Fantasy Basketball: Playoffs, Round 2
As season’s end nears, backups come to the forefront.
by Charles Peach / @Charles_Peach
Most of you know Emry DowningHall, aka ‘Former Mr. Fantasy.’ Though he no longer gives out fantasy advice on a regular basis, he’s still a very active member of the fantasy brotherhood (picture the ‘LAIRE’ game in the movie Role Models.) I’m in two head-to-head leagues with him, and whenever we’re matched up, I expect to lose. So, when I found us paired in the first round of the playoffs in BOTH leagues, I was worried.
One of our battles was close throughout the week, but over the weekend Emry’s squad pulled away. He flexed his waiver wire skills. It wasn’t his superstars as much as it was his savvy pickups that lead to my demise. Marcus Thornton (99 points, nine threes), Marcin Gortat (77 points, 59 FG%, 49 rebounds, 11 blocks), Jordan Farmar (38 assists), Tony Allen (10 steals), and Jordan Crawford (67 points, 25 assists, six threes, seven steals) were the ones who propelled him into the next round.
The draft is unquestionably the most vital component to fantasy success, especially in Roto leagues. It’s impossible to recover from a poor draft. However, Emry’s dismantling of my squad is vivid proof that you can perpetually improve your team by scouring the waiver wire. His weekly columns revolved around the best possible free agents and I’ve followed that model. In head-to-head leagues, fortunes can turn so quickly and often hinge upon players like Farmar or Crawford who were irrelevant in October.
In last week’s column, there was some discussion about the pros and cons of Roto and H2H leagues. Basically, the main distinction is that Roto is definitely more accurate, while H2H is unique because it forces you to find different strategies to win from week to week. Facing off with a different opponent each week is fun, and it gives struggling owners a fresh start every Monday.
So much rides on the playoffs, though. Much like fantasy football, the playoffs occur when teams are focused on the postseason. Superstars sit out games and, all of a sudden, their backups are deciding our fantasy leagues. In Roto, it hurts you when those superstars start to sit games but not enough to derail you’re entire season. It’s ludicrous to think that after Kevin Love’s incredible season, that his owners would be s.o.l. in the playoffs because he had to sit out a couple games. As frustrating as that is, that’s just the nature of H2H leagues. There’s something entertaining (in a cruel way) about finding those diamonds in the rough before your opponents can get to them. Can’t you picture Emry holding his hands together like Mr. Burns, laughing maniacally as he watches Farmar go for 15 points and 16 assists?
Our other matchup defined the greatness of H2H leagues. Going into Sunday, the final day, Emry led 5-4. He held a slim, .813 – .811 advantage in the free throw department during the fourth quarter of the last game of the week, Mavs @ Suns. All of his players were finished, and I had Jason Kidd. Kidd hadn’t attempted a free throw all game long and I needed him to sink two. In fact, he hadn’t attempted a free throw in the previous four games. It appeared I was cooked, until Kidd was fouled with 27.6 seconds remaining. He sunk both. I beat Emry in free throws .814 – .813 and won the matchup 5-4. The funniest part is, Emry had been giving me hell all season long for drafting Kidd. He was right, I drafted him way too early (14th overall). Every chance he got he reminded me what a bad pick it was. Now, I’ll agree, there were many better choices, but I opted to play it safe. And it payed off, so HA!
ON THE WIRE
Jared Dudley – He’s the number one pickup this week after Alvin Gentry finally decided to give him Vince Carter’s starting job. Of course, Gentry rationalized the maneuver by saying he’s trying to mix things up as his team’s playoff hopes evaporate. But you know he’s wanted to make that move all along, and all of Carter’s teammates probably feel the same way. Dudley played very solid in his start on Sunday, finishing with 20 points, five rebounds, five assists, three steals, and zero turnovers. Dudley deserves a starting job, and I hope he gets it next season (whenever that might be.) Phoenix plays four games this week.
Tony Allen – Should definitely be owned. He’s been performing extremely well and racking up the steals better than anyone in the league. In addition to that, he’s contributing across the board, including going 9-for-10 from the field in a victory against the Spurs on Sunday.
George Hill – The news on Manu Ginobili’s injury is not encouraging. The Spurs have nine games remaining and Ginobili is expected to miss Monday’s game. It seems totally likely to me that he could rest until the playoffs if the left leg bruise is as painful as they say. With that said, they have lost three straight and are trying to hold off the Lakers for the top seed in the West. Keep the situation monitored, but Hill should be valuable for at least a game or two.
Ed Davis – He’s started the last two for the Raptors and performed well. It helps that Andrea Bargnani sat out last game with an aggravated bone spur. If Bargnani continues to sit, Davis could be a huge boost for your team down the stretch. He averaged 19.5 points and 11 rebounds in the last two games while shooting 65 percent from the field. However, be mindful that he’s a train wreck at the free throw line.
Spencer Hawes – He had a great game on Sunday: 16 points, 15 rebounds, four assists, one steal, and one block. However, it was in a season-high 42 minutes against his former team, the Kings. Doug Collins clearly kept him in the game much longer than he normally would have because it was the first time he faced his former mates. Keep your eye on Hawes though, as there’s a slight possibility this could ignite a late-season hot streak. But in all likelihood, I think he’ll go back to his 25-30 minutes per night as Collins is probably trying to keep him fresh for the playoffs.
Delonte West – Rajon Rondo’s sore pinkie kept him out of Sunday’s game. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him sit out Monday and even a few more games before the playoffs begin. West could be a savvy pickup as the Celtics have a four-game schedule this week followed by the maximum six games during championship week.
Yi Jianlian – Now that both Andray Blatche and Trevor Booker are both sidelined, there are more minutes open for Yi. He’s started the last seven games for the Wizards and has been fairly quiet. However, there might be a bit more opportunity to produce now that Booker is also out.
Kwame Brown – Starting to display some consistency. In the last three he’s averaging 13 points, 7.7 rebounds, and a block. The Bobcats conclude the season with the maximum number of games, so he could be a decent option.
Ekpe Udoh – If you’re in need of some blocked shots, Udoh could be your guy. The unfortunate thing is, the Warriors play only three times this week and five times during championship week, so he may not be the best option.