Fantasy Basketball Tips-

A guide to playing NBA fantasy basketball. This is insights from the most successful managers in the PBL (Paradise Basketball League) fantasy basketball league. The PBL is a high stakes league with an elite group of talented fantasy NBA managers that has been ongoing for several years. Updated: 7/8/10.

The Draft

1) Know your league settings. This is the easiest and most important way to get ahead. Run the statistics for your league and compare positions. If a league is skewed to favour Guards with a lot of assists you need to know that and adjust your picks accordingly. And its totally different if you are in a points league or head-to-head, whether field goal percentage matters, etc. This will also help you to make your own list of players and a) place less emphasis on the magazines subjective picks (which although more and more they are gearing them toward specific leagues, can still bear little resemblance to how players should be ranked according to your league’s point values) and, b) help you to not get skewed so much by your own emotions and attachments.

2) Just to emphasise something again that was mentioned in point 1. Focus on the numbers. Analyse the statistics. This helps strip away the emotions and subjectivity. More often than not the numbers are always the safest way to pick.

3) Be prepared for the draft. Depending on the number of teams in your league and which positions are skewed is important. But also, don’t try anything too quirky in your first 3 or 4 picks. Be sure to pick big name superstar caliber players with those picks.

4) If there is a big drop-off in a position after a certain number, make sure to pick a player or 2 before the drop-off and come back to other positions later that are more “stacked”.

5) Getting the draft right is extremely important. Stay focused and scan for opportunities. A good pick late in the draft can go a long way. Compare different rankings around the web. Have a depth chart or cheatsheet ready. Cross off names as they are picked. You can win a league just on your draft.

6) Similar to point 1 and 2, time spent before the draft will save you time the entire season. The better your draft the less management you have to do later. However, the NBA is less like the NFL in that the value of players fluctuates a lot more in the NBA during the season. To win, you really need to follow developments and pick up hot players. They keep popping up all year in the NBA. Anyway, a few hours spent before the draft can save you a season of tough decision making.

7) Check for roster changes. A players stats are going to be affected by any changes. But don’t presume additions to the roster will hurt a player. Sometimes they might even help.

The Season

1) The first few weeks right after the draft give a chance to make up for your draft. If your gut says you need to make some changes, then do it fast. Check to see what free agents are available. Check and make sure you have all the positions filled and suitable back-ups. Check your strengths and weaknesses. Someone else in the league may have a strength that is your weakness. Or you may have a hunch about a player you should have taken. Act on the hunches before it’s too late. Make a trade to improve your team.

2) If you really want to win you are going to have to stay on top of things throughout the season. There are always critically important free agents that rise to the top from out of nowhere. Always keep your eyes open for them. The tough thing with the NBA season is it is long and not fixed to certain days (like just Sundays for pro football) so fantasy NBA becomes a labor of love, or just a competitive drive to win your league.

3) Don’t be afraid to trade. Trade players while they are hot and go for the players you have a feeling about, because the tide will continue to change throughout the season. The most successful fantasy managers will talk often with other people in the league about prospective trades. Find out who they may want. You will find that they sometimes want the guy you really want to get rid of. In the words of a two time league champion, don’t try to pawn off what you don’t like about your team, “find out what the other player wants and find a way to give it to them”. To put this in another way, if you have a 40 point (fantasy value) player that another guy wants, you might be able to get 42 points worth of value from them in the trade. The champ went on to say “your wasting your time” trying to sell the bad stuff on your team to someone else, you need to “listen” to what the other person wants. Go up and down both your rosters and share who you like and don’t like. And then maybe just store the information in your head and use it (take adv. of it) a couple weeks later when a guy that he likes starts getting hot and you think its not going to continue. That’s how you sell high. Also, don’t always try for the big blockbuster, or dream scenarios of trades. Just look for incremental improvements.

4) Check box scores every night if possible. Or, at the very least, scan a bunch of them once a week. This is where you will find the real nuggets of information that can make the difference for you. In assessing the prospects of players rising or falling, points won’t always tell you whats really going on. Look at shot attempts. Is a certain player not shooting the ball as many times as he used to? His points scored may still be looking good for a game or two, but a developing trend behind the scenes may be apparent. On the other hand, the coach may start giving the player the green light. He may score just 12 points one night and no one else in your league thinks anything of it. But if you see he is shooting the ball 15 or 20 times a game, you can pick him up before he has that breakout game. Minutes played is also another critically important stat that is overlooked. Also, don’t just check that they got the minutes and shots, find out why they got the shots and minutes. There may be another guy that is hurt or got benched. Is it a one day coaches decision, or the start of something? This will also help you in working trades.

5) Keep focused and keep trying to improve. The downside for some fantasy NBA’ers is that the season is so long, but that’s also a positive too. Worst in the first couple weeks to top-tier in your league by the end can happen. Never give up.

6) Have fun. Only one manager is going to win the league. Use the league to improve your skills, stay in touch with friends, and/or just for an excuse to watch a few extra games.


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