Week 23 Matchup Rankings
This weekly ranking is based on opponents’ points given up per possession based on pace.
Prepare for the off-season
I assume if you continue to read fantasy basketball posts at this point in the season, you are part of the select few who love to play fantasy basketball every year. I would encourage everyone, even casual players, to venture out of their comfort zone and try something new next year. Don’t abandon your current leagues, but try doing the opposite of what you did this year. Do you play H2h with randoms? Try getting friends together for a roto league. Hate H2H (like me)? Play it anyway, and learn how to appreciate select strategies. Never done a keeper league? Find one with other hardcore fantasy players on one of my favorite resources: @reddit /r/fantasybball. Experiencing a new flavor of a familiar game helps broaden your knowledge and strategy for your main leagues.
So, let’s start the best part of the season (for everyone who didn’t win this season): preparing the perfect strategy for next year.
I like to split up the off-season into three phases: 1) Evaluate Last Season; 2) Draft/Free Agency; 3) Summer League/Pre-season.
1. Evaluate last season
Now is the perfect time to take inventory of the league. Sure the last month of the season gets a little off the rails with rotations and certain players sitting, etc… but you are not going to have a better grasp of player value for next season than right now. Take a snapshot of the player ratings at various sites from the last 30 days, the last 2 months, the last 3 months, and throw it all in a spreadsheet. You can never have enough data, and quite a bit of data disappears in the next 6 months. Next is to group trending players, make a list of guys you like, guys you don’t and adjust your rankings.
- Older veterans who tailed off at the end of the year – trend down
- Younger players who had flashes of high fantasy value – trend up
- Who over-performed this season? Who under-performed? Is this a trend? Injury?
- Who was a product of their team or situation? (good stats/bad team guys) (Byron Scott)
- Which guys surprised you that they were ranked so high? – a great sleeper group.
2. Draft/Free Agency
This is more about fit, do you like LaMarcus on the Spurs, or do you think it will kill his production? Is KAT going to a team that will start him, or bench him for no reason because their coach is Scott Skiles. I’m always cautious with rookies, most don’t break the top 100. This year with KAT and Zingis were for sure outliers. Do you really see Ingram killing it on Phoenix? Or in LA? Are you really going to waste a pick on Dragan Bender? More importantly is to adjust free agents. New starters and drops in minutes are the biggest factor in rankings.
3. Summer League/Pre-season
There is often a debate whether or not summer league or pre-season means anything. Often they do not, but they give you a glimpse into the rookie class, players who switched teams, and new coaching strategies. You could see pace increase in pre-season. You saw flashes from Otto Porter, but also John Jenkins looked good… I like the philosophy for top 75 players: if they are killing it, GREAT! If they are struggling, ehh… Guys outside the top 75, if they are killing it, and will they play 30+ mins? Then draft those guys. If they are struggling, well what did you expect? CJ McCollum and Isaiah Thomas killed it and that carried over nicely. This is when you should be making your final adjustments. Combining your last season rankings, and trends with what you see in the pre-season.
Good luck with your final week, another great season in the bag.
What to Watch This Week
Bad reffing and mediocre basketball.
Portland vs Sacramento
Aminu has not had the season that starting in Portland should have warranted, but over the last week he has shown the nine-category value that he was slated to provide all season. I like Aminu as a nine-category late rounder next year, but he should be owned down the stretch in all leagues today. Running him on your team down the final stretch could be the difference in your final placing. Boogie, on the other hand, won’t be playing in any road games the rest of the year. Which is the weirdest announcement I’ve seen in a while. He might not play other games. Big Willy Stein will be his replacement.
Houston vs Dallas
Mike Beasley has been a nice surprise, but Patrick Beverley has been just as good, if not better for Houston down the stretch. I like both of them for the rest of the season. Barea always has an impressive stretch or two when he is forced into starter’s minutes at some point during the season. Over the last week he has been amazing for Dallas, averaging 23 points, three rebounds, seven assists, and three three-pointers per game. As long as he is playing heavy minutes, I would make him one of my top choices off the waivers for the final stretch of the season.
Chicago vs Miami
Chicago is falling apart. Butler looks like he is back, but he is also carrying the team. Which cannot be good long term. Luckily they won’t be playing very many games in April. Everyone’s favorite bearded European has decided to show up for the last few weeks of the season. After showing top 50 value in a small stretch last season, Mirotic was poised have a break-out fantasy season. He has mostly been broke instead, but over the last week has looked great. He will be hit or miss each game, but would be worth owning if you need the three-pointers. Keep riding Luol Deng, the most underrated player of the last 15 years, and watch for when Wade sits. Richardson is a decent stream if Wade is out.
Knicks vs 76ers
It might be interesting to watch this game to see who tanks the hardest. The real winner will be the team that makes the least shots. Bob Covington is back hitting threes and getting steals, and Carl Landry has made a late appearance as someone who you might want to stream. Any of the starting five should be a stream for both of these teams outside of Porzingis, Melo, and Bob.
Brooklyn vs Indiana
Speaking of tanking, Brooklyn is finally as horrible as we thought they were. I really like Hollis-Jefferson if they would just play him starter’s minutes, and with Thad Young and Blopez out for the year, there is no reason why he should be unleashed. Ellis’s shot has disappeared over the last few weeks. Even though Ellis has never been an efficient shooter, this shooting slump has started to reduce his time on the floor. It might be the worst time for a slump this bad if you own Ellis. Feel free to stream or drop him if you need someone who will be more consistent for the rest of the season.
Pro-tip: I only know this works on ESPN, and it might only be for roto leagues. If you have one game remaining for a position that you have multiple slots for: (i.e. two center slots, two forward slots, etc..) If you have one game remaining, you can start a guy at both position and get an extra start on the last day of the season. Essentially going over your game limit. Exploit that if you can.
If you have any fantasy basketball questions or comments follow me on twitter at @WatchTheBoxes.