Fantasy Basketball: 2017-18 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 more) in order to focus on stacking your team in other areas.
If that's your game, we've got you covered. This is part 3 of 9 in our handy series of punting guides, in which we'll focus on punting rebounds.
In each instalment, we'll look at punting in one of the nine standard-league stat categories (points, threes, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and turnovers), providing you with helpful tips and draft targets at every position along the way. In the end, we hope these guides will collectively 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).
When possible, we'll try to make sure the top targets at each position don't overlap in terms of average draft position (ADP), so that you can conceivably grab all five guys discussed below (or at least fill out a full lineup by using the additional options listed below each of the top targets).
Always remember: punting doesn't mean you're actively trying to tank a category, just that you don't mind not being successful in it. The goal is always to target players who bring a lot of value outside of the punting category in question, while avoiding options who draw a large portion of their value from it.
You should know that from the jump that punting rebounds is one of the least advantageous punt strategies.
Taking rebounds out of the equation leads to a huge imbalance in the value of guards versus forwards, with guards becoming way more attractive draft targets, and big guys plummeting 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 get their 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 end up with a small, guard-heavy team. If that's the case, you'll find yourself 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 particular areas, while completely avoiding the ones who are awful in them.
That introduction might not inspire you 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 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. 2016-17 Rank (Round): 17 (2)
Punting Rebounds Rank (Round): 11 (1)
Ranking Differential: +6
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 13
Current ESPN Projection: 16
Just about every point guard in fantasy hoops gets an upgrade when punting rebounds, so you can't really go wrong at the position. Kyrie Irving is a particularly tantalizing choice, however, since his 3.1 rebounds per game is the biggest drain on his value. When you can look past the lack of boards, there's a lot to like in Kyrie's line when it comes to stacking options.
He's above average in scoring (25.2), threes (2.5), assists (5.8), steals (1.2), field goal percentage (47.3%), and free throw percentage (90.5%). All that category juice makes it easier to swallow the 2.5 turnovers and mere 0.3 blocks per contest, even if those particular categories are hard to come by in this build.
When punting rebounds, Kyrie graded out as a first-round value last year, and he could conceivably be even more valuable this season with the usage bump he's likely to see with the move from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Boston Celtics. He's a top target for rebound punters in the second round.
Early-round targets: PG/SG Stephen Curry, PG Kemba Walker, PG Mike Conley
Mid-round targets: PG Dennis Schroder, PG/SG George Hill, PG/SG Malcolm Brogdon
Late-round targets: PG/SG Darren Collison, PG/SG Jamal Murray, PG/SG Allen Crabbe
Shooting Guard - SG Bradley Beal
Reg. 2016-17 Rank (Round): 29 (3)
Punting Rebounds Rank (Round): 18 (2)
Ranking Differential: +11
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 30
Current ESPN Projection: 24
Bradley Beal had a breakout fantasy season last year, ranking 29th in nine-category leagues after never topping 83rd in any of his four seasons prior. What's more, he played a career high 77 games, exceeding 70 for only the second time in his five-year career. If Beal is truly past the bad injury luck (knock on wood), his current third-round price tag in fantasy drafts makes him a top option for those punting his negligible 3.1 rebounds per contest, since he was a second-round value last year with boards removed from the equation.
He gives owners elite scoring (23.1 points per contest) and long-range shooting (2.9 triples), while tossing in some assists (3.5) and steals (1.1) along the way. His peripherals are solid (48.1% field goal percentage, 82.5% free throw percentage, 2.0 turnovers), and the only real hole in his line outside of rebounding is the 0.3 blocks per contest. Since most of the league's best shot blockers are also top rebounders, you may be required to punt swats as well if you're foregoing boards in your draft. If that's the case, Beal becomes even more valuable.
Early-round targets: PG/SG C.J. McCollum, SG/SF Klay Thompson, SG/SF Khris Middleton
Mid-round targets: SG Devin Booker, PG/SG Lou Williams, SG/SF Evan Fournier
Late-round targets: SG/SF Tim Hardaway Jr., SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG J.J. Redick
Small Forward - SG/SF Gary Harris
Reg. 2016-17 Rank (Round): 55 (5)
Punting Rebounds Rank (Round): 38 (4)
Ranking Differential: +17
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 85
Current ESPN Projection: 115
Gary Harris is being criminally overlooked in fantasy drafts this year. His current ADP sits at 107.5, despite the fact that he ranked 55th in nine-category leagues last season. If you're punting rebounds, that rank jumps all the way up to 38th. In other words, he's a must-have for this build for his early-round upside and late-round price tag.
He doesn't give you a lot of anything in particular, but his contributions in points (14.9), threes (1.9), assists (2.8), steals (1.2), field goal percentage (50.3%), free throw percentage (77.6%), and turnovers (1.3) all grade out as at or above league average. Once again, you're missing out on blocks (0.1), but that's very common when punting boards. In the end, if Harris had one category in which he was truly elite, he'd probably get more attention, but you shouldn't sleep on him as a jack-of-all-non-rebounding-non-blocking trades.
Early-round targets: SG/SF Kawhi Leonard, SG/SF Jimmy Butler, SG/SF DeMar DeRozan
Mid-round targets: SG/SF Andrew Wiggins, SF/PF Danilo Gallinari, SF/PF James Johnson
Late-round targets: SG/SF Dion Waiters, SG/SF Kent Bazemore, SG/SF Rodney Hood
Power Forward - SF/PF Tobias Harris
Reg. 2016-17 Rank (Round): 64 (6)
Punting Rebounds Rank (Round): 61 (6)
Ranking Differential: +3
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 59
Current ESPN Projection: 70
Tobias Harris was in and out of the starting lineup in 2016-17, getting the nod 48 times in his 82 games played. Despite the inconsistency of his starter status, he still played a solid 31.3 minutes per contest, and put up mid-round fantasy value on the year as a whole. His ceiling is likely even higher this year, now that Marcus Morris is out of town and the Pistons have fewer options at the forward position.
And if you're punting rebounds and looking for someone to fill one of your forward spots, Harris can be your guy. He doesn't give you much in terms of assists (1.7) and steals (0.7), but those are naturally plentiful stats in this build and you'll get your share of them from your guards anyway. In the meantime, Harris provides you with solid points (16.1), threes (1.3), field goal percentage (48.1%), free throw percentage (84.1%), and low turnovers (1.1), while giving you passable blocks (0.5).
Early-round targets: SF/PF Kevin Durant, SF/PF Paul George, PF/C Al Horford
Mid-round targets: SF/PF Harrison Barnes, SF/PF Jae Crowder, SF/PF Rudy Gay
Late-round targets: SF/PF Nikola Mirotic, PF/C Patrick Patterson, SF/PF Chandler Parsons
Center - C Brook Lopez
Reg. 2016-17 Rank (Round): 40 (4)
Punting Rebounds Rank (Round): 35 (3)
Ranking Differential: +5
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 37
Current ESPN Projection: 41
Brook Lopez is the most essential component of a fantasy team that's punting his measly 5.4 rebounds per game. There are only a handful of centers that actually gain value when you punt boards, and the only three that truly qualify as fantasy relevant are Lopez, Marc Gasol, and Ryan Anderson (if you can get all three, you're in business). Lopez is the most important target of all, though, since he is an elite shot-blocker (1.7), and you'll desperately need swats in this build.
What's more, Lopez gives you solid scoring (20.5), threes (1.8), field goal percentage (47.3%), and free throw percentage (81.0%), with a smattering of assists (2.3). He admittedly drags down your steals (0.5) and turnovers (2.5) a bit, but you can get your steals elsewhere, and you might need to consider turnovers as a secondary punt in this guard-heavy build.
Early-round targets: PF/C Kristaps Porzingis, C Marc Gasol, PF/C Myles Turner
Mid-round targets: PF/C LaMarcus Aldridge, PF/C Serge Ibaka, PF/C Dirk Nowitzki
Late-round targets: PF/C Frank Kaminsky, PF/C Ryan Anderson, C Kelly Olynyk