Nothin’ But Net
Luck has always played a role in sports. Balls fall just out of bounds, shots bounce in or out, golf balls crash into birds (OK, maybe that doesn’t happen too much). But in most cases, luck doesn’t play a large role, as skill plays a much more prominant part.
In fantasy sports, though, luck can absolutely crush you.
Take, for example, the most devastating/important/league-altering event from this past weekend. Rajon Rondo, point guard extroardinaire for the Boston Celtics, went down for the rest of the season with an ACL tear, basically ruining the Celtics’ season.
This, as you might expect, changes a few things in fantasy leagues, too.
See, Rondo most likely was a first or second round draft pick in just about every league. Unlike most of the big injuries this season (Kevin Love, Andrew Bynum, even Anderson Varejao), Rondo is not a player who is prone to injuries or who had one going into the season.
That’s not even going into the fact that he’d recorded triple-doubles in his last two games, with another Nationally Televised Game (NTG Rondo is now a thing, if you didn’t know) happening on Sunday. Against the Heat, the first time Ray Allen came back to Boston … yeah, Rondo was going to explode.
Instead, he’s out for the year.
Luck plays a larger role in fantasy sports because fantasy is all about numbers. Team chemistry or success, defense (at least in basketball), leadership roles, even All-Star game appearances or recognition — none of that matters. It’s all about the numbers.
And Rajon Rondo is a man who puts up numbers.
The thing that makes it luck is this: Fantasy owners have absolutely no effect on their players. Teams, coaches, teammates, management — they all do have at least some impact on the performance of players. But Fantasy owners do nothing. None of their players’ accomplishments are ones that they can control.
So when things like James Harden getting traded (and therefore see a HUGE upswing in numbers) happen, some fantasy owners who drafted them in later rounds are very happy, while others are very upset.
Or when formerly headcase players like DeMarcus Cousins start putting up crazy numbers (despite not helping their teams at all), some fantasy owners can shoot straight into first place based on the outlier stats of a player no one else wanted.
Injuries, though, are by far the worst. Losing a player on a real team means you need to build new chemistry with whoever comes in as a replacement, and eventually you can recover to almost where you were.
In fantasy, losing a player to injury means you just get a lousy replacement. The higher the pick that gets injured, the lousier that replacement makes your team.
A fantasy team can go from first to, well, not having a chance with just one key injury. And if you’re unlucky enough to have two of your best picks go down for the year (like, say, Varejao and Rondo), then you’re pretty much doomed, through no fault of your own.
Yes, all of this did happen in my fantasy league.
Yes, all the bad things happened to my team, and the good ones to the guy who had been in second place.
I May Be Wrong, But…
Add: Greivis Vazquez, Kemba Walker, Kyle Korver … basically anyone who can spell Rondo without looking completely stupid. Also look out for point guards playing against the Celtics, with a defender like Rondo gone, they might give up some big numbers at the one for a while. Additionally, Courtney Lee and Avery Bradley should be seeing more playing time, so their numbers should improve a bit.
Drop: Rajon Rondo is the obvious one. I feel like I’ve talked about this too much already, but this injury is the biggest so far in fantasy terms. Rondo going down could swing entire leagues, he’s a fantasy machine (those triple doubles…), and any owner who grabbed him is now very sad.
Look Out For: Kobe Bean Bryant. Seriously, he’s on an absolute tear right now, and I believe he no longer completely human. You might also want to pay attention to LeBron James, he’s been putting up some crazy numbers even for him recently, and Ersan Ilyasova has shown signs of a return to last season’s surprising upswing in statistical production.
Be Cautious Of: Anyone on the Celtics. Losing a franchise point guard can drastically alter everyone’s numbers, and while some C’s may see an upswing, the rest might see a steady decline. It’s all up in the air right now.