Fantasy Basketball Roundtable: How You Doin’?

It’s time for us to put our money where our mouths are (I believe for most of us, they are on our face). While many prefer to call us analysts or commentators, the preferred nomenclature around these parts is “experts,” dudes. So while we fancy ourselves as fantasy basketball experts, DS&L thought it would be fun to give the readers a somewhat end-of-the-year review of how we fared in our many fantasy basketball leagues. After all, there’s no sense in reading our content if we can’t man up and let you in on the secrets to our success.

So, this week’s questions is: How are your fantasy teams doing this year? What has been your best move? Biggest mistake?

Ryan Lester (Lester’s Legends)

I am in two leagues. Fortunately I made the playoffs in both. One of them is a keeper league and the other is an annual league. I’ll start with the keeper league.

Last year I began making a power play before the season even started. I traded my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round picks for the #2 overall pick to pair with the #1 I held from winning a pre-draft contest. With the top two picks I secured LeBron James and Chris Paul. I continued my aggressive approach by mortgaging this year’s draft picks in an effort to take home the title. It paid off. This year, however, I was handicapped in the draft with a stockpile of late round picks.

I managed to select a few multi-category goes with my only early picks (Stephen Jackson & Boris Diaw) to pair with my trio of keepers (LBJ,
CP3, and Iggy). The rest of the players became interchangeable. I worked the waiver wire almost to perfection landing Darren Collison and Carl Landry among others. I managed to finish with the second best record, but thanks to our divisional format I was stuck in the 4th seed.

Instead of getting a bye in the first round I got to square off with a team in which we both had advantages in four categories. It was going to come down to field goal percentage. Iggy’s 5 for 22 performance on March 15th set the tone. I was playing catch-up the rest of the way. Ultimately I fell short in my quest to defend my title.

It wasn’t a perfect year though. Early on I told myself that I didn’t have the horses to defend the title, and I should just try to get by with the my guys and the available free agents. Unfortunately I veered from the path a bit with some minor draft pick trades. Most of those
deals ended up blowing up in my face thanks to a bit of bad luck. I dealt a 5th and 7th rounder to make up for my rebounding deficiency
with Marcus Camby and Joakim Noah. I dealt a 10th rounder right before our trade deadline for Luol Deng, who subsequently went down with a calf injury. I traded an 8th and a 14th rounder for Eric Gordon and a 10th and 11th rounder, which I may have done straight up without
getting Gordon. He also missed time.

I didn’t quite mortgage my future as bad as last season, but if I had just stuck to my guns and let this season play out, I would have been in much better shape. In fact, I could have gone the opposite route and secured some early draft picks for myself. However, if the players I dealt for didn’t all go down with injuries I could have possibly taken home the crown so I have no regrets.

In my other league I secured the #2 seed and a first round bye. The first round of the playoffs are going on this week (3/22-3/28). My biggest mistakes in this league were in the waiver wire. While I excelled in my other league out of necessity, I missed out on Andray Blatche and Darren Collison. I ended up cutting Marcus Thornton before his second stretch of monster numbers. That league is still ongoing so time will tell if my mistakes were costly.

"I'm still not sure how that dude landed us both in the same draft, LeBron. Shouldn't that be illegal?"

Erik Ong (Give Me The Rock)


I am in two rotisserie leagues this season, both of which are 12-man leagues. I am wallowing in the bottom 33% of both of them. One is standard while the other is in its first year as a keeper league. I had an overall approach for drafting in most of my fantasy leagues this season and that was not to disregard my personal bias in favour of owning “quality” point guards. Unfortunately, I ended up being too guard heavy in both leagues. That was something that obviously did not lend itself towards a balanced team. I ended up having problems with the big man stats and thus suffered huge penalties from those categories. Playing to this particular favouritism worked well for me in my head to head leagues, but it left me gasping for air in roto. I suppose I will lean more towards a BPA (best player available) strategy in next season’s roto drafts.


Out of the six head to head leagues I entered, I made the Playoffs in five of them. In two of those leagues, which made use of the early playoff setting, I was eliminated in the first round and am currently struggling to grab a fifth place finish. I had a first-round bye in a one of the remaining three leagues, so I am still awaiting a semi-final matchup opponent.


One of the bigger mistakes I made this season can be attributed to my pre-buying of Anthony Randolph’s fantasy I.P.O. I bought heavy into his upside over the pre-season hype, and ended up paying dearly by wasting some critical value in the fifth and sixth rounds of my drafts. In a nutshell, some other mistakes I would say I made this season was owning too many Knicks, Warriors, and Wizards. Bad choices, indeed.

Since I did  end up with an 83.33% playoff-appearance success rate in my h2h leagues, I would rate that as an overall good showing this season. One of the biggest things that I can attribute to that success, was that I learned something new as far as in-season fantasy basketball strategy is concerned. I ended up with some not-too-clear drafts (in terms of direction). I have always been an aggressive FA sniper (or full-auto blaster, depending on your point of view). This season, I allowed key pick-ups to dictate or guide the direction I steered my team towards. I let the strongest picks tell me what categories to focus on for the future. This strategy was very helpful in taking my teams deep into the playoff-hunt, but needed around two to three months to fully percolate. I gained a deeper appreciation of how shifting in one or two new players can change the dynamic of my entire team. Once the direction for a particular team became clearer and clearer, I then opted to focus succeeding pick-ups and consolidate my updated strengths.

Patrick Madden (Give Me The Rock)
I played in six fantasy leagues this year: One was personal league with friends, two were GMTR reader’s leagues, and three were expert’s leagues which I snuck in despite not being an expert nor popular. The three expert leagues I’m participating in are the Barkley’s Mouth Experts League, the CBS Sports 30-Man League, and the ESPN Writers’ Auction League.

No, I don’t write for ESPN. Rather, the league must have had someone drop out at the last minute and I was both available and had experience with auction leagues. So, it’s 11 of ESPN’s finest minds and me battling it out for bragging rights. I’m currently in third place.

CBS 30-Man

This league has 30 teams in two divisions (CBS and the World) and starts 6 players (the 5 positions plus a flex spot). If you do the math, it means this league STARTS 180 players. My third year in the league and I sucked as always, finished 10th out of 15th in the World Division and missing the playoffs for the second straight year. This league has already finished its playoffs, so congrats to Barkley Mouth’s Matt Satten for beating out some of the finest minds in the industry and taking home the championship.

H2H leagues

Again, I missed the playoffs in the Barkley’s Mouth league thanks to a murder’s row of failure in the back half of my draft (my 4-10 went: Andris Biedrins, Ray Allen, John Salmons, Manu Ginobili, Leandro Barbosa, Marvin Williams, and Richard Jefferson). I’m surprised people take advice from me after that beauty of a draft. However, I am currently in the playoffs in the other two H2H reader’s leagues and will finish somewhere in the 1-4 range.


As mentioned above, I’m currently 3rd out of 12 in the ESPN Writers’ League, with a shot at second by the end of the year. My personal league I’m also in third place with a shot at second.

Best/Worst Moves of the Year

I was an aggressive trader this season because a number of my drafts did not go well. For example, here are all my trades in one league this season:

Traded for:  John Salmons (Mil – SG,SF)
Traded Away: Jeff Green (OKC – SF,PF)

Traded for:  Wilson Chandler (NY – SG,SF,PF), Mario Chalmers (Mia – PG)
Traded Away: Danilo Gallinari (NY – SF)

Traded for:  David West (NO – PF), Darren Collison (NO – PG,SG)
Traded Away: Jason Thompson (Sac – SF,PF,C)

Traded for:  Jason Terry (Dal – PG,SG)
Traded Away: Andris Biedrins (GS – C)

Traded for:  Erick Dampier (Dal – C), Tyrus Thomas (Cha – SF,PF)
Traded Away: Anthony Randolph (GS – PF,C)

Traded for:  Andrew Bogut (Mil – C), Manu Ginobili (SA – SG)
Traded Away: Trevor Ariza (Hou – SG,SF), Paul Millsap (Uta – SF,PF)

Traded for:  LaMarcus Aldridge (Por – PF,C)
Traded Away: Wilson Chandler (NY – SG,SF,PF)

Traded for:  Russell Westbrook (OKC – PG), Andrew Bynum (LAL – C)
Traded Away: Michael Beasley (Mia – SF,PF), Andrew Bogut (Mil – C)

Best Move: That David West and Darren Collison for Jason Thompson felt dirty to me at the time, even though West was in a huge slump to start the season while Thompson was on fire. My best piece of advice for any fantasy owner: Just like the stock market, buy low and sell high. It doesn’t always work out and sometimes you’re left with an underachieving John Salmons for the season, but more often than not you’ll come off the winner by the end of the year.

"No, coach, my game's not in here either."

Worst Move: It didn’t happen in this league, but in one of the GMTR Readers’ Leagues I traded away Andrew Bogut for Jose Calderon mid-season. I really didn’t think Bogut could maintain his torrid pace and was an injury risk, while I thought it was only a matter of time before Calderon won his starting job back. Plus, I needed assists. Calderon won his starting job back all right, about a month a half later, and looks just as bad as he did while coming off the bench.


My teams have done relatively well, if not great this season.  I am in first in one league, and top-2 in a couple of others, while I am just middle of the pack in another…

As far as biggest busts, luckily I was able to avoid guys like Jose Calderon, Elton Brand, and Gilbert Arenas.  However, I got burned by a
pair of wing players:  Caron Butler and Vince Carter. Quite possibly the biggest bust among all small forwards, Butler has certainly not lived up to his draft-day value.  Butler’s poor production is especially surprising because he has been able to actually stay healthy all season long.  If you were to tell fantasy GM’s back in October that Caron would end up ranked so low, most would assume it was due to major injury woes.  Since his trade to Dallas, Butler’s numbers have taken a further hit.  Thru 13 games with the Mavs he is averaging just 16.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.9 assists in 35 minutes a night.

And while Caron Butler has been a bust, Vince Carter has earned the dubious distinction as arguably 2009-2010’s most disappointing wing player.  Carter’s numbers absolutely plummeted across the board during his first season in Orlando.  VC hasn’t been this bad since he quit on the
Raptors back 2004.  We don’t have to go into the gory details, I’ll just point out this: During the month of December, when his season hit absolute rock bottom, Vince Carter played 14 games and shot 28.4% from the floor and averaged 8.7 PPG.  Very hard to have imagined back in October that Carter would have averaged less than nine points and shot such a putrid percentage over the course of an entire month…

My best value picks were probably Channing Frye and Steph Curry.

Curry generated a lot of hype coming out of Davidson, but there were questions as to whether he could handle the transition to PG position in the pros.  And due to his slight build there were also questions if he could endure the physical rigors of the NBA grind.  Well, nearly five months later, Curry has answered those questions affirmatively.  Instead of hitting a rookie wall, Steph has only stepped up his game of late.  His numbers since the All-Star Break are insane – the Warriors have played 12 games and he is averaging 20.8 points (90.9% from the free-throw line), 7.6 assists, 5.6 rebounds, 2.3 three’s, 1.5 steals.  Wow.

And the best waiver wire pickup was undoubtedly Darren Collision: The 2009 draft class may go down as producing arguably the greatest and
deepest PG crop in recent history.  In addition to Curry and Evans – we haven’t even discussed Brandon “Double Nickel” Jennings or Ty Lawson – Darren Collison has come out of nowhere to take the league by storm over the past month.  Just how good has Collison been since taking over for Chris Paul?  In 26 games as a starter, Darren was averaging 21.6 PPG, 10 assists, 3.7 rebounds, 2.1 steals, 1.0 three, in 44+ minutes a night.  Oh, and he is shooting 52% from the floor during that stretch.  Mindboggling.

Jeff Andriesse (Damn Lies and Statistics)

I’m in several leagues, but three main ones that I consider my top ones. One is a rotisserie-style weekly league with 10 teams and a limit of one pickup per week. One is a roto-style 10-teamer with unlimited pickups and daily lineup changes. The last is the RotoExperts in-house league, a head-to-head league with daily lineup changes and a limit of five pickups per week.

So I run the gamut in terms of formats. I’m doing well this year. In the weekly roto league, I’m comfortably in first place, which is a minor miracle considering I drafted Andris Biedrins in the fifth round and Michael Redd in the seventh. Luckily, my late-round selections of Tyreke Evans (13th) and Stephen Curry (14th) paid off in spades. I can attribute my standing directly to them. I even flipped Evans and Chris Bosh for LeBron at our league’s trade deadline. My best move, however, was probably picking up Andray Blatche right before his explosion and right when Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison and Brendan Haywood were being shipped out of town. Blatche’s recent drama aside, he has carried me for the last month and a half.

In my daily roto league I stand in second place behind a “T. Lorenzo”, who I suspect is cheating. In all seriousness, I’m pretty proud of this league since Tom and I were invited to participate with a group of select hoops junkies from the Fantasy Basketball Cafe message boards. Also, I took Dwight Howard in the second round of this league as a sort of challenge to myself. I’m actually not in last in free throw percentage (8th, .765) and have surrounded Howard with Kevin Durant, Joe Johnson and Ray Allen to help dull the negative impact in that category. My best move was trading David Lee for Josh Smith in mid-January. I was sitting in a comfortable spot in rebounds and really needed a blocks and steals boost. Smith has helped me move up the standings into second. If I never made the deal, I think I’d be in fifth or so.

Finally, in the RotoExperts head-to-head league I finished the regular season in third place and probably could have finished in first if not for a 7-1 loss to the first place team during the shortened week before the All-Star Break. Not that I’m bitter. I’m currently locked in a battle in the first round of the playoffs against the six seed. I’m doing it with mirrors in this league as a cursory glance at my team doesn’t reveal too many stars outside of Kevin Durant and Jason Kidd. I drafted Biedrins in this league, suffered through Kevin Martin’s injuries and the crippling disappointments of Spencer Hawes and Mario Chalmers. I should be shunned by society for dropping both Carl Landry and John Salmons during the year. What’s kept me in it has been my reliance on category guys like Chris Andersen and Channing Frye (earlier in the year), as well as some phenomenal pickups in Carlos Delfino, Corey Maggette, Brandon Jennings (mostly) and Toney Douglas (recently). I’ll take a third-place finish after all the injuries and bone-headed moves I’ve suffered through, but of course right now I’m greedy and am hoping to win a few rounds of the playoffs.

Tom Lorenzo (Damn Lies & Statistics)

In the RotoExperts in-house league I finished the regular season in second place, just 2.5 games out of first. I had a first round bye, so I am heading into the semi-finals this week, where I will dominate! Or so I hope. In that league I never fell any further than 4th place throughout the entire season, and had a fairly nice stay at the top of the standings during the first half of the season. My best move was obviously picking up Darren Collison — who I happened to add and drop at three different points this season. My worst move was drafting Gilbert Arenas in the fourth round. To be honest with you, I made very few substantial moves this season mainly because I had some nice value picks in the draft — Jason Thompson (8th round — he was really good at one point, remember!?), Marc Gasol (9th), and Danilo Gallinari (12th).

In my weekly roto league, in which Andriesse is dominating, I am sitting in second place. I left myself a little short in big man stats, since I was able to scoop up Kevin Durant and Brandon Roy in the first two rounds. Then followed that up with a Brook LopezDavid WestJason Kidd mash-up. There’s my core. Not much in the way of a dominant rebounder in there. My best moves were probably drafting Marcus Thornton and Brandon Jennings. My worst move was being one of those Anthony Randolph suckers. Sigh.

In the daily roto league that Jeff and I are in, I have been in first place since the first week and maybe have spent a day or two in second throughout the season. Why? My killer draft! I had the first pick, and if you don’t mind, here’s how I drafted… (in order)

LeBron James, Jason Kidd, Brook Lopez, Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo, Eric Gordon, Tyrus Thomas, Luis Scola, O.J. Mayo, Marc Gasol, Greg Oden, Richard Jefferson, and Carl Landry.

I also added Darren Collison in this league and Anthony Morrow (for his 3’s). I have to say I am proud of this team. They’ve worked hard for me all season long. AND, I got a lot of slack for taking LeBron as the No. 1 overall pick in a 9-cat roto league… Just sayin’.

To quickly wrap-up the rest: I am in a experts H2H league — finished in 9th place because I thought it would be cool to draft Chris Bosh, Pau Gasol, and Troy Murphy as my first three picks AND took Anthony Randolph in the 7th and Blake Griffin in the 8th round. YUCK!

I am also in that 30-Team league with Patrick (co-owned with MMA great Hector Castor). We finished in 9th in the World Division because we used our first-round pick (#20) on Jose Calderon. That says it all!


3 responses to “Fantasy Basketball Roundtable: How You Doin’?

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