The fantasy playoffs are fast approaching, or maybe they’ve already arrived for you. Tough decisions will need to be made—the game is survival. Some of you may be in win-now mode. Others may be planning ahead, looking for keeper value on the wire, or last-minute trades with an eye toward the future.

The primary league I play in is a 9-cat Yahoo keeper league. You’re allowed to keep five players. I enjoy the keeper format because it’s an (extremely mild) replication of the control and decision-making required of an NBA general manager. You don’t start with a brand-new team every year in the NBA (as you do in re-draft leagues). You pay a price for the bad decisions of yesteryear or reap the benefits from the good ones. Keeper and dynasty leagues also force you to do the most scouting and projecting. If you insist on waiting until a player pops, you’re going to miss out on a lot of players. A competitive league ups the pressure to be first, it pushes the timeline of your decision-making forward. Of course, if you’re wrong about a player, that comes at a cost too.

Keeper values incorporate a value estimation and vague salary cap structure, at least during the offseason and through the draft. In the Scorekeeper League, you’re allowed 5 keepers and your draft capital is $200 minus the cost of your keepers. Every player’s cost increases by five dollars each year and you can only hold a player for four seasons. Keepers force you to always be thinking about the future even as the present rages on.

With the playoffs two weeks away, my Fat Mamba fantasy team is sitting in 9th place. I’m faithfully looking ahead to next season. Just in case you are too, here are some thoughts.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The 1992 movie, Boomerang, is severely underrated. Rotten Tomatoes has a Tomatometer score of 44%, while the Audience Score is 59%. Rotten Tomatoes is stupid and so is the audience. Fine, the movie does suck but there are some great things about it. Eddie Murphy is in his prime, a young Halle Berry is so damn fine, and there are some of the greatest cinematic scenes of all time: GSCOAT #1. GSCOAT #2. GSCOAT #3. But the reason for referencing Boomerang in this post is because of this scene: Marcus, darling. Lady Eloise is old and over-the-hill, but she still has the gumption of a youngster, just like Marcus Morris Sr. of the New York Knicks.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
38 5 1 2 1 3 6/7 13/19 6/10

On the season, Morris is a top 65 player. Over the past three games, he’s been a top 40 one, averaging 34.5 minutes, 27 points, 4 tres, 5 boards, 2 dimes, 1.3 steals, and 0.7 blocks whille shooting 50% from the field on 18.3 shot attempts! LOL! Recently, Morris said that he would prefer to stay in New York. No shit! He’s getting paid $15 million this season to jack up a ton of shots on a shitty team and live in NYC. Plus, he knows the Knicks are so dumb that they may actually give him a multi-year extension. The Knicks have said that they would like to keep Morris. Maybe they are playing 3-D chess or are just dummies. I side with the latter. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s never a dummy? The Stocktonator. Regardless, what you think the Knicks do with Morris determines how you should view him for fantasy. If he stays on the Knicks, then he can be a top 75 player for fantasy, as the sheer volume and playing time would allow him to produce. If he gets traded, then there’s no way he sees the minutes or shot attempts, and would likely be outside the top 100.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

While Christmas has morphed into a commercialized phenomenon, let us not forget why we engorge in capitalistic orgies because of it. Christmas is the day that Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ; the son of God, the final piece of the Holy Triumvirate, the One who died for our sins so that we may experience salvation. To say that He is an important figure in history is an understatement. So, it is only fitting that on the day after Christmas, a Christian would ball out and be the lede of this post. And it makes sense that such an elevating performance would be delivered from a player named Wood because who doesn’t like elevated Wood. Anyways, Christian Wood delivered:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
22 7 3 0 1 3 2/4 7/9 6/6

In 24 minutes off the bench. Now, the Pistons….POOF….made the Wizards disappear, 132-102 last night. As a result, Wood received more run than normal. On the season, he’s averaging 15.3 minutes per game, which is a shame because he balls out when he’s on the court. Maybe this Wood cannot perform for extended periods of time. I kid, I kid. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what performs 24/7? The Stocktonator. The reason why Wood has been passed around more times than a blunt in a cypher (he’s played for five teams in five years) is because of immaturity and a lack of professionalism off the court. So far this season, Coach Casey has brought him along slowly and made him earn everything. Wood can score, provide tres, grabs boards, contribute defensive stats, and shoot efficiently from the field. Back on December 1st, Wood scored 28 points, grabbed 10 boards, dished out 2 dimes, blocked 1, and stole 1 in 22 minutes!!! That’s the kind of upside we are talking about here. There’s a chance Wood can carve out a more substantial role as the season progresses. For now, he can’t be counted on but make preparations for when that time comes. Sort of like how the celebration of Christmas has evolved over the years. First, it was just about one day a year. Now, it’s something that people begin preparing for right after Thanksgiving.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I’ve never eaten veal, but according to the Google machine, it “has been treasured for centuries for its delicious, succulent flavor.” Veal comes from the meat of young calves and has been referenced in the Bible as the choicest of animal food. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s the choicest for fantasy basketball projections? The Stocktonator. Unfortunately, many feel bad for eating veal because of how the calves are raised on factory farms: extreme confinement and cruelty. This doesn’t sound too much different than Bradley Beal and his shituation in Washington. Beal is a phenomenal player and revered in fantasy circles. Many feel bad for him, though, because the Wizards are a terrible team. He experiences extreme confinement being the lone star on the team and the shituation is just cruel. With that said, last night the Beal was cooked a little differently; in a 40-burger!

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
42 6 4 1 0 3 3/6 16/30 7/10

In 42 minutes!!! Beal has now cooked 15 40-burgers and one 50-burger in his career! What makes this Beal so damn good is that he averages 28.7 points, 2.7 tres, 4.4 boards, 7.2 dimes, and 1.1 steals per game. The percentages are both excellent; 47% from the field and 82% from the line. The usage rate is 30.9. Now, the blocks are non-existent and the turnovers are a little high, but 3.3 per game won’t cause the Beal to be returned back to the kitchen. Top 15 player for fantasy and one of the highest floor players because he averages 36.8 minutes per contest! Mmm, mmm, delicious.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Potential, Potential, Potential

Potential is enticing, if fickle. Potential is a first date. A 0-0 count in the top of the first. Potential is a stray glance or wink, a few perfectly volleyed bits of of banter between two people soon to be lovers. Potential is the essay before its written, the hazy four-line outline in the mind. Potential is the moment before the moment, where dream and reality meet, if only for an instant.

Potential is not, however, negative capability, as Keats described it: “I mean Negative Capability, that is when man ‘or woman’ is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without, any irritable reaching after fact or reason.” Potential implies a payoff, a return on investment. The hung curveball must be sent screaming to the seats. The alley must be ooped. The first date must lead to a second.

In the poem, the reward is the exploration of uncertainty itself. In fantasy sports, that irritable reaching after fact or reason is all we know. With that in mind, here are some players who’ve been blessed with the wicked kiss of potential.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

For the first five games of the season, Nicolo Melli played an average of 15.2 minutes per game, with a high of 20. He showed the ability to shoot from downtown, but little else. The first four games of November, Melli played 10, 10, 5, and 17 minutes. He was rotting on the bench. But then….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
14 6 4 3 0 0 1/6 4/10 5/5

Nelli got the call on the celli to notify him that he would play 27, 27, and 28 minutes over the past three games. Did I just time travel there? Anyways, Melli has responded by scoring 14, 16, and 10 points with a decent amount of boards and dimes. What really stands out is three steals in two separate games. Who knew this Italian was a smooth criminal? Perhaps he’s mafioso? He’s been a top 60 player over the past four games. This could be a short-term thing while the Pelicans are banged up, or it could be the start of something. I may be able to time travel, but I cannot predict the future. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what can predict the future? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Terry Rozier has been a scary player for fantasy nerds since 2017. He shot 39% from the field that season on 10 attempts per game. BOO! We should’ve known, though, as he shot 36% from the field in 2016 and 27% his rookie year, but the athleticism was tantalizing. He’s young they said. He’ll develop they said. Just wait until he starts they said. Well, he started 30 games in Boston, and while the percentages did improve, the increase only took his field goal percentage from 37% to 39%. BOOOOO!!!! So why did we keep going back to Terry? Why do you slow down and gawk at an accident? There’s a chance you may see nothing. There’s a chance you may be horrified. But there’s also that chance you may see something you’ve never seen before. Well, Rozier scored 33 points in a game during the 2017 season and has messed around once in his career. Just wait until he becomes a full-time starter they said. Well, we are dummies and keep falling for the bananna in the tailpipe. In 10 starts as the man to replace Kemba Walker, Rozier was shooting….class? Yup, 38% from the field. BOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! But every once in a while, he accesses a ceiling game to keep us coming back for more. Last night was that instance…

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
33 5 6 2 0 5 7/12 13/21 0

The usage rate is 25.4 and he’s averaging 31.8 minutes, 16.8 points, 2.4 tres, 3.9 boards, 5.2 dimes, and 1.1 steals. The 3.5 turnovers and 41% shooting (last night’s game increased his percentage 3%) from the field have him just outside the top 100, but he has value if you can stomach the poor percentages. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what always shoots a high percentage? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I’ve been watching Curb Your Enthusiasm lately. I know, I know. I’m like 20 years late but keep in mind that I finally watched (and absolutely loved) The Wire last year. Anyways, I just saw an episode of Curb in which a kid does a card trick for Larry David. Larry is impressed and asks the kid to tell him how he did it. The kid responds that he can’t because a magician never reveals his secrets. Well, Larry then asks how he learned the trick and the kid responds that a magician taught him the trick. Larry looks at him and tells him that when the magician taught him the trick that he was not a magician, so if he wasn’t a magician when he learned the trick, then he could tell Larry how the trick was performed. The kid responds that he’s a natural magician and that Larry is not. Ha! I love that show. Anyways, not all magic tricks are hidden secrets. Domantas Sabonis made the Magic disappear last night, as the Pacers defeated the Magic 109-102. How?

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 16 7 1 1 2 0/2 9/18 3/4

On the season, Sabonis is a top 25 player, as he’s averaging a whopping 35.6 minutes, 20 points, 13 boards, and 4.1 dimes. The percentages are excellent as well (52% from the field and 85% from the free throw line). Now, Myles Turner missed his fourth game in a row, so that’s been a boon for his short term production. The usage rate has fluctuated all over the map, but the assist and rebound percentages are significantly higher without Myles on the court. Makes sense. When Myles returns, Sabonis will likely return to being a top 50-60 player. It’s not smoke and mirrors that he’s a top 25 player, though. He is legit, but he’s not going to be the lone ranger all season long. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s not smoke and mirrors and is straight legit? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The moment we exit the womb, it’s our birthday. Then we become woke and realize that Mondays suck because the weekend is over and the work begins, but Wednesday gets us over the hump to prepare for Friday, which is the beginning of the good times….hopefully. There are holidays, too many to name. Yeah, capitalism! There are leg days and cardio days, but it’s the emotionally dramatic days, both happy and sad, that are unforgettable. Where were you on 9/11? How about when the team you root for won the championship? Last night, Dejounte Murray had one of those moments:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
17 8 10 1 0 2 0 7/12 3/3

Before some random dude takes the above a little bit too seriously….it’s a joke!!! Writing that was probably fruitless, as people that go on tilt over such matters don’t read the entirety of a post, but whatever. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what never jokes around or goes on tilt, but just spits out fruitful projections? The Stocktonator. Now, what made Murray’s performance so promising was that he played 26 minutes. The Spurs are managing his minutes and, prior to last night, he was stuck in the 22-24 minute range. At some point, the Spurs could get him up to 28-30 minutes per game. He will still sit in back-to-backs, but he will be a per-game beast. Chew on this: In 23.1 minutes per game, Murray is the #53 player for fantasy. He’s averaging 8 boards, 5.4 dimes, 1.7 steals, and 0.6 blocks!!! You won’t get tres, but that’s the easiest thing to find anyways. Come seasons end, we will all be asking ourselves, “Where were you on Dejounte?”

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The pascal (Pa) is the unit of pressure used to quantify internal pressure, stress, and tensile strength. With all the injuries for the Golden State Warriors, the pascal readings have been off the charts in the Bay Area. The fans are freaking out, shots are being bricked, defensive lapses have become the norm, and the dynasty that was, is now a has been. Or is it? Because Eric Paschall has been making his mark and produced off-the-chart numbers last night.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
34 13 0 1 0 2 4/6 11/19 8/8

In 40 minutes and led the Warriors to a 127-118 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. This, two days after dropping 25 points on the Charlotte Hornets in 35 minutes of action! Paschall is currently a top 65 player, providing points, boards, and a little something something in tres, steals, and blocks. The percentages have been excellent; 60% from the field and 87% from the line. Now, when Draymond Green and D’Angelo Russell return to action, the usage and playing time will likely go down. With that said, the Warriors will likely be tanking, so there could be opportunites. There’s a lot of unknown with the Warriors shituation, so we need to monitor how Steve Kerr decides to handle things. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what knows all? The Stocktonator. Don’t be a zero. Be a hero.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?