IT’S past the halfway mark of the fantasy basketball season —and the 82-game marathon of the US National Basketball Association, for that matter—and it’s time to take stock of your teams as you gear up for the playoffs (in head-to-head leagues) or the homestretch (in Rotisserie leagues), which certainly tests the mettle of any fantasy hoops fanatic, yours truly included.
This is now the time to make that daring trade or to take a chance on that second-string player sitting on the waiver wire in favor of someone rotting away at the end of your fantasy bench. Fortune favors the bold, so the saying goes, and it may be better for your team over the next two months to invest in a consistent daily performer (Atlanta’s Paul Millsap comes to mind) via a 2-for-1 trade instead of waiting for your injured stars (the list is long this season) to come back and give you a boost toward the fantasy playoffs or the end of the NBA regular season.
Case in point: fantasy owners of Eric Bledsoe and Jrue Holiday. In Roto leagues, it may be suicidal to hang on to either guard when they are at least four weeks away from returning, and maybe twice as long from being fully productive again. By that time, it’s March, and if your team is not firmly ensconced in the top three of your league you will be looking at the playoffs (which start in Week 21 or March 17 for most leagues) or the title race from the outside in.
Certainly, both are difficult to replace, in fantasy or real life. Before he tore the same right meniscus that he had repaired in 2011, Bledsoe was having a banner year for the Suns, averaging career highs of 18 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.3 blocks, 1.2 3-pointers, 48.6% field goal shooting and 79% free throw shooting in 33 minutes per game.
Those numbers put the former Clipper at early fourth-round value for the year, and with Phoenix being intentionally vague as to when Bledsoe might return, some fantasy managers have made the tough call of dropping him. He’s still owned in 75 percent of Yahoo leagues, but that’s down 21 percent (as of Monday) from the start of the season, when every hoops GMs salivated over his upside.
Your Fanatic, in fact, is one of these owners, but I am not dropping Bledsoe because he’s in my roster in a 16-man-roster, 20-team H2H league where I also own his Suns backcourt mate, Goran Dragic. I’ve also managed to stay in the upper half of the standings despite owning Anthony Davis (thank heavens his injury didn’t linger) and sitting on time bombs Wilson Chandler and Tobias Harris.
Holiday’s owners, meanwhile, are not having a grand time after the New Orleans point suffered a stress fracture to his right tibia (shin bone). The Pelicans’ import from Philadelphia has been norming 14.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 7.9 apg, 1.6 spg, 0.4 bpg, 0.9 3pg, 44.7% fgs and 81% fts in 33 mpg this season, putting him at fifth-round value. But fantasy GMs will be hard-pressed to find anyone on NOP’s roster who could step in and provide that output – no, not even his backup, Brian Roberts, who has been underwhelming in two starts so far.
In general, managers in shallow leagues may part ways with either Bledsoe or Holiday provided there’s a viable replacement on the wire (Gerald Green of the Suns comes to mind), but for deep leaguers it may be hold-your-breath-and-pray-they-come-back-soon time. Bonne chance, mes amis!
Five for Fighting
Games Played for Week 12 (Thanks to Rotoworld):
4 Games – BOS, CHA, CHI, DAL, DEN, HOU, LAL, MIL, NYK, OKC, ORL, PHX, SAC, SAN, TOR, UTA, WAS
3 Games – CLE, GSW, IND, LAC, MEM, MIA, MIN, NOP, PHI, POR
2 Games – DET
1 Game – ATL, BRK
We’ll keep this part short, because as I explained above, you may already have taken stock of your teams and know precisely what your needs are. If you are in weekly matchup leagues, however, you may want to bench your stars from the Pistons, Hawks and Nets (see above) this week in favor of more consistent guys who play thrice or four times.
PG: DJ Augustin, Bulls: Boss Riera here at the Standard must be thrilled that Augustin, who performed at first-round value for the Bobcats just two seasons ago, has stepped up for Chicago after it lost Derrick Rose for the season. DJA has averaged 13 ppg, 7.3 apg, 1.0 spg and 1.7 3pg over the last week despite a timeshare with Captain Kirk Hinrich, and his confidence is growing after a 20-point, 12-assist outing over, incidentally, Charlotte last Saturday.
SG: Gerald Green, Suns: The can’t-miss pickup after Bledsoe went down, Green will start at shooting guard for at least the next month, and has churned out norms of 13.4 ppg and 2.5 3pg with a little bit of gravy elsewhere.
SF: CJ Miles, Cavaliers: If you’re short on scoring forwards, consider the dude from Cleveland, who torched the Bucks with 10 three-pointers and is averaging 21 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.6 spg and 3.6 3-pointers on 54 percent from the field over his last five games.
PF: Kris Humphries, Celtics: Taking advantage of a dip in starting four-ward Jared Sullinger’s output, Humps is norming 11.5 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 1.0 spg and 2.3 bpg over his last four games and playing 30 minutes a night, with a four-game week coming up.
C: Andrea Bargnani, Knicks: Broadway’s team is a mess, but Tyson Chandler hasn’t recovered well from the flu, and the Italian Stallion is PF-C eligible in most leagues. With nobody reliable behind him, ride Bargs until he breaks.