• The first two weeks are the toughest part of the fantasy season. You want to get off to a good start. You want to make a good first impression on your league. You really don’t want to vomit all over yourself and start out in a hole and make things worse by not heeding the advice that comes in the form of poetry by Axl Rose.

    You may be staring at your early deficit which makes you think about your lineup and that some of your players aren’t performing as well as you had originally hoped. You think it’ll turn around later in the week, but it didn’t and only got worse. Now you’re starting to sweat a little and you hope your league doesn’t catch you sweating. You’re starting to think about going through your waiver wire and maybe pick up the guy that’s having a hot start, but then what will the other league owners think. They’ll think you’re overreacting, no they’ll know you’re overreacting. Wait, what do you care what the other owners think, you know what you’re doing and oh dammit, someone else claimed him. Then more sweat starts to will come and that was your favorite shirt and now you’ll have to take it to the dry cleaners because now it’s full of sweat and you’re pretty sure you also got a little bit of soy sauce on there too from that date you went on and now you’re concerned that the dry cleaner can’t get it out, but you can’t afford to get another nice shirt because you spend so much on fantasy leagues and now your date probably thinks you’re a disheveled neurotic mess and now you’re already in too deep in and…

    Breathe. It’s one week.

    It’s human nature to want to succeed right away, but you have to think about the long haul. Rome wasn’t built in a day as a guy who is an expert in corny Dadisms would say. Think about it, do you really think that these scenarios are going to be plausible throughout the whole season?

    JaVale McGee will finish as a top-20 player.

    Garrett Temple will finish as a top-30 player.

    Nik Stauskas and Nemanja Bjelica will finish as top-50 players.

    Kawhi Leonard will finish outside the top-50 with two fully functional quads.

    Kevin Love and Donovan Mitchell will finish outside of the top-100.

    I’m sure there are a ton of other examples, but you get the point. Seasons and championships aren’t won or lost when the majority of the league has only played two games. NBA coaches are still figuring out their rotations and what lineup combinations work best. NBA players could still be shaking off some rust and building chemistry with their teammates. What this means to you is that, yes, you should be sniffing out your waiver wire like a dog that just discovered a sidewalk full of ass-scented fire hydrants. But it doesn’t you shouldn’t be marking your territory by giving up on a player you truly believed in after a couple of bad games.

    Learn from these two games. Make adjustments, not rash decisions. Get out of your own head and reset for the next few weeks. If things still aren’t going right after that time, then yeah, do what everyone thinks you’re going to do and totally freak out. Until then hang in there, do your homework again, set your lineups and remember that you and I’ve got what it takes to make it.

    PLAYER OF THE WEEK WHO HAS A PERSONAL VENDETTA AGAINST ME

    The perfect encapsulation of overthinking the first week then making a completely rash decision about it is Jordan Bell. The Warriors played 3 games this week and were going to do so without DeMarcus Cousins. Furthermore, Draymond Green wasn’t 100% healthy. Bell’s competition for minutes were the dynamic duo of Kevon Looney and Damian Jones. This would be all fine and good, except that I ignored my own idiot ramblings in my Bold Predictions when I said “Steve Kerr threw cold water on a breakout by saying that he’ll be sharing minutes with Kevon Looney and Damian Jones for reasons that are mainly… who the hell am I to argue with the head coach of a damn dynasty.”

    SO DAMN YOU JORDAN BELL. When I said I wanted a breakout season from you that doesn’t mean wait until January to start making the second-year leap. And I know I’m preaching patience to all my readers, but no, I’m not about to take my own advice. Start breaking out pronto young man!

    YOU’RE PROBABLY EATING THE BAR THIS WEEK IF YOUR DRAFT LOOKED LIKE THIS

    Round 1 – Nikola Jokic
    Round 2 – Jimmy Butler
    Round 3 – Rudy Gobert
    Round 4 – Eric Bledsoe
    Round 5 – Enes Kanter
    Round 6 – Nikola Mirotic
    Round 7 – Tim Hardaway Jr.
    Round 8 – Joe Ingles
    Round 9 – Trae Young
    Round 10 – De’Aaron Fox
    Round 11 – Caris LeVert
    Round 12 – Bobby Portis
    Round 13 – Danilo Gallinari

    YOU’RE PROBABLY BEING EATEN BY THE BAR THIS WEEK IF YOUR DRAFT LOOKED LIKE THIS

    Round 1 – Giannis Antetokounmpo
    Round 2 – Kyrie Irving
    Round 3 – Kevin Love
    Round 4 – Clint Capela
    Round 5 – Jamal Murray
    Round 6 – Paul Millsap
    Round 7 – Jonas Valanciunas
    Round 8 – Kris Dunn
    Round 9 – Evan Fournier
    Round 10 – Darren Collison
    Round 11 – Kyle Anderson
    Round 12 – Jakob Poeltl
    Round 13 – Mario Hezonja

    The lesson: Again, be patient. These draft results are going to look drastically different again next week.

    ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS

    Since the Facepalm is now running on Tuesdays instead of Mondays, I’m going to change up some of the players I like and don’t like for the week since most of you will have already set your lineups. Wasn’t my decision, that’s all on Panda. Hey, you’re making me look stupid. Get out here, Panda Jerk!

    Instead, I’ll be looking at some mid to late-tier players who I’ll be keeping an eye on throughout to week. Based on how their past few and upcoming few games go, I’ll decide whether or not I will be confidently holding and feeling strongly about (rock), or feeling a little bit flimsy or unsure of (paper) or will just be cutting altogether with the same pleasure of an elementary school kid making art class snowflakes (scissors, obviously). These are the players we drafted who can make or break our seasons and will be dissected most when we try to make moves to the top of the standings. Here is where some of these players are in my thought process.

    ROCK

    Caris LeVert – Just getting this out of the way. Enjoy the ride everyone.

    Malcolm Brogdon – He may wind up being one of those always underappreciated players in fantasy and reality. He may never be great, but he does almost everything well and almost nothing poorly with secure minutes well into the 30s.

    Dennis Schroder – Sunday gave us our first glimpse at how Schroder would be playing alongside of Russell Westbrook and it wasn’t all that bad. He’ll never be a great shooter, but his sub 30% mark can and should improve and the Thunder desperately need someone else to step up outside of Russ, PG13, and Steven Adams.

    Jae Crowder – I have been bullish on Crowder for some time now and he seems to be settling into role on a very good Jazz team. If he can keep his percentages up, the minutes should stay where they are along with the opportunities for cash counters.

    PAPER

    Mario Hezonja – We all want the cocky Croatian to go off, but his Knicks tenure has gotten off to a tough start. Despite the shrieking from Phil Jackson’s confidants, it’s the new Knicks brass that brought him in and with Kevin Knox now on the shelf, let’s give him another couple of weeks to see if he can pick his game up.

    The Dallas Mavericks – No one outside of Luka Doncic and DeAndre Jordan were being drafted to exceed top-100 value, but there’s enough contributions being made across the team from Dwight Powell, Wes Matthews, J.J. Barea, and Dennis Smith Jr. to warrant holds, even if there are concerning aspects about each of their games.

    Kyle Anderson – It’s really concerning that both Garrett Temple and Chandler Parsons are outplaying Anderson right now. Trying to keep the long view in mind and that he had a nagging foot issue during camp and that the Grizzlies made him a priority in the offseason.

    SCISSORS

    D.J. Augustin – An increase in minutes as the de facto starting point guard in Orlando isn’t translating into increased production. He’s always been a poor shooter and isn’t enough of a facilitator or defensive presence to warrant keeping just for his starting role.

    Josh Jackson – If you’re in dynasty leagues, you’re probably going to hold onto Jackson for dear life, but in redraft leagues I have no idea what we’re all hoping for at this point. He’s going to be so erratic and potentially kill percentages on a crowded team. In addition, raise your hand if you have faith that the Suns know how to properly develop young players……that’s what I thought.

    Jaylen Brown – His minutes were under 30 per game when Gordon Hayward has played and is doing nothing well to justify a hold. He may provide a high-volume scoring burst here or there but with the Celtics this crowded, as an owner, I’d be looking to the wires to see if anyone else can help across in categories of need.

    ADVENTURES IN DFS

    The hardest thing I’m finding right now between using both FanDuel and DraftKings are managing the price differences among players. Even if I want to build across both platforms with the same players, each service is rating them differently and making it tougher to keep lineups consistent across both. You’ll rarely find two players that are priced the same. Part of this issue is the general structure for both apps. DK is a $50,000 salary cap for 8 players whereas FD is $60,000 for 9. The other part of it is that both are companies that have carefully built business models that equally try to tug at my arms for individualized attention and I’m sure by January both of my shoulders will be ripped from my sockets.

    My one very rudimentary observation is that DraftKings tends to be much more reactionary to recent games. One example of this was Friday’s slate that saw Kyrie Irving drop to $6,600 after one bad game right ahead of De’Aaron Fox at $6,500 after one good game. Whereas FanDuel has Kyrie at $8,000 and remembering that he’s Kyrie Irving and has a much broader history of putting up big games. Perhaps each methodology has its own benefits to where you can spot opportunities to extract value. Either way, now there are two platforms that are giving me two very unique and equally painful headaches about seeking out value guys in an effort to separate me from my money.

    CAREER LEAGUE UPDATE

    Leave it to the founder and commissioner of the Career League to find himself in a post-draft pickle. One particular strategy that was employed when doing the draft was to pick a number of veterans who have had very long careers in the league but are still going or haven’t declared their intention to retire. Late in the draft I decided to get in on that action by taking Richard Jefferson.

    As you all now know, Richard Jefferson decided to retire about a week before the regular season began. This wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but the timing of his announcement came right before we had to declare our final rosters. That mean that my team would be over the allowed number of retired players. Jefferson would be retired player number 11 with a league maximum of 10. The lesson in all this is that I spent half the summer making sure the rules of this league were as airtight as possible then Richard Jefferson of all people figured out how to poke a big dumb hole right through it. I had to ditch him out of spite for making me have to not resort to shenanigans in a league that still technically in utero.

    BLOODY SUNDAY

    It was an odd mix of Bloody Sunday in week 1. James Harden sans CP3 helped me turn around a 2-6-1 deficit into a 6-3 victory. However, a detour over to a mason’s convention for Jamal Murray helped turn a ridiculous 8-1 lead into a very narrow 5-4 victory. I’m in five different leagues this year so I’m guaranteed to have a number of kicks to my groin at some point this season, but I somehow was able to escape any significant weekend trauma to my manhood this week.

    Anytime you’ve got a good Bloody Sunday story. Reach out to me on Twitter @JoshMillman and I’ll happily, and not so happily, commiserate with you.

    Enjoy the rest of the week people!

Fantasy News

  • Dante Exum
    PG, Utah Jazz

    Dante Exum (patellar tendon rehab) is still not ready to roll and will miss the Jazz's preseason game vs. the Kings on Monday.

    Exum has been plagued with injuries his whole career, making him hard to trust in fantasy, even in the deepest of leagues.

    Source: Jason Anderson on Twitter

  • Shabazz Napier
    PG, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Shabazz Napier put up 11 points with four rebounds and three assists on 4-of-7 shooting in a win over Maccabi Haifa on Sunday.

    Napier should have a pretty solid shot at the backup point guard spot, but that will likely not translate into fantasy value in standard leagues. He could have value in points and 3-pointers in deep leagues, but could be left on draft boards otherwise.

  • Jarrett Culver
    G-F, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Jarrett Culver put up 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting in a 131-101 win over Maccabi Haifa on Sunday.

    He added three rebounds and four assists to the box score. Culver should have a solid role in the Wolves' rotation, but he might not have fantasy value in standard leagues. He could be a triples and steals specialist in deeper leagues.

  • Treveon Graham
    SF, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Treveon Graham played well in a win over Maccabi Haifa as he put up 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting in 12 minutes.

    He made both of his attempts from beyond the arc and added two steals . The former Net will likely not have a key role in the Wolves' rotation, so he is not worth drafting in most formats.

  • Moritz Wagner
    PF, Washington Wizards

    Moritz Wagner did it all in 24 minutes vs. the Bucks, registering 10 points, four rebounds, two assists, three steals, one block and one 3-pointer.

    Wagner was productive in his last game vs. the Knicks as a starter, but this time he was great coming off the bench. The Wizards are going to lose a lot of games and Wagner will have opportunities to earn himself minutes on this rebuilding roster. After not getting many opportunities during his rookie campaign, keep Wagner in mind as you approach the last rounds of your draft.

  • Rui Hachimura
    PF, Washington Wizards

    Against the Bucks on Sunday, Rui Hachimura produced 10 points (4-of-13 FGs, 1-of-8 FTs), 12 rebounds and three steals.

    It was a mixed bag for Hachimura overall. While it is great to see the counting stats, Hachimura would be a real drain on fantasy rosters if he shot this poorly throughout the season. He is still slated for a starting role on the Wizards, and is well worth a late-round flier to see if he can continue to deliver numbers without the inefficient shooting.

  • Thomas Bryant
    C, Washington Wizards

    Thomas Bryant had a nice performance on Sunday vs. the Bucks, scoring 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting with five rebounds.

    Bryant was also 4-of-8 from 3-point range. It is starting to look like Bryant will easily eclipse his average of 0.5 3-pointers from last year. He did this all in 26 minutes of action, and continues to look like a strong mid-round selection.

  • Ivica Zubac
    C, Los Angeles Clippers

    Ivica Zubac had a solid performance on Sunday with 10 points and eight boards on 3-of-4 shooting in 20 minutes.

    Zubac is going to be the starting center this season as the Clippers will bring Montrezl Harrell off the bench again. He added one steal and two blocks to the stat sheet. He should be drafted in the later rounds this season as he could provide value in efficiency, rebounding and blocks.

  • George Hill
    PG, Milwaukee Bucks

    George Hill got the start on Sunday and was relatively quiet with five points, five rebounds and three steals.

    With Eric Bledsoe out for the next two to three weeks, Hill should be able to produce late-round value for the first few games of the regular season. If he gets off to a hot start, it is possible Hill could build himself a larger role, but with the talent on this roster that will be a difficult task for the veteran. Hill often finds himself deferring to his teammates, and does not make for a long-term quality fantasy asset in standard leagues.

  • Jerome Robinson
    SG, Los Angeles Clippers

    Jerome Robinson played 32 minutes in a win over Melbourne United on Sunday and scored 15 points on 4-of-11 shooting.

    He will likely not have this big of a role in the regular season, but it was nice to see him show some flashes of offense in this game. He added five rebounds, three assists and two triples to the box score. He can be left on draft boards to start the season as he likely does not have a spot in the Clippers' rotation.