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Johan Lang - Surviving the Game

Tips for Fantasy Basketball Stretch Run

Making it to the end of this fantasy basketball season is no easy feat. 14 weeks of enduring painful injuries, DNP-CDs and the usual subpar performance from Ray Felton (I swear next year he breaks out). You did it though, and now you are victoriously marching towards your destiny, except for one problem, your team just became average. Forget that you had the most points or wins, or even the longest winning streak. Whether you blew your competitors away or snuck into the playoffs on last day, your teams are all amongst the best in the league, and thus whether you’re trying to slay Goliath, or “announce my presence with authority” your stats from the regular season are meaningless. You have just a good of a chance of beating the other contenders as Ice-T did in Surviving the Game*.

When it boils down to it though, isn’t that we are all trying to do? Survive the game. Until finally you can hoist your trophy, bragging rights, and in some cases a whole heap of cash. Not unlike your team, Jack Mason (Ice-T) was once a homeless man (pre-draft) that gets a chance to play for the most important element known to man, his life (a championship). Ice T meets his competitors while they are eating dinner and engaging in conversation, in your case pizza, beer, and a few computers. After a hearty dinner (25 rounds of fantasy goodness) Ice T, much like you, falls asleep with delusions of grandeur. Mason wakes up to the barrel of gun staring him in the face, you probably with a hangover, only to find out in the morning that those so called friends are now trying to hunt you down and kill you for money, or on a much smaller scale in head to head match ups for a few hundred dollars. Either way the premise is the same, kill or be killed. As Ice-T picks apart his competitors for the next forty five minutes or so, as you pick off a bunch of wins along the way until there are only four of you left. As most of you can probably figure out, Ice-T survives, and here at TradeDebate we are giving you our survival tips for the stretch run in hopes that you can too.

Don’t get cute, play your line up:  You rode these horses here, don’t put them in the stable during their most important race. One problem with basketball is that the playoff rounds are usually influenced more by the schedule than the player, but that doesn’t mean that you should grasp at straws and play Courtney Lee over your usual guys. Games are played and you have no control over what happens once that ball is in play. Pray to the fantasy gods for luck, and hope you come out the victor.

Know the rules:  Are you allowed only a certain amount of moves per week? Is your final 2 weeks instead of one? Does your line up lock on Thursday evening or before Sunday’s first game? Every little detail matters in the playoffs, so make sure to know each one. You don’t want to lose on a technicality or sit someone you normally would have started because you didn’t realize that it was a two week finale. Never hurts to double check the rules and settings, it could end up winning you a championship.

Do you research:  There are going to be some guys that you know you are playing no matter what, but those fence guys are the one you’re going to want to spend a little extra time looking at. Look at the players match ups, if they are home or not, and the ease of the schedule. Give yourself the best chance to win, and that means looking behind this year’s surface numbers.
Taking a flier:  It all comes down to catching lightening in a bottle.  If you had a debilitating injury this month (Martin, Lowry, Rubio), you need to scour the wire for a guy who has a low floor, but an extremely high ceiling. It won’t be easy at this time of the year, but guys like Iman Shumpert, Jason Thomson, and J.J. Hickson could give you the extra advantage you need to get you to the next round. I once started Ron Dayne in a pinch for my championship game in football, and he rewarded me with 153 yards, two touchdowns, and the chance to tell this story over and over again.

Go with your gut:  Finally, trust your instincts. They haven’t failed you this season; they may have in the past and probably in the future but trust what has gotten you here. You have made plenty tough calls that apparently worked in your favor, why not another? Don’t let someone influence your decision because when it comes down to it you want to second guess yourself, not your buddies opinion. If you believe that Luke Ridnour is going to have a big week then play him.

In the immortal words of Jack Mason:“There's something you should always do when you use a gun. ALWAYS check the barrel.” And with that he takes out his final foe. The gun is your line up, until you are satisfied its perfect, check the barrel. Good luck surviving the game.