Collin Sexton, the 8th overall pick of the Cavs in the 2018 NBA Draft, started the season off slowly. He came off the bench the first 10 games of the season, averaging 23 minutes, 10.5 points, and shooting 40% from the field. He was inserted into the starting lineup for game number 11 and has held onto that role all season. There were ups and downs, as the shooting efficiency was poor and the contributions in the other categories were minimal. For fantasy, he was a top 250 player. Something has clicked, though.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
25 2 3 0 0 4 4/7 10/18 1/1

Sexton has now scored at least 20 points in seven straight games. He’s been a top 35 player over that span. Maybe he ate a blue pill or something. Anyways, you know the warning: call a doctor if erection last longer than 4 hours. Well, Sexton has been going on for much longer than that and he’s in straight DGAF mode right now, averaging over 17 shots per game. Here’s the thing, though. He’s shooting 56% from the field. He’s not going to be able to maintain that efficiency forever. And when that comes down, you’ll be holding a limp biscuit because Sexton doesn’t contribute much in the other categories. Very miminal contributions in the D cats and around 3 boards and dimes each. Enjoy the hot streak, but this Sexton will not last forever.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

As the season winds down and we jockey for position in roto leagues or load up on categories in the head-to-head playoffs, it’s imperative that we track down some category specialists to get us over the top. And with so many new fantasy contributors due to injury or tanking, the specialists aren’t necessarily the same old names. Fortunately, that makes some of them available in most leagues.

Let’s get right to it. Looking at per-game numbers for the last month, which takes us back to the trade deadline, here are the best likely-available guys to grab. Note that I skipped turnovers. Since those are so sporadic, I’d just go with the season-long numbers there. For head-to-head matchups, you might even be able to just sit a few players at the end of the week that can’t help you in any other categories to win turnovers.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The All-Star Break means three more weeks, or 2.5 more matchups, until the head-to-head playoffs begin in most leagues. And even for Roto-Leaguers, we’re already 70% of the way through the season. At this point, you know your teams. Or, at least you can if you take a few minutes to examine them. Odds are that there are stat categories that hardly matter to you by now. Once again, that can be because of a punt strategy or simply because of the way your team and league shook out. For example, though I didn’t intend to punt any categories this season, I ended up dead last in FG% in a roto league with no chance of catching up. That category doesn’t mean anything to me now, so I can ignore it. Similarly, in the head-to-head Razzball Experts League, I have little chance to win assists in any given week. I could try to make that up or I could double down and load up on the other categories. I have a feeling your teams may have also lost some categories early. Or maybe more likely, you have a team that just dominates a category or two to the point that you can ignore it and still win. And even if you don’t find yourself far out in front or way behind in any categories, there are likely a few roto stats where you’re too far away from the teams above and below you to worry about them.

So, today it’s time to check up on who might be available and extra-valuable to YOUR team. We’re not just looking at traditional hot waiver wire pickups. Some of them would apply, but glance through this list after you know what stats you can safely ignore, and see if somebody’s right for you. Consider using the opposite train of thought when deciding who to drop, too. You’re lapping the competition in rebounds? You may want to drop an end-of-the-roster big instead of a worse overall player.

You’ll see the top players I recommend that are available in at least one-third of Yahoo leagues here, along with their 8-category and 9-cateogry punt rankings that are based on the per-game performances of the past 60 days (through 2/12) according to Basketball Monster.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I was never a huge fan of D’Angelo Russell when he was a Laker. The shooting efficiency was poor, the D was porous, and the decision-making and decisiveness were lacking. It was as if DLoading was a picture loading back in the dial-up internet days; one line of pixels at a time. At least now the buffering just shows a ring with a percentage number. Anyways, Russell was a young pup back then. Only 19 and 20 years old. Now, he’s a grizzled, 22-year-old veteran. I kid, but he’s really developed and improved his game, to the point where he’s leading his team to victory over one of the top teams in the NBA.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
27 6 11 0 0 3 6/9 10/23 1/1

In his first three years in the league, Russell was a 41% shooter from the field and never topped 80% from the line. Now, he’s a 43% shooter from the field and 81% from the line. He’s averaging a tick under 20 points per game, 2.7 tres, 3.7 boards, 6.4 dimes, and 1.1 steals. He’s increased both the tres and dimes by almost 1 per game. In addition, he’s jacking up over 17 shots per game, has a usage rate north of 30, and is a top 50 player on the season for fantasy. When Caris LeVert returns from injury, things could change and Russell could cede some usage, but Russell will continue being a vital part of this Nets team. All the pixels have been revealed and the picture is a glorious one.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

While perusing the standings the other day, I was surprised to see we’re already past the half-way mark of the NBA season. And for those in head-to-head leagues, that means we’re almost 2/3rds of the way through the fantasy regular season! It’s time to take stock of our team(s) and see where injuries, pick-ups, and dropped busts have left us situated. For example, half my starters this week on one team have been free agent pickups. I have some idea of my team’s strengths and weaknesses, but it’s a vastly different group than what I started with. Once we identify our short-comings, it’s as simple as grabbing a couple centers for a pair of guards to make up ground in boards and blocks, right? Maybe. But there are constraints that might make it more complicated than that. You may be losing stats you need by doing that and you may not be able to fit two extra centers into your lineup, anyway.

This week I’d like to bring up a concept many of you are probably familiar with, but often goes forgotten: Out-of-position stats. What if you’re low in rebounds, but you don’t have room to add/start a center? Well, you could trade a traditional point guard (assuming you were set with PG stats) for Dejounte Murray (9.5 rebounds per 36 minutes last season, and yes, by the way, I’m choosing an alternate universe in which he’s healthy for this hypothetical situation). Considering trading for or picking up players that get atypical stats for their position can make a ton of sense for a lot of reasons. Maybe you lost a big assist guy like John Wall or your dominant rebounder in Clint Capela. Maybe you’ve got another out-of-position stats guy that hurts you because of what he lacks (Dejounte’s assists and three-pointers, for example). Also, when you have out-of-position stats, like say Nikola Mirotic’s 3s, you can afford to have additional atypical players that others in your league might devalue, like Elfrid Payton, a guard that doesn’t hit many threes. Get creative and check out some of the players I’ve listed below.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I don’t care. I don’t care. I don’t care. I’m not supposed to write about the same player in the lede. I’m supposed to change it up and give others a chance. I’m all about equal opportunity but I ain’t no commie. I don’t care. I don’t care. I don’t care. Because what James Harden is doing right now, I’d be doing a disservice if I didn’t make him the lede every single night. Since December 13th, 2018, Harden has played 18 games. Over that span, he’s AVERAGING 42 points per game. There’s been three 50-burgers and eight games with at least 40. He hasn’t scored less than 32 points. W. T. F…..He’s AVERAGED 38.7 minutes and had a usage rate of 43.4%!!! The true shooting percentage has been 62% while the assist percentage has been 48.5%! W. T. F….W. T. F…..W. T. F!!!! Last night, in an overtime loss, Harden was ridonkulous:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
58 10 6 1 1 4 5/19 16/34 21/23

He scored 57 the prior night! I’ll never forget 2003 Kobe when he went nine straight games scoring at least 40 points. That was sick. This is…..illmatic. Shout out to Nas.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Back in 2008, iHeartRadio and SiriusXM changed the landscape of radio. Listeners could customize their listening experience, had access to out-of-market stations, and were given a cornucopia of options (podcasts, news, sports, and channels for specific genres). Options equal versatility which enhances a product. That concept isn’t just for the radio world, though, as it has become the defining characteristic of the modern day, positionless basketball that has taken root. Last night, Josh Hart was a perfect example:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
14 12 6 5 0 2 1/5 5/13 3/3

Hart played a team-high 44 minutes. At 6′ 5″ and 215 pounds, Hart can play the 1, 2, or 3. He’s strong enough to handle himself down on the block, but possesses the agility to guard on the perimeter. He does get burned from time to time, but more often than not plays sound fundamental defense. Hart can shoot from beyond the arc or finish strong at the rim. He’s a willing passer and is able to rack up steals. Now, since LeBron James went down with an injury, Hart has been given an opportunity and has not disappointed. He’s been a top 50 player and has averaged 34.6 minutes, 12.4 points, 1.8 threeecolas, 6.8 boards, 2.1 dimes, 2.1 steals, and 0.6 blocks. The only bugaboo has been the 38% shooting from the field. When LeBron does return, Hart will likely shift back to the bench and lose 7-9 minutes of run per game. With that said, because of his versatility, he will still contribute across the board and provide top 125-ish numbers.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

In a galaxy far, far away, Anakin Skywalker designed and created a droid that would assist others in translation. It’s name was C3PO. In a land and time that seems so far away, Robin and Charles Paul created a child that would eventually assist others in getting buckets. His name was Chris Paul, immediately nicknamed CP3. C3PO played a pivotal role in the Star Wars franchise, as it served under many of the main protagonists. CP3 also played a crucial role in the history of the NBA: trade to the Lakers which got nixed and hamstring injury in Game 5 of the 2018 Western Conference Finals with the Rockets up 3-2. It was CP3 NO! then and CP3 NO! last night, as he suffered another hamstring injury in the second quarter and was not able to return. It’s likely that he will miss an extended period of time so, while Eric Gordon, Gerald Green, Brandon Knight, and Daniel House will likely pick up more minutes, when Paul has missed time this season, Michael Carter-Williams has seen a +4.5% usage bump. The main beneficiary of CP3 NO!, though, will be James Harden, who sees a 5% usage bump increase to a whopping 45.5% usage rate! Good for Harden owners. For Paul owners? CP3 NO!

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I’m going to keep it pretty simple this week. I’d like to check in on category leaders to help figure out who the best specialists might be this season. There’s a lot of value sitting out in the free agent pool just waiting for you to stream it. Adding and rotating through these category specialists applies in roto leagues when you notice individual categories in which you stand to gain a few points. But, this information will probably help the most in head-to-head leagues where you should be swapping out at least a couple players each week (assuming you can) to customize and maximize your stats in a way that nets you the most category wins against your opponent.

“So… you’re just pasting an NBA stat leaders’ page?” Nope. I’m only going to feature players rostered in less than 50% of Yahoo leagues. Italicized players are owned in less than 25%. For shooting percentages, I’m using Basketball Monster’s values that are weighted for volume. Next week, I’ll do sorta the opposite and list the punt specialists (value rankings with each individual category removed), as well as the rankings according to some other helpful stat combinations. I’ll leave out the flukey or injured players to save you some time here, as well.

Please, blog, may I have some more?