Fantasy Hoops Strategy: 2016-17 Draft Targets When Punting Rebounds
One of the most common strategies in head-to-head fantasy basketball leagues is category punting. That is where you devalue or "punt" a category (or two) in order to focus on stacking your team in other areas.
You may choose to go into a draft with the intention of punting, but that strategy can leave you stuck if your top options get snagged before you get the chance to pick them. The best thing to do is evaluate your team after a few picks and see if a punt build emerges as a feasible option. If your team is growing strong in some categories but is already way behind your leaguemates in others, you may want to embrace the punt rather than reaching for players of lesser value just to fill in your missing stats.
That's where these punting guides will come in handy.
This is Part 3 of 9 in a series in which we are taking a look at punting in each of the nine standard-league stat categories (points, threes, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and turnovers). In the end, these guides can serve as a useful reference on your draft day if the opportunity to punt arises (or as a buying guide of sorts for trades after your draft has finished).
In each guide, we discuss each punt's inherent challenges and best categories to stack and then give you an "All-Punt" team, where we highlight the best target at each position for the build in question (with a couple bonus targets for other rounds as well). When possible, we'll try to make sure the targets at each position don't overlap in terms of average draft position (ADP), so that you can conceivably grab all five of our main targets (or at least fill out a full lineup by using the additional options listed below each top target).
Always remember: punting doesn't mean you're actively trying to be bad in a category, just that you don't mind not being successful in it. The goal is always to target players that bring lots of value outside of the punting category in question, while avoiding guys that draw a large portion of their value from it.
All stats, rankings, and punt values come from BasketballMonster.com.
Punting rebounds is one of the least advantageous punt strategies, and you should know that before giving it a go.
Taking rebounds out of the equation leads to huge imbalance in the value of guards versus forwards, with guards becoming way more attractive draft targets and big guys free-falling down the board. You would think that the same kind of thing would happen with punting blocks, for instance, but there are actually plenty of big men in the league who have plenty of fantasy value outside the block category. Meanwhile, there are very few bigs who get by as serviceable fantasy assets without boards.
With this build, you're naturally going to have a small, guard-heavy team. If that's the case, you'll end up in a situation where you're not only weak in rebounds, but also lacking in other big-man strengths like blocks, field goal percentage, and low turnovers. There simply aren't enough guards and wings that excel in those areas to make up the deficit caused by punting rebounds. If you have the guts to try this strategy, you will have to focus on guards who give you a little bit of help in those areas, while full-on avoiding the ones who are awful in them.
I'm sure that intro doesn't really make you want to read on and try this strategy. It's certainly not for the faint of heart, but punting rebounds is a decent enough play if you feel like being really contrarian, and you might actually manage to create some pretty unbeatable stacks in places like points, threes, assists, steals, and free throw percentage in the process.
At the very least, try it out in a couple mock drafts before giving it a go on the big stage.
Point Guard - PG/SG Kyrie Irving
Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 55 (5)
Punting Rebounds Rank (Round): 31 (3)
Ranking Difference: +24
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 22
Current ESPN Projection: 20
Just about every point guard in fantasy hoops is a decent pick when you're punting rebounds, so you can't really go wrong at the position. Kyrie Irving is particularly enticing target in this build, though, simply because his 2.9 rebounds are the biggest drain on his value. If you get him late in the second round (or better yet, he drops to the early third), there's a lot of category juice to like in his 19.6 points, 1.6 threes, 4.7 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. He's also a relative plus in both percentages, shooting 44.8% from the field (good for a high-volume point guard) and 88.5% from the free throw line. If you're banking on a return to his first-round form after a down year (ranked 11th in nine-category leagues in 2014-15, as opposed to 55th last year), then you could be in for a steal grabbing Kyrie at his current ADP to anchor the point guard position for your rebound punting team.
Early-round targets: PG/SG Stephen Curry, PG Chris Paul, PG Damian Lillard, PG/SG Kyrie Irving, PG Isaiah Thomas, PG Mike Conley
Mid-round targets: PG Darren Collison, PG Jeff Teague, PG/SG Zach LaVine, PG/SG Reggie Jackson
Late-round targets: PG Jrue Holiday, PG/SG Jeremy Lin, PG Deron Williams
Shooting Guard - SG J.J. Redick
Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 69 (6)
Punting Rebounds Rank (Round): 35 (3)
Ranking Difference: +34
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 99
Current ESPN Projection: 87
J.J. Redick is a fairly underrated fantasy asset as it is, but in a rebounding punt he's a must-draft player in the late rounds. In 2015-16, he only managed to grab 1.9 rebounds in 28.0 minutes per contest. That low rebounding rate is typically a detriment to his value, but there's a lot to like otherwise. In any format, his 16.3 points, 2.7 triples, and 88.8% shooting from the free throw line are on point. It's his 48.0% shooting from the field and ultra-low 1.0 turnovers per contest that make him a perfect shooting guard target, though because finding help in those categories from your guards and wings is so important in a build that devalues bigs as much as this one does.
Early-round targets: SG/SF Klay Thompson, PG/SG C.J. McCollum,
Mid-round targets: SG Bradley Beal, PG/SG Avery Bradley, SG/SF Rodney Hood, PG/SG Brandon Knight, PG/SG Monta Ellis
Late-round targets: SG Gary Harris, SG/SF Wesley Matthews, SG J.J. Redick, SG Eric Gordon
Small Forward - SG/SF Evan Fournier
Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 68 (6)
Punting Rebounds Rank (Round): 44 (4)
Ranking Difference: +24
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 62
Current ESPN Projection: 47
Last year was Evan Fournier's breakout year, as he finished 68th in nine-category leagues after never topping 199th in either of his three previous seasons. Still only 23 years old, the needle is pointing undeniably up on Fournier's stock, especially now that Victor Oladipo has been traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder. His 15.4 points, 2.0 triples, 2.7 assists, and 1.2 steals per contest all make for good stacking options, as does the 83.6% shooting mark from the charity stripe. His 46.2% shooting from the field and 1.7 turnovers are the big pluses, though, considering how much you'll need help in those categories in a rebound punt (much like with J.J. Redick).
Early-round targets: SG/SF Trevor Ariza, SG/SF Andrew Wiggins, SG/SF Gordon Hayward
Mid-round targets: SG/SF Evan Fournier, SF Danilo Gallinari
Late-round targets: SG/SF Kent Bazemore, SG/SF J.R. Smith, SG/SF Kyle Korver
Power Forward - SF/PF Jae Crowder
Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 32 (3)
Punting Rebounds Rank (Round): 26 (3)
Ranking Difference: +6
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 50
Current ESPN Projection: 57
Filling your power forward and center positions in this build can be tricky. For the power forward position, specifically, you'll want to lean on wings who can play the four, like Jae Crowder. Crowder's 5.1 rebounds per game last year represent value from the small forward position but not as much when he's your power forward. In the meantime, his 1.7 threes and 1.7 steals per contest are a good get from the four. It also doesn't hurt that he only gets 1.1 turnovers per game and excels in both percentage, shooting 44.2% from the field and 82.0% from the free throw line.
Center - C Brook Lopez
Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 23 (2)
Punting Rebounds Rank (Round): 29 (3)
Ranking Difference: -6
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 30
Current ESPN Projection: 28
Filling the center spot in a rebound punt is not fun, especially if you are in a league where you have to start two centers. In the end, your man or men in the middle will probably be good at rebounds, whether you like it or not. That's fine, though, as long as you make sure that they are particularly good in blocks and field goal percentage because your guard-heavy team will be naturally lacking in those areas. One of your best fits for those criteria is Brook Lopez. Yes, he gets 7.9 rebounds per contest, but that's not even that high of a number for a 7'0" center who plays 33.7 minutes per night. In the meantime, his 1.7 blocks per game and 51.1% shooting from the field are stacking options you want in this build. Badly. Also on the plus side, BroLo's 78.7% free throw percentage won't drag you down, allowing you to keep that stack strong as well.