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InsideHoops [Fantasy Basketball]

Fantasy Basketball: The InBox




/ Oct. 18, 2004

The Answerman is the first and only alternative fantasy basketball and romance advice columnist on the web. He is here at to answer all your questions (or at least the interesting ones).

Two weeks until the season. Enough Inbox questions to fill two months of pre-draft activity. Lets get right to it:

Dear Answerman…


Question: I’m from Manila and this is our fourth year playing basketball fantasy. We are playing head to head. 11 categories including 3pts, fg, ft, turnovers, fouls, technicals (for the heck of it) plus the usual pts, reb, ast etc. Any advise on the first two rounds? I have my first round as: KG, Dirk, Tim, Kobe, Shaq, Tmac, Jermaine Oneal, Ray Allen, AI, Brand, Lebron, Pierce. Followed by Ben Wallace, Kirelenko, Yao Ming, Baron Davis, Marbury, Peja, Michael Redd, Shawn Marion, Steve Francis, Amare Stoudamire, Zach Randolph. What do you think? -Thrila

Dear Thrila,

Your list is perfectly respectable in terms of garden-variety best 20 fantasy players in the league. However, what you need to keep in mind is that your head-to-head league has a lot of very peculiar categories that get equal weight with the big categories.

As a result, you’d be well-served to focus on 5 or 6 categories and target specific players who fill those needs. To explain: Zach Randolph is a great scorer and rebounder. Not much else. I’ll bet there are a bunch of guys in the league who get fewer minutes/touches so they lead the league in fewest turnovers, technicals or fouls. That makes them three-category threats and possibly more valuable than Randolph.

All I’m saying is, look into those "minor" categories. Target guys who can help. Don’t go down a list.


Question: I have a draft coming up. There are 18 teams with 12 players per team. I have to pre-rank 216 players. I was just curious as to what order your players would be. After reading your articles, you certainly know what you are talking about. Keep those articles coming!! -FNBA GM

Dear FNBA,

I wish we all operated in the same league under the same rules, InsideHoops would have to pay me $21,600 ($100 per ranking).

Don’t waste your time with long lists FNBA. Target players with a strategy. Take guys who fulfill the categories you need to be successful.

But with respect to extremely deep leagues, here’s some advice. When you get to the bottom of the draft, Do No Harm.

No one shooting under .430, no one with more than 2 to’s per game, no one shooting below .75 for a ft%. No one who will hurt the good work done by your top picks. If that means taking players who hardly play, so be it.


Question: Without a doubt, my league has been won by 3rd-6th round picks. My question is can you give me your take on the following players? (These are guys who I feel are middle round selections). Richard Jefferson; Lamar Odom; Corey Maggette; Gilbert Arenas; Kirk Hinrich. -MP

Dear MP,

Those guys are mid-rounders. Depending on your league, their values may differ. However, based on my views:

Richard Jefferson - 3rd rounder. His percentages will drop, but rebounds will rise. His defensive stats are not as good as you may think.

Lamar Odom - Tough to call. I fear most of the guys on the US Olympic team, plus he had problems in LA last time he was there. I think he is solid pick, but for someone else.

Corey Maggette - Beware. He is a good scorer and rebounder at guard. He doesn’t pass, steal, shoot particularly well.

Gilbert Arenas - Great. Injury prone. Let him be great for someone else.

Kirk Hinrich - Sure why not. 5th round.


Question: What type of players do u suggest stocking up on? -MR

Dear MR,

Big men, big men, big men. They are the running-backs and catchers of the fantasy world. Every team has one but they are rarely any good. Everyone has that annoying "C" on their roster that needs to be filled…and he always kills the team. If you have too many good ones, you can trade up easily.

A perfect example of this is below…


Question: After the draft, my guard rotation was Kobe, Ray Allen, Sam Cassell, Gil Arenas, Joe Johnson and Finley. My center rotation was ... *gulp* ... Rasho and Chris Bosh. I traded Mr. Cassell for Samuel Dalembert. Now on paper it looks like I got ripped, by the voice in my head reasoned that Cassell is 35 with injury concerns and an attitude problem, while Dalembert's production last season when he got minutes was fantastic, and should provide me with a ton of blocks and rebounds. -Baa

Dear Baa,

You did a great job. Sure, Cassell is an all-star, an objectively a better player than Dalembert. However, you needed to fill a need. Traded "down" but in doing so improved you team.

Just to point out to MR (above), Baa’s fellow owner just got a better player just because he had bigs to spare.


My question: Which format do you recommend and why? -RD

Dear RD,

Let me explain my philosophy…I think fantasy leagues should reflect the sport. Football leagues must heavily weigh touchdowns. Yards are easy, TD’s are hard.

In following my philosophy, I hold these truths to be self-evident:

1. A league must be Head-to-Head with Playoffs. Basketball is a playoff sport. Since more than half the teams make the playoffs in the NBA, it would be nonsensical to not have a "post-season" in a fantasy league.

2. A league must use a few broad categories. Baseball’s strange fascination with percentages are because the stats in baseball are so rare. A good game by a baseball player is like binary code - 1 run, 1 hit, 0 SB’s, and 1 RBI. They need percentages to reach double figures. Basketball is much bigger sport. Guys get 10 rebounds, 20 points, 5 assists, 2 blocks, 1 steal. We don’t need percentages to create big numbers.

3. A league must have a ton of trash talk. It's not a coincidence that the greatest basketball player of all time (Jordan) was also a great trash talker. If you find yourself in a quiet league, then you better start it up.


Question: I told my girl that she reminded me of Vince Carter - basically she never wants to go out because she is always sick or achy or something. I’m not sure she knows who Carter is, but she knows I compared her to a guy in an unflattering way. She hasn’t spoken to me in a week. Help Me. -My Girl is VC

Dear VC,

Tough one dude. You cannot let the two worlds collide. I love basketball and I love the ladies, but the twain very seldom meet.

Here’s the thing - she is not upset because you compared her to a basketball player, she is upset because you were complaining about her constant whiney aches and pains.

Give her a week. Send her flowers with an apology card.

Call the day the flowers arrive. Ask how she’s feeling. She will say "Ehh. Ok, I guess." Now comes the part where you come back to life:

"I UNDERSTAND that you don’t feel good. You work so hard and run yourself down. Can I bring you over some nice hot soup? It may not cure anything, but it’ll feel good."

This will get you back in the door.

At this point some guys have an instinct to make a joke about the whole VC thing. Use all your power to avoid that. And don’t say thing like, "I really am sorry" or "So am I forgiven?" You’ve already apologized, in writing. If you are over her place, then by definition you are forgiven.

Good luck…oh and also, don’t try too hard with this one. She sounds like a pain.

More Inbox next week. If you have any questions, ask the

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