In this life, do-overs are rare. The opportunity to go back and change the mistakes of the past is reserved for science fiction plots or melancholy discussions over a pint in dimly-lit watering holes. But over this last week, I was presented with an opportunity to do just that – to go back with the knowledge of hindsight and fix where I failed, to atone, to set things right. I had screwed up once and now I was gifted a second chance. Please, I told myself, don’t blow it again. 

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Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week 15!  The objective of this post is to help you identify the best available streaming options to win your head-to-head matchups.

Last week’s recommendations held up reasonably well, but it appears I cursed Kelly Olynyk and Alex Caruso by giving them both a casual mention in the intro.  After my vote of confidence, the cosmos promptly conspired against me to Grayson Allen Caruso’s wrist and infect Olynyk with COVID-19.

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Down goes Horford. We all lamented at the recent news of Al Horford getting shut down for the rest of the season, but it came as no surprise to some who have been playing fantasy basketball for going on two decades. The Oklahoma City Thunder have zero incentive to attempt to win basketball games as they try to squeeze the most value of their million draft picks.

The reality of this season is that COVID-19 continues to screw everything up. The second half of the season for every single NBA team this season is BRUTAL, with things like three games in four nights, and multiple back-to-backs. We are about to see a bunch of people sit out games they may have otherwise played.

In that same vein, we will likely see more shutdowns this season than ever before, as teams decide that playing for that playoff play-in isn’t as important as developing pieces for the future. We saw it with Al Horford, and we will see it again with other players.

But who will they be? Here is my best speculation:


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Time to give you a peek into the mind of Son. Many, many years ago, I used to puff the weed, eat the shrooms, and smoke way too many cigs. When in this state of mind, I’d often contemplate the concept of fate and free will, and try to break it down. If I walked down the street and placed my right foot here, then left there, was that preordained, or was I in complete control? If I was meant to be with a woman, would said woman knock on my door if I never left? After way too many times contemplating this, I realized that if you want something in life, you have to go out and get it. With that said, sometimes when you’re out roaming the earth, the universe comes and slaps you in the face. Every night, when I write the recap, I search for who is worthy to be the lede. Last night, there was no searching as it was apparent that I Otto make Porter the lede.

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The NBA season may only be 72 games this season, but it’s still going to be a long and grueling slugfest regardless. The players we consider locks for value now will be the drops of tomorrow, and the undrafted players will suddenly become league-winners overnight.

But how does that happen?

Injuries are an unfortunate part of the game. Lineup shifts are a real thing too as people slide into and out of minutes. A lot of that is hard to predict but likely trade candidates, on the other hand, are less difficult to forecast.

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I told you that we won’t stop. We keep going, and going, and going like the Energizer bunny. Here is the next iteration of projections/rankings. If you missed previous editions, here you go:

Top 10
Top 25
Top 50

Before I begin…


I shouldn’t even name them rankings, as they are simply projections, but the people want rankings so here they are. As for my process, I went to each team and tried to figure out their rotations with minutes distributions as best I could. Then I went to each player and projected the per minute stats for each player. So, yes, there is subjectivity in the process. I’m also still refining my process and trying to get better with each iteration. With all the players in the overall pool, I then took the z-score for each category and added up those numbers to produce an overall value number. For free throw and field goal percentage, I weighted them for volume.

So, where a player lands in the rankings doesn’t mean that I would draft said player there. It simply gives a macro view of a player’s overall value.

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You wanted them. You needed them. You asked for them. You begged for them. Nothing of the aforementioned happened, but my Top 155 projections for roto leagues are here for another year! If you need another reason not to trust me with these projections, check this review of last year’s projections for a recap of their accuracy.

As per usual, the player’s value taken into account is their per game value, so the order of the projections needs to be looked at with a critical eye. That means that, although Chris Paul is above Jrue Holiday in per game value, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend drafting him there, as his potential stay in Oklahoma will reduce his total played games this season.

Finally, before we dive into the numbers, you can check the methodology behind the calculation of the player values here .

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When I was a preteen, I remember a super rare baseball card of Cal Ripken’s brother, Billy Ripken. The normal card had him holding a baseball bat without anything worth noting on the card. But there were a few prints of an original that showed where the goofball Billy decided to scribble a curse word that was gold to 12-year-old baseball card collectors. There were only a few copies of this card and I was lucky enough to find one in a fresh pack. It was so rare, that I managed to sell it to a classmate for $50, which I then wasted on more baseball cards. Sometimes an amazingly rare thing happens and you just have to enjoy the moment. Marcin Gortat managed to turn back the clock and post this out-of-nowhere gem on the Suns.

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
8/10 2/2 NA 18 13 1 0 1 2

Now, this was unexpected. Gortat has been a complete nonfactor this season, but managed a gem of a game. I wouldn’t expect a repeat any time soon, but it’s nice to be able to talk about the Polish Hammer once again.

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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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Last night was interesting because we had some surprise performances and inefficient scoring. One performance stood out, though. Both in statistics and in how he just took over the game. Remember on opening night when everyone was freaking out about Jayson Tatum? Kyrie Irving was being called washed up and there were a lot of reactionaries out there saying that this was now Tatum’s team. That take proved to be dumb. Watching Irving and Kawhi Leonard battle in an overtime affair was a pleasure to watch. Last night’s game became a classic and will help build anticipation for a potential showdown in the playoffs.

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
18/26 4/6 3/6 43 2 11 3 1 3

Irving has been electric this season and was the sixth-ranked player in fantasy heading into last night’s game. He ended with a double-double (43 points and 11 assists). Add in three 3’s and three steals and you have an incredibly dynamic performance. The icing on the cake was the super efficiency on high volume. Boston is his team and they go as he does. For fantasy teams that roster Kyrie, your team goes as far as he can lead you, which is looking pretty far.

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Tonight was clearly defined by the insane performances by some of the leagues best big men. Crazy points, boards, and stocks were being earned all night long. Joel Embiid beat up on Charlotte’s inferior front line, driving to the bucket, getting insane put-back dunks, and swatting shots into oblivion. One of the best examples of his diverse skillset showed him bring the ball up across half court and then orchestrate a perfect give-and-go that led to an Embiid statement dunk. To top things off, he showed his range by hitting the tying 3-point shot near the end of regulation. He’s just ridiculous.

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
11/18 19/22 1/2 42 18 4 0 4 3

This was an MVP performance from the big man. He must have been shaken by that Sabonis dunk last night, as he came out and crushed. How many other big men can hit 19/22 free throws in practice, let alone in a tightly contested game? The boards were huge, as were the blocks. He’s really starting to heat up, so ride him if you got him.

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So, we’re three weeks into another joyous fantasy basketball season. The hot waiver pick-ups are gone or have fizzled out. Hope you got the ones with lasting value. Pretty soon, the sample sizes will be large enough to know that what we’re seeing is more or less legit. For now, there’s still a lot of regressing to the mean yet to come. Hot and slow starts will mostly fade away, and the players will be themselves over the long haul. Not everyone, as plenty of players take significant leaps or stumbles for the entire season, whether it has to do with a change of scenery, personnel, and/or usage. It can be tough to figure out whose rebounds and steals changes, for example, will stick. However, we can trust with a good amount of confidence that most players shooting percentages will end up relatively close to their previous numbers. And, this early in the season, when, say, Serge Ibaka goes 15-for-17 and then 8-for-8, percentages can be way out of line and skew value if you’re looking at rankings in a trade scenario.

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