Be Careful of the Player Rater
One of the best parts of fantasy sports is making trades, and in a lot of ways Yahoo! makes trades easy by posting the players' raw numbers within the trade proposal window and even giving us a rough rating of how much those raw numbers are worth. In a roto league it can be difficult to decide which categories are most important and how much impact to assign to different degrees of impact in each category. The Y! ranking is one way to make that judgment.
The only problem is that the Y! ranking, like most player raters out there, is based on a formula that plugs in numbers without always looking at context. As such, you can get some screwy results. For instance, if you rank all players in the last week by average today you''ll see that Jared Jeffries ranks out as the #33 overall player in that stretch. That sounds like somebody you might consider picking up, right? Wrong. Because the raw numbers for that period say that Jeffries averaged 4.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, and shot 33.3 percent from the field. So, why does he rank so high? Because he had 3.0 steals and 2.0 blocks while shooting 100 percent from the line, and the Y! ranker gives higher value to steals and blocks and doesn't take into account that Jeffries' "100-percent FT" was really just 2-for-2. In other words, Jeffries fooled the system into ranking him much too high for a very pedestrian stat line.
This is important because in my trade experience far too many people use the player rater as gospel and can thus over or undervalue players the rater might not rank accurately. Don't be one of those people. Use the player rankings for what they are, rough guidelines to help you gauge whether your already formed intuition of a player's value is in the right ballpark. Be just as critical of the player rater as you would be of anyone else that told you something that didn't make sense. Look into WHY the judgment was made, and decide whether to change your previous notions or throw out the result based on sound logic. Just because the player rater says that Nene has been the 12th overall player this year by total, don't try to value him in trade talk above Chris Paul (15th overall), Dwyane Wade (26th overall) or Deron Williams (28th overall).
Don't get me wrong, Nene's rating being so high is still useful information because it tells us that double-double guys with solid defensive stats and good shooting percentages are very useful players in roto leagues even if they aren't big volume producers. It even suggests that they could be more valuable than super-producers with major flaws, as we discussed a couple weeks ago when comparing Dwight Howard to Kevin Garnett. Just keep common sense in the equation, and don't send me any more trade offers of Mo Williams for Steve Nash with the rationale that their player rankings are about the same. You know who you are.
Situations to Watch and Quick Hits
Beno Udrih (51% owned): Udrih is no longer starting in Sacramento, but he is still getting 30 minutes per game off the bench and is consistently scoring in the mid-teens with around five assists and a couple of combined treys and steals.
Eric Dampier (41% owned): Dampier has never been accused of consistency, but he has four double-digit rebound games thus far in December and has averaged 11 boards and 10.5 points through four games this week.
Joel Przybilla (38% owned): Przybilla was in this space last week after Greg Oden went down for the season, but he is still available in almost two-thirds of all leagues. He has a track record as a double-digit rebounder with strong defensive stats when he gets the minutes, and he is starting to show it already. In his last two games Przybilla has 21 boards and 10 combined blocks/steals, and should be owned in most formats.
Tyler Hansbrough (12% owned): Hansbrough is being used as a scorer off the bench for the Pacers as he has double-digit shot attempts in each of the last four games. Over that stretch he's averaging 15.3 points, 6.8 boards and 1.3 steals per game. His field-goal percentage is low, but his per-minute production is good, and if it continues he could be in line for more minutes on a thin Pacers team.
Jose Juan Barea (9% owned): Barea has been getting almost 30 minutes per game off the bench for the last week, and he's been putting them to good use with averages of 14.8 Points, 5.5 assists and 2.0 treys in that stretch. He scored in double-digits with at least one trey made in all four games this week, and has had five or more assists in three of the four games.
Maurice Evans (5% owned): Evans has seen increased playing time over the last week, and even got the start in the last game after Marvin Williams couldn't go due to a stomach illness. He has averaged 18.3 points, 5.0 boards and 3.7 treys over that week but should only be considered in deep leagues since Evans' track record doesn't suggest this production level will continue for very long.
Article first appeared 12/15/09