Fantasy Forecast: Don't Start Agent Zero Just Yet
Round 2 of the fantasy playoffs kicks off Monday, but are you lucky (or smart) enough to still be playing? In my pro league we use the standard ESPN 8-cat scoring system and I have to tell you that I flat out monkey stomped the business manager of an NBA All-Star. What this tells you is to never let someone’s love for the game or position within the game influence you on your ability to win. Injuries and the waiver wire can win or lose almost any league, and those who stay alert will stay alive!
Much like fantasy football, the rules for the playoffs in fantasy basketball are the same: Don’t get cute; do what you did to get here. Meaning, don’t play the odds and look at total number of games played and set your line-ups accordingly. The Bulls play three games this week and the Cavaliers play five games, but that doesn’t mean you should sit Luol Deng in favor of Alonzo Gee in the hopes that the two extra games will make up for the obvious gap in talent. Play the guys that got you here; be vigilant about the waiver wire and make moves when you can back them up with hard stats; and finally, keep your ear to the ground with injuries and guys resting for playoff runs.
Jose Juan Barea: Barea has started the last few games in place of Luke Ridnour and is averaging 12.5 points, 7.5 assists and 2.5 3-pointers. With Ridnour likely out a few more games at least, Barea is a must-own player in the second round of the fantasy playoffs.
Shannon Brown: Now, this isn’t a true “go grab them” situation with Brown, but Grant Hill is out for a while and Jared Dudley can disappear at times in games. Over the past week Brown has managed to put up 16.2 points and 4.8 rebounds a night, in a total of 150 minutes (6th in the NBA for SGs). He will split time with Dudley and Michael Redd, but he has been providing solid enough stats to warrant a pick-up.
Danny Granger: I normally stay away from starting guys on Granger’s level because they are no-brainer plays week in and week out. But, Granger and the Pacers had some rough times this season and many owners bashed me for saying he was within the top 3-5 SFs in the league for fantasy purposes. Over the last two weeks, Granger has provided his owners with 21.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.2 3-pointers and is shooting a blistering 48.3 percent from the field and 90.4 percent from the free-throw line. Oh, and remember that manager I beat earlier… it was Danny Granger’s!
Ryan Anderson: Anderson sounds like he will be back for the Magic on Monday, and he is a must-start playing anytime he is on the floor. He is owned in all formats, yet he still isn’t a high profile player in terms of fan appreciation.
Brandon Bass: Bass is officially listed at PF for the Celtics on depth charts, but he dual qualifies as a center also. Over the past month, Bass is averaging 12.6 points and 6.2 rebounds, which works out to about 6th/7th round value. Not bad for a guy owned in just 69 percent of leagues before last week. He has already been taken in a lot of leagues, so go check yours to see if he is still available.
Gilbert Arenas: There is one major fantasy sports website that is touting Arenas as a must-own player to finish out the season, and I just don’t see it. Agent Zero is averaging just 15.0 minutes and 8.8 points a night so far, and he doesn’t provide any help in the peripheral stats like rebounds and assists. At this point of the season you probably don’t need empty points (mid teens at best) off the waiver wire, so let someone else waste time playing Arenas down the stretch.
MarShon Brooks: Brooks is the classical boom-or-bust player that fantasy owners love to hate. On Friday he scored 18 points while grabbing 6 rebounds and dishing out 6 assists (although it was against the Wizards), but in his previous four games he combined for a total of just 19 points, 10 assists and 6 rebounds. If you can handle the multiple bad nights each week from Brooks and the Nets, you may just get a solid night from him… eventually.
Jan Vesely: That same website touting Arenas has Vesely as a curious pick-up because he has been seeing 32.2 MPG over the last week. The problem with looking at one stat that isn’t counted in fantasy scoring is that you miss all the others that ARE counted. Vesely is averaging 9.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and is shooting 57.1 percent from the free-throw line during the last week. If by curious this website means horrible idea, then yes, Vesely is a curious pick-up!
Amare Stoudemire: Amare is injured and the reality is that not even his coach knows if he will be in uniform again this season. If it was me, and I had to make a choice on what to do with him, I’d cut him loose and grab a hot FA on the waiver wire IF there was someone that fit the bill. I say if because those in 14-team or deeper leagues pretty much have garbage on your waiver wire right now, so you don’t want to cut Stoudemire loose until you know for a fact he is out. At the very least, get him out of your line-up and sell him in salary cap leagues.
Samuel Dalembert: Dalembert still hasn’t managed to put it all together, and fantasy owners are scratching their heads wondering why. His 12 points and 6 rebounds marked his best game in over two weeks, so don’t get too excited over the production. Over the last two weeks, he is averaging a paltry 6.0 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.0 block in 17.1 MPG. Just cut him and go with someone… anyone else at center.