We’ve come to the end of the road of the rankings/projections. Sniff. Sniff. I’m sad, but don’t cry, dry your eye, as this means the season is almost upon us. If you want to see the players past the 150, click HERE.
If you missed previous editions, here you go:
Before I begin…
THESE RANKINGS MUST BE UTILIZED IN THE CONTEXT OF YOUR LEAGUE SETTINGS, TEAM ROSTER CONSTRUCTION, AVERAGE DRAFT POSITION, AND PERSONAL PHILOSOPHIES.
Another fantasy basketball season is upon us! Can you believe NBA games will be played exactly one month from the writing of this article?
Free agency has been just about as wild as one can expect after the extended layover, and the rookie class has found their homes. Meanwhile, fantasy basketball players are scrambling to find reliable player rankings and doing mock drafts to hone their strategies.
One thing that can really help you as you start your quest for fantasy dominance is to think long and hard about statistical scarcity. This is a pretty easy concept that means when there is less supply of a statistic, its value increases. In fantasy basketball terms, you can think of it as “blocks are more valuable than points because there are fewer players who block the basketball at a high rate”.
So which statistical categories are the most scarce, and therefore valuable? Answering this question can help you determine which players you want to target. I’ve taken a look at the top 200 players in 9-category rankings and used the statistical projections from Rotowire to get a decent idea.
As NBA fans and fantasy basketball players we all lust for the power of NBA general managers. Many of us wrongly assume we could do a better job heading our favorite team’s basketball operations—it isn’t hard to get those ideas if you happen to be a Knicks, Magic, Timberwolves, Suns, or Kings fan. But what we long for as much as the power, is the seriousness of the endeavor. NBA GM’s get to make decisions that carry weight. A draft pick is quite simply a choice—a highly public, decade-defining choice in some cases, but a choice all the same. We make choices every day—the blue or the red tie, Toyota Camry or Nissan Altima, Fleabag or The Good Place, two drinks or twelve, poetry or literally anything else that might actually pay the bills. We make applicable sports decisions as well. We choose between Kyrie Irving or Damian Lillard in our fantasy draft, we add Kendrick Nunn or Davis Bertans off the wire, we kill Russell Westbrook in the group chat, we build property on Julius Randle, Dion Waiters, or Lonzo Ball Island. We tweet, we engage, and we argue. We win our league or we don’t. In time, we are either vindicated or pilloried. At best, we have a lighthearted thing to lord over people we care about, at worst, we have to dye our hair, wear ugly ill-fitting clothes, or in a more recent trend, consume enough waffles to avoid sleeping in a Waffle House. But largely, no one notices or cares, as our sports opinions are indiscernible dots in a sea of data points.
Potential is enticing, if fickle. Potential is a first date. A 0-0 count in the top of the first. Potential is a stray glance or wink, a few perfectly volleyed bits of of banter between two people soon to be lovers. Potential is the essay before its written, the hazy four-line outline in the mind. Potential is the moment before the moment, where dream and reality meet, if only for an instant.
Potential is not, however, negative capability, as Keats described it: “I mean Negative Capability, that is when man ‘or woman’ is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without, any irritable reaching after fact or reason.” Potential implies a payoff, a return on investment. The hung curveball must be sent screaming to the seats. The alley must be ooped. The first date must lead to a second.
In the poem, the reward is the exploration of uncertainty itself. In fantasy sports, that irritable reaching after fact or reason is all we know. With that in mind, here are some players who’ve been blessed with the wicked kiss of potential.
If you’re a habitual bad drafter like I am, you’re probably well acquainted with the power of the waiver wire. First I was a bad drafter in fantasy football and now that non-skill has transferred over to fantasy basketball. I often make too much of my hay on the wire. I have never won the championship in my fantasy football league—an indication that I haven’t had the top-end talent necessary to take home the trophy. But I have made the playoffs every year except one—an indication that timely, intelligent pick-ups on the wire are not to be taken for granted, especially in football where long injury absences are common. I also made the playoffs in my first year of fantasy basketball as an expansion team after auto-drafting. It’s a 14 team, 9-category, head-to-head Yahoo league for perspective. I tell you all this not to toot my own horn, but to lay out my strengths and weaknesses, to cement my waiver wire guru credentials.
Ah, centers. The literal giants of the fantasy basketball world. There are 56 centers listed below, with the shortest being Montrezl Harrell who stands at 6′ 8″ tall. In the United States, the average height of a male is 5′ 9″, which puts Montrezl in the 99.988 percentile. But he’s the shortest player in this piece. Many, if not most, are seven feet or taller. In the entirety of the world, there are approximately 2800 people seven feet or taller, which translates to 0.000038% of the population on Planet Earth. And 1.7% play in the NBA! Crazy! The outliers don’t stop there, though. Nikola Jokic is the only center who is projected to average over 4 dimes per game, with a whopping 7.5! Since these literal giants tower over the landscape, it would make sense that they dominate the blocks and boards categories. There are 15 players projected to grab at least 10 boards per game. 12 are centers. For blocks, 19 players are projected to reject at least 1.5 shots per game. 13 are centers. Let’s all bow down and pay homage to these titans of the fantasy basketball world.
What’s up fellow Razzball readers and fantasy basketball enthusiasts! After recharging our batteries over the summer, it’s time to start preparing for the upcoming NBA season. These can range from checking the names of the players from this year’s draft and/or casually checking all the offseason transactions, which can escalate to frantically searching for recorded games of Limoges to scouting the strengths and weaknesses of Sekou Doumbouya’s fantasy game. It’s all about how each and everyone enjoys the fantasy basketball game.
Now, I have to admit I can relate more to the latter example and, as such, I am preparing my top 155 projections for roto leagues, which will be published in the upcoming weeks and mark my third straight year on this fine site.
Last year, I decided to grade my projections from the year before, in an attempt to judge myself and try and make them more accurate in the future. Go me, for hating myself I guess, but it’s a fun little project before I dive into the actual projections every summer. If you are curious and ready for some math, check last year’s article for a full explanation on the method used. If you prefer the “too long, didn’t read” approach, know that the main metric is the difference between the projected and the actual overall per game value for each player.
I thought I’d send out a reminder for those of you in keeper leagues. This probably applies more to roto players than head-to-headers, since those in roto leagues aren’t scraping and clawing for every last game they can get with their limited moves. I’m talking about stashing some of next year’s potential breakouts. Yeah, just about everyone worth taking next year is on a roster already… just about. In my keeper league, I once grabbed this Draymond Green character in the last few weeks of the season, since he’d been on a hot streak. He ended up finishing as a top-30 player the following season. Nearly the exact same story for C.J. McCollum the next year. And if I’d have been on my game at the end of last season, I’d have grabbed Cedi Osman, preventing me from having to waste an early draft pick on him this season (we keep a lot of players). There’s a ton of unknown between now and next October’s fantasy drafts (gloriously entertaining unknown, by the way), but we can make some educated guesses at this point. Do you have some players you know you’re not keeping next season that also aren’t making a difference on your team? Replace ’em with lottery tickets, and maybe one or two will pay off. They could at least give you some extra trade value.Some keeper and dynasty leagues don’t have a trade deadline, so I’ll be including some players here that might be near-universally owned in addition to those who have a good shot at being free agents in your league. Speaking of free agents, that’s how we’re going to unearth some of our targets. The other aspect I’ll look at are rookies and second-year players that could be in line for a bump in playing time and usage. And there will be some nice overlap in who we find from each strategy, I’m sure.
Karl-Anthony Towns is an amazing player. He’s a seven-foot, 250 pound player who can post up down low, break ankles on the perimter, and drain threeecolas. While I question if he has enough dog in him to lead a team to the promised land, there is no denying his status as one of the elite fantasy players. Since entering the league, KAT has finished as the 12th, 6th, and 5th player in fantasy. So far, he’s the #7 player this season and puts up funky lines like this:
I want to go to Funky Towns, though.
Can we Voltron up and get Andrew Wiggins out of Minnesota? KAT is averaging 16.2 shot attempts per game, good for 31st in the league. Wiggins is at 15.5 shots per game. Imagine a place sans Wiggins where KAT attempts over 20 shots per game and sees an uptick in usage and assist rate? That’s a place I want to go. The beyond funky contract of Wiggins makes it an almost impossible task, but one can dream.
When I first started writing these recaps, Grey imparted into my tiny brain the wisdom of not writing about the same player in the lede. It wasn’t a hard and fast rule, but it made sense and I’ve tried to adhere to it as much as possible. But, but, but….Yes, I’m studdering mother [email protected]#!er. Sometimes a player is so good, so brilliant, so dominant that he moon walks over all the competition and I’m forced to do it. Let’s call it the James Harden fast rule.
That’s four straight games with at least 40 points. According to Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen), Harden joined Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant as the only players over the last 30 years to score 400 points in 10 games. According to Kevin O’Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA), Harden was the first person in NBA history to score at least 40 points on eight field goal makes. He now has four trip-dubs on the season and 39 for his career. He’s been the #1 player for fantasy over the past seven games. All that is nice and dandy, but do you know what the craziest stat is? With both Chris Paul and Eric Gordon off the court, Harden has a 51.8 usage rate, an increase of 10.3%!!! The Harden Fast Rule is that when Paul and Gordon are off the court, James is gonna eat.