March 26, 2008
We’re about to broach one of the more contentious and divisive issues in fantasy hoops. With the playoffs just underway in most formats, it’s an issue that is more than likely rearing its head in one or more of your leagues. I’m talking about streaming: the act of making daily add/drops in order to maximize the sheer volume of players a fantasy hoops team can start in a given week. In head-to-head leagues it can cause more angry message board posts than the most lopsided of trades. As somebody who engages in streaming whenever and wherever it will give a strategic edge, I’ve already encountered protest in two leagues. It’s something you come to expect. I get it every year, and the arguments are always the same: that it’s “cheap”, that it’s somehow not fair, that it isn’t in the spirit of the game, that using “scrub” players is distasteful and that it is in some way a desecration of everything the league has been and stood for to this point.
Baloney. Not only can you stream, you should do it. I’ll give you some pointers.
Let’s take a moment and discuss the ethical status of streaming first: there is none. There is nothing wrong with streaming. First, it’s perfectly permissible within the rules. You can look them up. Nowhere will you find a clause specifically prohibiting adding and dropping players to gain a strategic edge. Second, this is a legitimate fantasy sports strategy: it takes basketball knowledge, it takes skill, it takes diligence, it takes timing, it takes the ability to project performances, it takes finesse and there are real risks built into the league (FG%, FT% and TOs). Third, this is a competition. It’s supposed to be cutthroat. So not only can you stream, as a participant in a communal contest it is incumbent upon you to maintain the competitive integrity of the league. We all frown upon those owners who give up on their teams weeks or months before the end of the season because it ruins that competitive balance. If you lose by 10 points and a couple of add/drops would have put you over the edge, you’re not much better.
Now, if you and your friends (or just the Commish) make the personal choice that streaming is somehow dishonest or offensive to the spirit of the game, then by all means put an end to it. Before the season starts. When the Commish sets up the league he can set a maximum number of roster moves, he can set up a scoring system that uses more ratios instead of pure counting stats, he can set a max number of games that can be used per position or he can simply set up a rotisserie league instead of a head-to-head league. By all means, do these things… do them before the league starts. If you set up or join a league that has settings conducive to streaming, it’s on you. We streamers don’t want to hear any crying about it after that.
With that said, let’s look at some of the finer points of streaming and anti-streaming strategy…