by Jon Loomer

League Office | Next Vote Begins January 1! | Public View

The Premier Fantasy Championship is a season-long marathon. A chess match. Is it a marathon or a chess match? It's chess pieces taking a 26-mile jaunt. It helps to have a big first month, but it really means very little. In a league which has 30 teams with six man starting rosters, a player or two can carry you. When these players start going down with injuries, we start to figure out just how good the "team" is.

The shrewd GM goes to work. If he doesn't already have a back-up plan, he now opens the line and actively scouts undervalued replacements. Whereas you can easily rebound from a serious injury in your typical league, the brains of these GM's are put to the test. We knew that injuries would be a major factor in this league, which made any selection of an injury prone player a significant risk. That said, if a GM has the confidence in their abilities that they can surround that player with high quality talent, it can be a gamble worth taking.

For whatever reason, this week has GM's scrambling like no other so far this season when it comes to injuries. New additions to the wounded list include Joe Johnson, Ray Allen, Tracy McGrady, Lamar Odom, Dwyane Wade, Jermaine O'Neal, Chris Bosh and Jason Richardson. The result? The Indiana Pacers (Johnson and O'Neal), Portland Trailblazers (McGrady), Toronto Raptors (Odom and Bosh), Miami Heat (Wade) and Golden State Warriors (Richardson) all trail. The Sonics, amazingly, have a lead with Ray Allen on their bench.

Big Match-ups

Dallas vs. Miami: Dallas enters this match-up at 30-17-1 and in first place in the ridiculously good Southwest Division. Miami comes in with a 34-12-2 record to lead the way in the Southeast. As I write this, the Mavericks hold a 7-1 lead in a battle of the titans. The Heat may just go down in a whimper in this match-up considering their franchise player Dwyane Wade is out for a game after having teeth removed. They both have 17 games remaining this week, and Dallas has healthy leads in most categories. Advantage: Dallas.

Seattle vs. Portland: Not expected to be much of a battle, this one has indeed been an early blow-out -- but in favor of the underdog, Seattle. Portland entered this match-up with the league's best record at 37-10-1 while Seattle limped in at 17-31-0. The early returns? Sonics are up 8-0 and Portland is hit hard by the injury bug. Blazers GM Tom Jones rolled the dice on Tracy McGrady this week, but he crapped out. His team has 17 remaining games, but three of those are for Tracy McGrady and unlikely to be played. Seattle also has 17 games remaining (the magic number, apparently), but have a healthy -- if unspectacular -- starting lineup. Even considering McGrady's injury, a Seattle blow-out would be a major upset considering two of their best players (Ray Allen and Sam Cassell) are on the bench this week.

Up Against the Wall

You'll recall that one GM will be fired by the public at the end of each of the first three months. Those up for replacement are those with a losing record during that month. This is an important distinction. Just because the PFC Trailblazers dominated the first month of the season doesn't mean they should feel safe. If they have a bad month, they can be fired.

And such a GM should feel just as uneasy as the GM with the least wins. Why? Because the replacement GM in a scenario in which he's taking over a winning franchise has most to gain. If after losing only seven games during the month of November Portland manages to lose one more game than they win during December, they hold a very attractive seat. The replacement GM can take a ready-made champion to the prize. How will the public view that? Will they sympathize? In most cases, the public favors the underdog.

That's all hypothetical as the Trailblazers could rebound from injuries and up until this week were quite well this month. But you can bet that there will be a team with an overall winning record in the hot seat. As noted earlier, injuries will be a significant factor. Is it fair? Of course it is. It's the rules. Do the participants like this? Probably not -- especially if they get voted out. Them's the breaks.

Since the final full week of November ended on November 26, there are actually five full weeks of match-ups from which to judge the next crop of GMs with losing records. Keep in mind, however, that the first week will not apply to the new Knicks GM since he inherited that team mid-week and had no control over who started.

Through the first two full weeks of this voting period, several GMs are losing sleep. Following are the teams that are under .500 during the voting period as well as overall:

Current YTD
Team W L T W L T
New York Knicks 2 6 0 8 39 1
Golden State Warriors 4 11 1 19 27 2
Chicago Bulls 4 10 2 16 29 3
Memphis Grizzlies 5 11 0 21 27 0
Seattle SuperSonics 5 11 0 17 31 0
Indiana Pacers 5 10 1 20 27 1
Los Angeles Lakers 6 9 1 19 26 3
Orlando Magic 6 8 2 19 26 3
Los Angeles Clippers 7 9 0 16 32 0
Sacramento Kings 7 8 1 20 26 2

The twist is that some teams with winning records overall can also be fired. Following are the teams with losing records during the period but winning records overall. Based on some of this week's results so far, there could be a couple more pretty solid teams added to this list soon:

Current YTD
Team W L T W L T
Denver Nuggets 4 11 1 25 22 1
New Orleans/OK Hornets 5 11 0 26 21 1
San Antonio Spurs 7 9 0 27 18 3
Utah Jazz 7 8 1 26 21 1

Finally, here are some teams that made an adjustment and rebounded from a tough first month to post winning records during the first two weeks of this voting period. If the voting began today, these teams with poor first months would be safe:

Current YTD
Team W L T W L T
Phoenix Suns 8 7 1 15 32 1
Charlotte Bobcats 9 7 0 23 25 0
Milwaukee Bucks 9 7 0 22 25 1
Philadelphia 76ers 11 5 0 21 25 2

League Moves

Always something happening in the PFC. Waivers run every Saturday, but even when GM's aren't tweaking their roster with a run to the waiver wire, they're swinging deals or staying active on the message boards. Following are the moves that were made during the past week:

Boston Celtics Release Quinton Ross, Pickup Mikki Moore†$2
Somewhat surprising move, dropping a player like Ross who gets minutes. You'd think he would have some trade value in this league. Even so, only $2 spent on Mikki Moore, who has earned additional playing time due to injury and has become a force in the middle.

Memphis Grizzlies Release Hilton Armstrong, Pickup Rasho Nesterovic†$2
No patience, this appears to be a lateral move. Neither player gets significant time, though Armstrong's upside is high and his time has increased from close to nothing to something lately -- again, partially due to injuries.

Indiana Pacers Release Troy Hudson, Pickup Daniel Gibson†$2
Once a fantasy worthy player in all league sizes, Hudson is now a borderline own in a league 240 players deep. Gibson, a rookie, has seen a spike in playing time, and has even seen starts with Larry Hughes back in the lineup. Worth the $2 "gamble." Could prove to be a steal.

Sacramento Kings Release Rasual Butler, Pickup Jared Jeffries†$2
Butler is again a player getting more time on the Hornets due to the injuries to David West and Peja Stojakovic, but his upside is limited. Jared Jeffries may be getting minutes, but he's on the Knicks. Enough said. Plenty of bodies to compete with.

Denver Nuggets Release Bobby Simmons, Pickup Beno Udrih†$5
The Nuggets had no choice but to drop the dead weight of Simmons. Keeping him this long must have been painful for the Nuggets given the two-man bench. Udrih will have a hard time getting enough minutes to be particularly valuable, but he's better than nothing at this point.

Minnesota Timberwolves Release Trevor Ariza, Pickup Damien Wilkins†$7
Ariza dropped, then goes off for 17 and nine against the Suns. It was the Suns, but Ariza has potential and is beginning to get increased time. He'll likely get picked up in the next waiver round. Wilkins is a nice short-term add while Ray Allen is out, and could be a long-time cog if the injury is worse than expected.

Chicago Bulls Release Marquis Daniels, Pickup Antonio Daniels†$9
The disappointing Marquis Daniels has shown flashes, but is simply not worth owning right now. Daniels for Daniels, and Antonio hasn't been all that great himself.

Charlotte Bobcats Release Tony Battie, Pickup Gerald Green†$11
Battie generally plays empty minutes, but he's still a center who gets some boards, and that has value in this league (ask the Knicks). The tantalizing Green posted a 21-point performance against Memphis, making him an impulse buy.

Toronto Raptors Release Johan Petro, Pickup Jamaal Magloire†$13
Petro gets inconsistent minutes, but will likely be snagged again soon. With Joel Przybilla battling injuries, Magloire is a smart add.

Los Angeles Lakers Release Reggie Evans, Pickup Juwan Howard†$15
Evans has missed a couple of games with a sore throat, but is capable of grabbing 15 boards in a night. Juwan is getting minutes now, though, so he's worth a gamble.

Phoenix Suns Release Dan Gadzuric, Pickup Rodney Carney†$25
It seems like everyone's owned Gadzuric at some time this season. Depending on the specifics of the Allen Iverson deal, Rodney Carney could emerge as a very smart add.

There have also been a couple of deals during the past week. What else is new?

Toronto Raptors send Brent Barry and Derek Fisher to Seattle
Seattle Sonics send Stephon Marbury and Sasha Pavlovic to Toronto

No one wants Marbury, as this marks the second time he's been dealt in two weeks. Marbury appears to be coming around, but he needs to be the best player in this deal to make it worthwhile for Toronto. So far, he's not clearly the best player in the deal.

Houston Rockets send Mike James to Minnesota
Minnesota Timberwolves send Jameer Nelson to Houston

Two GM's disappointed in the play of their star point guards. Maybe a change of scenery will do them both some good. Barring a trade from his real world Timberwolves, I don't expect Mike James to rebound any time soon. Nelson, on the other hand, still has room to grow. Good move for Houston.

Ray Allen's injury can't keep the PFC Sonics down.
(Terrence Vaccaro/NBAE/Getty Images)

PFC Quick Facts
The PFC is a global fantasy basketball competition with 30 of the world's best players vying for the title.
More than 9,000 people worldwide applied for the opportunity to compete.
Each participant is the fantasy general manager for an NBA team. Each GM picked a franchise player from their assigned team and built their roster - with players from any other NBA team - from there.
Every general manager has selected eight players for their fantasy squad.
Participants run the risk of losing their spot in the competition should they underperform. The public votes who will lose their job, and another top applicant will take over as a new GM.
For more in-depth information on the PFC, read here.

Overall Records

Eastern Conference

CENTRAL W L T
Detroit Pistons 28 17 3
Cleveland Cavaliers 28 20 0
Milwaukee Bucks 22 25 1
Indiana Pacers 20 27 1
Chicago Bulls 16 29 3

ATLANTIC W L T
Boston Celtics 26 20 2
Toronto Raptors 25 23 0
New Jersey Nets 21 23 4
Philadelphia 76ers 21 25 2
New York Knicks 8 39 1

SOUTHEAST W L T
Miami Heat 34 12 2
Atlanta Hawks 29 18 1
Washington Wizards 28 20 0
Charlotte Bobcats 23 25 0
Orlando Magic 19 26 3

Western Conference

NORTHWEST W L T
Portland Trailblazers 37 10 1
Minnesota Timberwolves 26 20 2
Utah Jazz 26 21 1
Denver Nuggets 25 22 1
Seattle SuperSonics 17 31 0

PACIFIC W L T
Sacramento Kings 20 26 2
Los Angeles Lakers 19 26 3
Golden State Warriors 19 27 2
Los Angeles Clippers 16 32 0
Phoenix Suns 15 32 1

SOUTHWEST W L T
Dallas Mavericks 30 17 1
San Antonio Spurs 27 18 3
Houston Rockets 27 20 1
New Orleans/OK Hornets 26 21 1
Memphis Grizzlies 21 27 0