Fantasy Hoops Strategy: 2016-17 Draft Targets When Punting Turnovers
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 9 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.
If you want to see how punting turnovers can alter rankings in fantasy hoops, simply find yourself a rankings website you trust that has both nine-category and eight-category lists and study the differences. You'll notice that most of the changes in value occur in the earlier rounds, since the league's biggest stars and early-round picks pile up a lot of turnovers as a natural extension of their high usage rates.
One of the easiest guidelines to follow when punting turnovers is to target big-name stars who get high minutes and rack up plenty of counting stats. Efficiency matters less than usual here because six of the remaining eight stat categories that you have left as stacking options are volume-based (points, threes, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks). It's important to at least keep an eye on percentages, of course, but you'll find that you'll naturally wind up having a strong free throw percentage and a low field goal percentage in this build because guards are usually the biggest culprits when it comes to giveaways.
You should keep in mind that you may have many enticing options in the early rounds of your draft, but things will get thinner near the end. You will probably have to grab some low turnover glue guys and specialists down in that range in order to fill out your roster and balance your stacks. Over the last few rounds, you may even want to ignore turnover rate and just grab the best players available with each pick.
Point Guard - PG D'Angelo Russell
Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 176 (15)
Punting Turnovers Rank (Round): 121 (11)
Ranking Difference: +55
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 87
Current ESPN Projection: 66
Guys like Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, and John Wall make a lot of sense as your point guard when punting turnovers, but you will probably want to focus more on grabbing forwards and centers like LeBron James and DeMarcus Cousins (more on them below) in the first two rounds because value in this build is much more scarce at their positions than at the one. In which case, if you're focusing more on the mid- to late-round floor generals for this punt, D'Angelo Russell becomes an enticing option. Once you eliminate his 2.5 turnovers from last year, there's value to be had in his 13.2 points, 1.6 triples, 3.4 boards, 3.3 assists, and 1.2 steals per contest. That said, it's the upside you're looking for here, not the previous returns. This year, with Kobe Bryant retired and Byron Scott out of town, the young guns will be given the reigns in Lakerland and that could mean big things for Russell in his sophomore campaign. More minutes and more usage will mean even more counting stats and more value at his current ADP, especially in this build.
Early-round targets: PG/SG Stephen Curry, PG Russell Westbrook, PG Damian Lillard, PG John Wall, PG/SG Kyrie Irving
Mid-round targets: PG Jeff Teague, PG Dennis Schroder, PG/SG Brandon Knight, PG D'Angelo Russell
Late-round targets: PG Jrue Holiday, PG/SG Jeremy Lin, PG Rajon Rondo, PG Derrick Rose
Shooting Guard - PG/SG Eric Bledsoe
Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 24 (2)
Punting Turnovers Rank (Round): 17 (2)
Ranking Difference: +7
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 33
Current ESPN Projection: 24
Eric Bledsoe gives the turnover punter all kinds of category juice in the volume-based stats. Once you eliminate his 3.6 turnovers per contest from last year, you're left with wonderful stacking options with his points (20.4), threes (1.5), assists (6.1), steals (2.0), and free throw percentage (80.2%). Even his rebounds (4.0), blocks (0.6), and field goal percentage (45.3%) are solid returns for either guard position. He's a true eight-category threat outside of turnovers and regularly flirts with first-round value in a turnover punt at a third-round price. He's a no-brainer, must-draft in this build.
Early-round targets: PG/SG/SF James Harden, PG/SG Victor Oladipo, PG/SG Eric Bledsoe
Mid-round targets: SG/SF Andrew Wiggins, PG/SG Goran Dragic
Late-round targets: PG/SG Dwyane Wade, SG Devin Booker, PG/SG Tyreke Evans
Small Forward - SG/SF Nicolas Batum
Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 59 (5)
Punting Turnovers Rank (Round): 36 (3)
Ranking Difference: +23
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 48
Current ESPN Projection: 41
Like Eric Bledsoe, Nicolas Batum is a guy who can give you stacking options in pretty much every category outside of turnovers. His 2.9 gieaways per contest from the wing is a detriment for the balanced team, but punting them leaves so much to like in his 14.9 points, 2.0 threes, 6.1 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.6 blocks, and 84.9% mark from the free throw line. The 42.7% shooting mark from the field might hurt you a bit, but that's a small price to pay for a guy that could potentially give you two triples and a block and steal apiece per contest, while flirting with triple-doubles on a regular basis.
Early-round targets: SF/PF Kevin Durant, PG/SG/SF Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF/PF Paul George
Mid-round targets: SG/SF Nicolas Batum, SG/SF DeMar DeRozan
Late-round targets: SF/PF Robert Covington, SG/SF Kent Bazemore
Power Forward - SF/PF LeBron James
Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 9 (1)
Punting Turnovers Rank (Round): 7 (1)
Ranking Difference: +2
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 11
Current ESPN Projection: 8
There's drafter fatigue setting in when it comes to LeBron James, and that's causing people to let his 25.3 points, 1.1 threes, 7.4 rebounds, 6.7 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.6 blocks, 52.0% shooting from the field, and 73.1% from the line slip to the end of the first round and sometimes to the beginning of the second. Yes, he's on the wrong side of 30 and there are lots of young guys with upside, but he's a steal in that range. If you're punting his 3.3 turnovers per contest, don't you dare be silly enough to let him drop because he will literally help you in every other category. Also, despite all kinds of worry about rest and old age catching up to him, LeBron still played 35.6 minutes in over 76 games last year. In fact, he's played a minimum of 76 games in three of his last four seasons. He's still a top-tier fantasy asset until proven otherwise.
Early-round targets: SF/PF LeBron James, PF/C Paul Millsap, SF/PF Draymond Green, SF/PF Carmelo Anthony
Mid-round targets: PF/C Gorgui Dieng, PF/C Nerlens Noel, SF/PF Rudy Gay
Late-round targets: PF/C Markieff Morris, PF Dario Saric
Center - PF/C DeMarcus Cousins
Reg. 2015-16 Rank (Round): 20 (2)
Punting Turnovers Rank (Round): 14 (2)
Ranking Difference: +6
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 14
Current ESPN Projection: 10
DeMarcus Cousins' 3.8 turnovers per contest in 2015-16 placed him fifth in the whole Association in giveaways. The next closest center on that leaderboard (if we can call it that) was Brook Lopez all the way down at 37th with 2.4. With such a huge gap between Boogie and the rest of the field at the position, there really isn't a more obvious choice to draft for your center in this build. In fact, if you draft Cousins without planning on punting, you might be forced to consider it anyway. But don't worry, if you are punting Boogie's gaudy turnover numbers, he becomes a nearly flawless stat stuffing machine. He gives you strong contributions in every other category, averaging 26.9 points, 1.1 threes, 11.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.4 blocks per contest last year, while shooting 45.1% from the field and 71.8% from the line. There's just not another center that comes close to Boogie's boost in value when punting turnovers, so he should be the cornerstone of any team built around that strategy.