It’s Wednesday, so that means it’s time for our weekly Buy/Sell candidates. Last week, the Butler actually did it with with two strong games in a row and finally started getting to the line with 23/26 during that span. Hallelujah!!! Hope you capitalized on the buy low window, as it appears to be closing fast. This week, injuries have created interesting opportunities for some players, while the contributions from some of your aging veterans is declining. Let’s look at them in more detail…

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“You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get.” (Michael Phelps)

 

Trees don’t grow to the sky, but James Harden has made me rethink that statement. The last two weeks, he’s averaging 34.9 points, 5.3 3pts, 10.9 assists, and 2.0 steals, an unreal line and the number one spot in fantasy.

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This is a crazy time of year. Halloween just ended and now we prepare for Thanksgiving, which basically means that Christmas is almost here, which signifies the end of the year, but also means new beginnings. Whew….So much. Too much. Last night, though, everything was straightforward, as it was simply a Jrue Holiday. 34 points, five boards, and 11 dimes in 42 minutes. While the calendar year is littered with holidays (Thanks Hallmark), each one occurs once a year. That’s how we should look at Jrue’s year. We know that there will be big games littered throughout the year. Just don’t expect them to occur on a daily basis. Through 12 games, Jrue has a 19% usage rate. Anthony Davis has a 28% usage rate, while DeMarcus Cousins a 33% rate. His numbers are down across the board, except in boards. Ha! The Universe is awesome.

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Part of fantasy basketball is forming a team using the predictable stats in a way that maximizes your roto points or head-to-head category wins. Another part is getting the less predictable stats right more often than your competition, whether that means you’re benefiting from an increase in value or avoiding a decrease.

It’s early, but I thought I’d take a look at what the biggest differences are in this season’s stats versus last season’s by using the ESPN Player Rater averages (per-game).

Aaron Gordon. This season’s highest leaper.

First, a quick detour while I’m talking player rater. Here’s something it teaches us that we should keep in mind. Many people think of rankings as linear. Like, the best player is the same amount better than the 5th player as the 5th player is better than the 9th player. Not so, and we see the difference especially among the top few players when we look at their overall rating. Like with most data sets, there are outliers. That’s these fantasy stars. The top five players with their per-game ratings in each of the past two seasons:

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I love music. Fortunately, my young daughter does, too. We started her early on all sorts of stuff, but she eventually started requesting almost exclusively “girl songs.” So, I started combing through my CDs and mp3s for our daily drive to school, finding a decent amount of great female singers, mainly from the 90s. She really took to some (Gwen Stefani, Shania Twain), but not as much to others that I’d hoped she would (The Cranberries, Veruca Salt). We added in some more current stuff that she loves (Taylor Swift, Meghan Trainor), and we have a great time. Now, I know there’s a good chance this isn’t resonating with you as much as it would if I said I’d kept trying to slip in more funk (she likes “Car Wash” and “Jungle Boogie”, at least), rock (Down on the Corner is popular with her, but there are only a few songs by Disturbed that are appropriate for four year-olds!), and rap (“Tricky” was a favorite for a while, fortunately), but stick with me, please. Because, I found something very enlightening when I introduced the very, very 90s classic, “Stay”, by Lisa Loeb. Was it that we only hear what we want to? That we won’t live forever? No, it’s this powerful line:

“You said you caught me ’cause you want me, and one day you’ll let me go. You try to give away a keeper, or keep me ’cause you know you’re just so scared to lose.”

It’s like a record scratch every time I hear that line. YOU TRY TO GIVE AWAY A KEEPER??? She was brilliantly pointing out that YOU DON’T JUST GIVE AWAY A KEEPER! But at the same time, you don’t keep a player only because you’re scared to lose! Such wisdom. For decades, I swear I didn’t know that lovely song was about fantasy basketball keeper leagues.

Lisa Loeb. Fantasy Oracle.

While we’re still quite a few games away from a large enough sample of current season stats to really trust them, let’s talk keeper/dynasty strategy (dynasty being a league in which you keep a large amount of your team for next season). I thought I’d share some tips and have some fun looking back at what we thought of past rookies so that we don’t get overly excited about these 19 year-olds that we’re currently trusting to save our teams.

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Phoenix is on a self-imposed downhill slide, and Eric Bledsoe won’t have any of it.

Many are convinced that the firing of Earl Watson is in response to the soon-to-be infamous “I dont wanna be here” tweet by Bledsoe—that and, in a bigger part, because the Suns are having one, if not the most, horrendous start to a NBA season– losing by an average of 30.7 points in their first three games.  And yet, even with an assurance from Eric that he didn’t mean what he said, General Manager Ryan McDonough looks determined to trade him away for more, let’s say, programmable pieces and embrace, as if he still does not, the rebuilding process in Phoenix.

Who would’ve thought that it’d be tweet while in a hair salon that would finally do it for Eric Bledsoe? He’s been wanting a trade before the season started and now, at least according to McDonough, he’ll finally get his wish. Will it be a contender who’ll get him, or is the Suns management bitter enough to exile him to just another pigsty of a team? Well, as long as the deal would benefit them, I think they have the luxury to not care.

In no particular order, here are five takes on where Eric Bledsoe could be days from now.

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One of the reasons I prefer fantasy basketball to fantasy football is that in basketball it is much less likely to have your entire season derailed by an injury. That being said, opening night of the 2017-18 NBA season twisted my world view right along with Gordon Hayward’s ankle. Ouch!

It is when these things happen that I am reminded of two famous quotes: “Knowledge is power,” which I saw on a bumper sticker, and “Chaos is a ladder,” words spoken by the scheming Littlefinger in Season 1 of Game of Thrones. An injury can open the door for this year’s waiver wire MVP or at least offer a younger player an opportunity to get more minutes and become fantasy relevant. In order to take advantage you must not only act quickly, but you need to know which players will benefit the most, and that my friend is not easy.

So without further ado, here are the major injuries lingering around the NBA, some suggestions for which replacements to target, and whether you should stash, drop, or use an I.R. spot (if your league allows it):

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How did you read the title to this post? Was it, “Oh, What a Night!” or was it, “Oh, What a Night…” because we got both last night. The NBA was finally back after a crazy offseason and provided matchups that had us all salivating: Boston vs Cleveland and Houston vs Golden State. Hot diggidy! Unfortunately, the story of the night was the gruesome injury to Gordon Hayward. Last night was finally having great sex with the “crush.” Not having to do the walk of shame. Making it to the morning. Even going out to the local joint for breakast. Then…..the “crush” goes Exorcist and pukes all over your food, clothes, and the table….with some chunks causing collatoral damage to the innocent byeaters. Get well soon Hayward. Our thoughts are with you. Since this is a fantasy website, we have to get into the impact of injury. The Celtics started the game with Kyrie Irving at PG, Gordon Hayward at SG, Jaylen Brown at SF, Jayson Tatum at PF, and Al Horford at C. With Marcus Morris injured, I’d imagine that they continue to play small ball with Tatum at PF, Brown at SF, and Marcus Smart at SG. Terry Rozier would receive elevated minutes backing up both Kyrie and Smart.

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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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