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The Give and Go: Taking Stock

Kyle McKeown

Kyle McKeown is the Managing Editor of NBA Content for He hosts the Fantasy Basketball Podcast and writes about fantasy basketball. Kyle used to run an after school program and approaches his work as an editor with teaching in mind. He genuinely cares about helping others win their fantasy basketball leagues, which seems really dorky when it's written in the third person.

Shannon McKeown

Shannon McKeown is the VP of Advertising Sales and Basketball Editor for He's a two-time FSWA finalist for Fantasy Basketball writer of the year. He also covers the Pistons and Tigers for the site.

-----Original Message-----
From: "Shannon McKeown"
Sent: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 11:39AM
To: "Kyle McKeown"
Subject: Give and Go

We've been running far too many isolation plays with our hoops coverage this season, so it's time to open up the playbook and bring back the Give-and-Go. This two-man game might not be as well-oiled as John Stockton and Karl Malone, but we'll at least connect on the bunnies.

Every team in the Association has now played between 45-50 games, which means we're past the mid-way point and headed into the stretch run for fantasy owners. This is the perfect time to take stock of your standing in each league and decide the best course of action for each situation. Most waiver wires have already been raided at this stage of the season, so the easiest way to alter your squad is by trade.

I dove head first into trade offers this week. Being in 12th place out of 14 teams in the Rotowire Staff Keeper League was enough for me to give up on this year and start selling off my overpriced junk. Yesterday, I moved two overpriced options (Danny Granger and Eric Gordon) for an affordable Kenneth Faried and a 2013-14 first-round reserve pick. Neither Granger or Gordon would have been among my nine keepers next season, so the swap seemed like a no-brainer on my end. Now I need to find willing takers for Andre Iguodala and Joe Johnson. You and Chris Liss co-manage a team in that league and currently sit in fourth place. After taking home the championship last year, your squad actually looks kind of bare. What's the plan going forward? Will you make a push since you're still in contention? Or start building for another championship run next year?

In leagues where I'm actually in contention, I'm making minor trades to improve on categorical needs while also stashing away any of the numerous injured players who are expected to return sometime around the All-Star break. The list of returning star-caliber players could really have an impact down the stretch in fantasy leagues. Aside from the aforementioned Granger, Derrick Rose, Andrew Bynum, Andrea Bargnani, Mo Williams and a couple other names I'm probably forgetting are set to return this month. Which of those players are you stashing away? Which are you avoiding?

The ball is in your court.

-----Original Message-----
From: "Kyle McKeown"
Sent: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 12:47PM
To: "Shannon McKeown"
Subject: RE: Give and Go

I was an idiot and signed up for 19 teams this season, and as you know, each league's format and settings require that you approach each particular style of league in a different way.

For the RotoWire Staff Keeper league, it's very deep, but the impact that elite players have can't be denied. With Chris Paul out for the better part of the last three weeks, Chris Liss and I have dropped from second in the standings down to fourth. We can still make a run at the championship, but as you stated above, the waiver wire is bare. We're going to have to make a big splash in the trade market to even have a fighting chance. Unfortunately, we don't have the big young pieces that we had last season to trade off for the elite fantasy players. Luckily, with it being an auction league, the salaries of some of our players make them all the more valuable, so there's a possibility we'll be able to finagle a big trade or two before the deadline. We're definitely not giving up though.

In our hometown league, the one you set up so many years ago. The league that really got me hooked on fantasy, I've only lost one match-up all season, but that should be expected considering the fact that we're fortunate enough to write about fantasy sports as a profession. It gives us an advantage over our friends who have real jobs. However, I'm in a lot of similar leagues with several other experts, and I'm not doing so hot in all of them. There are a couple one-year leagues that I feel I have little to no chance of making a run in. I put too much weight in trying to take advantage of drafting injured players, banking on the idea that they'd return and turn me into an unstoppable juggernaut. Thanks for nothing Andrew Bynum and Kevin Love.

Probably the most interesting leagues I'm in are the leagues where it appears as though I'm on the outside looking in, but the reality of my situation only becomes apparent with a more in-depth look into the standings.

I don't know how often you check the game limits for your teams in rotisserie leagues, but I'm constantly managing that and checking how my team's games played matches up against my opponents. I like to to sort the standings by the games-played stat to see if the number of games played has influenced the standings in a big way. In most cases, it has. In fact, in most of my rotisserie leagues, I'm sitting anywhere from third to seventh place. It's not exactly comforting to be sitting in seventh place, but when I see that all the teams ahead of me have been jamming their lineups every night and will run out of games to play in certain position slots before the end of the season, I know that my team will continue to rise in all the counting categories as the season wears on. As long as I capitalize on the games I have left, I feel I'm in a position to climb the standings in a dominant fashion down the stretch and at least contend for the championship in my rotisserie leagues. Something else that I think will help me down the stretch is that I've been stashing players in my bench spots in a lot of rotisserie leagues. So, when Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, and Andrew Bynum come back, I should be in a great position to capitalize on their per-game averages giving me a hearty boost in the standings.

As for head-to-head leagues, I've also been stashing some players. It's boned me in some leagues, and I'm not sure I'll really have a chance to crack the playoffs, but for the leagues where I'm fighting for a final playoff spot, if I can weasel my way in, having Love and Bynum to pop into the lineup during a weekly playoff match-up will be huge.

I already mentioned that I've been stashing Love, Bynum, and Rose in a lot of leagues, and a lot of that comes from the fact that I was stashing them early in the season, and I didn't want to give up on them and lose my investment. I never grabbed Danny Granger in any leagues, and I only picked up Bargnani in leagues after the Rudy Gay trade. When he's back, the Raptors have to play Bargnani. It's the only way they'll get his trade value up or see if Gay is some kind of lucky rabbit's foot that magically makes Bargnani the player everyone has always hoped he'd become.

Have you picked up Lance Stephenson in any leagues? Coach Frank Vogel told him to be more aggressive, and Stephenson has started to score enough to be of use in most leagues. However, with Granger's return looming, the value Stephenson is creating now is seemingly sure to dwindle.

Are there any players you're putting on your watch lists in case a trade happens and playing time opens up for them? Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter are interesting. Even Paul Millsap getting traded to a team where he could get more minutes is interesting. Would you trade for Pau Gasol with the hope he gets moved and has a chance to produce more elsewhere?

Dishing it back to you, bro.

-----Original Message-----
From: "Shannon McKeown"
Sent: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 2:05PM
To: "Kyle McKeown"
Subject: RE: Give and Go

Playing in 19 leagues is beyond absurd, even if fantasy basketball is your livelihood. I managed to limit myself to 10 teams this year, which has been tough enough to juggle. Ideally I'll cut back to the 6-8 range next year.

You bring up a great point about maximum games played in Rotisserie Leagues. I, too, have been keeping close tabs on the amount of games played at each position in my five leagues where it applies. My teams range from first place to 10th place in those five leagues. Regardless of my position in the standings, I've made note of how many games played I have remaining compared to my opponents in each scenario. In one league that I've been dominating and sitting atop the standings wire-to-wire, the second and third place teams have used up 17 and 68 more games respectively than my squad. Those two squads will run out of games with a couple weeks remaining in the season, which should make it easy for me to hold on for the championship. In the leagues where I'm middle of the pack, I've enjoyed watching the teams near the top of the standings use up all their games earlier. Odds are I make a late-season push in those leagues to finish in the money.

Like you, I've been stashing away injured players, which has been a huge help in keeping my total games played manageable in Rotisserie leagues. Rose, Granger and Bynum have been my favorite players to stash. But I'm not sold on Love helping much this year. Assuming Love's timetable stays the same, he's not returning until mid-to-late March. But that's not even a sure thing given Minnesota currently sits six games out of the eighth seed in the Western Conference. If the Timberwolves continue to fall out of contention, it wouldn't surprise me to see Love sit out the rest of the season. Rose, Granger and (hopefully) Bynum could make a serious fantasy impact this year, though. Each of the three should return this month, with Rose and Granger possibly being back in action within a week. In fact, I expect Rose to be the deciding factor in a ton of fantasy championships this year, and hopefully some of those banners are mine.

I completely missed out on the Lance Stephenson train in all of my leagues. He has been impressive while putting together four straight double-digit scoring efforts, but, as you alluded to, his value will come crashing down as soon as Granger returns. Stephenson's scenario reminds me of Jimmy Butler in Chicago. Butler has been lights out the past couple of weeks, but all of his production has come while the Bulls are short-handed, with Rose, Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer all missing time. Once all of the regulars in Chicago return, Butler won't be asked to do nearly as much as we've seen over the past two weeks. With the window of usefulness closing on Butler and Stephenson, who's the next player of their ilk to step up and provide fantasy value for a couple of weeks?

Sure does feel like we've been waiting forever for Favors and Kanter to be handed a full complement of minutes, which I don't doubt one bit, would allow both to breakout and become very useful fantasy options. Unfortunately we might not see that happen this year. Utah is currently sitting in the seventh seed, a position that makes it tough to justify moving players like Paul Millsap and/or Al Jefferson. The haul for Utah would have to be significant.

My watch list is all about young players on non-contending teams who may get extended playing time down the stretch. Andrew Nicholson, Thomas Robinson, Terrence Ross, Jonas Valanciunas, Kevin Seraphin and, of course, Andre Drummond. Is there a young player who could have a bigger fantasy impact down the stretch than Drummond? His production will be scary if the Pistons take the kid's gloves off for the final 30 games of the season.

I already own Gasol in multiple leagues and I highly doubt the Lakers trade him. Remember, Dwight Howard will be a free agent this offseason. Seems unlikely that the Lakers would want to risk losing both of their big men. We might have to wait until the offseason to see Gasol leave La-La Land.

What do you make of Jerryd Bayless's recent surge? Will he remain productive for the rest of the season?

-----Original Message-----
From: "Kyle McKeown"
Sent: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 2:58PM
To: "Shannon McKeown"
Subject: RE: Give and Go

You make a really good point about Love because even when he was healthy this season, he was struggling to find his rhythm and shot. He was playing five less minutes per game this season, down to 34 mpg this season after playing 39 mpg last season. Love's shot was Shakespearian in it's level of tragedy when he was playing. He was converting just 35 percent of his shots and heaving up 16.6 attempts per game. That's murderous in all leagues. Someone sent me an offer for Love earlier this week in a league that I'm fighting to get into the playoffs in, and your thoughts on his value are making me second guess my decision to decline the offer.

Maurice Harkless is another rookie who could become a great contributor in the counting stats down the line. He's getting the playing time now and has put up a couple good lines the last few games. I might like him more than Andrew Nicholson, especially if J.J. Redick gets traded, as has been bandied about in the rumor mill.

Harrison Barnes has bounced on and off of fantasy rosters this season, but since Andrew Bogut (ankle) returned to the Warriors' lineup last week, Barnes has been a significant part of the rotation. Bogut's presence allows the Warriors to run a more conventional lineup, and they're putting Barnes to work. He missed a game last week with a sore left knee, but in the three other games Barnes has played with Bogut over the last week, he's averaged 15.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in 35 mpg. Those stats aren't wholly sustainable considering Barnes has shot 59 percent from the field on those games, but the most important indicator of whether or not Barnes will have sustained value is if he continues to play 35 mpg. Do you think he'll keep it up? Maybe that's a conversation best left for your NBA Barometer article on Wednesday.

The reports coming out on Granger all season were so cloudy that I avoided him until he was no longer available in any leagues. I had committed to too many other injured players that I couldn't justify adding him. Plus, I really only see him helping in two categories when he returns (points and three-pointers).

You make some good points about Gasol, but if the Lakers could get back the right player, I think they'd consider making the move.

As far as Bayless' boost from the last week and a half, I put him in the same discussion as Stephenson and Butler. Tayshaun Prince is going to step into the Grizzlies' starting lineup, and that should push Tony Allen to shooting guard and Bayless back to a limited bench role again. There goes his value, or at least most of it.