Tip 5: Don’t Pick up a Player that is Strong in a Category Your Team Can Never Win

It has finally arrived, the final of five articles that discusses what any fantasy basketball manager should do before picking up a free agent!

Here are the previous 4 tips: one | two | three | four

(5) Avoid picking up a player that is strong in categories you absolutely cannot win (a tip for H2H leagues)

In a standard Yahoo Fantasy Basketball H2H league, there are 9 categories: FG%, FT%, 3PTM, Points, Assists, Rebounds, Steals, Blocks and Turnovers. There are also 20+ weeks of play if the league starts with the beginning of the NBA. What this means is that there are plenty of opportunities to accumulate “wins” throughout the season. In other words, a manager need not be concerned with winning every category each week to do well. In fact, the most efficient managers will only be concerned with improving categories that they have a chance in (and might actually win on a week-to-week basis) and forget about those in which they are obviously weak. This is something I would recommend every H2H manager do.

Let me illustrate the dilemma with an example:
(1) If a team finishes 6-3 every week for 20 weeks…
it will achieve a final record of 120-60.
(2) If a team finishes 10 weeks 8-1 and 10 weeks 3-6…
it will achieve a final record of 110-70.

What I’m trying to get at is this–if you can consistently win SIX categories across an entire H2H season, this is better than being able to dominate half of your opponents (most likely the weaker teams in your league), but be too-thinly spread out against 9 categories and lose to the other half (most likely the stronger managed teams in your league).

Therefore, when picking up a free agent, a manager should always be cognizant of his or her strengthens and improve on those, rather than fruitlessly attempt to improve in categories he or she will rarely win.

For example, if I am great in Points, Rebounds and Blocks; average in FG%, FT% and Steals; and poor in 3PTM, Assists and Turnovers, I would only want to add players that could improve my standing in those categories (P, Rb, Bl, FG, FT, Stl) and avoid adding players that would help me in 3s, Assists, and TO’s. Why?

  1. Ensures a team will be particularly strong and difficult to beat in certain categories
    See example above, if your team is unstoppable each week in 5-6 categories, you’re probably better off than a more well-rounded team that is spread too thin against tougher opponents.
  2. Lowers the amount of information a manager has to process before adding a player
    When a manager concedes a couple of categories each week in favor of dominating across many others, he reduces the amount of research and/or homework he needs to do before picking up a player. This almost certainly will improve a manger’s decision-making ability as he or she will only have to process so much information about a player before making a decision. For example: how does this addition affect these 6 categories? vs. how does this addition affect all 9 categories?
  3. A strong game by a player on your team will always have an impact on the head-to-head matchup that week
    Don’t you hate it when its Saturday night and your team is down by 25 steals–and will obviously lose the Steals category–and a player on your team goes for 7 steals in a game? Sure the 7 steals represents an amazing performance, but does it actually affect the results at the end of the week? Not at all. By focusing only on players that will improve your performance in categories that you at least have a chance at winning, a manager ensures that he is not under-utilizing his roster space. Each roster position is valuable and part of the difficultly of being a manager is knowing who to place where and who to pick up as a free agent.

In conclusion, I just want to reiterate that strong fantasy managers are smart enough to realize that they will not win each head-to-head matchup 9-0. Instead, they look for competitive advantages across six-or-so categories and concede losses in others. This way they can focus on specific categories, become expert’s in those categories and win those categories. In my mind, this is the soundest H2H strategy around.

I hope you enjoyed the How to Pickup a Free Agent series. Let me know what you liked/disliked in the comments below!

To hoops,


2 thoughts on “Tip 5: Don’t Pick up a Player that is Strong in a Category Your Team Can Never Win

  1. Nice lil article, I'm new to all this fantasy basketball. I'm trying to learn and pick things up from reading and talking to more experienced players. Theis piece was good for me because, I was trying to even everything out all CATS. And yes, it does make alot more sense if I was just to play on my strengths and add to that! Anyways, good luck with your team and I hope you do well:)


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