After another week of fantasy (American) football in which i could only ask, “What the hell happened (again)?” i ascended the mountains here – OK, so in Budapest that should be “gently sloping Buda hills,” but you get the idea – to seek help from a higher power. As it turns out, David Stern wasn’t available for counseling, but some valuable advice was given to me, inscribed on two stone tablets to share with the people. Behold the word of the Roundball Lord and repent!
I. Thou shalt not play favorites. Though one of the perks of fantasy sports is “owning” and “managing” your heroes, the truth is there is no “idol” in “winning fantasy basketball team.” Of course, there i was making sure my main man Sofoklis Schortsanitis fit on both of my Sporting Bet Euroleague Fantasy Challenge teams.
II. Thou shalt realize change comes. Take it from the biggest purveyor of fearless (and typically egregiously bad) predictions: The only constant in sports is that nothing is constant; dynasties end, undefeated streaks are broken, the great players eventually lose a step. Or, as they say in the business world, “past performance is no indication of future results.”
III. Thou shalt jump on the bandwagon ASAP. This one is specific to “salary cap”-style leagues such as Sporting Bet’s, i.e. those in which the same player may be on multiple teams. A general benchmark might be when a decent player (say in the 30-45 credit range) increases in value by 50 percent; that allows you to move that position up a whole other level.
IV. Thou shalt buy low and sell high. Absolutely necessary in salary cap games. Be sure to consult the Fantasy Challenge homepage for the vital “number of owners possessing a given player” statistic.
V. Thou mayest talk trash to thy heart’s content, but thou shalt wait until after week two to do so. Again, an expert in violating this rule (ahem) can tell you that there’s nothing more embarrassing than proclaiming one’s greatness after a one week victory, particularly since you may have been gifted with nice guesswork and/or a fluke or two. It’s a long Euroleague season which is only made longer by suffering nine weeks of “I told you so.”
VI. Thou shalt consider team matchups. Which team is next on the schedule is maybe the biggest factor to use in setting next week’s lineup; excepting, of course, your 60-credit studs. And don’t forget that the Sporting Bet game awards players an additional 10 percent on the stats for playing on a winning team.
VII. Thou shalt realize fantasy is not reality. An obviousity, really, but one that’s hard to get your head around sometimes; after all, it’s disappointing that, when we’re told he who makes his teammates better is the best player to have on a real-life team, these guys do little good in fantasy ball. And vice versa. Pessimists call this the Shane Battier Principle, while optimists refer to it as the Lamar Odom Factor.
VIII. Thou shalt look long and hard at stat guys and ball hogs on non-contenders. The corollary to Commandment VII, this year in Euroleague, you gotta be thinking about Billy Keys, Cedrick Banks, and Ludovic Vaty, for examples.
IX. Thou shalt never *ever* have an empty hole on thy roster. What’s that? Sofoklis is gonna miss game one? Oh man…
X. Whilst thou may give up on individual players, thou shalt never give up on thy teams. Yes, it’s frustrating when you’re sinking toward the bottom of the league table for the second half and you’re thanking the gods there’s no relegation in Euroleague fantasy basketball (believe me, i know), but what’s more frustrating to the other league owners is that guy in second-to-last place who has given up on the season and rolls over week after week to no one’s gain. Repeat after me: “There can be glory in playing the spoiler. There can be glory in playing the spoiler…”
Special for Euroleague 2009-10 fantasy play: Thou shalt forget Olimpija until the second half of the season. As Matjaž Žbogar pointed out here at Ball in Europe, Olimpija is, right now at least, a team thrown together and in desperate need of chemistry. One game is not enough to hang one’s hat on, but these guys really showed their shortcomings against the new-look Maccabi last week. There isn’t a ten-foot pole long enough to touch any of these guys for now.