The NBA season is more than half over, which means that the fantasy playoffs are roughly seven weeks away. For some teams, the weeks before the playoffs will be a mad scramble just to qualify for the fantasy postseason. Other teams have already secured their playoff spot and are now focused on strengthening their fantasy teams for a playoff run. This week’s rest-of-season rankings will be focused on identifying players who can help you prepare for your ESPN fantasy playoffs. Click here for Yahoo fantasy playoffs player rankings.
So much of being prepared for the fantasy playoffs comes down to understanding the NBA schedule, which is unbalanced from week to week. As a result, I asked RotoWire’s NBA schedule guru, and Langston Galloway superfan, J.J. Calle to share some tips to help prepare for the fantasy playoffs. In addition, I’ve provided rankings and auction values weighted for the number of games each NBA team will play during the fantasy playoffs. Today’s rankings and advice is meant for ESPN leagues.
Nuggets of Wisdom from J.J. Calle
All stats and schedule quirks are accurate as of 1/27/15. For a full breakdown of the ESPN head-to-head playoffs, consult this article.
In standard ESPN head-to-head leagues, four teams qualify for the fantasy playoffs, which are comprised of two two-week matchups (pictured below).
As detailed in the ESPN Head-to-Head Playoff Cheat Sheet article, standard ESPN leagues merge the week before and after the All-Star break (Week 16-17) into one matchup. To squash any confusion, Matchup 20 begins Week 21, due to the matchup consolidation. For a full explanation of ESPN’s playoff schedule and rules, click here. Please consult your league settings before accepting this breakdown as gospel.
If you accessed the ESPN head-to-head playoff article linked above, you know the Charlotte Hornets play a maximum 18 games during the month long fantasy playoffs. The recently postponed Portland Trail Blazers/Brooklyn Nets game was rescheduled for April 6th (Week 24), elevating both teams into tier one of total games, joining the Hornets with 18. That is the only game scheduled for April 6th, the same day as the NCAA championship game, and now both teams play four games during the week instead of three. In the same vein, each squad picks up one additional quality game. The Nets will play the most home games (11) and, the Trail Blazers are tied with the Hornets for most road games (11) and back-to-backs sets (6) during the fantasy playoffs. The Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings are the only other teams to max out their games (10) during the finals (Week 23-25). Every team except the San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns plays two games during an abbreviated Week 25.
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Technical fouls and flagrant foul points are an overlooked end-of-season factor.
A player is automatically suspended one game when they accrue 16 technical fouls, followed by a suspension every two additional techs. Russell Westbrook currently leads the field with 11 techs, averaging one every 2.8 games. At that rate, he’ll reach critical mass before March. I’m not predicting Westbrook maintains his current pace, but it needed to be mentioned since his temper threatens your chances in the head-to-head fantasy playoffs.
Another wrinkle is coach Jeff Hornacek’s team rule benching his players if they pick up a technical foul for arguing a call. Goran Dragic and Markieff Morris were the first culprits, but Hornacek reserves the right to apply his mandate on a case-by-case basis. He recently said, “…we don’t have that hard-and-fast rule, but I may still sit him for the end of the game if I feel like it.” As a team, the Suns lead the league in technical fouls.
A player is suspended one game when they earn six flagrant foul points, two games when they acquire seven points, and two games for anything over seven points. Kyle O’Quinn has four flagrant foul points, just one flagrant foul 2 away from an automatic suspension. He’s the only player in immediate danger of incurring a suspension. Below are lists of the leaders in technical fouls and flagrant fouls as of January 27, 2015.
|Technical Foul Leaders (as of 1/27/15)|
|Russell Westbrook, OKC||11|
|Markieff Morris, PHX||10|
|Matt Barnes, LAC||9|
|Blake Griffin, LAC||8|
|Eric Bledsoe, PHX||7|
|Rudy Gay, SAC||7|
|John Wall, WAS||7|
|Tyson Chandler, DAL||7|
|Flagrant Foul Leaders (as of 1/27/15)|
|Kyle O’Quinn, ORL||4 points|
|Quincy Acy, NYK||3 points|
ESPN Fantasy Playoff Rankings & Auction Values
Below are rankings and auction values based on RotoWire Projections for the standard ESPN fantasy playoffs. These rankings and auction values are intended for head-to-head leagues where RotoWire recommends focusing on the six positive counting categories (pts, rebs, asts, stls, blks, three-pointers), even if that strategy makes your team non-competitive in the other categories. As a point of reference, I’ve also included the rest-of-season rankings for each player so that you can identify players whose value is different in the playoffs compared to the rest of the season. Here are a few players who stuck out to me:
Damian Lillard (Regular Season: 8th, Playoffs: 3th): The Blazers play 18 games during ESPN’s fantasy playoffs, thanks in part to a recent blizzard, and Lillard has a great chance to play in all of them – he has never missed a game in his career.
Kemba Walker (Regular Season: 141st, Playoffs: 10th): This is a risky proposition because he is out for at least the next six weeks, but Kemba has a league-leading 18 games during ESPN’s fantasy playoffs. If he is healthy, he projects as a top-10 value.
Blake Griffin (Regular Season: 12th, Playoffs: 29th): Griffin has been awesome this season, but if you are locked into the playoffs, it may be time to sell high, the Clippers only play 15 games during ESPN’s fantasy playoffs.
Danny Green (Regular Season: 41st, Playoffs: 31st): Green has been surprisingly good this season from a fantasy standpoint, and projects to be even more valuable during ESPN’s fantasy playoffs where the Spurs play 17 games.
Kevin Love (Regular Season: 36th, Playoffs: 64th): A disappointing regular season projects to be an even worse fantasy playoffs for Love, whose Cavs play just 14 games during ESPN’s fantasy playoffs.
|Playoff Rank||Playoff Value||Player||Team||ROS Rank|
|157||$ –||Steven Adams||OKC||147|
|158||$ –||Zaza Pachulia||MIL||156|
|159||$ –||Langston Galloway||NYK||154|
|160||$ –||Taj Gibson||CHI||137|
|161||$ –||Larry Sanders||MIL||233|
|162||$ –||Nene Hilario||WAS||169|
|163||$ –||Reggie Jackson||OKC||158|
|164||$ –||Kevin Garnett||BRO||178|
|165||$ –||Tim Hardaway||NYK||160|
|166||$ –||Brandon Bass||BOS||175|
|167||$ –||Alan Anderson||BRO||177|
|168||$ –||Jared Dudley||MIL||162|
|169||$ –||Jason Smith||NYK||138|
|170||$ –||Timofey Mozgov||CLE||131|
|171||$ –||Tiago Splitter||SAS||186|
|172||$ –||James Johnson||TOR||159|
|173||$ –||Luis Scola||IND||201|
|174||$ –||Carlos Boozer||LAL||176|
|175||$ –||Tristan Thompson||CLE||145|
|176||$ –||Iman Shumpert||CLE||157|
|177||$ –||David Lee||GSW||189|
|178||$ –||Joe Ingles||UTA||181|
|179||$ –||Jason Thompson||SAC||166|
|180||$ –||Kyle Singler||DET||187|
|181||$ –||John Henson||MIL||180|
|182||$ –||Bojan Bogdanovic||BRO||170|
|183||$ –||Alex Len||PHO||165|
|184||$ –||Wayne Ellington||LAL||192|
|185||$ –||Marreese Speights||GSW||188|
|186||$ –||Jerryd Bayless||MIL||179|
|187||$ –||Mike Dunleavy||CHI||164|
|188||$ –||Marco Belinelli||SAS||195|
|189||$ –||Derrick Williams||SAC||174|
|190||$ –||Evan Fournier||ORL||171|
|191||$ –||C.J. Watson||IND||205|
|192||$ –||Devin Harris||DAL||185|
|193||$ –||Luc Mbah a Moute||PHI||193|
|194||$ –||Terrence Ross||TOR||190|
|195||$ –||Thabo Sefolosha||ATL||198|
|196||$ –||Jason Terry||HOU||194|
|197||$ –||J.J. Hickson||DEN||184|
|198||$ –||Elijah Millsap||UTA||199|
|199||$ –||Spencer Hawes||LAC||183|
|200||$ –||Vince Carter||MEM||196|