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January 24, 1998

One of my all-time favorite quotes is, "Experience is a wonderful thing. It enables you recognize a mistake every time you repeat it." I think I've repeated some mistakes in managing my Second Chance team, "Guru". Let me explain.

I believe the best roster management strategy can be thought of as having three phases:

In the first phase, the objective is to generate as much in roster value as possible. Trades should be done with one single purpose in mind: buy low, sell high. When there are apparent opportunities to add value, they should be aggressively exploited, and the sooner the better.

In phase two, you begin positioning for the "end game". This phase starts when you have about 15-18 trades remaining. At this point, you need to figure out who you want to own when the trading winds down, and begin to position your trades to pick up these players. To plan, you need a realistic assessment of how much you'll be able to afford. Then, watch those targeted players' prices, and try to buy on dips. At this point, your primary focus should be on how you can get these players on your roster in the fewest number of trades.

The final phase is the end game, when you sit tight and rake in your points. Hopefully, you'll have been able to preserve a few trades in case of injury, but by and large, you've got the team you wanted. If it turns out that you don't suffer injuries, you can use those last few trades to juggle your roster in the final weeks to pick up a few extra games played.

With my main team, the Talaxians, I squandered a few trades early ( I even bought Reggie Williams once, confusing him with Jayson!), but quickly zoned in on the critical importance of the profit motive and went about accumulating gains with tenacity. I didn't worry much about the pace of point accumulation during the process. I just focused on building roster value.

When the number of my trades got into the 30's, I figured out who I wanted to get, and began selectively swapping into those players. I kept a couple of roster positions available for trading opportunities, but basically began the process of picking up those last few players. Toward late December/early January, a number of you kept asking me why I was holding on to Bobby Jackson for so long, with so much cash in reserve. Well, I was waiting for the right time to pick up Payton and Duncan to complete my team, and I was trying to wait for a few more bucks of increase in Jackson's price to make it all work. I really didn't want to use an extra trade to get it done. And, I got my dream team in place with six trades left in reserve, accommodating Barkley's toe injury in the process. I remember being ranked around 250th at one point, and wondering whether I would make it to the top 50. Now I'm ranked sixth, and still climbing. The system works!

Now I've got to sit tight and watch. I used one of my last six trades to pick up Barkley again, so I've got five left. It's tempting to want to do something with them now, but I think the best course is to be patient, and to watch my competition. I may not win the overall title, but I should be in solid contention.

So why the opening lament about experience? Well, I've already used 31 trades for my second chance team, and while I've done all right, I know I made some of these trades in order to improve my current point generation rather than solely focusing on gains. Now, I've got to start positioning for the end game, and I don't know whether I can now accumulate enough to be able to buy my dream team. While I am in 4th place based on points, I'm only in 15th place based on value. And frankly, I think the most important category in the beginning of the season is value, not points. Some of the trades did propel me up in the point standings, but didn't do much for generating extra dollar value. I think the teams that are leading in value right now are the most dangerous. If I can't catch up to them in value, they'll eventually be able to pass me in points.

It ain't over till its over, and there's still time to recover, but I'm feeling today like I should have known better. Believe me, I'm not about to concede this thing yet... far from it. And I realize that a lot of you are looking up at me in the standings and wishing you had my "problems". I hold my performance up to a high standard, though.

Just wait until baseball season!

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Hoop Pointers is written by Dave Hall (a.k.a. the Guru), an avid fantasy sports player. He is not an employee of any of the fantasy games discussed within this site, and any opinions expressed are solely his own. Questions or comments are welcome, and should be emailed to Guru<>.