Drafting a Fantasy Team? We Can Help

Dirk NowitzkiThis is a “farewell” column. My two seasons at Sheridan Hoops have been a lot of fun, and it has been a pleasure working alongside (and learning from) Chris Sheridan and his talented team.

My friend Rob Dudek will do a fantastic job in this space, taking our fantasy basketball coverage in a new direction, as he has for the first seven weeks of the NFL season. His analytical skill has paid off in daily fantasy sports and poker, not to mention his annoying success as my opponent in traditional leagues. If you like winning, read his stuff.

Fantasy advice is impossible to provide without context. The “standard” Roto or Head-to-Head league is 156 players deep. At Rotoworld, Steve Alexander has a summary of the first 210 players selected in a 12-round, 30-team draft. I play in one 280-deep league and another that begins with 320 players owned.

Depending on the settings, you may be concerned only with those top 156 players, or even fewer. Making a draft list in that scenario is more like splitting hairs, as every roster spot will provide value. There will always be decent free agents to consider.

The deeper the league, the greater the challenge, both at the draft — getting some production from late-round picks — and during the season, where the FA pool will be extremely shallow.

Daily Leagues

draftstreetIf you are experienced at fantasy hoops but have not checked out the daily version, you should. DraftStreet offers NBA leagues that last one night. In the Salary Cap format, each player has a salary, you have a $100,000 limit and eight roster spots to fill. Lebron James costs $22,490 on opening night and at the opposite end of the scale is a $3,500 floor.

After your traditional drafts (my big one is tonight) put all that knowledge to work. Join a $2 contest on October 29 and you could win $360 by finishing with the highest fantasy points score. There are 99 other cash prizes for a total guaranteed payout of $2,000: second gets $240, third $180 and so on.

The biggest difference between season-long Roto or H2H and the daily game is what constitutes value. It’s one thing to rank the best players over 82 games, another to predict what they will do on a given night. Nobody is better than Rob Dudek at weighing probabilities against the cap to find DraftStreet sleepers.

Players to Target

Everything depends on your draft position early on, and “best available” is the only strategy. Guys who are moving up my list include Derrick Rose, Serge Ibaka and Kawhi Leonard. Among others whose ADP (average draft position) is lower than my ranking are Mike Conley, Kemba Walker and Jrue Holiday, because point guard is the scarcest position — if you don’t have a good one after the first 60 picks, be prepared to overpay for whatever is left. Two big men and a PG with my first three picks would be ideal, as there are decent enough options at SG and SF in the middle rounds.

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