• 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!

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