Fantasy Hoops Strategy: 2016-17 Draft Targets When Punting Blocks
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 6 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.
There are not a whole lot of elite shot blockers in fantasy hoops, so punting swats is one of the easiest of the punt strategies to employ. There were only 15 players who averaged 1.5 rejections or more last season, and they are mostly guys that get snatched up in the first few rounds of fantasy drafts.
Because there is such a high concentration of value in the top few leaders in the category, missing out on the truly elite options like Hassan Whiteside, Anthony Davis, and Serge Ibaka will almost certainly mean that your team won't count blocks as one of its strengths anyway. If you are low in blocks after your first few picks, you're better off forgetting about the category entirely instead of reaching down the board for specialists who will just drain you in other categories.
As you would imagine, punting rejections will almost universally boost the value of guards, but there are still plenty of wings and bigs who lack in the swats department as well, and they will also become more valuable in this build. Guard stats like threes, assists, steals, and free throw percentage will stack most naturally, so make sure you find good sources of rebounds, field goal percentages, and low turnovers when you can.
Point Guard - PG Chris Paul
Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 6 (1)
Punting Blocks Rank (Round): 4 (1)
Ranking Difference: +2
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 9
Current ESPN Projection: 6
Pretty much every single point guard in the Association gets an upgrade in this build, so it's hard to go wrong at the position. Because the early-round point guards have the most juice in other categories, however, they tend to have the most value added at the position when you take away their negligible blocks. If you grab someone like Chris Paul in the first round, that's the perfect time to start considering a block punt. Paul's 0.2 swats per game represent the biggest hole in his otherwise stuffed stat line, so he's a top target no matter what your stacking preferences are. His points (19.5), threes (1.6), rebounds (4.2), assists (10.0), steals (2.0), field goal percentage (46.2%), free throw percentage (89.6%), and turnovers (2.6) all range from great for the position to elite for any. The best thing is that he can usually be had in the middle or near the end of the first round because people tend to be enamored with upside and overlook CP3's sterling consistency and nine straight years of finishing in the top six in nine-category leagues for some reason.
Early-round targets: PG/SG Stephen Curry, PG Russell Westbrook, PG Chris Paul, PG Isaiah Thomas
Mid-round targets: PG Darren Collison, PG Dennis Schroder
Late-round targets: PG Jrue Holiday, PG Marcus Smart, PG Rajon Rondo
Shooting Guard - PG/SG Jordan Clarkson
Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 112 (10)
Punting Blocks Rank (Round): 87 (8)
Ranking Difference: +25
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 83
Current ESPN Projection: 84
Jordan Clarkson only blocked seven shots in 2.552 minutes last year, so it's safe to say that he's not being drafted at his mid- to late-round price tag for swats. If you're ignoring rejections, he becomes a solid addition to your backcourt for what he gives you in points (15.5), threes (1.4), rebounds for the position (4.0), steals (1.1), free throw percentage (80.4%), and turnovers (1.7). The boost in rebounds and low turnovers are important in this build, in particular, because so many bigs who generally excel in that area will be devalued. The low 2.4 assists (for a combo guard) and 43.3% shooting percentage are warts, but another year of experience and even more touches (farewell, Kobe) might see those numbers rise a bit this season for the budding 24-year-old.
Early-round targets: PG/SG/SF James Harden, PG/SG C.J. McCollum
Mid-round targets: SG/SF Trevor Ariza, SG/SF DeMar DeRozan, SG/SF Evan Fournier
Late-round targets: PG/SG Jordan Clarkson, SG/SF Rodney Hood, SG J.J. Redick, SG Devin Booker
Small Forward - SF/PF Paul George
Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 14 (2)
Punting Blocks Rank (Round): 9 (1)
Ranking Difference: +5
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 10
Current ESPN Projection: 14
It might be challenging to get both Chris Paul and Paul George on your squad, but drafting at or around the turn in a standard, 12-team league might make it possible. Missing out on CP3 is not too much of a drag because so many other point guards get a boost when punting blocks, but PG13 is a premium SF/PF target in this build who might be worth prioritizing. His 0.4 blocks per game used to be pretty decent for a shooting guard, but since losing his eligibility there and gaining it at power forward, it's become one of George's liabilities. If you're punting rejections, however, there's so much to love in his 23.1 points, 2.6 threes, 6.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.9 steals, and 86.0% shooting from the line. The high rebound number from your small forward is particularly important here because a lot of the high-rebounding power forwards and centers in the league lose value when removing blocks from their line.
Early-round targets: SF/PF Paul George, SF/PF LeBron James
Mid-round targets: SF/PF Tobias Harris, SF/PF Jae Crowder, SF/PF Chandler Parsons, SF Danilo Gallinari
Late-round targets: SF/PF Harrison Barnes, SG/SF J.R. Smith, SG/SF Solomon Hill
Power Forward - PF/C Kevin Love
Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 39 (4)
Punting Blocks Rank (Round): 36 (3)
Ranking Difference: +3
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 31
Current ESPN Projection: 34
Kevin Love is not the top-five fantasy asset he used to be in Minnesota, but he's still plenty valuable, especially when punting blocks. His 0.5 swats per game has always been a rub on his value as a power forward and center, but his 9.9 rebounds and 1.8 turnovers fit the big-man mould and are particularly important in this build. If that's not enough, his scoring (16.0 points per game), range (2.1 threes), and assists for the position (2.4) go a long way as well. You'll have to find a way to compensate for his 41.8% shooting from the field, but guys like Chris Paul and Enes Kanter (see below) can help with that. Worst case scenario, punting both blocks and field goal percentage is a viable strategy in your standard head-to-head league.
Early-round targets: SF/PF Carmelo Anthony, PF/C Kevin Love
Mid-round targets: SF/PF Jabari Parker, PF/C Ryan Anderson, SF/PF Thaddeus Young
Late-round targets: SF/PF Luol Deng, PF/C Zach Randolph, SF/PF Justise Winslow
Center - C Enes Kanter
Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 91 (8)
Punting Blocks Rank (Round): 85 (8)
Ranking Difference: +6
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 72
Current ESPN Projection: 80
Enes Kanter is a gifted scorer and a monster on the boards, but he cannot defend to save his life. In fantasy hoops, this is made abundantly clear when you're trying to compensate for his 0.3 steals and 0.4 blocks per contest. If you're punting blocks, however, Kanter becomes one of your best targets at the center position. He's one of the very few big men in the league who is eligible at center, derives almost no value from blocking shots, but still gets plenty of rebounds (8.1), few turnovers (1.4), and shoots an excellent percentage from the field (57.6%). You may find yourself lacking in those departments in this build, so don't sleep on Kanter as someone to help you with those stacks. The 12.7 points and 79.7% mark from the line don't hurt either, and with both Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka now out of Oklahoma City, Kanter's role (and all those numbers) could see an increase this year as well.