Putting the Primer into Practice
This is the final instalment of our 6-part series on Strategies. In Parts 1 to 5, we introduced you to the Fantasy Basketball Primer, reviewed Head-to-Head, Rotisserie and Keeper League strategies, shared tactics for certain league customizations, showed you how to find sleepers, build a draft plan and auction strategies.
Today, we look at some in-season tactics and apply some of the lessons of the Primer to prepare for a keeper league draft. As we noted in Part 5, you can’t win your league at the draft table. It takes a solid draft but smart decisions during the season as well.
We previously covered Head-to-Head and Keeper league tactics in Part 2 and strategies around Games Played and Transaction limits in Part 3 and thus will not repeat those here. Instead we will focus on streaming, overcoming injuries and the two ways to improve your team once your draft is complete: trades and the free agent pool.
Streaming is the tactic of continually adding and dropping players based primarily on whether they play that day. The goal of the tactic is to maximize a team’s quantity in the counting categories (eg. PTS, REB, AST etc.) by playing as many games as possible. It is a high effort strategy in that it requires you find and add players to stream everyday. It is most effective in shallow leagues (where options are plenty), with few rate categories (eg. FG%, FT%, A/TO etc.), no negative categories (eg. TO, Fouls, Missed Shots etc.) and no transaction or games played limits.
Selecting players to stream is more art than science and is one that I have not mastered. Factors to consider go beyond just the players’ stats but require a deeper look into match-ups, scheduling issues and putting your head coaching cap on and figuring out who will not only get the opportunities to play but to make plays. Fortunately, Kent Williams is a master at streaming and his daily Fantasy Spin is a must read for anyone wishing to employ this tactic. You would have a hard time to do better than just blindly following his recommendations. We also suggest that you follow @SheridanFantasy on twitter, as we will be tweeting any last minute lineup changes just before the games begin, which can present some big opportunities and save some frustration.
The one method in which I have had success with streaming is by using specialists to target a single category, particularly for 3PM and BLK. The reason for the success is that they usually require few minutes to produce their stats, they usually won’t hurt you and every now and then you can fall into a big game. A typical 3PM specialist only touches the ball when they are wide open and as a result they take high percentage shots, are rarely fouled and don’t turn the ball over. They produce their 3PM with a decent FG% and minimal FT% or TO impact. If a prospective 3PM specialist candidate has a high TO rate — I am looking at you, Thabo Sefolosha — you might want to look elsewhere.
A typical BLK specialist also rarely touches the ball, only shoots when it is a dunk or putting back an offensive rebound and is rarely fouled. They won’t hurt your FG%, FT% or TO. Of course they tend to foul a lot and should be avoided in leagues that count fouls.
Player injuries are a fact of life for real NBA teams and your fantasy team. They are going to happen. Like the old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure, the best strategy for overcoming injuries is simply by having a deep, balanced and diversified roster. As we discussed in Part 3, the best time to address this is when your options are most plentiful — at the draft table. Part 5 showed you a simple yet effective draft plan for building a diversified and balanced roster at your draft.
Once an injury occurs, you have to make an assessment and either drop, trade or keep the injured player. Your decision is going to be based on the quality of the player, the expected time missed and your league settings. Obviously, the better the player and the less time missed, the more likely you will want to keep them. Head-to-Head leagues, where the regular season is four weeks shorter and near-term results matter more, favor either dropping or trading the player. Keeper leagues, where a rebuilding team may value the injured player, favor trading the player. Shallow leagues, where replacements are plentiful, favor dropping the player. Leagues with deep benches favor keeping the player.
When replacing an injured player, if your team is balanced, you can simply add the best available player in the free agent pool or offered in trade. If not, seize the injury as an opportunity to improve your balance instead of just replacing the player. Hopefully, while you may lose ground in the areas of the injured player’s strength, you can make it up by addressing your balance.