Let the Cream Rise to the Top
We're in the middle of week two, and the good teams are starting to separate from the riffraff. If you're fortunate enough to be in that upper echelon, here's what you need to do to climb over the rest of the pack and dominate your league.
Spot your weaknesses; every team has them. Likely, it's either blocks or threes, or some outer category that gets ignored, even though it counts every bit as much as the big five. If you're doing well in your league, it's likely due to someone starting off hotter than expected. If that's the case, isolate your weak areas and dangle this player out there to see if someone bites.
Keep targeting those free agent wires. In my league (deeper than most) I was able to land Boris Diaw over the weekend; he won't make or break my team, but he's a nice rotation guy any time the offensive minded Suns play four games. If you're in a relatively shallow league, I'll bet there's a guy out there (Austin Croshere maybe) who's still flying under the radar. Scoop him up.
Also, you've seen a flop -- time now to fold losing hands. Those dead weight players that you took a gamble on in the preseason (see Keith Van Horn) are just taking up space on your roster. Get rid of them, and find a specialist out there, who can give you 1 or 2 categories. Then get those guys in your lineup when that team is in a favorable situation.
The other thing to keep an eye on as you're scanning the waiver wire, or perusing other teams' rosters for a possible trade is FG%. This is a category often overlooked when analyzing shooting guards and point guards. Let's say your team is shooting 47% from the floor, good for 4th or 5th in your league. But you're weak in assists and threes. Don't jump up and trade away half your roster for Stephon Marbury. He's gonna kill your FG%. Spot that guard that shoots 44, 45% from the floor. Chances are the player that owns him hasn't noticed his nice FG%, and you may be able to make a trade that's fairer for you than it is for him. Although Mike Bibby has gotten off to a slow start shooting wise, this is the type of player you're looking for in that scenario.
Pay attention to team stats. How do they shoot from the floor as a team? How many points do they score as a team, how many do they give up? Knowing team trends can help you decide who starts and who sits on your team. You're probably aware of Phoenix's offensive prowess, but did you know that Milwaukee is second in the league in scoring, and that Charlotte is in the top 5. Find guys on these teams that come off the bench. Much of this higher than average scoring takes place in the 2nd quarter. Keep and eye on Keith Bogans, for instance. I'll let you know next week if I nailed this one.
Speaking of bold predictions, last week in this column, I was right about some things and I was wrong about some things. I won't waste time gloating over what I was right about (Derek Fisher and Bobby Jackson -- OK, a little gloating), but I'll admit my mistakes. I said that Flip Murray and Orien Green were the only two backup point guards in my league undrafted. They'll stay undrafted because they both dropped to 3rd string on their respective teams. Dan Dickau and Mateen Cleaves are now the backups in Boston and Seattle. I'd take a flyer on Dickau, but leave Cleaves alone. You don't get credit for all those Michigan State assists he piled up. I still like backup point guards a ton in leagues that have Assist/Turnover ratio. If you're hurting for some cheap assists, give Jose Calderon a chance. Toronto is primed to make some major roster moves, and a new starting point guard may be the first move they make.