March 26, 2018, 4:52 pm
Thrill of Victory. NO REALLY, THE THRILL OF VICTORY!
I spent last week wallowing in my own misery and staring lustfully at a half empty bottle of Jack Daniels wondering where it all went wrong. Being eliminated has the ability to crush a man’s spirit.
To add insult to injury, or better yet injury to insult, I lost Kevin Durant and Gary Harris to injuries during a bye week in the last league I had a chance in. Sure, anything could happen, but with those two out I knew I was surrendering 3s and points before the week even started. Monday came and I tried to strategize with a dark cloud hanging over my head. I was Debbie Downer, Eeyore, Ted Buckland and every other sad sack imaginable rolled into a single husk of skin and dashed basketball dreams.
The games started and all of the sudden things changed.
The key reserve I thrust into a starting role put up a monster game. Kelly Olynyk was the beneficiary of an injured Hassan Whiteside and a double overtime thriller against the Denver Nuggets that wound up with a combined score of 290. Meanwhile in San Antonio, Draymond Green left early with a hip injury and with the Warriors falling apart limb from limb, it seemed like a certainty that he would miss time. Just when all seemed lost, the fantasy Gods seemed to smile down on me on a Monday night.
But, the week is long and cruel and my happiness would be short lived. Derrick Favors would be declared out of his Tuesday game and then the huge blow came. Chris Paul would tweak his hamstring and this would mean his week would end prematurely.
To make matters worse, my injuries aligned perfectly to benefit my opponent. Gone were CP3 and Gary Harris, which would only make Jamal Murray and Eric Gordon that much more formidable. And even though my foe had lost Draymond Green, he a couple of monsters that go by the names Unibrow and Greek Freak that were just waiting to feast.
By the end of Tuesday, I was down 7-2 and my hope lasted for a single day before being crushed like a drunk slamming an empty can against his forehead. I didn’t have the star power to keep up with Davis and Giannis. My thoughts on being down in 3s and points were dead on from the start. And my hope in going big to take FG%, REB, and BLK weren’t quite going as planned.
But the week was far from over. Giannis hurt his ankle and Favors was only lost for one day. Then slowly but surely, the rest of my squad from Olynyk, Favors, Rudy Gobert, and Thaddeus Young started chipping away at the lead. The comeback was happening, or so I thought. I was closing in on the categories, but I just couldn’t flip them. Despite the valiant efforts I was still down 6-3 going into Sunday.
I write a lot about Bloody Sunday, the phenomenon when everything that could go wrong goes completely and utterly wrong at the worst possible time in fantasy. It’s happened to me more often that I can count. I’m sure it’s happened to you all just as often. It’s a devastating feeling when all the luck and acts of God are all stacked against you and cruelly ends your season.
So when the script finally flips in your favor and you pull off that comeback, it makes you want to run naked through the streets. It makes you want to put on some Pharrell Williams and dance like nobody is watching. It makes you want to grab a damn megaphone and do your best Al Michaels and scream, DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES, YES!
In the early games, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson kept doing his thing and had a solid game. Then Thad Young and Kelly Olynyk waged war against each other, but put together dream lines with a combined 11 defensive stats. It got close enough to see Jonas Valanciunas put up another solid game and then get to see Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors take it home in the final game of the night. The team combined for 11 blocks and 14 steals in a single day. Like everyone says, defense wins championships.
From down 6-3 to a 5-4 victory. Good lord I need a drink.
I spent last week decrying luck and fate or whatever else you want to call everything in this ridiculously wonderful league that’s beyond our control. It’s easy to get down when things don’t go your way. Sometimes this ridiculous and wonderful sport can take you on a rollercoaster where you just need to experience all of the ups and down. But just as things go up, they must also come down and vice versa. There’s always a flip side to every coin. As a degenerate gambler, you can get really unlucky for a while, but the mathematics will work in your favor if you hang on long enough. And perhaps you’ll have the good fortune of perfect timing when that run starts to happen.
For the past two weeks, I’ve gone through what’s the most enjoyable and maddening thing about fantasy sports. We play for comradery and competition. For fun and for sport. We strategize and plan and then set a lineup and just hope for the best. Once everything locks, the rest is given to a force greater than all of us. I said last week that we keep coming back because we want to do everything in our power to try to control what we can’t control. Because one time, it will happen. And goddamn when it does, you want to revel in that euphoria.
Because when it does happen, you keep coming back to try and remember what that feels like every season.
Player of the Week Who Has a Personal Vendetta Against Me
I had already lost Kevin Durant and Gary Harris for the week. But a window flew wide open when my opponent lost Draymond Green for the week. I just needed the rest of my squad to remain healthy and just do their jobs and I could potentially squeak by into my league finals.
But DAMN YOU CHRIS PAUL! No, you and your papier mache hamstrings just had to make me lose 10 pounds in sweat. And sure, I could have stood to lose a few, I know my diet hasn’t been great this winter, but I didn’t need all that damn stress just to survive in my league. You had four games for me to take the assists category comfortably, but instead you made me tear every last strand of hair out of my prematurely aging head. Now glue that thing and go do what you can’t do in real life and win me a fantasy title!
Adventures in DFS
The Tyreke Evans issue from this past Tuesday should be something that FanDuel and DraftKings addresses. I don’t have the right solution. There’s no roster swapping after lock to avoid the bot issue and I completely understand that. At the same time, there are individuals who have plunked down money to play the game and when someone sits for no discernible reason after the lineups lock that money becomes dead and buried for those who rostered that player.
I’ve argued in the past that things like injuries and freak accidents like the roof of the Smoothie King Center leaking is part of the game and you have to roll with those punches. But this feels different. A decision was made about a player very late in the process, when the same decision could have been made by the team well in advance so DFS players wouldn’t wind up in a state of panic. If Evans had gotten hurt during the game, we get it. Oh well. But he wasn’t hurt, at least not enough to warrant him sitting so close to tipoff. He was removed before he even had a chance to play due to Marc Gasol being sick and the Grizzlies feeling the need to add another layer to their tank-sized dung pile.
The onus here is on the sites and the league. Perhaps there’s a way for FD and KD and whoever else to provide a late swap, but only for players who are ruled out during warmups. Maybe the sites offer refunds, but only in these types of scenarios. Again, I don’t have the right answer. But there’s more than a single isolated incident of players being held out mysteriously late or things that take place beyond anyone’s control that leaves fans and gamers in the lurch. It’s just a bad look for them to say, ‘well that’s gambling so too bad’ and then everyone losing their minds on Twitter.
The NBA is making a conscious decision to enter into the gambling foray and DFS is a big part of that. If the league wants more fans involved in wagers and have a stake in some of these companies, then it behooves them to get involved in customer service just as much as the sites themselves. There needs to be more clarity into injury designations and firm rules about when and how teams can sit players in non-injury situations. There’s only so much more new user growth these sites can achieve. The league and the sites are only going to piss off their core customers if they don’t figure out a way to keep these types of situations from happening again.
Guys I Like This Week
Here are some top-100 or so players I like this week. This is me making sure these players step on every rake and banana peel on their way to their games.
Al-Farouq Aminu – He is the Blazer not named Dame or CJ that’s getting the most run and value on a team playing to win and he gets four great games.
Marco Belinelli – The Sixers are trying to get homecourt advantage and he’s been getting a ton of run since the team picked him up. If you need 3s, he’s got incredible matchups and his minutes have been stable.
Reggie Bullock – He’s been a nice find for those scouring the wires and with the Pistons still clinging to playoff hope, he should have a great week against some terrible Ds.
Nerlens Noel – All of the sudden he’s seeing big minutes at the expense of Dwight Powell. He’s got four great ones and the Mavs should give him all the time he needs with nothing to play for, at least in two of those four.
Lonzo Ball – Yes, the shooting is nightmarish, but without Isaiah Thomas for the next couple of games, Ball has the backcourt to himself. If he can improve his field goal percentage to simply being mediocre, he could win you the week.
Guys I Will Avoid This Week
Here are some top-100 or so players I don’t like this week. This is me ensuring these players form mutant powers and declare Infinity War on my scrawny rear end.
Kyle Lowry & DeMar Derozan – You just can’t do it. It sucks to have come this far if you own them only to sit them in this situation, but when there’s only two games and one of them likely to be a grudge match for Eastern Conference supremacy, you just can’t risk losing the stats.
Trevor Ariza – Two home patsies, then a toughie against the rival Spurs. I just don’t trust that he’ll get his full allotment of minutes in what could be two blowouts and another defensive slog.
Nemanja Bjelica – The four matchups may seem tempting, but they’re against some of the slowest paced teams in the league. The opportunities for fantasy stats might be limited.
Jayson Tatum – It’s always so hard to gauge what you’re going to get out of him on a nightly basis and with games coming up against the Raptors and Jazz, I’m not taking a chance to find out.
The Gasols – Marc is too risky to play because of tanking. Pau is risky to play because of schedule and the possibly maybe any day now return of Kawhi Leonard. Seure Gasols!
No Bloody Sunday this week, just going to enjoy my good fortune and prep for my chance at a championship.
As always, if you have a good Bloody Sunday story, let me know on twitter @JoshMillman.
The Fantasy Facepalm is taking a week off next week so to those of you still on the title hunt, good luck, and we’ll be back to close out the regular season in a couple of weeks.