Fantasy hoops owners wise to steer clear of speculation, injury comebacks - Sports Illustrated

NBA fantasy New Year resolutions

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New Year resolutions are supposedly made by people for a goal, a project or the reformation of a habit. My goal is to get better at the wonderful game of fantasy basketball. My project is to be able to consistently dominate the leagues I annually participate in. In order to do that, I need to correct, reform, if you will, a few habits I resolve to no longer continue in 2011. In my ever-evolving pursuit to get better at this game, I've put together several strategy-related resolutions in order to take my game to the next level.

1. Speculate less during fantasy drafts. This resolution will probably not allow me to enjoy drafting too many rookies during fantasy drafts, but I've come to realize that track records are important. Drafting Anthony Randolph, who's only had one awesome summer league performance tacked onto his resume, turned out to be a costly, speculative investment. Save the speculative picks only for the last couple of rounds in the draft.

2. Stay away from the injury prone. While this may seem obvious, there are managers who just can't seem to resist perceived upside or comeback value. Let them bear the risk. Just stay away from players such as Greg Oden, Yao Ming, and possibly even Brandon Roy in future drafts. To some degree, it can be considered prudent to downgrade draft rankings of players like Andris Biedrins, Baron Davis, Jermaine O'Neal, Caron Butler and many others who have had a history of missing many games in previous seasons.

3. Draft for value over the execution of a theme or strategy. I have had the experience of getting fixated in drafting around specific strategies, like building a small-ball or big-ball team, as dictated by the first couple of draft picks. The teams I have formed while being hard-nosed about executing a certain team ethos have not been my most successful ones. Draft for value in the first FIVE rounds (at least). From there, consolidate strengths and possibly punt weak categories. This year, I actually tried to simply draft the best player in the queue (based on my personalized rankings), in a couple of my head-to-head leagues. So far, they've been some of my more successful teams. It's best to not pass up on the inherent value of some players just because they do not necessarily fit a preconceived theme.

4. Be less emotional. It might be frustrating to see players perform below par or even projected expectations. Keep a level head when dealing with setbacks. Two or three poor games will not necessarily translate into a bad season overall. Fantasy basketball is a marathon, not a sprint. Having a losing record in the first couple of weeks should not result in a fire sale of your key players just for the sake of "shaking things up."

5. Change gears. It's good to be aggressive in grabbing players who win starting jobs, and/or are showing signs that they're in for an improved season during the first two to three weeks of the regular season. After that period it is better to slow down and give your investments time to percolate. This is bit of advice is especially useful in head-to-head leagues that have a cap set to the maximum number of moves you can make during the fantasy season. I've had the experience of burning through about half of my maximum transaction allotment as early as mid December, only to find myself out of moves come the last couple of weeks leading up to the playoffs. After an initial flurry of moves, take a week or two to observe and reassess what your team's strengths and weaknesses are before going out and grabbing the "next big thing" (of the week). When you're playing in a head-to-head, daily changes league it's advisable to save some of those allotted moves to boost your team's counting categories at the end of the season if your team is on the playoff bubble or to use during your league's playoffs.

6. Wait for players to produce three solid games. Haste makes waste. One impressive game might wow you, but it does not necessarily dictate a future trend. Even if you're in an active league with more than one trigger-happy manager in its ranks, it's still best to allow for three games to be the basis of declaring whether or not a player is actually on a hot streak or not. This will help prevent getting lured into grabbing players who simply had fluky, one-game wonders. This practice helps preserve allotted moves in leagues that cap maximum transactions. It also protects you from having to deal with disappointing games played by erratic players and wasting playable games in the rotisserie format.