The unfortunate news that Channing Frye is out for the season with a heart ailment reminds us that basketball is only a game. We wish him a complete recovery.
As much as we love the NBA, it’s insignificant compared to real-life health issues. Fantasy hoops seems almost silly from that perspective, but that’s the attraction. Many of us take the hobby “seriously” as a pleasant diversion from more important matters.
Our Depth Chart will be updated to Version 1.1 this afternoon, with Jermaine O’Neal replacing Frye as the Suns backup C, plus a few other changes. The plan is to tweak the chart every Friday so it remains useful all season. Which leads us to today’s topic.
Fantasy Basketball Resources
You may already know that Sheridan Hoops isn’t the only site for fantasy basketball advice and insight. Here’s a quick look at some others we use often.
The single biggest impact for fantasy owners in recent years has been the growth of Twitter. Breaking news now travels much faster and the window to make a hot free agent claim in highly competitive leagues has closed from a couple of hours to a couple of minutes.
During the season in daily-lineup leagues, Twitter can prevent a lot of costly DNPs. Someone in the media is usually first with news that a player is ill, or tweaked something in warmups. Check your feed just before game time whenever possible; last-minute lineup changes can win you a week, or a season.
It’s 100% free and you don’t need to tweet to set up a fantasy hoops feed. If you’re a beginner, start by following @SheridanFantasy. Take a look at who we are following — an ever-changing list of columnists, beat writers, broadcasters and a few players — then add the ones you like.
BasketballMonster.com offers customized stats. Plug in your league settings and voila — you get a list of players that can even be downloaded as an Excel spreadsheet. Their schedule grid is also quite useful. For instance, Lakers players (with four games) are twice as good to own in Week 1 as those on the nine teams that play only twice.
If you’re statistically inclined and haven’t already discovered 82Games.com, check it out. Click on a team page, then any player’s name, for some fascinating numbers. You can compare five-man units, get a breakdown of assists into four sub-categories and see how the team performed when any player was on (or off) the court. Highly educational while it helps you find potential fantasy bargains.
HoopData.com has a wealth of information. Sortable stats for players and teams, detailed box scores, a salary index and more. Categories that aren’t directly connected to fantasy — like ORR (offensive rebound rate) — can help you identify potential draft bargains.
Basketball-Reference.com is a tremendous resource for journalists and fans. Featuring easy access to a wealth of historical information on players, teams, coaches and more, the BBR Play Index allows you to search the archives for streaks, comparables and almost anything else you want to research.
Rotoworld is the most prolific site, reporting everything that might be the least bit significant. The numerous blurbs feature clickable sources if you want to learn more, plus opinions that are often helpful. Their staff is quick, mostly accurate and able to stay up very late.
By comparison, my in-season fantasy analysis requires a good night’s sleep, all the box scores, some video (mostly west coast games) and two large mugs of coffee. That’s why the Spin comes your way mid-morning. We can’t be first, so we try to be thoughtful.
One little-known gem I visit every day during the season is the Popcorn Machine. (Linked is the last game of the NBA Finals.) A PM Game Flow is a graphic representation of every stint on the floor for every player. Hover your mouse over any stint for a summary.
It was on the Popcorn Machine that I first noticed Nikola Pekovic taking over from Darko Milicic, seven games before Pek took over the job. Whenever a so-called starter stays on the bench in the second and fourth quarters of a close game, while someone “new” is finishing, it’s worth monitoring that situation. Game Flows point out those possible FA pickups much better than traditional box scores.
It’s also easy to see when a coach throws in the towel —“garbage time” is an important consideration in the regular season. Before you add a player who appears hot at first glance, make sure he hasn’t been putting up numbers in blowouts.
If you are willing to pay for “members only” content, Basketball Prospectus (which publishes NBA and college projection books) keeps the majority of their excellent articles behind the subscriber firewall. While the Rotoworld blurbs are free, they also sell a Draft Guide for each sport. Many other sites have multi-level access at various prices. I can’t review them because I never use them. Some of us are on tight budgets.
There are options for commissioners as well. Many sites host fantasy leagues. If money is no object, you can sign up for premium services, but I’ve always been quite content to run my leagues on Yahoo, for free. With a little ingenuity you can incorporate a lot of features that would be expensive options elsewhere.
Again, if you can afford to invest in other sources, be my guest. “You get what you pay for” with free information but it’s all I’ve ever needed to compete. My success in fantasy leagues has been achieved by spending nothing but way too much time.
The differences between last season and this one are all positive. In the NBA, it’s a “normal” preseason and the schedule will be far less compressed. In the Sheridan fantasy department, there are now three contributors, making it easier to keep up with daily developments.
Instead of joining the SH team midseason, we are off to an early start, compiling a library of draft prep advice. Our Depth Chart will be updated every Friday to reflect the latest signings, injuries and position battles. We predict the starters and backups for all 30 teams.
For player rankings, I took a look at the top 60 players at each position, grouped by tiers. Whether or not you agree with every player’s ranking on these lists, they also provide an overview of the relative depth at each position. Point guard is well-stocked, but after two monsters are gone, the small forward pond soon gets shallow.
Tomorrow, don’t miss Jeff Nichols on strategy. One of the best tacticians it’s ever been my misfortune to play against, Jeff shares battle-tested tips that improve any fantasy team’s chances to win.
On Sunday, I’ll be back with some random news, notes and observations, then all next week we’ll go around the league, one division at a time, to identify the best NBA teams from the fantasy perspective.
That is nothing like trying to predict division standings. We don’t care which real teams win, as long as players we own put up numbers. Factors like depth of rotation, coaching philosophy and expected pace can be just as important as talent. We’ll identify the best — and worst — players to target on each team, plus some sleepers and risk/reward types.