If you’re playing in a roto league, punting shouldn’t pursued. Could it work? Sure, but it’s far more difficult to execute than in head-to-head category leagues. In these leagues, punting is often ideal because you just need to win one more category than your opponent for the week. Punting may also be forced upon you by the way a draft plays out. Take for instance the assists category. Dimes are a precious resource this season, so what happens if you miss out on the run? Rather than utilizing precious resources to scrounge up scraps and still be behind in the category, the prudent course of action may be to just disregard the category and focus on others. With the small sample size of a week’s worth of games, variance will also inevitably rear it’s head. As a result, skewing the probabilites in your favor to lock in certain categories could give you a leg up on the competition. In the below Google Sheets, I’ve listed the rankings (side by side) if you were to punt each category. Keep in mind that these are overall value based on my projections. For thoughts on my process, click HERE.

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Sun Tzu, the Chinese general, military strategist, philosopher, and author of the Art of War wrote: “what enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer, and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men, is foreknowledge.” Before undertaking any endeavor in life, knowing and understanding the landscape provides a tremendous advantage for those who put in the time to obtain the information. Every fantasy basketball site has their own rankings and projections. As a result, there will be opporunities to exploit depending on which draft room you are situated in. If you know the landscape before entering the fray, you will have an advantage come draft day. Below, I’ve made a Google sheet that compares my rankings to those at ESPN, Yahoo, and Fantrax. This should give a basic lay of the fantasy landscape.

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Yes, the 1995 Magic with Shaq, Penny, 3D, Nick Anderson, and Ho Grant were my favorite team as a kid. Yes, I still have the Magic locker in my house that I got in 1995. Oh, and yes, I am currently rocking a NBA Jam shirt with Shaq and Penny on it.  Unfortunately, those guys are all retired and while some call Orlando the happiest place on earth the Magic were a pretty sad team in 2020-21. They struggled with injuries starting with Jonathan Issac who didn’t play a single game. Starter Markel Fultz played only eight games before tearing his ACL, and regular rotation guys Cole Anthony, Michael Carter-Williams, and Terrence Ross played a combined total of 126 out of a possible 216 games. The Magic finished last in FG%, 26th in 3PM,  28th in assists, and they traded two-time All-Star Nikola Vučević to Chicago at the deadline. All this led to a 21-51 record and a resignation from head coach Steve Clifford.

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The Good Land indeed. It has been a magic time on the western shores of Lake Michigan. Winter became a distant memory, Summerfest returned, and after 50 years, the Milwaukee Bucks are NBA Champions. Though fall is in the air, everything is still glowy up here. This kind of joy will do that to a place: 

I’m not crying, you’re crying!

Now, Kevin Durant really did hit that Game 7 jumper and the Nets really were a toe’s length away from the ECF and maybe more. Personally, I find the championship asterisk conversation to be tired and fruitless. However you feel about it, the Milwaukee Bucks are the reigning champs and their title defense begins with the third best odds at repeating, as Vegas likes Brookyln and LA more than the Cream City Champs (the Warriors and the Bucks both begin the season at +900.) With an improved Eastern Conference, there’s no reason to think that the path back will be without challenges.

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After a heartbreaking first-round exit, the Dallas Mavericks made relatively small adjustments over the offseason.  That’s not to say the past few months have been without drama in The Big D.  At the center of the post-season speculation was Kristaps Porzingis, who had a rough series against the Clippers.  While there may have been some talk of shopping him, it likely dissipated when the Mavs realized the extent of the decrease in trade value.  Other trade rumors involved the Mavs making a deal with the Raptors to bring Goran Dragic to Dallas.  That deal hasn’t materialized, but stay tuned.  In the meantime, the Maverick core remains intact, as Porzingis remains on the roster and Dragic is still in Toronto.  With real-world expectations running high for another season, let’s take a look at the roster from a fantasy perspective.

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Before we look at the upcoming season, we have to first look back at the Knicks’ spectacular 2020 season. ESPN had the Knicks projected to win 24.7 games with a 2% chance of making the playoffs. The Knicks shattered those expectations by winning 41 games and making it to the playoffs as the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. Going into the 2020 season, the Knicks did not look very exciting, as most hoped for bigger names in free agency. We have a similar trend leading up to this upcoming season.

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This is where the men get separated from the boys. True decisions have to be made. Do you draft for need or best player available? Do you take a shot at that rookie, even though historically, it hasn’t been a good bet? What about the good players who have fallen due to injury concerns? Decisions, decisions, decisions. Speaking of decisions, there have been around 10% of NBA players who are choosing not to get vaccinated. Kyrie Irving, Andrew Wiggins, and Jonathan Isaac are the most known out of the group. Irving and Wiggins are in danger of not being allowed to play in their home arenas due to protocols. So be wary of drafting these players.

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The Oklahoma City Thunder were one of the most fun teams to watch last season. Can they do it again this year? With one of the youngest teams in the league, they seemed poised to showcase their blossoming young talent spearheaded by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. This past off-season the Thunder waived Kemba Walker and Josh Hall while losing Tony Bradley, as he signed with the Chicago Bulls and Svi Mykhailuk who will be in a Raptors jersey this upcoming season. On the other side of the coin, they acquired Derrick Favors via trade while bringing in four new neophytes from this year’s draft – Josh Giddey with the sixth overall pick, Tre Mann (18th), Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (32nd), and Aaron Wiggins (55th). 

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The Phoenix Suns exceeded the majority of expectations in 2020-21. However, the same cannot be said for the team’s starting five from a fantasy perspective. The addition of Chris Paul and strong coaching from Monty Williams resulted in a team-first approach that spread contributions thin. Devin Booker’s assists dried up, Mikal Bridges’ steal rate took a dive, and Deandre Ayton seemed to forget that he was seven feet tall. Newcomer Paul, meanwhile, surged. With the Suns’ lineup remaining relatively stagnant during the flurry of off-season moves, what fantasy outlook should we have for their starting five this coming season?

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The New Orleans Pelicans swung and missed (wait, wrong sport); they fumbled (still not there); they air-balled in their attempt to land an elite point guard in this year’s free agency period, so they now go into the season fully relying on their young and athletic forward combo of Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson to get the Big Easy back into the playoffs for just the second time since 2015.

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