Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:


Already have an account? Log in here.


Forgot Password


The Questions You SHOULD Be Asking This Early In The NBA Season

Most of the questions I've gotten since the season has started (and I've gotten a lot of questions) have been along the lines of "should I pick up ______?" or "should I trade _______ for _____?"

I've given mostly the same response--that you can't really make those decisions without context and 3 games is really a pitiful sample size to take any kind of drastic action on. Sure there are trends and new situations that are very encouraging signs but in general, those are not the types of questions you should be asking during week 1 of the season.

The beginning of the season is the best time to talk about the decision-making process, on how to ask the right questions to win in the long run rather than catch a hot streak from a week 1 pickup. These are the questions you should be asking, and trying to answer as the season goes on.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NBA and DFS Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive DFS tools, Lineup Optimizer and daily Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!


What stats does my team need?

If you drafted a punt build, you already asked yourself this question all the way throughout your draft, and that's great. But even as the season wears on, you should be asking yourself this question every single week all the way throughout the season, because the answer to this question will change due to re-calibrated projections as well as on a weekly basis depending on the opponent in front of you.

Sometimes it's Right to "Trade Down"

Without context, the answer to the "should I make this trade" question can not be answered correctly, and the right answer in a vacuum can oftentimes be wrong. A lot of factors need to be considered when it comes to evaluating a trade - your current team make-up, your league's make-up, your league's settings, playoff schedules, positional needs and scarcity, differing opinions and projections etc. You can boil all of these things down to the question above: "what stats does my team need?".

So far in this young season, I've already made two trades that would be a clear no from a value perspective in a vacuum, as well as turned down a couple trades that would be a clear yes, but the reason why I made those moves comes down to the simple fact that overall, the decision leaves me with a better team.

One deal I outlined in a previous article, dealing Jrue Holiday for LaMarcus Aldridge, despite the fact that I have Jrue at a top-20 projection. The team is a punt 3s team that is lacking in efficiency numbers because I missed out on some important mid-round targets due to reaches. I expected to get one of Ayton, Vucevic or Kanter but had all three of them sniped right before I was able to get them, and it left my team weaker in the %s and points, while I was still overloaded in steals and assists in no small part due to the strengths of my first 2 picks, Nikola Jokic and John Wall. Trading down made sense here, and my team is much stronger overall.

The other trade looks even worse on paper, and most people would scoff at it in a vacuum, but it addressed key weaknesses in a 16-team league and leaves me with a better outlook overall. I traded Ricky Rubio and Stanley Johnson for Buddy Hield and Allen Crabbe, essentially a 1-for-2 with Johnson as just drop filler. I almost never deal 1 for 2, as I assign a very high value to a free roster spot, and if someone were to ask me if they should make this trade without any context, my reaction would be an instant no. But the team in question is a punt FG% team that had glaring holes in 3s and points, while being well overloaded in steals and assists. Hield and Crabbe help to fill those holes, and even post-trade, I still project as the strongest steals team in the league and a top 3 assists team, which meant that Rubio, even with a top-50 to top-40 valuation, was expendable in this context.

In the early season, context is everything when it comes to trading, and with the small sample size issue, trades should be made based on what your team needs and not a blind look at value and buying low/selling high. The same thing can be said about waiver wire pickups, and the decision for making an add should come after you've asked yourself the same question: "what stats does my team need?"


What do I need to do to win this week?

Matchups are fluid. That's something that seems to be forgotten by a large majority of the community, and it's something that becomes increasingly more important the more competitive your league is. What it boils down to is that in each given week, you'll need a different baseline of production to maximize your categories won, and figuring that out and understanding what that is over each of your 20-22 match-ups across the season could mean the difference between locking up a first-round bye or sitting out the playoffs while your league-mates play for a title.

Adjust and Conquer

During each given matchup, each of the categories your league plays with falls into one of 3 camps: Categories you project to win comfortably, Categories you project to lose comfortably and Contested Categories. In more competitive leagues where the lions share of teams in the league will have some kind of punt strategy in place, it's really important to recognize which stat falls under which one of these 3 buckets, and plan accordingly.

For example, if you're punting FT% and your opponent is punting assists, you will most likely be able to skimp on assists and load further up on bigs in your utility spots to fight for rebounds and FG% which are likely to be contested categories. This may mean benching a 4-game week for someone like Trae Young for a 4-game waiver stream like Cody Zeller simply because a lot of Young's production will be wasted in this matchup in categories you'll win anyways, while Zeller will help push you over the top in the contested ones. If anyone were to ask you, who do I start, Trae Young or Cody Zeller, you would almost certainly say Young, and in a vacuum, that is absolutely true, but there will be cases where that will not be right and recognizing how to answer that question correctly 20 times over the course of a season (multiplied by however many leagues you are in) will definitely help you pile up wins a lot more consistently.

That's also why I like to grab players with polarized stat-spreads at the end of drafts and off waivers, where their overall value is muted due to one or 2 very bad stats while having excellent marks in others, over guys who are just mediocre across the board. I ended up with a lot of players like Trae Young (high 3s and assists with bad FG%), Montrezl Harrell (high FG% and defensive stats, low FT, 3 and assists) etc. These guys allow me to change the entire make-up of my team and produce 6-3 or 7-2 weeks against a gauntlet of different teams and strategies. It also helps a lot in weeks where your star players have bad schedules (2-game weeks, tough 3-game weeks), allowing you to hit certain categories hard and perform damage control in order to salvage a 5-4 or even 4-5 week where others might have taken a significantly bigger L.

Adjustments are such a key part of real basketball, and it's easy to forget that in fantasy, they are just as important. Every week, take a look at your matchups and ask yourself "what do I need to do to win this week?" Sometimes the answer may not be what you think.


Who are my Biggest Competitors?

One of the tried and true cliches in poker is "if you can't spot the fish at the table, then you're the fish". That little nugget of wisdom applies to fantasy basketball as well, and the further along you get in the season, the more you should be thinking about how you are going to win against the other top teams in the league.

Shark Watching

Usually a week or two into the season, I have a reasonable idea which teams will be the stronger teams and which will be the weaker ones. The draft is maybe 60% of building a good team. While valuation and expectations can change drastically with key waiver pickups and trades, you can adjust those expectations as the season moves on, and it's reasonable to have somewhat of an idea who is a threat and how your team stacks up against them even this early in the year.

Once you figure out who the sharks are, it's pretty easy to recognize what build the expected top teams are in and how your team matches up with them. In the regular season, its all fine and dandy to crush the weaker teams and take small wins or minimize losses against stronger ones - that's a recipe for solidly making the playoffs and taking your chances there, but it's never a bad idea to make moves to position yourself better against the teams that you will likely be facing when the weeks start to matter more.

This means making moves that may look like laterals or downgrades on the surface, but specifically help you in contested categories against the teams you might face off against in the playoffs. Most people know to look at playoff schedule when making forward-looking trades, but even players without a crazy 4-4-4 schedule can still be useful targets if they are helping you get over the top in categories that would be very close. When it doesn't matter if you win 5-4 or 7-2, stat polarization becomes more important than ever, and the opportunity to get guys on your roster who can provide that in the playoffs is something to always look out for over the course of a season.

Always be asking yourself "who are my biggest competitors?" and come up with a plan to beat them. If you don't know who the fish are by the middle of the season, chances are it's you.

More Recent Articles


Engel's Angles: ADP Insights, Perspectives on Aaron Judge and Ketel Marte (Premium Content)

Spring training exhibition play has just opened and expert draft season is here. The trends are being firmly established on how to draft, and where to draft certain players. We all know pure ace top starters are going to be taken very early, and there will be a high emphasis on garnering top speed merchants.... Read More

RotoBaller Friends & Family Industry Mock Draft: What the Experts Were Thinking

The RotoBaller Friends & Family Mock Draft has become an annual tradition where we gather some of the biggest names from the fantasy baseball world and put together a mock draft just as spring training has commenced. Thanks to RT Sports for once again hosting and providing a custom draft site where readers could follow... Read More

H2H Points League Draft Strategy

Points leagues are essentially the rawest version of fantasy baseball. These are not players, these are stat-lines and you want to put up as many points per week as possible. Do not get too attached to underperforming players who have name-value and potential. There is a stark difference in draft strategy when it comes to... Read More

2020 Catcher Rankings - Fantasy Baseball Dynasty Leagues

Spring Training is upon us! Pitchers and catchers have reported and we finally have some box scores to desperately over-analyze. The catcher position can really be a headache for dynasty owners trying to plan for the future. Needless to say, it is not a position that many MLB teams count on for offense, leaving fantasy players... Read More

Questionable Closers: An Early Look at Some Unsettled Bullpens

As anyone who has played fantasy baseball for even five minutes knows, bullpens around the league are always in flux. There are fewer and fewer closers who are no doubt, always in for the ninth inning, always healthy, never slumping, and always celebrating wins for their team. We're seeing more and more teams go with... Read More

2020 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers – Aaron Civale

With Mike Clevinger sidelined to start the year and Corey Kluber off to Texas, the Indians will rely on the emergence of Aaron Civale to bolster their typically-formidable rotation. Civale impressed in his rookie season with 10 starts, 57.2 innings pitched (IP), a 3-4 win-loss record, 2.34 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and 46 Ks. Due to the... Read More

2020 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers - Didi Gregorius

The Philadelphia Phillies finished 2019 with a record of 81-81, which was only good enough for a fourth-place finish in the NL East. They have since added the likes of Zack Wheeler and Didi Gregorius to improve their chances of a division title in 2020. They have also brought in highly-touted manager Joe Girardi to... Read More

2020 Keeper Value Rankings - Shortstop

If you're keeping up with the Keeper Value Rankings, you know we've already covered First Base, Second Base, and Third Base. Today, we will address Shortstop. These rankings are intended for Keeper Leagues in which a fantasy owner must forfeit a designated draft pick in order to keep a player into the upcoming season. These rankings are based... Read More

ADP Showdown: Anthony Rendon vs. Rafael Devers

The first two rounds in your fantasy draft can be challenging because each available player is tremendously skilled with significant upside. Every pick looks desirable, so it’s important to try to determine which player has a greater likelihood of producing superior fantasy production. This can be accomplished by examining overall production and team context.  This... Read More

2020 Fantasy Baseball Staff Rankings

Below you will find RotoBaller's 2020 fantasy baseball rankings, tiers and auction dollar values for the 2020 MLB season. Our Ranking Wizard displays our staff's rankings for various league formats, all in one easy place. Here's what you'll find: Mixed, Head-to-Head, Points, AL/NL Only, Two-Catcher Top 2020 prospects, Dynasty leagues, Keeper values Export the rankings easily... Read More

MLB Closers and Saves: Fantasy Baseball Depth Charts

Saves are an important component for many fantasy baseball leagues. Closers are one of the most volatile positions in fantasy baseball, and one of the highest turnover positions in MLB. Each year, closers drop like flies and many MLB teams make in-season changes due to injuries or poor performance. Stay on top of all closer depth... Read More

Industry Expert Mock: ADP Surprises

Pierre Camus and Nicklaus Gaut break down the recent RotoBaller Friends & Family industry mock draft to see how the experts fared and look at some of the most surprising picks, for better or worse. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and... Read More

Fantasy Insider Angles - Thor, Jeff McNeil, J.D. Davis and More (Premium Content)

Success in baseball isn’t always just about pure numbers. For those who play the game and are inside the clubhouse, it’s also about creating the right chemistry and environment. As the New York Mets opened spring training this season, there was a fresh air of optimism around the team. It also seemed to extend to... Read More

Points League Ranker Tool - NFBC

All other Premium Tools can be accessed on the premium dashboard. Brought to you by RotoBaller's Nicklaus Gaut (@Nt_BurtReynolds), this Points Rankings tool uses RotoBaller's 2020 MLB projections to build out custom rankings for NFBC Points Leagues. The tool uses the default NFBC scoring settings. All fantasy baseball platforms have different scoring settings for their points leagues.... Read More

Points League Ranker Tool - CBS

All other Premium Tools can be accessed on the premium dashboard. Brought to you by RotoBaller's Nicklaus Gaut (@Nt_BurtReynolds), this Points Rankings tool uses RotoBaller's 2020 MLB projections to build out custom rankings for CBS Points Leagues. The tool uses the default CBS scoring settings. All fantasy baseball platforms have different scoring settings for their points leagues.... Read More

More Recent Articles


NFL Scouting Combine Preview - Woo Fantasy Podcast

RotoBaller fantasy football analyst Brandon Murchison is joined by John Laub to preview the upcoming NFL Scouting Combine. In depth analysis of the incoming prospects from a fantasy prospective. Where do these players rank going in and how should you value them after the testing is done? Find out in this episode of Woo Fantasy!... Read More

Mike Williams - Dynasty Buy or Sell?

Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano discuss the dynasty value of Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams. Will he be as effective without Philip Rivers at quarterback in 2020 or is he a player to sell now? Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us... Read More

XFL Week 3 - Opportunity Risers and Fallers

I'm afraid some folks out there won't like this because they never wanted the XFL to establish itself, but we're already at a point when we can't count the number of games players with the fingers of our hands! That's right, it's been three weeks and 12 matches already. We previously looked at target risers... Read More

NFL Draft Combine Preview: Wide Receivers

The diva position of the NFL has seen an influx of playmakers enter the league in recent years. With so many teams moving to spread offenses, gone are the days of the third year breakout formula that many fantasy owners were used to. Opportunities are growing in these passing attacks each season, meaning we see... Read More

XFL Week 3 - Target Risers and Fallers

I'm afraid some folks out there won't like this because they never wanted the XFL to establish itself, but we're already at a point when we can't count the number of games players with the fingers of our hands! That's right, it's been three weeks and 12 games already. With three weeks already in the... Read More

Biggest Surprises of 2019 - Quarterback

The quarterback position in fantasy football is always one that either gets seriously overvalued, or seriously underrated. We all saw just how much of a difference maker someone like Lamar Jackson could be this year, or Patrick Mahomes last year. This year, we saw Mahomes get drafted extremely early, and while he was still good,... Read More

What Went Wrong with Odell Beckham Jr?

"What Went Wrong?" is a Rotoballer offseason series exploring fantasy players who underperformed their ADP. We'll explain why they fell below expectations and try to determine what it means for their value going forward. Finally free from the decrepit arm of Eli Manning and away from the torturous New York media, Odell Beckham Jr was... Read More

NFL Draft Combine Preview: Running Backs

What always seems to be the highlight for fantasy owners as preparations begin before the NFL Draft is the running back position. Owners clamor to get their hands on the new blood in the league as it has recently shown that it can pay off big time. We've seen the likes of Ezekiel Elliott, Christian... Read More

RB Opportunity Share and Impact (AFC East & North): 2019 Review

We wrap up with our coverage of each of the eight NFL divisions, discussing the teams that are part of them and the running backs that were part of those teams in 2019. To present those teams and players I use a set of easy-to-read charts: treemaps. The graphics will hold all of the players... Read More

Dynasty Price Check - Adam Thielen

Many of you have already begun planning and building your 2020 rosters. This includes best ball owners who have assembled teams in that popular format. A number of owners in redraft leagues are inspecting the early rankings, while those of you who are involved in dynasty leagues have continued your process of relentless roster evaluation. As... Read More

XFL DFS Lineup Picks For Week 3: The Checkdown

Check out this week's XFL fantasy football preview including game breakdowns, player analysis, DFS lineup picks and more for week three of the 2020 XFL season. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well! Be sure to also tune... Read More

D.J. Chark - Dynasty Price Check

Are you ready for some football? If you are in a dynasty fantasy football league, you most certainly are! The time between the Super Bowl and the NFL Draft is a prime opportunity for hardcore owners to evaluate their current team and prepare for their upcoming rookie drafts. We've already looked at young players like Courtland... Read More