If your draft went well, you methodically worked the waiver wire, you made some savvy trades and -- well, let's be realistic -- you got at least a little lucky along the way, you will earn a berth in your head-to-head fantasy basketball league's playoffs.
As that time of the season nears, you'll want to be sure you make the right decisions to put your squad in the best position to take home the title.
Know your strengths and weaknesses in roto leagues
By now, you should know whether there are any categories in which you have struggled to perform well or in which you have dominated. Ideally, you addressed any of those weaknesses prior to the trade deadline.
Regardless, punting more than one category can make things dicey in the postseason because you should be battling other strong teams. If you still have shortcomings in a category or two, don't be shy about cutting players who help you in categories in which you have been dominating in order to add players who can help you overcome your weaknesses.
Weekly NBA schedules
Examine your roster in the context of our weekly schedule grid to see if you have any glaring issues ahead of you.
In fact, you should use the grid throughout the season so you can address any scheduling weaknesses regarding your stars before the trade deadline. That way, during the last few weeks of your league's regular season, you can be focused primarily on players who are borderline options.
If such a player has a shaky schedule down the stretch, you might want to add a similar player now, if he has a better schedule -- especially if your league locks rosters on Mondays. Consider how much an extra game or two from a waiver addition might earn you over a player who has a light schedule during the fantasy playoffs.
Consider cutting injured players
You'll have to assess the value of the player, but there is little sense in holding on to, say, a player who has an outside chance of returning for the final five or six games of the season. That is especially true in leagues with daily roster moves; any waiver addition will get you more stats than the bagel box scores a sidelined player will be posting down the stretch.
Assess your opponent's roster
As the playoffs get close, you probably can only speculate as to whom your opponent will be in the next round, but once you nail it down, you can assess how your teams match up.
If you are in a points league, consider how strong your opponent has been lately, how his or her schedule looks and whether you think it will be a close battle or a blowout one way or the other. That should help determine how you should approach the waiver wire: with desperation (cutting good players with light schedules just to add games played) or relatively cautiously (sticking with your good players for the long haul and cutting only your weaker options).
In roto systems, you should look at whether your opponent has any glaring category holes that you can exploit and whether he or she has any strengths you might not be able to handle. Once you are down to the top handful of teams, your battles likely will come down to one or two close categories, so attack those on waivers.
Hit your waiver wire
As noted above, you can get ahead of the curve in all formats by aiming for players who have plus schedules down the stretch, so you can max out your games played each week.
Once the playoffs are underway in daily-move leagues, you should be sure to use every game possible, stacking your lineups as full as you can each day. Some leagues have a limit on how many players you can add off waivers. In those systems, you should use every one if necessary. In leagues with no limit, you should look ahead at the rest of your weekly team schedule and plan ahead to get in as many games as possible.
After all, streaming four or five games from a middling player is as good as getting one or two games from an impact fantasy player -- and that can be the difference between winning and losing.
You should also take advantage of players who are benefiting on a given night from an injured teammate or a plus matchup. Even if you don't take part in DFS games, you should pay close attention to our daily DFS content to find short-term impact players you can add off the wire.
Don't be afraid to block your opponent from adding difference-making free agents. That can include adding a player simply to keep a team in the other semifinal from getting him. Even if you don't need him now, keeping such a player off your future opponent's roster could make a huge difference.
Finally, never think things are wrapped up until the final whistle blows on the last game of the NBA's regular season. If you have a lead, run up the score as high as possible. If you are behind, keep rolling players into your lineup. You never know how things might play out until it's all said and done.