Fantasy Basketball: When to Cut the Cord on Underperforming Players

John Miller@SportsSomethingCorrespondent IIIJanuary 11, 2012

Channing Frye has under-performed so far in 2012
Channing Frye has under-performed so far in 2012Christian Petersen/Getty Images

It is very easy to give up on a player when they are not performing well. Do you know how many people cut Marshawn Lynch after two or three weeks during this fantasy football season? I don't have an exact number, but roughly 30 percent of his owners dropped him—and rightly so. He and the Seahawks had been terrible up to that point. Of course Lynch performed like a top-10 RB for the rest of the season and the teams that picked him up managed to add a RB1 off of the waiver wire.

Even if you don't play fantasy football, you know what I'm talking about. You do not want to cut a player just because he is going through a rough patch. Sometimes the rough patch doesn't end and it results in a lost season for the player. But sometimes the player wakes up and performs at his expect level.

On the other hand, now is the time to jump on waiver wire players in fantasy basketball. Some of the "waiver wire stars" will stick and help fantasy teams all season long. Missing out on those players while holding onto players who do nothing for you and eventually get cut will murder your fantasy season.

You are not going to cut your high draft picks at this point. So even though John Wall is struggling immensely and Steph Curry is hurt, they aren't going anywhere. And it's no bother to cut players whom you drafted as potential sleepers at the end of your draft. The problem is the players that you drafted in the middle of your draft, with the expectation of solid, consistent production.

I've had a few of these players this season, such as:

Channing Frye
Dorell Wright
Serge Ibaka
Lamar Odom

These players have all underperformed to this point for various reasons. But on Tuesday night, we saw signs of life from Frye (17 points, 3 rebounds with 3 3-Pointers) and Dorell Wright (20 points, 10 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block with 6 3-Pointers).

Serge Ibaka has been very disappointing, mostly because he's only playing 24.1 minutes per game right now. But if you cut him, somebody else will definitely claim him. He has so much potential that you might just have to grin a bear it for a while.

Nene has really just struggled with injuries and the fact that he is taking a pain-killing injection before games isn't a good sign. But he's been effective when he's played so you just have to hope he heals up sooner rather than later.

Lamar Odom has not adapted well to his new situation in Dallas so far. He's only playing 19.9 minutes per game and his production is down across the board. Even with Dallas being thin in the frontcourt, Odom still isn't getting the playing time he needs to be a productive player. He should get it together at some point, but it could take a long time or an injury to somebody else.

And that my friends, is how you talk yourself into holding on to your current players. If helps that there really aren't a ton of solid waiver wire options in leagues with 12+ teams right now. There are a ton of players with potential, but you would just be hoping that they will replace the expected production of the player that you are cutting. That's not upgrading.

There are no more Ricky Rubio's on the waiver wire. At the "more-owned" end of the spectrum, you might see players like J.J. Hickson, Thaddeus Young, or Marshon Brooks. Then you might see some of the "hot" names right now like Nate Robinson, Chandler Parsons, Gary Neal, or Marreese Speights.

This is where you have to balance your team. Do you need production right now? For instance, if two of your three available bench spots are taken up by injured players (Manu Ginobili and Zach Randolph) you can't afford to carry a player you can't start right now as your third bench player .

In head-to-head leagues, because it is only Week 3, you can't show patience. But if we're going into Week 5 and your team is 0-4, it's time to make some moves for players that can help you right now. On the flip-side, if your team is undefeated, feel free to pick up the under-performing players that other teams cut and stash them on your bench.

In roto leagues (and overall total points leagues) it's not quite that simple. In these formats, it's all about accumulating the most statistics (for the most part). So starting a group of under-performing players can really hurt you. Even if it's just for a couple of weeks, that could be the difference at the end of the season.

You need to try to keep as many high-potential players as you can. If they stink right now, stash them on your bench. But you need to try to get in on some of the "hot" players while they are hot. It's always nice to have a roster spot or two that you just use to pick up the "flavor of the week", particularly one who could help you in a category that you need some assistance in.

If you dig yourself into a deep hole, it is going to be very difficult to dig yourself out of it. And if you "punt" (give up on) a particular category, you need to be almost dominant in every other category. So it is in your best interest to try and remain as balanced as possible. After about one-third (22 games) of the season, you should have a decent idea of where your team stands.

Always be conscious of what the players you are cutting bring to the table. For instance, if you jettisoned Channing Frye and Dorell Wright you would be losing quite a bit of your 3-point production. That's something you will need to replace.

Got anything to add to the discussion? Have any fantasy basketball questions? Then use the comments feature below. If you have any specific questions, please supply as much information as possible. Good luck to all this week, and this season.

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