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Saturday March 3, 2007 11:55 pm

Dime Day: Playoff Primer

Description Time to look ahead to the fantasy playoffs! Although there is definitely a luck factor in head-to-head play, these leagues are a lot of fun. This primer assumes your weekly match-up starts on the Monday of the week, and ends on the Sunday. In Yahoo! leagues, the h2h playoffs start during Week 22, March 26-April 1. These leagues also tend to extend championship week to include the few days at the end of the season. So below, you will see a “Week 24+” designation, which includes games to be played between April 9th and April 18th.

Use this primer to evaluate your current roster and each player’s fantasy playoff schedule. Manipulating the number of games played in each playoff week could be the edge you need to win your fantasy league. Is Lebron the guy to bring you the bling-bling? Check it out below to find out!

Atlanta Hawks. Week 22, 3 games: Week 23, 3 games: Week 24+, 5 games
Joe Johnson has been one of the most consistent (and healthy) fantasy stars this season, even though his iron-man streak was broken. The Hawks have a lousy record, but figure to play their young stars down the stretch. Three game weeks in the first and second round , with no Thursday games, makes their schedule less than ideal.

Boston Celtics. Week 22, 4 games: Week 23, 3 games: Week 24+, 6 games
If your team does not secure a first-round bye, four games of Paul Pierce or Al Jefferson gives you a decent chance of advancing. They might put their young players on the floor as they enter the Oden-Durant sweepstakes.

Charlotte Bobcats. Week 22, 3 games: Week 23, 4 games: Week 24+, 4 games
A light schedule on championship week might mean Emeka Okafor and Gerald Wallace bring you to the big dance, but you head home without the crown. Consider trading away these players for equal, even slightly less than equal value, if it means a better playoff schedule.

Chicago Bulls. Week 22, 4 games: Week 23, 3 games: Week 24+, 4 games
The Bulls are scheduled to play on a Thursday, March 29, against the Pistons. That is the lightest day on an NBA schedule, so that could be a slight advantage to you in round one. Their schedule after that, though, does not bode well for your team. The players that make up their roster do not have the potential to put up 4-game value in 3-game weeks. Plus, they are a playoff team, so expect them to go less than full throttle if home court advantage has already been secured.

Cleveland Cavaliers. Week 22, 4 games: Week 23, 4 games: Week 24+, 4 games
The way the East lines up right now, the Cavs are battling the Wizards and the Raptors for the number two seed. 4 game weeks will be deadly for your opponent to face if you own Lebron James, or even Larry Hughes or Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Even their supporting cast will have greater value on those weeks. However, if you make it to the end, your other players will have to step up, and Lebron is likely to sit out if the Cavs are sitting pretty.

Dallas Mavericks. Week 22, 4 games: Week 23, 3 games: Week 24+, 6 games
The best thing for your team will be if the Mavs and the Suns fight for the top seed right until the end. The Mavericks fantasy schedule is quite strong; those extra games at the end might ensure Dirk Nowitzki and crew are still pulling in solid totals, if not averages. Teams like the Mavs tend to rest their stars for the playoffs.

Denver Nuggets. Week 22, 4 games: Week 23, 4 games: Week 24+, 6 games
If you own anyone on this team, hang onto them. If not, grab them from someone in your league who does not know better. They have four game weeks to get you to the finals, and then six games to finish the season. They are battling to stay in the playoff picture, which means ample minutes for all their star players. Overpay a bit if you must!

Detroit Pistons. Week 22, 4 games: Week 23, 3 games: Week 24+, 6 games
The Pistons have a good fantasy schedule, including the aforementioned Thursday game during Week 22. However, their team is pretty old, and they look like they are running away from the pack in the East. Their role players could see more playing time and surprising value in April.

Golden State Warriors. Week 22, 3 games: Week 23, 3 games: Week 24+ 5 games
If you own Warriors, don’t dump them just because of the 3-game weeks. However, try to stack the rest of your lineup with solid players with 4-game weeks.

Houston Rockets. Week 22, 4 games: Week 23, 3 games: Week 24+, 5 games
The Rockets have a decent enough schedule. Going up against four games of Tracy McGrady or a healthy Yao Ming will be tough in the first round of h2h playoffs. They are in the lower half of the playoff bracket, so are a better bet to stick to their regular rotation.

Indiana Pacers. Week 22, 4 games: Week 23, 3 games: Week 24+, 6 games
If you have already secured a first round bye, consider peddling your star Pacer for a player of similar value, but has a 4-game week for week 23. That one extra game could be the difference between winning and losing. Overall, the Pacers should be fantasy-friendly down the stretch.

Los Angeles Clippers. Week 22, 3 games: Week 23, 2 games: Week 24+, 7 games
Seven games from a team battling for the playoff lives is huge. Too bad, they only have two games during semi-final week, and three games the week before. Two games of Elton Brand adds up to approximately 40 points, 20 boards, and 5 blocks. Divide those totals by four and you get very pedestrian averages of 10 ppg, 5 rpg and 1.25 bpg. In other words, your opponent will be able to use a bench player to match the production of your first round pick. Try to trade Brand now, and be prepared to dump all other Clipper players outright to the waiver wire come playoff time.

Los Angeles Lakers. Week 22, 3 games: Week 23, 4 games: Week 24+, 5 games
Unlike the Clippers, the Lakers have a more balanced schedule for late March and April. Kobe Bryant will out-point all but the other superstars even with just a 3-game week. They should play hard right until the end in an effort to try to avoid the Spurs, Suns or Mavs in round one of the NBA playoffs.

Memphis Grizzlies. Week 22, 5 games: Week 23, 3 games: Week 24+, 4 games
If your team is slotted in to play in round one of you h2h league, round up all Grizzlies! Pau Gasol will be one of, if not the best big men that week, and Mike Miller can jack up 20 treys in 5 games. Deal with the relatively softer schedule after that later. First, your team has to climb that first step.

Miami Heat. Week 22, 4 games: Week 23, 4 games: Week 24+, 5 games
Not that Dwyane Wade owners need another reason to shed tears…but the Heat, with their place at the bottom of the playoff picture, have a very solid fantasy playoff schedule.

Milwaukee Bucks. Week 22, 4 games: Week 23, 4 games: Week 24+, 6 games
Michael Redd has a chance to garner fantasy MVP status in your league with this wicked schedule at this disposal.

Minnesota Timberwolves. Week 22, 4 games: Week 23, 3 games: Week 24+, 6 games
Kevin Garnett will continue to bring it, especially when they are still just barely part of the playoff mix. The Randy Foye/Mike James spot still needs to play out.

New Jersey Nets. Week 22, 3 games: Week 23, 3 games: Week 24+, 6 games
Your team may not benefit from the six games at the end, with back-to-back three-game weeks during crunch time. Find a Vince Carter lover and trade him away for Michael Redd. Yes, seriously.

New Orleans Hornets. Week 22, 3 games: Week 23, 4 games: Week 24+, 5 games
That April 3rd game against the Bucks must be a make-up game; it was not on the original schedule found in magazine publications during the pre-season. The Hornets are buzzing around that 8th seed in the West, so Chris Paul and company can be counted on.

New York Knicks. Week 22, 4 games: Week 23, 3 games: Week 24+, 6 games
The Knicks need to get hot if they want to hold onto their small chance at still making the playoffs. Stephon Marbury is playing better. If Eddy Curry is on your squad, you definitely punt FT%, and likely have to pull out 5-4 squeaker wins.

Orlando Magic. Week 22, 4 games: Week 23, 2 games: Week 24+, 6 games
The Dwight Howard gravy train ends in week 23. If you count on winning rebounds every week, a measly two games from the kid puts that “W” in serious jeopardy. Guys like Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu will be droppable that week; it is well worth the sacrifice if it helps you win it all, right?

Philadelphia 76ers. Week 22, 3 games: Week 23, 3 games: Week 24+, 6 games
If your roster core consists of Brand, Dwight Howard, and Andre Iguodala, your team will lose in the semi-finals. Three-game weeks in and of themselves do not kill your team, as long as your other top players have better schedules. With the Sixers playing for nothing, someone like Willie Green could come out of nowhere.

Phoenix Suns. Week 22, 4 games: Week 23, 4 games: Week 24+, 5 games
Does Amare Stoudemire get babied a bit, if the Suns have locked up their playoff position? Their nice schedule probably makes him and all the other awesome Suns worth the “risk.”

Portland Trail Blazers. Week 22, 3 games: Week 23, 3 games: Week 24+, 6 games
I would have been more inclined to add LaMarcus Aldridge to my team if 1) he did not have a two-game week during a very critical Week 19 for my team and 2) if his playoff schedule was one or two games stronger. There should be plenty of opportunities for Aldridge and Brandon Roy to do their thing.

Sacramento Kings. Week 22, 2 games: Week 23, 4 games: Week 24+, 6 games
A two-game week for Mike Bibby, Kevin Martin or Ron Artest owners could make way for an early exit from your league’s playoffs. Sell high, sell low, it does not matter, just sell now…unless, of course, you have a first round bye.

San Antonio Spurs. Week 22, 4 games: Week 23, 3 games: Week 24+, 6 games
The Spurs have a good schedule, including a Thursday game on April 5th. But how will Coach Popovich play his aging stars as they prepare for another playoff run?

Seattle SuperSonics. Week 22, 4 games: Week 23, 4 games: Week 24+, 5 games
With Ray Allen potentially out for the season and facing surgery, it would be wise to snatch up whoever takes his place in the rotation; the Sonics have a better than average fantasy playoff schedule.

Toronto Raptors. Week 22,4 games: Week 23, 4 games: Week 24+, 5 games
As much as I am enjoying the Raptors’ success so far, I expect them to be pushed by the Nets for the division crown. Their record stacks up well against teams like Indiana and Chicago. Chris Bosh might get some rest at the end when the dust settles.

Utah Jazz. Week 22, 4 games: Week 23, 3 games: Week 24+, 6 games
Except for Andrei Kirilenko, Utah has been a nice fantasy hotbed this year. That should continue as the h2h playoffs begin.

Washington Wizards. Week 22, 4 games: Week 23, 4 games: Week 24+, 6 games
If you can make it to the playoffs after waiting on Antawn Jamison to get healthy, this nice schedule rewards your patience in spades.

Good luck!
 

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