Fantasy Basketball Primer – Part 6

In-Season Tactics &

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 sleepersbuild 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.

In-Season Tactics

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

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.

Overcoming Injuries

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.

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  2. says

    Thanks. It has been fun to write and share my thoughts.

    I am not sure playing a draft with your cards face up is that much of a disadvantage. When I was novice I used to worry what others were doing but that only distracts you from what your team needs. The beauty of a good plan is flexibility. Despite my concerns about PG value, I still identified multiple options for four round pairs. I also have at least one option from each position for every pick. It will take an organized effort to thwart this plan. And, If my queue gets emptied, it usually means someone else fell below where I expected. The only league where my queues routinely gets emptied and I have to go off plan is BBFL and my solution is usually just bring the plan forward a round.

    • says

      As a follow-up, my draft went pretty much as per plan. I was pleasantly surprised to get both Nikola Pekovic and Rodney Stuckey with my first and second picks. I did grab the targeted Byron Mullens in the 3rd round and since I had already addressed my main needs took the best available player in 4th who turned out to be Tony Allen. In the fifth, Jarrett Jack was the only of my targeted PG to fall (but that’s all I needed) and I took Danny Green as my other SG/SF. I didn’t expect him to be there and my preferred choice Marvin Williams was long gone. For the 7th and 8th I drafted Kosta Koufos and Tyler Zeller of my C list, who were preferred options 2 and 3. Option 1, Enes Kanter was drafted several rounds earlier. My final pairing included another C from the list, Brandan Wright and Mirza Teletovic, who I targeted for the third round but his pre-season struggles obviously hurt his stock (and was why I passed on him twice earlier when I was considering SF options). He represents that unique combination of value, upside and disappointment. In a word, it was a ‘safe’ draft, which was the goal. I am not jumping for joy but nor am I crying either.

      My team as a whole did improve significantly. I have 14 players from 13 different teams (the one double up is Denver!), and at least 4 players eligible at every position except PG where I only have 3. Using the same projected stats, my team jumped from 14th to a virtual 4-way tie for second. I did overcompensate and added too much FG%, FTM and FT% at the expense of AST and A/TO. The only category where I really struggle is 3PM. Using Teletovic’s roster spot for streaming 3P specialist’s (especially with PG eligibility) is now the obvious in season tactical play though I will give to Teletovic a couple of weeks to see if he can get his shot to fall before resorting to that.

  3. Kent Williams says

    Jeff, this entire series has been great. Always knew you were a tough opponent, now I understand why. Many of your strategies were things I already did instinctively, but a few of my instincts were counter-productive — thanks for the advice!

    Revealing your strategy for an upcoming draft was very generous. Not only are Bruce and I in that league, but several other sharks will be taking notes. My keepers there aren’t the greatest, but I did stockpile three of those controversial draft picks and will have a deep team if all goes well.

    I’d reveal my draft plan if I had one. Mostly it’s “best available” with a slight emphasis on PG and C. As I don’t pick in the last three rounds, there won’t be as much focus on the sleepers I collected in the Elimination league. You can probably get Shved.

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