This past weekend was championship week in fantasy football. Though fantasy basketball is its own beast, there is much to learn from the final week of the season that can be applied to the hardwood warriors. This week's Fantasy Lab will highlight some of the helpful points we gleaned while digesting the end of the 2008 fantasy football season. Because life and the fantasy basketball season aren't just about dribble-drives and kickout three-pointers.
You know how you are always hearing that tired cliché about a player circling a big game on his calendar for some important reason such as revenge for a past loss or to show up an old team? Well fantasy football players do that when they see the Detroit Lions on the calendar and the reason is simple: guaranteed big points. The Lions are the worst team in the NFL this year and could be the worst team in history. They surrender points like the French surrender in wartime -- rather easily. Faced with a challenge of starting
If you're in a daily league and one of your players is facing Golden State, New York, Sacramento, Indiana or Washington, that dude is a must-start. These are the five easiest teams to score on in the NBA, listed from worst to not quite as terrible. The Warriors are allowing a league-worst 111.9 ppg. Compare that to the top defensive team, the Cleveland Cavs, whose stinginess costs them just 89.2 ppg -- a 22.7 ppg difference. That's some serious fantasy stat production to be had. Sticking with that theme, after the Cavs, the Celtics, Hornets, Bobcats, Spurs and Rockets round out the top six defense by keeping their opponents under 94 ppg. When the difference in pace and points is this significant, only a fool wouldn't react accordingly.
While the emphasis on team's matchups is important, don't forget the individual matchups too. Houston Texans WR
One-on-one situations are even more commonplace in basketball, where players at the same position are lined up against one another all game long. If your player is scheduled to face a very weak defender, use this to your advantage. If a lockdown defender such as
If you happened to own
In yesterday's games,
First-round fantasy picks come with high expectations. You hope they can be the anchor of your team all year and eventually propel you to the title. Generally, these top picks have had great success in the previous year, and oftentimes, in many years prior as well. Premium production is expected, especially when you need it most, which is why this is an important time to remember that once you're deep into a season, draft position doesn't matter one damn bit.
For example, players like
No matter how much the fans might think someone stinks, every player at the professional level is pretty darn talented. This is even more true in the NBA than it is in the NFL, since basketball is more of an individual sport than football. Still, the lesson here is that opportunity is the greatest fantasy asset and this is very obvious when examining some key players in Week 16 matchups. Check out Kansas City's QB
The point is that every player is a potential fantasy goldmine when given the right opportunity. This can happen at any time, whether it's an injury, trade or a coach shaking up his rotation. Injuries are the most common ways to see that starting spot open up and if a coach is content to plug in the backup and not fuss with adjusting his offense, your player is bound for instant production, such as
Be an active manager in daily head-to-head leagues on Sunday night; bench your players when it can secure a category victory. Sometimes it's better to take the sure win in a category like turnovers or free-throw percentage by benching a player who may or may not be able to win you another category late on a Sunday. Other times you have nothing gain by starting a player if you have the week locked up, like some people did with the New York Giants defense last night. Some leagues give out negative points for defense if the yards and/or points allowed cross a high threshold. The Giants did that last night and got negative points in these leagues. But with the 8:30 start time, you should have known if you needed them to play or not for you to win. If you could have benched them in a close matchup you were winning and they were the only ones left to play, then that move could have saved your season. The same goes in basketball. Monitor your progress throughout future Sundays and be ready to pull a starter out of the lineup if benching is more advantageous than running them out there. Cause every little victory counts, no matter how you achieve it.
That wraps up another edition of the Fantasy Lab. Happy holidays and remember, fantasy ball above all.