For the first few weeks of the season, I try not to focus on the standings. I look, of course, but I do so knowing that there have been outlier games, whose impacts are more pronounced due to the small sample size. Also, most teams have a player or two that’s missed the majority of the games and they might also have been starting a replacement player that’s not going to keep it up much longer. However, we’re now about a quarter of the way through the NBA season. The data is relatively predictable. You should know which categories you need to focus on in order to gain points and which ones to ignore, either because you’re stuck at the bottom or entrenched at the top of a category (or if you always win or lose the category by a ton in head-to-head).

Today, we’ll look at the ESPN Player Rater. Tony RP’s Player Rater updates will give you a picture of who’s most valuable by position. I thought I’d go by category to see who’s doing what for us. Here are the top 20 players by category plus the bottom 20 for relevant ones, skipping players that have hardly played. So, it’s just the per-game stat leaders you may be familiar with, except that the percentage categories are weighted by volume. Turnovers are from BasketballMonster, since ESPN doesn’t include them.

So, how is this useful? Obviously, you want players that score well overall on the Player Rater. But, if you’re like me, you’ll be surprised to see some of your players pop up on these lists. Also, keeping in mind which categories you need help in, this can help you find some trade targets. Or, if you’re out of it in points or FG%, maybe ship off a guy that’s in the top 20 that’s not doing much else for you. If you’re in the middle of the pack in FT% and you see that you have one of the worst offenders there, maybe you can ditch him and gain points (just keep in mind what you might be losing in other categories from him). A lot can be gained by learning what’s actually happening compared to what we assume is happening based on previous years or projections.

Next week, I’ll get back into multi-category rankings for those that are ignoring categories, whether intentionally or as a matter of the hand you’ve been dealt. Think punt FG% & TOs, or for FT% punters: 3PTM+AST+ST+PTS+TO rankings, which are what you want to complement your FT% anchors with. That’s when you can really find trade value, since all players now have a new value to your specific team.

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A capella music is singing without instrumental accompaniment. According to choraldirectormag.com, here’s what’s needed to create an a capella group: soloist, great bass, original music, time together, and momentum. That basically describes the Houston Rockets. Let’s break it down. Mike D’Antoni doesn’t micromanage possessions like some coaches. Things flow naturally. Soloist. James Harden. Great bass, the voice that’s low and powerful. Clint Capela fills that role by battling down low and doing the dirty work on the glass. Original music. Mike D’Antoni’s “Seven Seconds or Less” offense from the Phoenix days combined with the analytics of Daryl Morey equals “Game the Math.” Time together. Self explanatory. Momentum. The Rockets offense in a nutshell. Yesterday’s game against the Indiana Pacers was a microcosm of the synergy they’ve displayed all season enroute to an 11-3 record, with six victories in a row. Harden led the way with 26 points, five boards, 15 dimes, and two steals. Capela provided the base with 20 points, 17 boards, one dime, and one block. Eric Gordon filled his gunner role by hoisting up 11 downtowners. He finished with 21 points, one board, four dimes, two steals, and one block. If this was college, you’d think he was trying to get laid. Trevor Ariza scored 15 points, grabbed five boards, dished out a dime, and pilfered two. He’s Mr. Versatility. Can hit the high, low, and middle notes. Luc Mbah a Moute and P.J. Tucker provide toughness while still being an offensive threat. It’s going to be interesting when Chris Paul returns to the fray.

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UPDATED: 10/9/2017

Man, you guys don’t even know. There’s been a mob outside my house every night for the past two weeks carrying tiki torches and screaming, “We want the Top 200 with stats!” Or at least I think that’s what they were saying. Anyways, big shout out to Rudy who waved his magic wand and created the beautiful looking spreadsheet below. It even sorts. Here is Rudy in his lab:

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The Toronto Raptors are #good. They won 51 games last season and 56 games the prior year. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are bonafide stars. Yet….they seem to always get overlooked. Or is it just me? Maybe it’s because they are based in Canada. Maybe it’s because they have a #WeTheNorth slogan. Probably both. Regardless, one of their stars missed over a month of action and their identity changed mid-season, but they still were able to finish tied for second in the Eastern Conference and make it to the Eastern Conference Finals.

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To you who are reading this post, I love you all. To those who aren’t, I hate you. Good thing those people will never see that. I don’t care if you are just a hoops junkie, need something to pass the time when on the can, or if you love/hate my work. You’re here and that’s all that matters. It’s been a long journey, but alas…sniff sniff…the end is here. There are a few upside players here that could definitely make a leap in the rankings, but for the most part, this post will be populated with specialists and “use in case of emergency.”

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What a way to kick off the week!  Well, that is, if you own Rudy Gobert!  Monsieur Elbow says “No!”  And “Oui, I own l’paint!”  Absolutely monstrous 16/14/3/0/8 last night against the Pacers, hitting 7-12 from the field with only 1 TO.

So much swattage!  His 13 blocks the last 2 games now gives him a 13.2/12.8/1.2/0.7/2.6 slash on the year, hitting 65% from the field.  Oddly 65.5% from the stripe too!  Which isn’t good, but not a punt either.  BB Monster has him 20th overall in per game stats, and 12th in total.  Absolutely insane draft day value, but it really grinds my gears he’s doing this this year, and not in 2015-16!  Had him 11th and well above consensus, just one year too early – stupid FIBA wore him down.  Focus on the NBA, you Frenchy!  Oh shit, now he’s gonna hunt me with one of those elbows, NOOOOOO!!!  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy hoops action:

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Man, what a horrid week for injuries!  Highlighted by the worst injury of all: yesterday we got news that JB Gilpin – yes pickup basketball superstar – rolled his ankle in his after-work pickup game on someone else’s fat foot.  That’s right, I got a kankle!  Some rough swelling, probably out 1-2 weeks, go ahead and give me that INJ tag!  No joke, this is the second time in a row I’ve gotten a kankle before a big trip.  Now I’m gonna be gimpy walking around Spring Training games on my baseball trip starting this weekend!  Stupid kankles…

Anyway, some lower-tier basketball talents also got news of rough injuries, of course highlighted by Kevin Durant‘s MRI revealing a Grade 2 MCL strain and a tibial bone bruise.  Stupid Zaza Pachulia flying around willy-nilly!  He’s going to be “re-evaluated” in 4 weeks, so there’s no way he’s making an impact on your fantasy playoffs.  Mayyyyybe he plays in the last game or two, but I highly doubt it.  According to BB Monster, he was by far the best per-game player and total value player, so it’s an unbelievable loss.  But hey, he got you to your fantasy playoffs (hopefully) and anything can happen week-to-week in H2H leagues.  Injuries are the mother-flippin’ worst!  Here’s what else went down across the NBA last night, including one other major injury piece of news:

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Injury karma, man…  The injury gods love to play with our emotions, and they really jacked with the Bucks last night!  First with the good – The Duchess returned to the court with great fanfare!  Sooooo good to get Khris Middleton back, after it was initially thought he might miss the entire 2016-17 season.  The Duchess got 15 minutes off the bench for 5/2/2/0/1 on 2-5 shooting.

Looked pretty healthy out there!  He’s going to be on a 15-20 minute limit until the All-Star Break, but that’s in a mere week, so we could see him getting unleashed sooner than later.  Then on the flip side, a mere 2 quarters after the long-awaited season debut of Middleton, Jabari Parker suffered a scary knee injury, and is scheduled for an MRI today.  From all reports it didn’t look good (I don’t like to watch injury highlights…), and it’s the same knee he tore his ACL in his rookie year, so we’re all holding our breath here.  Would be a big shame to see him miss a lot of time after putting together this breakout campaign…  Well, let’s be all happy and pie in the sky the rest of the daily notes today!  Here’s what went down on a busy Wednesday night in fantasy basketball:

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Sorry for not posting last week everyone!  I’ve been a bit under the weather lately.  Before we kick off the updated list, we have some basketball to talk about!

As many of you may have heard, Yogi Ferrell had an absolutely epic scoring performance against the Blazers, and now his ownership is up to 50% already.  If you got him, I’d hold til he cools off, but if you didn’t, I wouldn’t worry too much.  He puts way too much leg into his jumper to maintain accuracy, and that’s partially because he’s undersized.  On top of that, he has a bit of a hitch as well.  I think he’ll end up being a solid bench spark in the league, but it wouldn’t be surprise me if this was the only time in his career that he’s 10 team relevant.  He probably will flirt with 12er relevance with injuries, but that’s not a must add.

At any rate, lets dive in!

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Austin Rivers is finally busting out, and showing the ability that we all knew he had.  It appears that biggest factors in this breakout are minutes and confidence.  Rivers is playing with swagger now, and the numbers bear that out.  Over the last two weeks he’s averaging a slash line of 17.2/2.3/4.3/0.5/0.3 with 2.2 treys, 48% FG and 80% from the stripe.  He’s a must-own while CP3 is out, and frankly, he should be a solid part of the Clippers future from here on out.  Unfortunately he’s now just over 50% owned in most leagues, so this is the last call on Rivers.  Please go get him…

Secondly, I would just like to point out what a miserable team the Sacramento Kings are.  Rudy Gay is out now, yet nobody gained any value.  How is that even possible??? Gay’s injury opened up 34 minutes per game of playing time, and the result is negligible!  Come on man!

Anywaysssssss, here are the updated wire recommendations for the week:

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