Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
With most NBA teams closing in or at 50 games played in this shortened 2012 season, it is no longer a viable fantasy strategy in rotisserie leagues to play the best players and hope. You are simply running out of time.
Instead, it's time to focus your attention in specific areas of interest, something I call "localized targeting."
In non-head-to-head leagues, leagues where fantasy teams are ranked and earn points based on their position relative to the other fantasy teams, your strategy should be to find the easiest categories in which you can move up the ladder. Logical, but while many fantasy owners recognize this fact, they fail to act on it.
You must do both.
In one of my leagues, I'm in second place in rebounds, but am 110 boards behind the league leader and 80 ahead of the third-place team. Meanwhile, I'm just 12 steals behind one team and 19 behind the next team in that category. With only about 14-16 games left in the NBA season, it should be easier for me to catch up in steals than rebounds. Further, I should be able to absorb a loss of some rebounds and still hold off the third-place team.
Therefore the best strategy is to take a rebounder out of my lineup and either install a player from my bench or find a free agent whose specialty is the steal.
For me, that means taking Minnesota center Nikola Pekovic (13.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 0.7 spg), who I play at the utility position, out of my lineup. Since I don't have a great steals guy on my bench, it means heading to the waiver wire and picking up either Alonso Gee (1.6 spg), Tony Allen (1.8 spg) or Iman Shumpert (1.8 spg). Since Allen has the best field goal percentage of the three players in question and I'd also like to work on that category, he'll be my free agent pick-up.
Considering I'm in second place overall with 76 points, just one point behind the leader, you can see the value in this strategy. It could help be bring home the championship trophy.
The trick, however, is knowing when it's time to make the move. Too soon and you risk dropping in ranking in the categories you are weakening. Too late and you will simply run out of time before you make up the lost ground.
Fifty games into a 66-game season is the three-quarters pole of this "horse race" and the perfect time to ready your plan. Implementation of said plan comes at the last point you are comfortable you can catch the team above you so as to assure you maintain your lead in all other categories.
In the example above, I should average about a one-steal-per-game improvement, and being 12 steals behind with 14 to 16 games left gives me just enough time to "steal" a spot in the rankings.