I know people are supposed to learn from their mistakes, reflect on past decisions, and try to improve. Remember last year, when Jahlil Okafor was traded to the Brooklyn Nets and I was quick to label him “must-own” and feature him as the main Buy suggestion? I hope you don’t, as we all know how that worked out. I hope I’m not replicating the same mistake by suggesting him again today, due to Antony Davis’ latest injury. More discussion on him coming up on him on his respective blurb. I just hope that with this introduction I can finally combat my Achilles heel, my kryptonite, this man right here…

Taking a look at last week’s suggestions, Victor Oladipo is gaining some momentum again after a 21 point performance, but the buy-low window is still there. Alec Burks and Richaun Holmes were not helpful for different reasons, as the former flat out underperformed while the latter got injured. Finally, Donovan Mitchell continued his scoring tear, but Ricky Rubio has returned so this might be the last chance to sell really high on him. Special shout-out to Corey Brewer who played a team-high 32 minutes against the Rockets and did everything in his power to annoy James Harden with his “unorthodox” defense…

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I’m back after a one-week break due to unavoidable obligations (I know, boring real-life) and a lot happened while I was gone in the fantastic world of the NBA. Giannis and James Harden are literally going head-to-head for the MVP award, the Lakers are in a disarray without Lebron, but the most important news report surfaced yesterday. The Philadelphia 76ers are signing the one, the only, the real fantasy king and Son’s favorite player of this century, Corey Brewer!!

Get up from your chair at work, from your bed, or from your bathroom and run to pick up the player that was projected 91st this summer. Sorry Son, I had to do it. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, acquaint yourselves to our inside joke by searching for the 91st ranked player here and taking a look at the comments…

The only upside to not publishing an article last week is that my suggestions can be judged on a two-week basis, which is a markedly larger sample size, so let’s quickly go through them. Both Tomas Satoransky and Thomas Bryant had great performances and will continue to have solid value without John Wall around. The same cannot be said for Willy Hernangomez, who has so far failed to capitalize on his increased opportunity and is thus a tough hold in standard leagues. But to compensate for this bad suggestion and, if you allow me to toot my own horn, both Derrick White and Austin Rivers have outperformed expectations and possibly have won some matchups with their performance during the last two weeks. Finally, it’s been a rollercoaster ride with Luke Kornet, as he had three awesome games and three bad one. Enes Kanter missed some time but Mitchell Robinson’s potential return could complicate things for Luke. I will have the pleasure to watch him in all his awkwardness live in the London game, so you will have a first-hand report of his performance next week.

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First of all, I want to wish all of you a happy new year with peace, health, and happiness! May 2019 also bring fantasy glory to all your teams. This week was a bit frantic in terms of players for the Buy column, with many injuries creating opportunities, so you will notice a bigger number of proposed players than normal. However, as per usual, let’s first take a look at last week’s suggestions in order to evaluate their performance.

Jeff Green proved to be a productive streamer last week, and may have some more value to give, but watch out for the imminent return of Otto Porter Jr. Marcus Smart was his usual self, racking up steals and missing shots. You know what you are getting out of him, while Javale McGee’s return erased Ivica Zubac, who can be safely dropped. It’s funny that it’s 2019 and I wrote a sentence about McGee returning and making such an impact in fantasy basketball.

Finally, both Dennis Schroder and Terrence Ross continue to be in cold shooting streaks and thus, continue to be high on my Sell list.

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The Division of the Up and Comers
The Atlantic Division consists of up-and-coming teams, with the Toronto Raptors at the top of the league in wins, yet they are still learning how to incorporate Kawhi Leonard into their mix.  The Sixers are also integrating a new player in Jimmy Butler.  Boston struggled with offensive effectiveness early on, but they have started to figure things out, including an overtime thriller on Christmas against the 76ers.   The Nets have done well, winning nine of their last 10 games, a streak of success not seen in Brooklyn in many a day.  The Knicks, though, are going in the opposite direction, as they have lost nine of their last 10, but are still considered in the up and coming conversation because they have a stable of young players gaining valuable experience while their Latvian superstar, Kristaps Porzingis, mends.

Many feel the NBA season really doesn’t start until Christmas, as teams have now played about a third of the season with the strengths and weaknesses of each being exposed.  In addition, players are available as trade targets and teams that look to be lottery participants will begin to look toward the future and acquire draft assets. 

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You are all pretty familiar with the reliable rookies this year and are playing them every night – Luka, Trae, JJJ, and crew.  This week I’d like to showcase some of the other rookies who have considerably less hype and perhaps not any useful results yet either.  Even mining the forgotten talents of the draft turns up some good players, which again speaks to the strength of this year’s class.

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For this week’s article, I’m going to break down the rookies into 1st/2nd/3rd teams based on their performances over roughly the first third of the season. This is solely my own opinion, mostly based on statistical performance but also some other intangibles thrown in there. Feel free to drop your own teams in the comments! Let’s go!

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This season of 50-point games and JaVale McGee relevance is already about 25% complete. How are your teams looking? We should have a pretty good picture of what we can expect from our lineups and most players, so where can we go from here? Let’s get creative. I’ve been talking about how the practice of ignoring categories that aren’t affecting us can give us an advantage (even if we weren’t trying to punt categories), as it presents a market tilted in our favor. Shaking up the values of players and customizing them to our teams is a great way to make some effective trades. Trades that are more likely to get accepted, because they can more easily be win/win deals. Today, I’m going to give a variety of lists of multi-category “punts” to help identify targets that often go undervalued, in addition to those that complement punting teams best.

I’ve gone on and on about how most categories get overlooked. That’s something that can give savvy managers an advantage. The masses, if they aren’t looking closely at player raters and rankings, may essentially be “punting” the ignored categories like steals, for example. As I often mention, I truly think most fantasy managers subconsciously weigh points, rebounds, and assists more heavily than the other stats. It’s understandable, as that’s how most media outlets report stats, but it’s ridiculous to do so in fantasy, as all categories are created equal.

So, first up, here’s a list of some startable players with the biggest jumps in 9-cat per-game value (per Basketball Monster through 11/25) when we ignore Points, Rebounds, and Assists. These 6-category rankings should give us the players that are most undervalued, especially by casual fantasy players. Think of them as the thinking-man’s fantasy all-stars, fittingly led by it’s perpetual mascot.

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I recently met a conspiracy theorist. He seemed so proud and satisfied that he had the inside scoop on so many topics (“You know what’s going on in Cuba, don’t you?”), while the rest of us only know what the government wants us to know. Well, I went down a rabbit hole to which he directed me just for kicks. Wow, there are a lot of crazies out there trying to obtain knowledge that no one else has, regardless of how insane it is. Shout out to Kyrie.

I realized, though, that I can relate. At least when it comes to fantasy basketball. There’s certainly a draw to uncovering a conspiracy and being part of only a small group of people that feels wiser than everyone else. Or, more relatably, being the only person to know a secret. This is how I felt the first time I manipulated a fantasy bball player rater. I was finally confident enough in my Excel skills to subtract categorical columns for punt rankings. I had decided to go all-in on a punt free throw percentage 8-category Roto dynasty team. Removing the FT% category dramatically changes the value of many players. I realized that I could trade players for much more than they were worth to me while acquiring players for much less than they were worth to me. Obviously, the downside was taking last place in a category. But since I was near the bottom in FT% anyway, I only lost maybe 2 points there while gaining something like 7 or 8 total points combined in other categories. The problem in a league like that is that I would’ve needed to get first in nearly every other category to win it all. I peaked at second place.

Yeah, yeah, you’re aware of the simplest of punt strategies. I know. But, aside from overrating rookies in dynasty drafts, this is really what I’m most passionate about: the concept of ignoring categories that aren’t going to help or hurt you.

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Man…I really feel for Markelle Fultz. He was the #24 recruit out of high school and received scholarships from over 20 colleges, participated in the McDonald’s All-American Game, was a member of the Team USA Under-18 squad, First-Team All-Pac-12 and Third-Team All-American in college, and was selected with the first overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. On top of the world, as they say, at the tender age of 19 years old. But then the yips surfaced. “The condition occurs suddenly and without apparent explanation…It is poorly understood and has no known treatment or therapy. Athletes affected by the yips sometimes recover their ability, which may require a change in technique. Many are forced to abandon their sport at the highest level.” The most well-known athletes to succumb to the yips are Chuck Knoblauch, Nick Anderson, Mike Vanderjagt, and Rick Ankiel. Is Fultz about to join them?

It’s looking likely, as TheAthletic wrote an article yesterday saying that Fultz is dealing with wrist and shoulder issues AND would prefer to move to another team. I’ve been a mental midget at times in my life and have dealt with depression as well, so I empathize but understand some of the realities of the shituation. I was able to hunker down in my cave and deal with my demons, but he’s in the public sphere with everyone all up in his business. The pressure and attention must be debilitating. I feel for you Fultz and wish the best.

This is a fantasy website, though, so I must address the implications from a fantasy perspective. The Fultz stops here. Do not use the Fultz, as the issues seems to be mental. He took an entire season off to deal with it, yet it’s only gotten worse. If he’s having trouble with this, imagine Draymond Green yapping about the yips in his ear. He’s a drop in most formats. I guess in the deepest of leagues, you could stash him as a lottery ticket, but that’s about it.

Did the Boston Celtics sabotage him? I guess the most important thing to take away from all of this is that one should always be cynical when a team is willing to pass on the consensus number one overall pick in the draft.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Consistency has been a hallmark for the career of LeBron James. Year in and year out, you could Sharpie him in for 27 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. Within that consistency bubble, though, are different shades of LeBron. There’s “Deferential” LeBron, who props up his teammates and lets them shine. There’s “We’ve Lost How Many Games?” LeBron, who could probably stop a flower from blooming. There’s “Playoff” LeBron, but the shade of LeBron that I want to discuss is “You Forgetting About Me” LeBron, which is my favorite because he announces it with the force of Thor’s hammer screaming to the ground. It all started two games ago against the Portland Trail Blazers. Entering that game, LeBron was averaging 26.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 7.1 assists. Yawn, but then he exploded for 44/10/3. Last night….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
51 8 3 2 1 2 6/8 19/31 7/10

….A fifty-burger usually brings out the cops, but not for LeBron. It’s just another shade. Beep. Boop. Bop. The Stocktonator knows all the different shades, as it had LeBron as the #1 player yesterday. For the season, LeBron is the #4 player according to Basketball Monster. Long live the King!

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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