Fantasy Week #3: Backcourt Relief

by November 13, 2007

By Emry DowningHall

Occasionally I will get an email from a reader debating the value of fantasy sports. First and foremost, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, and I encourage pro and con responses to a column.

Usually the argument I hear is that it dilutes the purity of the game by forcing owners into rooting for stat lines and not a team’s overall performance.

In response, I usually focus my argument on a viewers ability to separate the two. For instance, as a lifelong Knicks fan (Yes, I realize this century isn’t going as planned, but admit it, you were sweating us in the 90’s!) and the GM of multiple fantasy teams, I often come across this issue. For me, this is a no contest. When the Knicks step onto the court rocking the blue and orange stitching, I am riding with my boys. I could care less if I owned every starter on the opposing roster, which by the way would be a horrendous fantasy strategy.

Take Sunday’s Knicks/Heat game. I own Udonis Haslem in a couple of leagues, and as the former Florida Gator was going head to head with David Lee, I thought nothing of the 16 points and 16 boards he was putting up. I can’t say I wasn’t pleased when I was reviewing the box score, but that baseline J-Will go ahead jumper was all that was on my mind.

I don’t mean to begin this column debating or defending the merits of fantasy sports, as I said, either you like them or you don’t. I respect both sides of the coin. However, the topic came to mind while I was putting together a list of recommended pickups for the SLAM readers and the name Jamario Moon reminded of another reason I love fantasy sports so much.

Moon was a longshot to make the Raptors roster this year but ended up a surprise starter on Saturday night and performed to the tune of 12 points, 6 boards, and 3 steals. While there’s nothing insane about that stat line, it continues to amaze me how, with an opportunity in the right system, guys can contribute in the NBA.

My point is, beyond being another way to stay up on who’s doing their thing and who’s falling off, I think fantasy sports give people the opportunity to get to know some players that otherwise might go under the radar. This week it’s Jamario Moon (who, by the way, I am suggesting a wait and see policy on) and last year it was Mardy Collins, Walter Hermann and Tarence Kinsey.

Any old way, I digress, so as we head into week #3, here is a list of guys you need to consider adding to your roster.

The Memphis Grizzlies point guards – Damon Stoudamire appears to be the odd man out in this rotation with both Conley and Lowry getting more tick then the vet lately. The thing to consider here is the Grizzlies are a young team and they are going to stress development of their young talent. This means Stoudamire’s value will continue to drop while Lowry and Conley are on the come up. I added Lowry to my roster over Conley but it’s unclear who will emerge with more tick. I also think Damon will be moved before the trade deadline which will only increase the value of the other two.

Nate Robinson – If you believe what you read in the paper, James Dolan is pushing for less Starbury in NY. A trade or buyout appears to be on the horizon and this means that Nate Robinson’s value is going to spike. He should be available in your league and is worth a pickup in case these reports are true. The same can be said for Mardy Collins, who helped a number of fantasy owners take home titles last season. This situation needs to be watched very closely.

J.R. Smith – He exploded for 29 points and 7 three pointers in last nights win over the Cavaliers. If he can remain out of George Karl’s doghouse he will have fantasy value. If you need another sweet shooting guard, Smith could be your man.

Marko Jaric – A funny thing happens when Randy Foye and Rashad McCants go down with injuries. Process of elimination gives Marko Jaric fantasy value. Obviously this will be a short term thing, but the point guard position can be thin, so if you need a quick fix, Jaric could be your guy. Inconsistency seems to define this man, so proceed with caution, but he is worth a flier.

Steve Blake – Over in Portland Steve Blake and Jarret Jack flip-flopped spots with Blake assuming the starting role. This normally would be bad news for Jack owners, and good news for Blake owners, who will see their guy once again become fantasy relevant. But please don’t run out and drop Jack for Blake. Off the bench Jarret Jack has been on fire and both will have some value going forward. If either should go down with injury, the other will make a major impact.

Louis Williams – I billed Williams as a sleeper coming into the season but he has already been disappointing. I’m not giving up hope on the young gunner, and I think he will be worth picking up at some time, but don’t let Friday’s big game fool you into thinking now is that time. However, if Willie Green or Andre Miller should go down with an injury, Williams would benefit greatly.

Eddie House – On Friday night House came off the bench and dropped 19 points and 5 dimes. If there is a streak shooter in the league, it’s House. He will always be good for three balls but as the backup PG for the Celtics he is also going to give you some dimes. Keep House in mind for deep leagues or pick him up immediately if something happens with Rondo.

Antoine Wright – Vince Carter had his contract extended at the end of last season and that equates to missed games this year. The Nets play four games in week #3 and Wright will start in place of Carter. I’ve watched Carter play a number of times this season and he seems a bit on the disinterested side. Hopefully this isn’t a sign of things to come for VC owners.

Beno Udrih – Tony Parker had Beno stapled to the bench when he was in San Antonio. Now that Beno is in Sac-Town, and Mike Bibby is on the bench, he is getting a chance to play some ball. While there’s no reason to panic and drop a contributer for Udrih, keep your third eye on him. He is a true PG who can stroke the deep three and will get some points and assists. As long as Bibby is nursing his thumb injury, Beno has a chance to make some waves.

Bonzi Wells – I panicked and dropped Bonzi for John Salmons earlier in the season. While the Salmons play has been a power move of Frank Lucas proportions, dropping Bonzi wasn’t my best option with Ruben Patterson also sitting on my roster. If he is still available in your league, pick him up right away.

Ronny Turiaf – This morning I dropped the before mentioned Ruben Patterson to pick up Turiaf. The league is 14 teams deep and the waiver wire doesn’t sleep. I’m talking about guys being picked up at 2 am on the regular. While there are better free agents on this list, Turiaf was the best available guy. Lamar Odom is back but playing the SF position for the Lakers but Turiaf remains the starter at PF. None of his numbers will blow you away but he is pretty solid in points, rebounds and field goal percentage.

I know that list is short on front-court help, and I apologize for those of you in two center leagues, but I try to give you who can help right away, or in the right situation could make a big impact. If you are in desperate need of a center take a look at Zaza Pachulia, Jamal Magloire and Chris Mihm.

On the other side of the coin there are guys out there some of you probably still own that you should think about showing the door: Steve Francis, Damon Stoudamire, Matt Barnes and Acie Law can gets’ta’steppin (shoutout to Martin Lawrence).

Same goes for Ruben Patterson, Nene Hilario (injured), Jason Kapono, Walter Hermann and Luis Scola. The Bucks only play two games in week #3 so if you are sitting on Charlie Villanueva, it might be time to part ways. Easy Yi owners stand up.

I’ve gotten a number of emails from owners concerned about Gilbert Arenas and I wish I had an answer for you. Hibachi was my first-round pick in a couple leagues this year; I was banking on him exploding during a contract season but he has been extremely disappointing. I don’t recommend trading Arenas at this point unless you were able to get a very strong package for him. Don’t panic and take thirty cents on the dollar for Agent Zero. His value will never be lower and any strong fantasy owner knows not to deal when you have to sell low. With that said, if you have some inside information that his knee problems are more serious then the Wizards are letting on, scream at me!

Alright guys, thanks for checking in, feel free to email me your questions, and as always, stay on that wire!