutes.

I know that I - as well as our esteemed hosts here at FBB - have been keeping a watchful eye on Biedrins, waiting eagerly for this day to come. I'm not sure that it's quite yet arrived as he could still wind up in a frustrating timeshare with Foyle/Diogu. Nevertheless, anyone looking for a potential upgrade at center would be well advised to keep this kid on their radar. Talk about "upside" - Biedrins is still only 19 and won't turn 20 until April! But if those early numbers are any indication, he may already be better than several centers who are several years his senior.

12:17 AM  
Anonymous bublitchki said...

Biedrins update:

Well, the GS/SA game is now over and Biedrins finished with a pretty decent 8 pts (4-4 shooting), 9 rebs (4 off), 2 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk and 4 TOs. A solid outing, especially in light of the fact that it was achieved against arguably the toughest defensive unit in the league.

But the real number that stands out is 28. That's the number of minutes Biedrins played, as opposed to just 18 for Foyle and only 7 for December flavor-of-the-month, Diogu. Even more impressive when you realize that Montgomery left him out in the floor in the game's closing minutes with the outcome still very much in doubt.

So, let's see: 28 minutes tonight, 32 the game before - or a 30 mpg average over the past two. Pretty incredible when you consider that his average minutes played for the season thus far is just 11. Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself here, but it sure does look like Andris could well be establishing himself as THE man in the middle for the Warriors from here on out.

1:54 AM  
Blogger T-Plan said...

I'm with you on Biedrins. The Warriors desperately need a post threat on offense, because Troy Murphy prefers to chuck jump shots and the Foyle/Diogu combo simply isn't that good. Foyle never has been, and Ike is still figuring out the offense after missing time early due to injury. Plus, Montgomery is scared he'll hit the rookie wall and is limiting his minutes. Not to mention the TOs and fouls he gets when he does play.

I already advised a friend to keep an eye on Biedrins. I actually like him better than all those "Hot Pickup" chumps everyone is clamoring for these days.

To the K-Mart question, are you joking? Even gimpy, he's better and more solid than any of those speculative pickups. Those kind of guys are good for injury replacement or if you're finally cutting losses on a player who is busting. Given Martin's recent production, you can't drop him. I picked him up and expect him to stay healthy for the most part from here forward. Yeah I know about the risks, but you got him as a FREE AGENT! Great value off the wire . . .

1:26 PM  
Blogger Domo_kuun said...

I give Caron Butler, Troy Murphy, and Kendrick Perkins. I get Brad Miller and Al Harrington. Is that a go or a hold-off until his thumb injury becomes clearer?

10:07 PM  

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