If you're like me -- a Day 1 Nats Fan -- you spent part of last night responsibly rioting. Making Pasadena tremble under your celebratory weight. You're still bitter the Lerners didn't extend Rendon two years ago when they had the chance, but you're temporarily and completely ecstatic.
Sports, at its heart, is an improbable dopamine delivery service. Last night, the happiness drones descended upon my Pasadena abode in droves.
From a childhood with no baseball team. From 205 losses in two seasons. From Strasburg's Tommy John. From four soul-stomping postseason heartbreaks. From Harper defecting to Philadelphia. From 19-31. From down 3-1 against Josh Hader in the eighth. From down 3-1 on the road with Kershaw coming out of the pen. From down three games to two heading into unassailable, unconquerable Minute Maid Park. From Scherzer can't lift his arm to Kendrick did it again.
That was one hell of a rollercoaster ride. A barrel of unvarnished glee to uncork come 9:30 p.m. PST.
But you also have a column to write. So you pause the celebration to check in on the NBA. And ...
... gut punch.
That's the Curry injury.
In reality and fantasy. An unspinnable situation. A dopamine drainer. The real-life ramifications run Marianas Trench deep.
Suddenly -- cruelly -- cooler basketball heads are proclaiming the Warriors should slide into tank mode. The Heads say it's time for the mighty Dubs to follow the David Robinson blueprint. Punch down into a top-three pick, reload, and hit 2020 running.
But in fantasy? One week in? We don't tank. We can't tank. Even if you're in a keeper or dynasty league, four games in is way too early to start dreaming of your 2020 draft.
I thought Curry had a shot at another historic fantasy season. I procured Curry early and often. Now? Curry might be gone a month. Maybe two.
Remember: fantasy basketball is just a geeky pastime. But a uniquely challenging and rewarding pastime. If we didn't like challenging ourselves ... we'd just stick with fantasy football. But we play fantasy basketball because it presents us with vexing problems that can be overcome.
The struggle can be fun. Entertaining. Rewarding. As I tell the Current Mrs. Cregan, my various children and the blue-haired young people I work with: Wait out the luck.
Bad luck is an opportunity. Because it's gonna swing back. And in the meantime: You have license to get creative. You have freedom. To try. To tinker. To be bold. Winning is exponentially more satisfying when you overcome bad luck.
So maybe you're not a Curry manager. Maybe your team has just stumbled out of the statistical gate. Maybe you're down on your draft. Maybe you find yourself drifting over to the easy charms of DFS.
Did the unsinkable Nats pack it in at 19-31? Did they succumb to talk radio and fire Davey Martinez in May? Did they heed the columns proclaiming it was time to trade Rendon, Scherzer and Strasburg?
No. They got creative. And waited for the luck to swing.
Don't panic. Don't overreact. Let your fellow managers overreact. Because this is the time to take advantage of early-season overreaction.
Remember, we have a lot of impact players in new situations. It might take a week or two for some guys to get rolling. For the shots to fall.
So follow the unexpected. Follow the slumps. Follow the minutes.
Some stars are currently shooting at elementary school levels. Some players are getting way less playing time than expected. Some might be getting more run ... but haven't translated the extended minutes into fantasy production.
Mine those players, find ways to roster them, and wait for their luck to turn. Let's peruse some players who are raring to rebound.
Player Rater: 22
When a 1.3 ADP player is at 22? Averages a weighty 9.5 free throw attempts per game ... but hits only 55.3% of them? And shoots 2-of-14 from deep? And throws in 4.0 turnovers per tilt? I don't care about the triple-doubles. This is a fantasy meltdown.
When you draft a player No. 1, even a week of third-round production can feel like a numerical lifetime. You didn't draft Antetokounmpo for Danny Green-esque efficiency. But you reasonably expected marginal improvements over last season's 25.6 3FG% and 72.9 FT%.
The good news: Early-season shooting slumps revert to the mean. Blink, it will be Boxing Day, and Antetokoumpo will be top-5. But if you are looking to retool early, Antetokounmpo is a prime trade target.
Player Rater: 73
If you drafted Gobert, you made a deal with yourself: Don't succumb to small sample sizes. Top-20 players largely dependent on one category for elite production are going to short-term disappoint. The blocks will eventually arrive.
There are a lot of new impact pieces in Utah's rotation. This might take a minute. The offensive flow will come. Gobert will round up into his expected superhuman blocks and rebounds average. Seek out Gobert's panicky manager and engage.
Player Rater: 84
Here's a great opportunity to get in on a top-five point guard fixer-upper. Because the early returns on the Luke Walk-on Era ... not great. 0-5. A fistful of blowouts and bad press. Everyone is understandably down on the Kings.
Turn that 0-5 to your advantage. When shaky managers roster slumping players on slumping teams, they absorb that narrative. You should spin it into fantasy production. Fox's minutes (30.6 MPG) will climb. The shooting (38.8 FG%, 72.4 FT%) is streaky, but it will claw back to respectability.
Buddy Hield, SG, Sacramento Kings
Player Rater: 75
See: Fox, De'Aaron.
Player Rater: 105
Jackson opened up the season a little overaggressive on defense. His fouls per game: 4.8. So his minutes (26.8 MPG) and marquee volume numbers (14.8 points, 6.5 rebounds) have taken the requisite hit.
Rostering Grizzlies means playing the long game. It's like parenting an 11-year-old. You are going to witness growing pains and sudden growth spurts. But there is upside up and down Memphis' roster. You just might have to wait a few weeks.
Player Rater: 77
On the surface, Paul doesn't register as an early disappointment. Producing seven slots below your ADP isn't catastrophic. Paul's numbers have been merely ... Patrick Beverley-esque. That's not a trainwreck.
But I'm expecting more out of Paul. I'm expecting Paul to play with an extra chip on his already chip-laden shoulder. To prove Fantasyland wrong and deliver top-40 production. This is a man looking to produce for big existential reasons: he wants to remain relevant and play himself into a trade to a contender.
Point guards on new teams need a moment to click. The mix with SGA will take a beat to sort out. But those assists (3.6 APG) will double -- and soon.
Mike Conley, PG, Utah Jazz
Player Rater: 145
Case in point: Conley's line last night against the Clippers: 29 points, 5 assists, 5 3s, and 2 steals. That's after posting two duds and two numerical craters. Now, it might be too late to buy low on Conley. This early in the season, one big game is all a tremulous manager needs to reply "no thanks" to your less than generous trade offer.