The Antonio Daniels Sweepstakes

Never has a 7.9 point, 3.4 assist guy felt so wanted.

Around 5 pm last Wednesday, if you listened closely you may have heard the pitter-patter of fantasy owners on their computers scrambling to pick up Daniels after news broke that Gilbert Arenas was going to be out for three months. The sound may have been drowned out by the collective groan of Arenas owners who saw their fantasy hopes go down the drain with one balky knee.

The timing of the news was unique, as it came out late in the afternoon right before the Thanksgiving holiday. Many owners probably left for the weekend and/or started their travel plans and probably missed out on Daniels completely. I found out about the injury right as I was shutting down my computer at work. I had a train to catch and dinner plans with my family. A giant sausage and pepperoni calzone waited with my name on it. I couldn't stick around at work and make the necessary roster moves (not that I'd ever consider making fantasy basketball transactions at work anyways).

Good thing I bought this iPhone. I'd have to make my moves on the train, so I ran to the train station got situated and started rifling through my fantasy teams. Managing 52 teams on an EDGE connection is not something I'd want to to everyday, but I managed to get through each roster in about 30 minutes, finishing seconds before entering Glen Ellyn where the EDGE always seems to go dead (why is that?). The slow connection probably cost me Daniels on a few squads, but I landed him on 12 of my 52 teams. If I had waited another hour, I wouldve missed out completely. In a span of one hour, Daniels went from being owned in 10 of my leagues to all 52.

As far as Arenas goes, I owned him on five teams, not tremendously overexposed to him. I wasn't very bullish on him coming into the season, but if I had the 5th-7th pick and he was around, he was the pick. On at lease three of those teams, I probably still have a chance at winning despite losing my first round choice for three months.

One of those teams, I actually had agreed to trade him for Amare Stoudemire the day before the news broke. The Amare owner chastised the other owners for initially voting against the deal. He was singing a different tune the next day. Eventually the deal went to CBS Ron and was shot down as they have an unwritten rule that they kill any deal that comes to them with injured players, even if those player's weren't hurt when the trade was made.

The moral of the story is that injuries always create opportunities. The Wizards still have to put five guys out on the court. They are still going to score around 100 points a game. There may be only one Gilbert Arenas, but most of his fantasy value will be replaced somewhere else on his team, especially because Arenas is not really known as one of those guys who makes everyone on the floor better. Daniels stands to benefit most, but Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison and Andray Blatche will reap some of the benefit as well.

The Anti-Contract Year

One well-known fantasy strategy is to target guys who are in their last year of their contracts (see Vince Carter last year) while avoiding guys who just signed mega-contracts in the offseason (see Vince Carter this year). The phenomenon seems to have held up well in the past.

Well, there's a new twist to the old theory this season. Third-year players who failed to sign a cibtract extension, making them restricted free agents at the end of the year. Call it the 'Man, I just passed on 50 million. What was I thinking?' contract year. Unlike the traditional positive impact, this type of contract year seems to be a detriment.

Exhibits A-D: Andre Iguodala, Ben Gordon, Luol Deng and Emeka Okafor. Each passed on deals of $45 million or more at the 11th hour and now have the pressure of trying to prove that they are worth all that and more on the free market. So far, it looks like each guy is crumbling under the pressure. Iguodala seems to be taking this 'AI2' thing seriously, taking on some Iverson-inspired grumbling to the media. How long until 'we're talking about practice'? Gordon and Deng look lost out there, and its killing the Bulls (just how bad are the Bulls? Deny is their top fantasy player this year and he ranks 91st overall. The SUns and Mavs have five guys each that rank ahead of Chicago'a best fantasy player). At least Deng has a back injury as an excuse. Gordon wanted max money! I guess we shouldn't be surprised at his level of delusionment considering he's holding off on committing to play for England in the 2012 because he wants to be considered for the US team. I'm sure he even brought it up in his contract negotiations. 'of course I deserve 15 mill a're looking at a future Dream Teamer!'

Contrast these guys with Jameer Nelson and Al Jefferson, two guys who probably left money on the table for the safety and security of signing an extension now. Both guys are playing pretty well so far. Neither guy wanted that giant monkey on their back.

Can these anti-contract year guys turn it around? For the most part, I think so. They may not get to the level of where they were drafted, but could be good buy low candidates right now. The only guy I'd feel uncomfortable targeting is Gordon.

Spencers Update

Collectively, my 52 teams had a rough week in Week 4. Usually I run about 10-15 percent above the average team in terms of overall fantasy production. For week 4, I churned out a paltry 3.5% above the average team. I have Gerald Wallace, Lamar Odom and Ray Allen to thank for that. Overall I think I'm in good shape, but late-round staples Shane Battier, David Lee and Boris Diaw are barely roster-worthy, and the Tyrus Thomas experiment was a complete disaster.

Thankfully, I've managed to improve my teams incrementally through a flurry of trading activity. I've made 40+ trades so far this season, when I get a chance I'll find a place to post and track all my deals on the blog. On one team, I traded Kevin Durant for Richard Jefferson and then flipped Jefferson for Josh Smith. KD for Josh Smith...not too shabby.

The trade voting process at CBS is being abused, and the leagues are already getting ugly. Four weeks in and nearly every deal is getting 4+ votes to go to the commish (where anything can happen). When perfectly deals like Marion for Yao, David West for Brandon Roy are getting 4+ votes, you know you have a problem. CBS is helping matters by failing to dig a little deeper to understand the motives behind the deal, thus killing a large number of fair trades.

In one league, I had Iguodala/Rudy Gay for Kevin Garnett lined up. Killed by CBS. Second try: Ron Artest/Gay for Garnett. Killed by CBS. Of course, these deals let everyone know that the guy was willing to deal KG. I made a separate deal to turn Okafor into Pau Gasol, then had an agreement to deal Gasol/Gay for Garnett. No way that deal doesn't get approved. Well, the Okafor/Gasol deal got the 4+ votes and still sitting out there in limbo. In the meantime, someone else swoops in with Butler/Josh Howard for KG and it goes through. I identify the other guy's needs, make the deal and come up empty handed. Gotta love CBS.


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