Fantasy Basketball: 2017-18 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 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 6 of 9 in our handy series of punting guides, in which we'll focus on punting assists.
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.
There are not a 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 13 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 Rudy Gobert, Joel Embiid, Anthony Davis, Myles Turner, and Hassan Whiteside 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 rejections 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. 2016-17 Rank (Round): 9 (1)
Punting Blocks Rank (Round): 3 (1)
Ranking Differential: +6
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 12
Current ESPN Projection: 13
Almost every 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 swats. If you grab someone like Chris Paul near the end of the first round, that's the perfect time to start considering a block punt.
Paul's 0.1 blocks per game represents basically the only hole in his otherwise stuffed stat line, so he's a great fit no matter what your stacking preferences are. His points (18.1), threes (2.0), rebounds (5.0), assists (9.2), steals (2.0), field goal percentage (47.6%), free throw percentage (89.2%), and turnovers (2.2) all range from great for the point guard position to elite for any position.
Early-round targets: PG/SG Stephen Curry, PG Damian Lillard, PG Mike Conley
Mid-round targets: PG Dennis Schroder, PG/SG D'Angelo Russell, PG/SG Malcolm Brogdon
Late-round targets: PG/SG Darren Collison, PG/SG Reggie Jackson, PG Patty Mills
Shooting Guard - PG/SG Seth Curry
Reg. 2016-17 Rank (Round): 79 (7)
Punting Blocks Rank (Round): 53 (5)
Ranking Differential: +26
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 105
Current ESPN Projection: 130
Seth Curry was certainly more than just Stephen Curry's brother last season, finishing 79th in nine-category leagues. Remove his 0.1 blocks from the equation and his ranking shoots all the way up to 53rd. Focus only on games played after the All-Star break while still removing blocks, and he hits 30th.
The point is this: with a current ADP of 132, block punters need to grab Seth Curry in the late rounds and reap the benefits of his early-round upside without swats.
He doesn't give you a crazy number of assists (2.7) or steals (1.1), but in this guard-heavy build, you'll have no trouble stacking those stats elsewhere. Meanwhile, "The Other Curry" gives you great threes (2.0) and a solid free throw percentage (85.0%), while tossing in a couple stats that can be hard to recuperate in a build that devalues big men so much, such as field goal percentage (48.1%) and low turnovers (1.3).
Early-round targets: SG/SF Gordon Hayward, SG Bradley Beal, SG/SF DeMar DeRozan
Mid-round targets: SG/SF Trevor Ariza, PG/SG Avery Bradley, SG/SF Gary Harris
Late-round targets: SG Buddy Hield, SG/SF Rodney Hood, SG J.J. Redick
Small Forward - SF/PF Paul George
Reg. 2016-17 Rank (Round): 15 (2)
Punting Blocks Rank (Round): 12 (1)
Ranking Differential: +3
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 16
Current ESPN Projection: 20
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 detrimental, since so many other point guards get a boost when punting blocks, but PG13 is a premium SF/PF target for this build and is worth prioritizing.
His 0.3 blocks per game used to be pretty decent back when he qualified as a shooting guard in fantasy hoops, but since losing his eligibility there a couple years ago and gaining it at power forward, it's become one of George's biggest liabilities. If you're punting rejections, however, there's a lot to love in his 23.7 points, 2.6 threes, 6.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.6 steals, 46.1% shooting from the field, and 89.8% 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: SG/SF Jimmy Butler, SG/SF Khris Middleton, SF Otto Porter
Mid-round targets: SF/PF Harrison Barnes, SF/PF Danilo Gallinari, SG/SF Evan Fournier
Late-round targets: SF/PF Thaddeus Young, SG/SF Joe Ingles, SG/SF Tyreke Evans
Power Forward - PF/C Blake Griffin
Reg. 2016-17 Rank (Round): 42 (4)
Punting Blocks Rank (Round): 35 (3)
Ranking Differential: +7
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 35
Current ESPN Projection: 34
With Chris Paul no longer on the Los Angeles Clippers, Blake Griffin is now the team's clear focal point. If you're punting his 0.4 blocks per contest, he should be a focal point for your fantasy team as well.
There are very few low-end shot blockers eligible at both power forward and center in fake hoops that still give you a good dose of your standard big man stats like rebounding (8.1) and field goal percentage (49.3%), but Blake is one of them. Throw in his elite scoring (21.6), great assists for the position (4.9), average steals (1.0), and reasonable turnovers for such a high-usage player (2.3), and you've got a ton of stacking potential when drafting Griffin in the third or fourth round.
Early-round targets: SF/PF LeBron James, PF/C Kevin Love, SF/PF Carmelo Anthony
Mid-round targets: SF/PF Tobias Harris, SF/PF Harrison Barnes, SF/PF Danilo Gallinari
Late-round targets: PF/C Zach Randolph, PF/C Ryan Anderson, SF/PF Ersan Ilyasova
Center - PF/C Greg Monroe
Reg. 2016-17 Rank (Round): 97 (9)
Punting Blocks Rank (Round): 92 (8)
Ranking Differential: +5
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 112
Current ESPN Projection: 106
Greg Monroe is not the mid-round fantasy asset he used to be back when he was a regular starter playing north of 30 minutes per night. That said, he was still a top-100 contributor in nine-category leagues in 2016-17, despite only playing 22.5 minutes per game off the bench for the Milwaukee Bucks. If you're punting blocks, he happens to be one of the very few centers in the league that doesn't see a dip in value when swats are removed from the equation, so you'll want to target him and his relatively safe floor late.
And if you do manage to grab him, you'll benefit from his solid rebounding (6.6), field goal percentage (53.3%), and low turnovers (1.7) in particular, since those categories can be a hard to come by in a build that is generally unkind to big men. His assists (2.3), steals (1.1), and free throw percentage (74.1%) will also help diversify your stacking options, which is a rare bonus for a late-round center.
Early-round targets: PF/C Nikola Jokic, PF/C Paul Millsap, PF/C Al Horford
Mid-round targets: PF/C Nikola Vucevic, PF/C Dirk Nowitzki, C Guillermo Hernangomez
Late-round targets: PF/C Frank Kaminsky, C Kelly Olynyk, C Enes Kanter