Chances are you lost your fantasy basketball league this past season. That’s not an insult – them’s just the breaks (and the odds). There are many possible levels of depression for you to fall into as you look back on your failed campaign, ranging from shoulder-shrugging apathy to something akin to the razor-sharp despair I felt upon hearing that my long-time crush Natalie Portman was knocked up by some French dancer.
If you’re in that “Portman Zone” of sorrow, I have good news for you: you’re already closer to taking a step in the right direction next season. This shows that you actually care and are probably open to learning from your mistakes to get some delicious vengeance in 2011-12.
Here’s a look at five of the more common blunders fantasy basketball owners made, and lessons to take away from each of them.
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Mistake No. 1: You were too late on pickups
Like Craig Sager before the second and fourth quarters of games on TNT, sometimes life just gets in the way. Everyday responsibilities and occurrences prevent you from keeping tabs on every single NBA player making a blip on the fantasy radar. There are just too many things to monitor – too many games, too many injuries and too many battles for minutes. So it’s understandable if you missed out on the likes of Dorell Wright, Kyle Lowry and Wesley Matthews this past season. Just know that there are ways to streamline the process of keeping up on which players you should consider adding each morning. Forget about monitoring the nightly box scores on your own, and look for the digested recaps and waiver-wire recommendations that various websites, blogs and Twitter users offer for free. Also, the site that hosts your fantasy league probably has a research feature that shows you which players are the hot adds (and drops) of the day.
Mistake No. 2: You were too quick/late to drop players
One of the drawbacks of being on top of each night’s box scores is that you become hyper-sensitive to the daily rise and fall of players’ values, especially if there are other owners in your league who somehow manage to make the best pickups in the wee hours of the night when normal people are asleep. If you were diligent with your NBA tracking last season, there’s a good chance you prematurely cut a valuable player loose after he turned in a clunker. This grief is compounded when an opponent (especially one that is vying with you in your league’s standings, or one who you personally know and dislike) reaps the benefits of your hastiness and scoops that player up just in time for his resurgence. On the other hand, if you’re extremely risk averse, you probably held onto struggling players (especially those with recognizable names) a tad too long – maybe until the very end of the season. The two-fold lesson to be learned here is pretty simple: 1) If you’re too quick with your virtual scissors, exercise a bit more patience. Factor in a player’s history of consistency, the fluidity of his team’s rotation, his health status and hold/drop recommendations from fantasy basketball “experts,” among other things, to determine his value beyond that one bad game or injury. Once you’ve acquired a broader perspective on that player, you’re ready to make a wiser decision. Also, putting in the extra few minutes to do this research could give you just enough time to cool off from your initial judgment. 2) If you’re usually too slow to cut ties with one of your struggling players, know where to draw the line. Understand the ramifications of holding dead weight in the name of patience, a seemingly virtuous undertaking that can spell death in daily-update leagues. Monitor each day’s news for quotes from coaches about detrimental plans for how he’ll distribute minutes, for example. As with impatient owners, too-tolerant owners should do all they can to make a better-informed decision by looking at the bigger picture, with the help of accessible updates and tidbits of news.