• Wow! It’s amazing how time flies. I just realized that my first live online draft will be on September 16th. It’s a bit early for my liking, but hey that’s fantasy basketball for you. As usual, I’ve committed to way more leagues than I tell my self I should. I played in a whopping 13 leagues last season, including the brutal 30-team Experts League, with Hoop Ball’s Aaron Bruski and Dan Besbris.

    Again, as it has been customary over the last several weeks, I will be sharing with you some of the personal steps I’m taking to prepare for the 2017-18 fantasy basketball season.

    As of the moment, I am committed to playing in SEVEN (7) leagues in Yahoo! All of them are 9-CAT, Head to Head, but of varying league sizes and settings. Two of the leagues are auction drafts. Two of the leagues are keeper leagues. Two are set to weekly roster changes. Five snake drafts, five daily roster changes leagues. Two are 20-man deep, while at least three are standard sized (12-team). That’s just all in Yahoo! I’m also already booked in a couple of leagues in CBS (possibly more), two Hoop Ball leagues on Fantrax, and probably another 10-man league on ESPN. Yup, my head is spinning just thinking about it.

    Mental note to self for next season: “Cut down on your leagues! Puh-lease!

    Since more than half of the leagues I will be playing in this season are on Yahoo! and are all 9-CAT, it was only a matter of due diligence that I took a long hard look at Yahoo!’s pre-season rankings.

    If you are new to fantasy basketball, I cannot stress enough the importance and value of studying these pre-season rankings. More often than not, a manager (or two, or more) will not make it to the live online draft. These rankings will be a predictable path with which the system algorithm will auto-select players for the absentee manager. Aside from that, unless a manager pre-ranks his players (which I swear is the single most important part of preparing for a fantasy season), he will visually see these Yahoo! rankings in the order they are in. They also serve as the base line with which the “market” is currently viewing these players. Of course, most good managers will not be drafting down the line, I’ve actually seen, on rare occasion, a team win in a league after the being auto-drafted by the system during the live online draft. Sadly, the truth of the matter is that these cases are more exceptions and not the rule.

    While it has happened in the past that Yahoo! adjusts or changes these pre-season rankings, the current rankings are what will be used by people whose leagues are drafting early.

    I so wholeheartedly believe in scrutinizing these said rankings, that I even did a “no-man mock draft”, basically simulating what teams would look like if all teams were auto-drafted by Yahoo! It was a useful exercise to visualize who generally goes where and at what round, as well as giving me an idea which players will be within my zone of “draftability” given any draft position I am randomly assigned on draft day. Yes, I have too much time on my hands. But hey, I’m not a hardcore fantasy hoops head for nothing.

    Editor’s Note: If you want more tools to crush it in fantasy hoops this season, you might want to check out the Hoop Ball Draft Guide.

    So, onto the meat of the post. I basically scoured the rankings and took a look at what a standard-sized league would look like. That would be 12 teams, with 13-man rosters, totaling to 156 players. Instead of going with a lengthy breakdown of the pre-season rankings, pick by pick or ranking position, I decided to condense the information into more easily digestible highlight-categories.

    Rookies

    They make for a rather divisive issue. You could be into rookies and want to get them on your team, either because you are playing in a keeper league or you’re fond of young talent and their potential. On the other hand, you could be like me, who is not fond of grabbing rookies in re-draft leagues. Whichever side of the fence you’re sitting on, here’s a list of the rookies Yahoo! has ranked to be standard-league worthy in its pre-season rankings.

    Lonzo Ball (81)

    Markelle Fultz (83)

    Josh Jackson (108)

    Jayson Tatum (119)

    Dennis Smith Jr. (124)

    De’Aaron Fox  (151)

    Ben Simmons is technically not a rookie but will be seeing his first action in the league this season. He is ranked at (54)

    Red Flags

    These are players who, after some scrutiny and research I deem to be either overvalued or at least worth considering as “risky” picks at their current pre-season rankings. Take Isaiah Thomas, for example, whose hip issues are making me cringe at the thought of using my second-round pick on him. He is a prime example of why you should pre-rank your players before the draft. If you DO NOT want him on your team this season, either bump him down or exclude him altogether. Joel Embiid at 27th is pricey as far as I am concerned. I can see how his per-game numbers from last season point to this level of production, but his injury history bars me from, in good conscience, picking him this early (this season). Monta Ellis is not even signed at this point and should not be drafted.

    Isaiah Thomas (16)

    Joel Embiid (27)

    Bradley Beal (30)

    Dennis Schroder (47)

    Devin Booker (48)

    Andrew Wiggins (53)

    Jabari Parker (63)

    Zach Randolph (74)

    Dwyane Wade (76)

    Darren Collison (106)

    Taj Gibson (115)

    Reggie Jackson (121)

    Brandon Ingram (136)

    Monta Ellis (156)

    Value Picks

    Here are several players who I can see exceeding their current pre-season rankings. Some of them are effectively undervalued based on my assessment and are worth grabbing earlier than their “listed price”. Avery Bradley, broke out while he was in Boston last season and finished as the 57th best player in fantasy (9-CAT per-game). Taking him closer to that range is actually a fair decision, but if you can get him at his current pre-season rank of 82, then that’s a bargain right there. Gary Harris at 107, is almost highway robbery as far as I’m concerned. He’s underrated and has a fantasy-friendly stat line that comes with upside this season.

    Otto Porter (43)

    Victor Oladipo (66)

    Trevor Ariza (68)

    Avery Bradley (82)

    Nerlens Noel (91)

    Gary Harris (107)

    Marquese Chriss (112)

    Thaddeus Young (132)

    Tyler Johnson (141)

    Joe Ingles (150)

    Allen Crabbe (154)

    Flier-Pick Worthy

    Of course, I did not limit the scope of my scrutiny to exactly the 156 players listed. Duh. Here are some players who are worth considering with that last pick yours, you know, like those Monta Ellis picks which should obviously be avoided. Some of these guys are low-end, across-the-board contributors, like Danny Green and Andre Iguodala. While others, like Milos Teodosic and Dewayne Dedmon, could emerge as pleasant surprises this season.

    Cory Joseph (162)

    Joe Johnson (169)

    Andre Iguodala (178)

    Danny Green (179)

    Josh Richardson (183)

    Milos Teodosic (188)

    JaMychal Green (191)

    Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (195)

    Dewayne Dedmon (209)

    Again, these are just the effective CliffsNotes of my breakdown and analysis of the current Yahoo! pre-season rankings. As I said, they can and will likely change as we get closer to real-life tip-off; but if you’re in a league that’s drafting in early September this little cheat sheet might be of use.

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

Fantasy News

  • Kostas Antetokounmpo
    PF, Dallas Mavericks

    The Raptors are planning to claim Kostas Antetokounmpo off waivers, per Eurohoops' Nikos Varlas.

    Blake Murphy of The Athletic reports that the Raptors were interested in adding Antetokounmpo last season, but had their plans dashed when Dallas took Antetokounmpo with the final pick in the draft. He's incredibly raw still, but has the physical build that the Raptors seem to love in their developmental projects.

    Source: Nikos Varlas on Twitter

  • B.J. Johnson
    PF, Sacramento Kings

    The Kings have waived B.J. Johnson.

    Johnson had a decent showing in Summer League but never seemed likely to last in Sacramento given the team's depth at forward. After making seven appearances on a pair of 10-day contracts with the Hawks last season, Johnson will look to find more concrete footing in the league this season.

    Source: Jason Jones on Twitter

  • Kostas Antetokounmpo
    PF, Dallas Mavericks

    The Mavs have waived Kostas Antetokounmpo, per Shams Charania.

    The youngest Antetokounmpo was Mr. Irrelevant in the 2018 draft but only appeared in two games with the Mavs last season. Dallas opens up a two-way contract slot and will likely find a more NBA-ready player on the market, while Antetokounmpo will look to latch on with another team for camp. Perhaps the 20-year-old can make it a family affair, with both of his older brothers playing in Milwaukee.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Christ Koumadje
    C, Philadelphia Sixers

    The Sixers have agreed to a one-year, partially-guaranteed deal with rookie Christ Koumadje according to Michael Scotto of The Athletic.

    Rich Hofmann of The Athletic reports that it will be an Exhibit 10 deal. Koumadje went undrafted but flashed his defensive potential by averaging 2.4 blocks in only 13.6 mpg at Summer League. The 7'4" big man will be a developmental project for Philly and is not part of the fantasy landscape for the time being.

    Source: Michael Scotto

  • James Harden
    PG, Houston Rockets

    James Harden has taken his name out of consideration for the FIBA World Cup this summer.

    Harden will be focusing his efforts on getting ready for next season. There figures to be a large adjustment coming with Russell Westbrook replacing Chris Paul, and Harden playing alongside a ball-dominant scoring guard rather than a distributor will be something that figures to have a rough patch or two. Still, Harden reportedly told the Rockets that he's comfortable with playing off the ball more, so it should work out. Team USA, meanwhile, figures to be just fine considering the depth of talent available.

    Source: Jonathan Feigen on Twitter

  • Josh Gray
    G, New Orleans Pelicans

    Josh Gray has agreed to a two-way deal with the Pelicans.

    Gray had a cup of coffee with the Suns back in 2017-18 and spent last season playing in Korea. The former LSU product has always been adept at stacking up steals, but he's unlikely to see much playing time given the backcourt depth in New Orleans.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Christian Wood
    PF, Detroit Pistons

    Christian Wood will be competing for backup center minutes this season, per Keith Langlois of Pistons.com.

    Markieff Morris and Thon Maker will be his primary competition, and Wood has the edge if Detroit is looking for some strength and rebounding. If they're looking for shooting, then it's safe to say that we'll see some smaller bench groups this season. Wood has been dominant at the G-League level and had some monster games at the end of last season but it's not a great landing spot for fantasy value given that Detroit's roster is built on their frontcourt stars. Deep-league owners should keep an eye on that battle in the preseason.

    Source: Keith Langlois on Twitter

  • Justin Holiday
    SG, Indiana Pacers

    Justin Holiday has agreed to a one-year deal with the Pacers as of Friday's reports.

    Holiday will likely be a wing option off the bench for a secretly deep Pacers squad. There's some potential here if he can find an appropriate minute load.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Isaiah Pineiro
    PF, Sacramento Kings

    The Kings agreed to a one-year, partially guaranteed deal with Isaiah Pineiro on Friday.

    This seems like just a depth move for the Kings to have a G-League option for this upcoming season. He played for the Kings in Summer League and clearly impressed enough to get a contract.

    Source: Michael Scotto on Twitter

  • Kosta Koufos
    C, Sacramento Kings

    Kosta Koufos has reached an agreement with CSKA Moscow according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo.

    Haynes goes on to say that Koufos' deal will make him the highest paid American in all of Europe next season, so it's safe to say that it was an easy sell for Koufos who appeared to be facing a rather tepid market. His deal will also include an NBA option that will allow him to opt out of his contract should he decide to return to the States.

    Source: Chris Haynes on Twitter