Slipping by is good enough in head-to-head fantasy hoops leagues
If this is your first (or maybe even second or third) year playing head-to-head fantasy basketball, then you may not have heard about what is known as the Big Ball/Small Ball strategy. It's not easy to adopt as it goes against fantasy owners' natural inclination, which is to try to build a team that excels at everything. But the Big Ball/Small Ball strategy uses a couple of simple ideas that take advantage of rules specific to head-to-head leagues. Here is how the strategy works.
Winning a rotisserie style fantasy basketball league requires a team to be at the top of many categories and at least be competitive in the others. Head-to-head fantasy basketball does not have the same requirements. To win a head-to-head championship, your team only needs to make the playoffs and then win a simple majority of the categories in each of the playoff weeks. If your team wins a majority of the categories every week in the regular season, odds are you'll make the playoffs. So, for the commonly used nine-category league format, you only need to win five categories a week.
This means in head-to-head leagues, it is possible to ignore certain statistical categories while focusing on others. This is often referred to as "punting" categories. The Big Ball/Small Ball strategy is an extreme example of punting.
Most NBA players are good at five or less of the nine most common statistical categories. When you look at which five categories at which most players excel, two groups of categories emerge. While there are exceptions to the rule, most guards are good at making free throws (FT%), making threes (3PTM), passing the ball (AST), stealing the ball (STL), and scoring (PTS). Stephen Curry or Raymond Felton are good examples.
Now think about Al Horford, Joakim Noah or Amar'e Stoudemire. Power forwards and centers tend to be the exact opposite of guards: they don't shoot free throws well; they don't make a lot of threes; they don't get a lot of assists and they don't steal the ball a lot. But they shoot the ball with a high percentage (FG%) since they're usually close to the basket, rebound (REB), block shots (BLK), turn the ball over (TO) less since they are not handling the ball (although there are exceptions to this) and can score points (PTS) off their high percentage shots.
Both guards -- the Small Ball guys -- and power forwards and centers -- the Big Ballers -- can be used to win the points category in fantasy leagues. Since scoring is the main goal of the sport and determines the winner of real games, it makes sense that nearly all players are focused on scoring as much as they can, with the exception of single category specialists like Reggie Evans or Chris Andersen.
To implement a Big Ball/Small Ball strategy in a head-to-head league, take a look at your team (or teams) to see which of the two general category groupings most closely resembles your current lineup. Then focus trades and waiver wire pick-ups on players who match the Big Ball or Small Ball profile with the goal of creating a team that dominates in specific categories.
In addition, here are some waiver wire pick-ups that will help you win those target categories.