For most owners, the Fantasy Basketball playoffs are here. The long-winded regular season is officially over and it’s time to go big or go home. This week I figured I’d give a few tips on winning your head-to-head playoffs, as well as give a nod to those of you in Roto leagues. These aren’t “general” tips, but they’re tips for the here and now.
Let’s start off by breaking down the schedule over the next few weeks. I’m not going to look three or four weeks down the road, but I’m going to focus on this and next week. I’d love to give you tips for the championship round, but let’s focus on getting you there first.
For a complete look at the remaining schedule, make sure to check out Dave Gawron’s schedule grid. He’s done all the work so that you don’t have to.
The good news is there are no teams on a two-game schedule this week. In fact, 18 teams play four times this week.
Naturally, you’re goal is to win five categories. In the playoffs, you’re simply looking to get to the next round. That’s why you need to play to your strengths and shore up your categories. For instance, if your team is built around Dwight Howard, you want to forget about FT% and TOs, and focus on rebounds, blocks, FG%, steals and points. Look at someone like DeAndre Jordan (34 percent Y! owned), who even with the return of Chris Kaman to the lineup has averaged 9.5 points, nine rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 0.8 steals and 73 percent shooting in six March games. The Clippers play four times this week, including close-out games against the Suns and the Cavs, two teams who lack size and rebounders.
If you’re running a point guard-heavy team, focus on steals, assists, points, FT% and threes. Look at Ty Lawson, who is starting at point guard for the Nuggets after the team traded away Chauncey Billups. In nine starts since the trade, Lawson is averaging 13.3 points, 7.9 assists, 2.2 steals, one 3-pointer and he’s hitting 80 percent of his free throws. Denver has a rough four-game schedule this week, which includes four road games against the Magic, Heat, Hawks and Hornets. Still, Lawson has proved his worth, and outside of a matchup against Chris Paul, he sees no other high-level point guard threat this week.
The key is to find those five categories that you feel you can attack. It not only depends on your strengths, but also look at your opponent’s weaknesses. You may think you’re not strong in turnovers, but what if your opponent is sitting on LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and DeMarcus Cousins? That’s a winnable category.
Your strength, plus the weakness of your opponent equals success.
The other key this week is to come to terms with injuries. You may have added Rudy Gay in anticipation that he’s going to return later this week, but after reports surfaced that Gay’s shoulder continues to hurt him, it doesn’t seem like he’s going to play anytime soon. At least not over the next two weeks. The question now remains, is he worth holding onto if he isn’t going to play for another two weeks? The answer is quite simple. No. You need to drop Gay. If you want to stash him, I would only do so under two circumstances. First, if you’re in a weekly lineup league where you set your lineup on Sundays. Second, only hold him if you’re in a Roto league.
On the other end of this discussion, you want to follow the injury updates to see who is going to benefit from the extra minutes opening up. In the case of Rudy Gay, we’ve seen Tony Allen on a very good run. He’s one of the best players in the league when it comes to steals. Even when he plays just 18 minutes, he still finds a way to pick two steals per game. The Grizzlies play only three games this week, but if you’re in the mix for taking your steals category, Allen makes for the best possible add. You can pencil in at least six steals, probably more this week. A player on a four-game schedule would have to average 1.5 steals per game, which is not likely among the available players in most Fantasy leagues.
In Washington, you have injuries to Andray Blatche and Rashard Lewis hurting Fantasy owners. It’s still too soon to determine whether or not to drop either player, but you do want to look at Trevor Booker as a flier option. He is averaging nine points, seven rebounds and 1.2 blocks over his last five games. He’s also shooting 58 percent from the floor and 78 percent from the free-throw line. Washington finishes out the season with four straight four-game weeks. They are one of only four teams who do so, with the Nets, Suns and Kings being the other four teams. A long-term injury to Lewis or Blatche would instantly move Booker into must-add territory in deeper leagues.
Looking a week into the future, the Rockets are the only team who play twice in Week 22. That’s terrible, especially considering that you’re looking at lesser valuable players, seeing as Luis Scola is hurt and the Rockets are out of the playoff hunt. There’s no way I can see you adding Chase Budinger, Courtney Lee, Patrick Patterson or Jordan Hill on a two-game week. Not in the playoffs. So if you own any Houston player not named Kevin Martin or Kyle Lowry, drop them at the end of this week. They have NO value in Week 22, so use them as your droppable player once this weekend comes.
This is where you’re going to want to look to stream. Think about adding guys from the Clippers and the Trail Blazers on Friday night, since they are the only two teams who play both Saturday and Sunday. That’s where guys like Eric Bledsoe and Rudy Fernandez will pay off for you. Think about it, what if Bledsoe averages a modest 12 points, four assists, four rebounds, a steal and a 3-pointer over those two contests, you’re getting the equivalent of Dwyane Wade over the weekend (two-game totals: 24 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, two steals and two 3-pointers). Stream, baby, stream.
For those of you in Roto leagues, it’s business as usual. We know that a popular strategy is to sit players who might hurt your categories — Westbrook for turnovers, Dwight Howard for FT%, etc. It’s a little too soon to take those kind of measures. You’re not that far ahead of your opponents in any category where you can start to sit players in order to keep your deficient categories from rising. Two or three weeks from now, sure.
You also want to start looking at adding based on categories, but not at the expense of dropping someone who can help your opponents. I saw in one of my Roto leagues, an owner dropped Michael Beasley in order to add more defensive stats. What!? You just gave your opponents a 20-point, eight-rebound Fantasy player. Why would you do that? To shore up your blocks? Well, you just gave someone a shot at catching you, or further distancing themselves from you in the scoring and/or rebounding categories. It’s far too soon to start dropping your stars.
*All stats as of Monday, March 14 (prior to the start of Monday night’s action).
You can contact Tom at Lorenzo@RotoExperts.com. Send him your Fantasy questions and he’ll make sure to get back to you in no time.