So you’ve made it through the first week of fantasy basketball and came out the other side not only covered in mucus, but also likely one of two types of fantasy hoopsters: Either the type that wants to wait a few weeks to see what kind of lineup you drafted before making any changes, or the type that dropped three players 90 seconds after the draft was over. The waiters wonder why the droppers can’t just learn to draft better. The droppers wonder (usually out loud and on your leagues’ public bulletin boards) why no one else is snatching Travis Outlaw or Francisco Garcia. It’s either black or white, but if you’re thinking about my baby it doesn’t matter because, as is the case over at Razzball Baseball, the truth lies in the Grey gray. If you wait two weeks to tinker with your team you’re missing out on players that are eventually going to win someone else your league, but if your first three picks are the only remnants left from your draft, you’re not thinking rationally. Think of the first two weeks as neither a time to validate nor heal your team, but the first step in a 23-week process of making your team better than everyone else’s. Here are some guidelines to consider before adding and dropping during the early stages of the season:
1. Don’t pick up anyone on the strength of one game, and think twice before you do it on the strength of two. By the end of Day 2, all but one of the leagues I’m in saw Shannon Brown and his stupendous, tremendous, heart-stopping, earth-shocking 16/1/1 with four treys and four steals get snatched up by someone (not me) who thought they had just witnessed this generation’s less-5′oclock shadowy Vince Carter. Two days later he played only two-thirds of the minutes and posted an 8/1/1 line (no treys). Does this mean Brown should be dead to you? No. Does it mean you should wait until a guy makes a habit of producing? You bet your sweet Bippy. (Sweet Bippy may never forgive you for betting her away).
2. Always consider the player’s role in the context of his entire team. Minutes are the single most important quantitative statistic you can use to predict a player’s fantasy worthiness. And a way to predict mpg early is to evaluate their role on their team. Francisco Garcia was mentioned earlier in this post. Scroll up to refresh your memory. Then immediately go see a doctor about your memory that apparently needs to be refreshed every 70 seconds. He dropped a 22/3/4 line with an abundance of blocks and steals and threes and mirth and joy but people stayed away because he was filling in for Tyreke Evans. Then he posted a slightly less-impressive line of 18/3/2 with steals and blocks and an abundance of threes and ‘Reke now in the lineup and people rushed to grab him. While I’d hope no one dropped him for Evans, Garcia is a good pick up (despite his 4/4/0 line from Saturday) because he’s performing well on a team that is facing considerable flux on its roster. Right now, Evans is the only sure-starter on this squad. The Kings have no back-up PG and a revolving door of the underwhelming Donte Greene and the still-raw Omri Casspi both at the SF spot. This suggests that a hybrid SG/SF like Garcia will get a lot of burn playing backup SG to Evans, playing SG while Evans plays the point, or playing SF in smaller rotations. In this instance, Garcia has a potentially large role on this team, which means the minutes will be there. Players in Garcia’s situation, or Wilson Chandler‘s situation in New York, are good bets early if you stash them on your bench.
3. Look at the player’s history. If the player in question is a rookie, this becomes considerably more difficult. But if the player has been around the block a few times, and never posted the same high-quality line that he’s posting now, it’s a red flag that what you’re seeing is a bubble about to burst. Look at Daniel Gibson. Not only is he a bad pickup because Mo Williams is due back tomorrow, but Gibson’s averages have exceeded everything he’s ever done before. His per36 career averages are 12/3/2.5. So far this season he’s averaging a per36 of 18/3/7.5. Is it because LeBron is no longer a Cav? Maybe. Is it that he’s taking over many of Williams’ minutes? Perhaps. But remember, I’m looking at per36, not per game averages. Gibson averaged 12/3/2.5 every 36 minutes before this season and although massive statistical jumps like this aren’t impossible, you should bet that there are extenuating circumstances at play and those extenuating circumstances are going to balance our sooner or later.
4. Consider all the stats. Reggie Evans has 30 rebounds in two games. Thirty. And honestly, on that team in Toronto, I don’t see why they won’t just parade him out there for 82 games or why he can’t lead the league in boards. Fifteen a game. That’s a mighty total. Mighty enough that nearly 15 percent of fantasy owners added him to their roster. He offers a line of .200/.000/0/1/15/0.5/1/0.5 which is the fantasy basketball equivalent of a midget with size 22 shoes. Owning Evans is like bumping the rebounding averages of each player on your team by 1, but then removing one utility spot from your roster. Not your entire league. Just yours. Scouring the waiver wire in the early parts of the season, like being alone on Valentine’s Day, make you desperate and eager to overlook any number of glaring problems with the guy you’ve labeled a stud. A one-stat monster is just that – a monster.
5. Consider the defense. After three games, it’s possible that the surprise performers were the beneficiaries of weak opponents early on. In the case of Reggie Evans, he grabbed 16 boards off a Knicks team that is going to be in the bottom 10 in total team rebounds this season and followed up that performance with grabbing 14 off a depleted Cavaliers team that was without Anderson Varejao. Anyone want to bet Evans averages more than 11 rebounds in his next three games against the Kings, Jazz and Lakers?