Monday, February 27, 2006

Now What?

We’re in the home stretch of the fantasy basketball season. Only seven weeks remain, and by this point you should know if you have any shot at fantasy glory. The real trading deadline has passed, so there shouldn’t be any huge shifts in value unless it happens due to injury (and this will happen). It’s the time when lots of people start to focus on baseball, so certain teams in your league may stop being factors. With fewer active teams you should find it easier to move up in the standings, but at the same time, your competitors will be in the same boat. Here are some strategies to keep in mind over the last few weeks.

Try To Pull Off That Huge Deal
Why not? What do you have to lose? If you’re languishing in fifth of sixth place, go for the big splash and shake things up. This is the time to take risks. What’s the difference between finishing fifth and finishing ninth? Not a whole lot. At the same time, if you’re stuck in second place (that’s me), it might be time to make that push for the top spot. Now in many leagues, there certainly is a difference between second and fifth place, so you don’t want to take too big a risk and find yourself out of the money when the season comes to an end. But these are the two types of squads that might be able to pull off a good deal.

If you’re the team in the middle of the pack, you might have to buck the common practice of getting the best player in a deal and see if you can score a bunch of solid players in return. As great as Kevin Garnett or Dwyane Wade or whomever may be, your best bet may be find three solid players to replace them, especially if you find yourself in the middle of the pack because you haven’t used as many games as the teams above you (more on that later).

Another strategy to consider when making deals, especially for owners just trying to move up one or two spots as opposed to four or five – make a deal that will hurt the guy you’re trying to catch. It’s obvious that you want to maximize your own point total, but sometimes you might have to try and take a few points away from the guy up top. If you see that he’s vulnerable in blocks, and you have some blocks to spare and can make a deal to the guy right behind him blocks, by all means go for it. It’s not lame, it’s good, solid strategy. Further along those lines – and this sort of goes without saying – if there is a category where you can pass the team ahead of you, pay extra attention there. Because that’s not just one point you’re gaining, it’s really two, if you can pull it off.

Work the Waiver Wire Frantically
This may seen obvious, and it can be tied into the above. In a typical league – especially non-keeper leagues – the folks in the bottom half of the standings aren’t going to be paying too much attention anymore. That’s just the way it is. So that means, in theory at least, there should be more viable options available on the waiver wire as those teams not only stop trying to pick up new players, but leave their rosters populated with guys who aren’t much help. Now on one hand, if you are constantly mining the waiver wire that might mean that your team is in too much trouble to be helped. I’ve long maintained that while there are certainly waiver wire gems to be had out there, constructing a team with a solid 1 through 10 that doesn’t need much day-to-day maintenance is the way to go.

But for the team looking to make the push for a true superstar in a three-for-one deal, the higher quality on the waiver wire is what makes this possible. More and more players on the free agent list will be able to put up top 50/top 75 numbers over a short span. This will enable you to move your more established mid-level players in a bigger deal and not lose any drop off because of the stronger free options available.

It’s also time to take advantage of guys who will have as few as one games of significance. For example, Samuel Dalembert went down with a sprained ankle last week and looks to be missing his third straight game tonight. Stephen Hunter has started the last two games and even though he has seen only 42 total minutes, he has still managed to block four shots. Every little bit helps, right?

Start Using Those Games
If you’ve been hoarding games to stay under the limit in order to make a late run, now is the time to start using those games. I can’t implore this enough. There is absolutely no reason not to finish your season with the maximum number of games allowed in your league. Ideally you’ll want to be right on pace to finish up during the last week, maybe +1 or so. Remember that Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays are the busiest days in the NBA, and that’s when most teams are in action. If you have 13 good options for 10 spots, but have 13 guys suiting up on Wednesday and then only two guys on Thursday, you aren’t going to be able to take full advantage of this. Plan ahead, look at schedules and see where you have openings. Think of how you will feel if you end up losing by one point because you finished four 3s behind someone and you had three games left at SG.

Keeper Leagues
Just curious, how many of you play in keeper leagues? And what kind of rules do you use? Would it be helpful if we posted an article on good keeper league targets? Just trying to get a feel for what’s out there…


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got a keeper/dynasty league going. We have 8 starting roster spots + 9 bench. It's been pretty interesting... It definitely takes patience to build up a roster to balance youth AND current talent.

It would be nice if Yahoo! can offer a dynasty league...

You think '06 draft will be significantly less talented than '07? How about without Oden in the mix?

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what do you guys think about Ronald Murray in this stage of the season? Will he be a consistent scorer playing with Lebron? Is he a better option than Anthony Johnson with the way AJ's been playing?

3:54 PM  
Blogger DM said...

I'm not a big draft expert, that's for sure. Mostly because I just can't watch college basketball unless I'm gambling on it. Most of what I've read about this year's draft class is that there's not going to be much difference between guys who go from 10 to 30. And with the focus on college players, we might see more people like Granger who are seasoned players who will be able to step in and contribute right away, and less projects. This kind of stuff obviously depends as much on team and opportunity.

Flip put up a good line yesterday, but he's going to be inconsistent. He can score and hits some 3s and grab some steals, but he's the type of guy whose most consistent category will be FG%, in that he will kill you there. Remember that Anthony Johnson ended last year the same way, where he got the starting job be default and everyone waited for him to start sucking, but he kept it going for pretty much all of March and April.

4:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got a keeper league. We play 9 starters and have 3 bench. We keep only 4 players.

Any thoughts on keepers are always appreciated.

11:25 PM  
Blogger Big Easy said...

We have a keeper league with 10 spots and no bench. We can keep up to four players but only players that were originally drafted. Player maintains draft "round" for three years. We can trade both players and draft picks.

7:53 AM  

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