If you’ve been following my blog since I started back last year around this time on wordpress.com, you’ll know that I love basketball just by the many custom BAPE characters I did of some of my favorite NBA players. I enjoy doing NBA avatars because of their noticeable features, jerseys, and shoes. As you can tell by the featured image, I’ve drawn up Lebron James, Stephen Curry, Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol, and most recently, Larry Sanders. I also have a James Harden avatar, but I’ll save that for a later post (maybe on a day when he drops 50 points).
It should also come as no surprise that I love fantasy basketball! The NBA, to me, is the perfect sports league: Constant action and scoring, consistent but not too many games within a season, and stats on stats on stats! As an internet marketer by day, I’m all about the numbers and the data. With sports like basketball where there are plenty of games to be played within a season, the numbers don’t lie! You’ll start to see who the REAL top performers are by month 3, when fatigue and losing records start to take its toll. At the end of the day, the best players always maintain that level of performance, and those are the players that you want on your fantasy team.
I’d like to introduce you all to my criteria and thought process when it comes to drafting my fantasy basketball team for head to head leagues. I am in NO WAY a fantasy basketball guru, but this tactic has not failed me, as it has helped me win 2 leagues and multiple 2nd and 3rd place standings in the last 4 years. Although the numbers don’t lie, at the end of the day, there is still a bit of good fortune that fantasy sports winners must have in order to come out on top at the end. Whether you’re playing category leagues or point leagues, the strategies may be different but the goal is always the same: WIN!
Head to Head Each/Most Category Strategy
For category leagues, the goal is to win the majority of certain categories over your opponent. These categories include Points, Field Goal Percentage, Free Throw Percentage, Three Pointers Made, Assists, Rebounds, Steals, Blocks, and Turnovers (For turnovers, you want to have the least when playing against your opponent). There are two ways I approach this type of scoring system: Either get as many players who have great stats across the board so I can have a chance at winning every single category on any given week, or only get players who can dominate 5 of the 9 categories every week.
Both strategies involve some amount of research (it’s not enough to know who the top 20 picks will be). Leagues are won during and after the 6th round of picks when the hidden gems and sleepers are overlooked by other players. When looking to dominate in at least 5 categories, you have to look for players who contribute to categories that are outside of their position’s expected production. For example, point guards and shooting guards who have the highest average in blocks and rebounds are what you would look for if you want to dominate in the big man categories (FG%, Rebounds, Blocks, Low Turnovers). Centers and power forwards who can steal and provide assists are a great addition to a wing/guard focused team (FT%, Steals, Assists, 3PM).
If you want to have a well rounded team that is a jack of all trades, then look for players who produce double-double numbers along with a decent amount of defense. Blocks are a rare commodity, and having players who can average a block and a steal per game is way to guarantee you’ll always be in the running in those categories every week. Kenenth Faried is a prime example of this: Last season he averaged 11.6 points on a 55% field goal percentage, along with 9.1 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1.1 blocks per game. His only “weakness” is his 61% free throw shooting, but other than that, Kenneth Faried contributes across the board as a big man and in a wing players defensive category.
Above all, you have to remember that you don’t have to win each category in blazing fashion. There is no difference between beating an opponent by 100 or 10 in points. At the end of the week, you will only be granted one point for that category, but not the win if you can’t produce in other categories. That’s why many people prefer Head to Head Points Leagues.
Head to Head Points Strategy
If you’re familiar with fantasy football, then this points system will sound more familiar to you. Just like in football, players produce points according to their overall production, and the team with the most points win that week. Each stat is assigned a certain number of points, and each league is different. The most common point values for categories is shown below:
|Players Stat Category||Value|
|Free Throws Made (FTM)||.25|
|3-point Shots Made (3PTM)||.5|
|Points Scored (PTS)||1|
|Total Rebounds (REB)||1|
|Blocked Shots (BLK)||1|
This is great for people who don’t want to spend a whole lot of time digging through the stats and data, and just want to pick up players who score a lot of points. Since FG% or shots missed is not a factor, high volume shooters are more valuable than passers, rebounders, and defenders. This system is also great for statistic heads like me who input the values into a spreadsheet and get a simple number for a player’s value. Since the goal is to get as many fantasy points as possible, make sure you know your league’s scoring system. Some leagues differentiate their points system (more points for assists and rebounds, higher negative value for turnovers, etc).
Other Facts to Keep in Mind
Of course, while looking at the numbers, you have to remember that things change over the course of a year or two. For instance, Paul George’s regular season numbers are mediocre, but the stellar performance he gave in the post season is a good indication that this will be a breakout year for him. Add in the fact that Danny Granger will miss a good portion of the 1st half of the season due to injuries, and you’ve got the makings of a great year for Paul George.
Speaking of injuries, make sure you know which players are playing hurt, still out due to injury, or returning (or attempting to return) in full force. I personally have huge concerns over Derrick Rose’s return, and although he looked good in the preseason, I keep reading that he’s experiencing soreness in his knee, which reduces his playing time and productivity. Although the numbers don’t lie, you still have to keep yourself updated with the latest news, and make your own decisions about whether a player is worth the gamble.
Another gamble to consider is a player’s age and current surroundings. On average, a player’s numbers will start to diminish once he passes the wrong side of 30. Freaks of nature like Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant do not count, as their stats have either been sustained or increased. It should also be noted whether a player has been traded to a new team or has a new coach. The greatest example I can give is Pau Gasol. He’s had some of his worst numbers the past 3 years. Past his prime and working in offensive schemes where he is not in his comfort zone are some things that he has had to work through. However, while we’re on Pau, I do believe he will have a much better season this year, due to Mike D’Antonii’s change of offensive plays and the fact that he didn’t play any extra curricular summer leagues. A well-rested Pau Gasol produces quality stats, even in a bad system.
Well Where’s the Cheat Sheet!?
I hope this quick rundown of what Head to Head Fantasy Basketball is was a helpful read for you! As promised, I’ve provided my own little cheat sheet that I am still updating and configuring everyday. I’ve provided it is a Google Doc speadsheet that is ready only and as an excel file so that you can mess with the numbers yourself. I would love to hear your feedback, and if there are any other stats or criterias that I should take into consideration, please let me know in the comments below! Good luck to everyone, especially those in my leagues, muhaha!