• We’re heading into the last weekend before the the NBA season begins and this is my last chance to share with you a little bit of information before you dive into those important fantasy basketball drafts.

    I’m playing in a total of 16 leagues this season. They come in different formats, shapes and sizes. At the moment, I’m in the middle of three slow drafts. One for a 30-team 9-cat head-to-head league (the Official Hoop Ball League), an 8-cat roto league, with no game limits and weekly roster lock-ins, and a 12-team, 7-cat head-to-head. I’ve got three MORE drafts do to do this weekend. That means, I’ve done 10 drafts already.

    I’ve got my own personal drafting style and set of preferences. I’ve shared with you my list of players that I’ve excluded or avoid in drafts. Over the off-season, if you’ve been paying attention, I’ve been dropping hints as to who are some of the players I expect to have a good season this 2017-18.

    You’ve heard me complain that the term “BPA” or Best Player Available gets thrown around to easily and without context, I am in principle, in favor of drafting for value, getting players who will get you wins in fantasy hoops. I am also a proponent of addressing both statistical and positional needs, whether to achieve categorical balance (for roto) or for building on strengths and/or compensating for weaknesses. It is important, and I cannot stress this enough, that reaching for players to so should be within a reasonable value range that’s appropriate for the current draft pick. I don’t believe in snatching an Alex Len to get his blocks in the seventh round of a draft just because I missed out on some key shot-blockers earlier. I will, however, prioritize picking him over guards and forwards who provide a similar value range when that moment arrives.

    I tend to be very attached to my preferences and because of that I have found that I have a very specific set of players that I tend to target in my drafts. They represent the players I feel have the biggest chances to outperform their ADP and deliver good fantasy value for my team.

    I put these names together and came up with my “Elite 80”. Why 80? You mean aside from the fact that someone else pioneered and coined a “150 list”? There are only so many targets that you really want. Just because a player’s name is not on this list, it does not mean I won’t draft him. It just means that I tend to prefer to pick other players in his general zone of value. For example, I do not own Jimmy Butler in any of my leagues. Is he a bad player? No. Do I think he can deliver value? Yes. It just so happens that I tend to pick other guys ranked lower than Jimmy when it comes to my pick in the second round. I tend to like Chris Paul, Draymond Green, Myles Turner, Damian Lillard, Rudy Gobert and Paul George as second-round picks. Do I think will outperform Butler? No, not necessarily. I just prefer them. However, any lead or value advantage Butler may have over any of my preferred guys at the end of the season is marginal and within a range of error I allow myself to have, considering I expect to outdraft most of my competition in the later rounds.

    First of all, THESE ARE NOT RANKINGS. As I said, I play in too many formats and different league settings to rank them universally. Besides, we’ve got a perfect list for that already. I’m just coming through Yahoo!’s 9-cat preseason ranks and eyeing who I like. Since I play in leagues as deep as 30 teams, you may encounter some names that are not valuable enough to be worth owning in your shallower leagues. Ignore those names. Focus on the names you may or may not have doubts about drafting. I don’t own all of these players. Some of them I wish I did. For example, I still don’t have a team with Giannis Antetokounmpo :sad face:. I had two leagues where I was fortunate enough to get the first overall pick. Both were for 9-cat, head to head. In both leagues, I went with Steph Curry. Yes, I do think he will still end up finishing the season with better value than the “Greek Freak” in that format. So, I went with Curry in both drafts. The next lowest pick I had was the fifth pick. Giannis was taken and I went with James Harden.

    IF I will end up being a winning fantasy player this season, it will be because of these names that I am putting my trust in this season. THIS is a road map to most of my fantasy teams. Players like Andre Drummond, are only taken/targeted in my 7-cat leagues, where we don’t count shooting percentages. The more drafts I do, a name or two could be added as I refine my preferences. Mostly, this is the guts of my fantasy basketball season.

    With this list, you can arguably counter-draft me at every turn. But that would be drafting to deny and not necessarily to win, because these players are mixed and matched and targetted in varying contexts.

    With it, I hope you can gain an appreciation for the guys I value highly this year.

    1. Stephen Curry, GSW
    2. Kevin Durant, GSW
    3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL
    4. Karl-Anthony Towns, MIN
    5. James Harden, HOU
    6. Anthony Davis, NO
    7. Nikola Jokic, DEN
    8. Chris Paul, HOU
    9. John Wall, WAS
    10. LeBron James, CLE
    11. Damian Lillard, POR
    12. Rudy Gobert, UTA
    13. Myles Turner, IND
    14. Draymond Green, GSW
    15. Paul George, OKC
    16. Kemba Walker, CHA
    17. Marc Gasol, MEM
    18. Mike Conley, MEM
    19. Kyle Lowry, TOR
    20. Khris Middleton, MIL
    21. C.J. McCollum, POR
    22. Kevin Love, UTA
    23. Paul Millsap, DEN
    24. Ricky Rubio, UTA
    25. Al Horford, BOS
    26. Otto Porter, WAS
    27. Klay Thompson, GSW
    28. Goran Dragic, MIA
    29. Brook Lopez, LAL
    30. Jrue Holiday, NO
    31. Jusuf Nurkic, POR
    32. Serge Ibaka, TOR
    33. Aaron Gordon, ORL
    34. Dennis Smith Jr., DAL
    35. Victor Oladipo, IND
    36. Nikola Vucevic, ORL
    37. Avery Bradley, DET
    38. Andre Drummond, DET
    39. Clint Capela, HOU
    40. Nerlens Noel, DAL
    41. Robert Covington, PHI
    42. Trevor Ariza, HOU
    43. Jae Crowder, CLE
    44. Patrick Beverley, LAC
    45. Tim Hardaway Jr., NYK
    46. D’Angelo Russell, BKN
    47. Malcolm Brogdon, MIL
    48. Gary Harris, DEN
    49. Josh Richardson, MIA
    50. Gorgui Dieng, MIN
    51. James Johnson, MIA
    52. Thaddeus Young, IND
    53. Joe Ingles, UTA
    54. Zach LaVine, CHI
    55. Taurean Waller-Prince, ATL
    56. Jeremy Lin, BKN
    57. Tyler Johnson, MIA
    58. Wilson Chandler, DEN
    59. Nikola Mirotic, CHI
    60. Richaun Holmes, PHI
    61. Josh Jackson, PHO
    62. Dewayne Dedmon, ATL
    63. Kelly Olynyk, MIA
    64. Jeremy Lamb, CHA
    65. Malik Monk, CHA
    66. Justin Holiday, CHI
    67. Milos Teodosic, LAC
    68. Dirk Nowitzki, DAL
    69. Alex Len, PHO
    70. Donovan Mitchell, UTA
    71. Dario Saric, PHI
    72. Kyle Kuzma, LAL
    73. Caleb Swanigan, POR
    74. Denzel Valentine, CHI
    75. Ish Smith, DET
    76. Dejounte Murray, SA
    77. Jerian Grant, CHI
    78. E’Twaun Moore, NO
    79. Bobby Portis, CHI
    80. Alec Burks, UTA

    Boom! :mic drop:

    Seriously though, I feel rather sensitive and vulnerable right now, having pretty much shared my “play book” in it’s EZ draft mode with you all.

    It’s all good though. I’m sharing my journey of growth and improvement in fantasy hoops. Hopefully, they give you a litttle bit of an edge in one way or another.

    Remember, you can always reach me on Twitter: @FantasyHoopla, if you want to chat about fantasy hoops!

Fantasy News

  • Austin Rivers - G - Houston Rockets

    Austin Rivers scored five points on 2-of-7 shooting with a rebound, a steal and a 3-pointer against the Lakers on Thursday.

    Rivers was probable with a right elbow injury and played through it and logged 22 minutes. Now that he's a backup point guard there isn't any value to squeeze out of Rivers from a fantasy standpoint.

  • LeBron James - F - Los Angeles Lakers

    LeBron James led the Lakers in their 111-106 comeback win over the Rockets on Thursday with 29 points on 11-of-23 shooting to go with his 11 rebounds, six assists, a steal and a block.

    James activated "playoff mode" which is sweet music to his owners. A playoff season without LeBron is unheard of and he's going to do everything in his power to drag the Lakers into the picture. The first half of the game he was lethargic and almost disinterested, but you could tell the moment he snapped into focus that he was going to bring the heat. He had a beautiful statue of liberty dunk you can find all over Twitter and went 7-for-10 at the line which is the only blemish from his night. It's going to be fun watching him power his way through the home stretch of the season.

  • Brandon Ingram - F - Los Angeles Lakers

    Brandon Ingram scored 27 points on 8-of-16 shooting with 13 rebounds and an assist against the Rockets on Thursday.

    The scoring is nice and he's finally playing to his strengths by taking the ball to the hoop and drawing fouls, but his line is actually empty when you take another look. He went 11-for-14 at the line which is impressive considering he's a .660 free throw shooter on the year, but no peripheral stats and one assist leaves a lot to be desired.

  • Josh Hart - G - Los Angeles Lakers

    Josh Hart returned to action on Thursday and scored four points on 2-of-3 shooting with two rebounds and an assist.

    He missed the previous two games before returning tonight. Hart came off the bench and logged 19 minutes and as it stands there isn't enough playing time for him to play to establish himself a standard league asset. Even with Lonzo Ball (ankle) out, Hart is taking a backseat to Reggie Bullock (14 points, five rebounds, an assist, a steal and four 3-pointers) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (six points, three rebounds, a steal and two triples) because Coach Walton likes their ability to spread the floor.

  • JaVale McGee - C - Los Angeles Lakers

    JaVale McGee scored 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting with six rebounds, an assist and two blocks on Thursday.

    McGee logged 20 minutes as the Lakers opted to spread the floor with LeBron James. As long as he plays 20 minutes or more, McGee is good for some boards and a couple of blocks which is what we're expecting from him anyways.

  • Kyle Kuzma - F - Los Angeles Lakers

    Kyle Kuzma scored 18 points on 6-of-13 shooting with six rebounds, five assists, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers on Thursday.

    Kuzma's shooting touch is back and he's playing well alongside LeBron James. He's one of the few dependable Lakers players on the perimeter and his value is high right now, but it remains to be seen if he can keep this up alongside James and the rest of the Lakers so a sell-high wouldn't be a bad idea.

  • Tyson Chandler - C - Los Angeles Lakers

    Tyson Chandler grabbed a rebound in six minutes of action on Thursday.

    He missed the last game before the All-Star Break and was questionable to play due to a neck injury and saw the floor for six minutes. Coach Walton kept a tight rotation tonight and the Rockets were running with lineups that were a bit too quick for him.

  • James Harden - G - Houston Rockets

    James Harden scored 30 points on 11-of-24 shooting with five rebounds, six assists, two steals and two 3-pointers against the Lakers on Thursday.

    Harden had three fouls within the first quarter which threw him off his game, but he was still able to rack up the points and keep his 30-point scoring streak alive. His 3-point shot was off tonight and he was called for four offensive fouls which is an anomaly considering he's usually on the other end of those calls. Even on his bad nights, the Beard drops a full line so owners can't complain too much even if it's hard after being spoiled for a month.

  • Chris Paul - G - Houston Rockets

    Chris Paul nearly triple-doubled on Thursday with 23 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists while chipping in a steal, a block and three 3-pointers.

    Paul looked great against the Lakers and he had a little extra lift in his bounce tonight. The 3-point shot was on point for him as he went 3-for-5 from deep and also 9-for-15 from the floor. He's struggled with shooting efficiency all season so hopefully this is a sign of things to come.

  • Clint Capela - C - Houston Rockets

    Clint Capela returned to action on Thursday against the Lakers and scored 12 points with 11 boards and a block.

    He went 6-for-9 from the floor and logged 33 minutes which means there's no minutes restriction for the big fella. Go plug him into your lineups with confidence as the Rockets gear up for their playoff seeding push.