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Is a Player's Fantasy Value Affected by His Team's Winning Percentage?

by Eric Wong AKA Roto Evil

During the 2006-07 season, there were 15 teams who won at least half their games and advanced to the playoffs. Conversely, there were 14 teams with losing records who missed out on the playoffs (the Orlando Magic were the lone team to sneak into the playoffs with a losing record, but I'll leave them out of this discussion).

I am going to examine the top 70 fantasy players from '06-07 based on per game averages for standard 8-category Roto leagues. First, I have grouped the players into three different positions: Big men (Power Forwards/ Centers), Swingmen (Shooting Guards/ Small Forwards), and Point Guards (or Combo Guards who played at least 25% of their minutes at PG). Then the players on winning teams will then be separated from the players on losing teams.

Here are some initial assumptions:
Winning teams outscore their opponents (naturally). Winning teams get more assists and shoot higher percentages than their opponents (on average). Winning teams have better stats across the board for most categories (probably). Losing teams don't have as many talented and experienced players (usually). Losing teams have less depth, so their stars are asked to play extra minutes (probably). Having to play more and do more should translate into better stats (maybe).

So is there a noticeable difference in fantasy value between the two sets of players? Let's take a look...

BIG MEN (Power Forwards/ Centers):

KG (3), Dirk (7), Yao (9), Brand (10), Camby (11), Gasol (15), Amare (18), Duncan (21), Bosh (27), Boozer (29), J. O'Neal (37), Okafor (40), Jamison (44), Randolph (46), Odom (48), A. Jefferson (53), West (56), R. Wallace (57), Lee (60), Chandler (61), Dalembert (63), Biedrins (69).

The winners boasted 4 of the top 20 fantasy players (Dirk Nowitzki, Yao Ming, Marcus Camby, and Amare Stoudemire). They had 7 players in the top 40 (add Tim Duncan, Chris Bosh, and Carlos Boozer) and 11 players in the top 70 (add Antawn Jamison, Lamar Odom, Rasheed Wallace, and Andris Biedrins).

Meanwhile, the losers had 3 of the top 20 fantasy players (Kevin Garnett, Elton Brand, and Pau Gasol). They had 5 players in the top 40 (add Jermaine O'Neal and Emeka Okafor) and 11 players in the top 70 (add Zach Randolph, Al Jefferson, David West, David Lee, Tyson Chandler, and Samuel Dalembert).

While the winners had a few more superstars, both sides had 11 of the top 70 fantasy players. Dominant big men definitely help teams to win in the NBA, but players on losing squads can still put up solid big men stats to help out your fantasy team.

SWINGMEN (Shooting Guards/ Small Forwards):

Kobe (2), Marion (5), Allen (8), LeBron (12), Lewis (14), Butler (17), Iguodala (19), Carmelo (22), Vince (23), J-Smoov (24), Redd (26), Artest (28), Pierce (30), G. Wallace (31), Ginobili (33), J. Johnson (34), Miller (35), T-Mac (36), J. Howard (41), Kev-Mart (42), Deng (45), Gordon (51), R. Davis (52), Roy (59), Hamilton (64), Childress (65), J-Rich (70).

The winners landed 4 of the top 20 fantasy players (Kobe Bryant, Shawn Marion, LeBron James, and Caron Butler). They had 8 players in the top 40 (add Carmelo Anthony, Vince Carter, Manu Ginobili, and Tracy McGrady) and 13 players in the top 70 (add Josh Howard, Luol Deng, Ben Gordon, Rip Hamilton, and Jason Richardson).

On the other side, the losers had 3 of the top 20 fantasy players (Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, and Andre Iguodala). They had 10 players in the top 40 (add Josh Smith, Michael Redd, Ron Artest, Paul Pierce, Gerald Wallace, Joe Johnson, and Mike Miller) and 14 players in the top 70 (add Kevin Martin, Ricky Davis, Brandon Roy, and Josh Childress).

The swingmen on losing teams more than held their own in terms of fantasy value. They sported 10 of the top 35 players overall, including an impressive mix of both 3-point shooters/ scorers (Allen, Lewis, Redd, Pierce, Johnson, Miller) and steal/ block studs (Iggy, Smoov, Artest, Crash).

POINT GUARDS (and Combo Guards):

Wade (1), Arenas (4), Nash (6), Baron (13), Iverson (16), Kidd (20), Paul (25), Billups (32), Barbosa (38), Hinrich (39), Mo Williams (47), Terry (49), Deron (50), T. Parker (54), A. Miller (55), M. Ellis (58), Ford (62), Alston (66), Felton (67), Bibby (68).

The winners dominated with 6 of the top 20 fantasy players (Dwyane Wade, Gilbert Arenas, Steve Nash, Baron Davis, Allen Iverson, and Jason Kidd). They landed 9 players in the top 40 (add Chauncey Billups, Leandro Barbosa, and Kirk Hinrich) and 15 players in the top 70 (add Jason Terry, Deron Williams, Tony Parker, Monta Ellis, TJ Ford, and Rafer Alston).

The losers didn't have a single top 20 fantasy player! They had just 1 player in the top 40 (Chris Paul) and 5 players in the top 70 (add Mo Williams, Andre Miller, Raymond Felton, and Mike Bibby).

Ahh, now we're getting somewhere. Chris Paul was the only superstar PG on a losing team, whereas the top 9 fantasy point guards on winning teams were all better than the #2 PG for the losers, Mo Williams. Moreover, Andre Miller didn't make any threes and Felton and Bibby barely cracked the top 70, meaning the losing side only had 2 real solid point guards!

The winning side's armada of elite PG's proves that having a solid point running your team is a key ingredient to success. But who knew this would have such a great effect on fantasy basketball as well? Why do the top big men and swingmen on losing teams have comparable fantasy value to their winning counterparts, while the fantasy value for point guards on losing teams is far inferior? A lack of stability at the point guard position often leads to the downfall of NBA (and NBA fantasy) teams. This usually stems from a combination of injuries, inexperience, organizational decisions, and overall poor play. As a result, losing teams usually provide fantasy owners with very unreliable and inconsistent options at point guard. Keep this in mind on draft day!

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