I’m going to take a break from numbers this week. A break from Trey Burke, Quinn Cook, and Denzel Valentine impacting fantasy playoff teams infinitely more than Steph Curry, Demarcus Cousins, and Kawhi Leonard. A break from dealing with players on tanking teams sitting indefinitely every time someone steps on their toe, or from players on playoff teams resting without notice. Heck, a break from the NCAA tournament that only has one projected lottery pick left to watch.

This is probably going to most interest dynasty and keeper league players, but those already itching to rank and project players for next season will find this intriguing, too. Today, I’m going to look at who this summer’s free agents are. That period from the draft (draft lottery only 47 days away!) through the first week of free agency is probably my favorite on the NBA calendar, since about a third of the league seems to change teams. So many new dynamics to consider for so many teams. The impact on fantasy is huge, too. I’m definitely no insider with information to help predict who’s going where, but I do find it helpful to know whose value is likely to remain the same and whose has a wide range of outcomes. The latter are often good targets if you need to get risky to improve your keeper/dynasty team over the summer. Do you have a Terry Rozier type that would gain a ton of value if he moved on to a starting role? Is he free to do so? Also, remember to think of which teammates might be affected by these players should they change teams. For example, are the players blocking Mario Hezojna’s path to more minutes likely to get out of his way? Then again, might LeBron, PG13, and CP3 all be coming to your player’s team to squash his usage? Here are the most fantasy relevant free agents. Wow, this summer could be a big one.

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The snake, The rat, The cat, The dog

How you gonna see them if you living in the fog?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_4tr_-OznU

Ah, this is the classic hip hop that I love. DMX is one of my favorite rappers, mainly because everything he raps about is probably true. He made three songs about Damien, so I assume he actually has a demon that follows him around and tells him to do bad things in order to get money and fame. I mean the man did like 12 bids…Despite that, he’s one of the most legendary rappers of all time, and I couldn’t help but think of this song after watching Lillard absolutely demolish the Kings last night. Damian Lillard a.k.a. The Omen, stole the headlines last night, going 8-50-1-6-3-0-2 in only 29 minutes, as the Blazers blew out the Kings 118-100.  He shot 16-of-26 and had 10-for-10 FTs. ”It’s Dark and Hell is Hot” and here’s what else went down in fantasy hoops last night:

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I was 8 or 9 years old when I, like nearly all other boys I knew of similar age, started seriously collecting baseball cards. This beautiful card was to blame for a lot of the shared madness.

A fun, young player that wears his hat backward and is often featured in my Sports Illustrated for Kids magazines? And, what? A rookie card is worth more money? And one of his rookie cards will be in a set by a new company with much higher quality cards so that it’ll be worth a lot of money (for an 8 year-old)? I must have this glossy picture of Ken Griffey Jr.

Thanks to my parents and some friends that were as crazy about cards as I was, in probably five years I had many thousands of cards and hundreds of Griffeys. I subscribed to Beckett Baseball Card Monthly all along, and I’d track my most expensive cards month-by-month on a primitive Microsoft Works, I think, creating line graphs to show how rich I was becoming with my handful of cards worth over $20 apiece! Anyway, I sort of still do the same thing with my fantasy players. I’ll track rankings when they come out weekly, updating both season-long and dynasty when I really have the time. It’s a great way to know the market value of your players. You might also benefit from tracking player rater data, since it’s what’s actually happened instead of a prediction of what might happen. Though, a rest-of-season rankings projection does take the season data into account, as well as prior seasons and facts about past or present injuries to the player or his teammates. There’s value in paying attention to both, of course.

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Somehow, we’re already halfway through the NBA season. You know your team(s). The only major unknowns left are who else will get hurt, who will get shut down, and who will get a big value increase due to those injuries and the shutting down of said teammates. Aside from trying to grab some young guys that might get some extra run down the stretch, what else can you do to increase your odds of winning at this point? Well, staying active and streaming hot players will work wonders. But beyond that, I suggest checking out your team’s standing in each of what I’ll call the forgotten stats. Even the most astute fantasy player is going to be drawn to points, rebounds, assists, and threes out of habit and because of the way that we’re most often presented with stats.

I’m going to update you on the leaders in the boring and unsexy categories of field goal percentage, free throw percentage, steals, and blocks (in addition to FG% + FT% and steals + blocks). I’m sure some of you might be much more focused on the % categories than I just mentioned, but I think most players treat them as an afterthought. So, since others are more likely to ignore these forgotten stats, take advantage of that and focus on them if you can stand to gain points there. I think you’ll find that these categories are often led by some lesser names that can be had more cheaply than the points/rebounds/assists stars. Many are even available in most leagues.

Here are your most effective players in order of Basketball Monster’s per-game values (percentages are weighted) by category or combined categories through 1/9.

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Kris Dunn- 4-32-2-9-4-0-4. Four steals last night and is second in the league in steals per game behind Paul George. If it wasn’t for his poor FT%, he’d be a top 40 player in fantasy. That being said, the Bulls have been way ahead of schedule, especially since Mirotic has returned. I doubt they’ll make any noise in the East this year, but they have some young pieces in place to do so in the near future.  Zach LaVine’s imminent return may put a damper on Dunn’s numbers, but you have to think he’ll maintain a decent role through the end of the season.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw in fantasy hoops last night:

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Gary Harris sounds like the name of your mailman. And much like your mailman, he delivers without anyone really noticing. Gary Harris is a top fifty player, but for some reason you never see his name in the fantasy headlines, until now. Gary deserves our love. Gary deserves our respect. Gary deserves a nickname. I want to see your Gary Harris nickname suggestions in the comments. I will throw a few out there and see if any stick (we cannot use The Mailman, obviously): Gary Harris Buehler’s Day Off, Gary Harris Wheel, Gary Sexual Harrisment, Gary Harrison (the long lost Harrison triplet), Gary Harristanbul Not Constantinople…

At this point you are probably asking yourself, “Self, has Brent even told us why Gary Harris is the lead of this recap? And I better take a second shower since I had to poop right after my first one.”

Yeah, I hate that too! Anyway, here’s the slash:  3/36/4/3/2/0 on 14-of-17 shooting and 5-for-5 from the line.

Besides Gary “TBD” Harris, here is what else I saw last night:

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The Player Rater is a tool to evaluate the performance of a player with only one number. This is not a perfect tool and will not guarantee victory in fantasy, but this is useful to help improve and evaluate your team.

In each category of scoring, a number is calculated to represent the average total in that category. If a player has the average, his rating in that category is 0.00. The numbers represent how much a player is above or below the average.

If the rating is positive, that player is an above-average fantasy player in that category. If the rating is negative that player is below-average. The sum of all ratings in each category gives us a number (the PR), and then we rank the players accordingly.

I have not included turnovers, as the evaluation in PR is very controversial in my opinion, so if you’re in a league with turnovers, you must keep in mind this.

If you have any question let me know.

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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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The Chosen One showed up last night in Washington to restore balance to The Force (The NBA). LeBron is still awaiting the return of his Padawan, Isaiah Thomas, and he made the Wizards look like Younglings in that scene where Anakin massacres all the Younglings. Yeah, I watched some Episode III earlier in the week…Anyway, last night I caught a bit of the NBA action and this is what I saw:

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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:

Image result for it's alive

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