Fantasy Hoops Strategy: 2016-17 Draft Targets When Punting Steals

Which players should you target at each position if you're punting steals in fantasy basketball?

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 5 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

Punting Steals

If you choose to punt steals, you will notice that the stat doesn't favor particular positions quite as strongly as threes, rebounds, or assists. Whereas punting threes or rebounds basically divides the league down the middle between guards/wings and big men in terms of value, and punting assists mostly devalues pass-happy point guards, there's value to be had at each position in fantasy hoops when punting steals (much like punting points).

If you're going to punt steals, however, you will notice that your strengths will still mostly lie in the big-man stats like rebounds, blocks, field goal percentage, and low turnovers. With that in mind, make extra sure that you get your top low-steal targets at the guard positions so that you get plenty of help in threes, assists, and free throw percentage as well.

Point Guard - PG Damian Lillard

Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 21 (2)
Punting Steals Rank (Round): 14 (2)
Ranking Difference: +7
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 12
Current ESPN Projection: 11

Damian Lillard has one of the most robust stat lines of any point guard in fantasy hoops, but the steals (0.9 per contest in 2015-16) are notably low when compared to other floor generals in his class. The lack of steals is usually a detriment to Dame's value, but someone punting pilfers won't be bothered by that and should zero in on him as a top target. He helps you out big time in other important guard stats that are often lacking in this build, namely his 3.1 triples, 6.8 dimes, and 89.2% shooting clip from the free throw line. The 25.1 points per game and 4.0 rebounds (great from the position) won't hurt you either, and his 41.9% shooting from the field and 3.2 turnovers per game can easily be compensated for with the bigs you choose later.

Early-round targets: PG Damian Lillard, PG Isaiah Thomas
Mid-round targets: PG/SG Goran Dragic, PG/SG George Hill, PG/SG Brandon Knight, PG/SG Reggie Jackson
Late-round targets: PG/SG Jeremy Lin, PG Deron Williams, PG/SG Allen Crabbe, PG/SG Lou Williams

Shooting Guard - SG J.J. Redick

Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 69 (6)
Punting Steals Rank (Round): 45 (4)
Ranking Difference: +24
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 99
Current ESPN Projection: 87

J.J. Redick was already featured in our rebound punting edition of this column, but he's also a perfect shooting guard target in a steal punt, especially given his late-round ADP. Last year, if you removed Redick's mere 0.6 steals per contest from the equation, he finished as the 45th-ranked player in nine-category leagues. His 2.7 triples per contest and 88.8% shooting from the charity stripe are great gets in this build, while his 16.3 points, 48.0% shooting from the field, and low 1.0 turnover per contest all add strong value as well.

Early-round targets: SG/SF Klay Thompson, SG/SF Nicolas Batum
Mid-round targets: SG Bradley Beal, SG/SF Wesley Matthews, SG/SF Rodney Hood
Late-round targets: SG J.J. Redick, SG Eric Gordon, SG Devin Booker, SG/SF Kyle Korver

Small Forward - SF/PF Carmelo Anthony

Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 35 (3)
Punting Steals Rank (Round): 29 (3)
Ranking Difference: +6
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 34
Current ESPN Projection: 31

Carmelo Anthony may no longer be the first-round asset he once was, but the steal punter should be all over him at his current ADP in the mid- to late-third round. Melo only gives you 0.9 steals per contest, but the stacking options that come with his 21.8 points, 1.5 threes, 7.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 82.9% shooting mark from the charity stripe are tantalizing. The threes, assists, and free throw efficiency, in particular, are premium gets in this build.

Early-round targets: SF/PF Kevin Durant, SF/PF Carmelo Anthony
Mid-round targets: SF/PF Tobias Harris, SF/PF Chandler Parsons, SF Danilo Gallinari, SF/PF Nikola Mirotic
Late-round targets: SF/PF Marvin Williams, SF/PF Al-Farouq Aminu, SF/PF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

Power Forward - PF/C Ryan Anderson

Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 70 (6)
Punting Steals Rank (Round): 47 (4)
Ranking Difference: +23
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 70
Current ESPN Projection: 78

Ryan Anderson gives you very little in terms of defensive numbers (0.6 steals and 0.4 blocks per contest in 2015-16), but if you are punting either of those, he becomes a very attractive target at power forward or center. Anderson's scoring (17.0 per game) and low turnovers (1.4) present fine stacking options, but what sets him apart from other bigs that don't grab you many steals is his proficiency from long range (2.0 threes per game) and the free throw line (87.3%) -- areas which have a tendency to be weak on a steal-punting squad. You might want more blocks (0.4) and rebounds (6.0) from your bigs, but those stats can typically be stacked well enough with late-round specialists in this build.

Early-round targets: PF/C LaMarcus Aldridge, PF/C Kristaps Porzingis, PF/C Serge Ibaka, PF/C Kevin Love
Mid-round targets: PF/C Pau Gasol, PF/C Dirk Nowitzki, PF/C Ryan Anderson, PF/C Kenneth Faried
Late-round targets: PF/C Bismack Biyombo, PF/C Tristan Thompson, PF/C Alex Len

Center - C Robin Lopez

Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 84 (7)
Punting Steals Rank (Round): 42 (4)
Ranking Difference: +42
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 88
Current ESPN Projection: 116

The perfect complement to Ryan Anderson as your power forward in this build is Robin Lopez as your center. His 0.2 steals per game in 2015-16 make him an obvious draft candidate for the steal punter, while his 7.3 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, 53.9% shooting from the field, 79.5% shooting from the line, and 1.6 turnovers per contest all represent viable stacking options. It's the rebounds and blocks, in particular, that make him the perfect yin to Anderson's yang, while both guys give you solid efficiency at the free throw line. In a build that favors big men with putrid numbers at the charity stripe, you'll want that kind of accuracy from your starting bigs.

Early-round targets: C Karl-Anthony Towns, PF/C Hassan Whiteside PF/C Al Horford
Mid-round targets: PF/C Nikola Vucevic, C Jonas Valanciunas, PF/C Myles Turner, C Enes Kanter
Late-round targets: C Robin Lopez, C Jahlil Okafor, C Andrew Bogut, C Timofey Mozgov