Head-to-head fantasy basketball is a different animal. It’s one part quality of your roster, two parts avoiding injuries and five parts strategy. 

The strategy part applies specifically to the playoffs, when winning a matchup 5-4 means we advance. At this point in the season, all we should be focused on is securing those five categories. 

IDENTIFY AND CONQUER

The vast majority of your opponents don’t even know which categories they’re after. They’ll simply hope to squeeze out a win in the playoffs one way or another. We can take advantage of this by essentially punting four categories while really loading up on five of them. It creates a scenario in which our enemy is mediocre across the board while we are elite where we need to be.

ROSTER MASSAGING

It’s a relieving feeling to cut specialists we don’t need in favor of ones that can help. For example, if I’m after 3-pointers but don’t need blocks, I can cut Andrew Bogut for Joe Johnson with no hesitation. We can also massage our roster in spite of positional parameters. If we are punting assists, acquiring PG-eligible players who aren’t great passers (Jordan Clarkson, Patrick Beverley) means we won’t waste games on a category we don’t need.  

GAMES UPON GAMES

It’s not fun to talk about, but raw games played means a lot in head-to-head fantasy hoops. If my team is lucky enough to play five more games than yours, I have a huge edge. More specifically, I’d rather have three games of Nerlens Noel than one game of Kevin Durant. So be sure your roster is set up to maximize games played in your playoff weeks. For example, the Bulls play five games during the Week of March 28 while the Bucks only play three. If that’s your championship week, adjust accordingly. 

NBA PICKUPS OF THE WEEK

1. Bojan Bogdanovic, SG, Nets — Joe Johnson’s buyout means Bogdanovic has to play around 30 minutes every night.

2. Alex Len, PF/C, Suns — The Suns are now committed to letting Len develop next to Tyson Chandler as part of a “Twin Towers” formation.

3. Joe Johnson, SG, Heat — Miami desperately needed some outside shooting and the artist formerly known as “Iso Joe” can provide it.

4. Lance Stephenson, SG, Grizzlies — Finding a home as a key part of the Grizzlies’ second unit. At least 21 minutes in every game since trade.

NFL NEWS

It made perfect sense for the Bears to use the franchise tag on Alshon Jeffery, even at $14.6 million. Constant nagging injuries plagued him in 2015, but he’s been borderline dominant when healthy. In Jeffery’s seven full games last season, he averaged 7.1 catches for 110.5 yards and 0.42 touchdowns. That compares very favorably with other elite wideouts like Odell Beckham (6.4 catches, 96.6 yards, 0.86 TDs) and DeAndre Hopkins (6.9 catches, 95.0 yards, 0.68 TDs).