October 23, 2010

5 Tips for your Fantasy Basketball Draft

I really should have added in (Last Minute) between the "5" and "Tips" in this title. There are less than 2 and a half days until LeBron and crew (or should I say Dwayne Wade and his sidekicks) tip off against Shaq and the Celtics. That's less than 60 hours for you to do your fantasy draft and get your roster set for the next 17 months. Ok, maybe more like 7. But like I said as football and baseball approached, draft day is what sets the fantasy season into motion. So, if you are sitting down on Sunday (like me) or Monday, or God forbid anytime after Tuesday, here are a few things to keep in mind as you print out your spreadsheets and highlight your sleepers. (Not one of the 5 tips: Linas Kleiza should be one of those highlighted guys).
  1. Settings is Key- I start every fantasy draft the same way. I ask myself the question, "What are this league's rules?" and, "How should I use these rules to my benefit?" These two answers could be the key to turning your team into a champion. If you're playing head-to-head, Dwight Howard gets a huge boost. Whereas, if its roto, I wouldn't take Superman if he came with X-ray vision (one of my top 3 superpowers). Leagues without turnovers give young guns who run the floor a lot more value. Its little league-specific keys like these that make the transition from a good team to a great team possible.
  2. Don't Overplan and Panic- Trying to plan out too far ahead will only cause disappointment. I did a mock draft the other day, and in 14 rounds, the guy I was targeting got selected directly in front of me 4 times. I see a lot of fantasy owners write down a list of guys they want in each round, only to panic when they get pick-jacked. A panicked owner makes bad decisions. Don't be that guy who picks Marcus Camby in the 2nd.
  3. The Best Available is Best- Ask any current or former GM out there (minus Isaiah Thomas of course) what their draft strategy is, and it is always "I'm taking the best guy available at my spot, regardless of position". If it works for their teams (minus the Knicks of course), why not let it work for yours? In the early rounds, don't stress about if you're getting too many rebounds, or not enough 3-pointers, that's what the rest of the draft is there for. Get whoever you think has the best potential to be great with your first few picks, and let the rest of your picks fill out the categories you need.
  4. See the Whites in their Eyes- In other words, stay close to your opponents. Keep track of what they're doing and act accordingly. Here's an example: Say you're sitting at the 10 spot in a 12 team draft and you desperately need a big. Paul Millsap is there, and you're high on him, but so is Aaron Brooks, and he's your breakout player this year. Most of the time, you'd pick Millsap to make sure you get some boards. However, since you've read this post, you notice that the owners at 11 and 12 have only picked PFs and Cs. Because of that, you pick Brooks, and after the other two guys select guards, Millsap is still there waiting for you. Instead of getting one, you get two great players, all because you paid attention to your opponents' selections and needs.
  5. Go Big or Go Home- This is my personal favorite. I like to challenge myself to make one really risky pick per draft. There is a difference between crazy and risky, however. In the middle to late rounds, try to pick a guy with a huge risk that could pay off for a huge reward. This year it could be a guy like Yao Ming or Greg Oden because of their injury concerns, or someone with character problems like Gilbert Arenas. If they pay off, it could cover up any mistakes or major injuries you face.
And while it doesn't fit in the top 5, this tip is one you should always keep in fantasy basketball: Have Fun. That's what its all about. Enjoy the game, and win some money, pride or bragging rights while you're at it.