Fantasy Basketball: 2017-18 Draft Targets When Punting Field Goal Percentage
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 7 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.
Punting Field Goal Percentage
If you punt field goal percentage, you're likely going to end up with a team that is guard- and wing-dominant. That's not to say that there are not big men who fit the build, but you will need to identify them early in the process and pounce on them at the proper time.
Because the most valuable players in a field goal percentage punt tend to be guards, your natural stacks will be in the guard-led categories like assists, steals, and free throw percentage, but also points. It seems a little counter-intuitive, but a lot of the league's best scorers are generally a drain on your field goal percentage.
Meanwhile, you will need to focus on staying competitive in your big-man stats like rebounds, blocks, and low turnovers (although it's hard to find someone who excels in those categories, but not field goal percentage). In order to do so, you might have to resort to grabbing power forwards and centers who are technically above league average in field goal percentage for the sake of their other stats. Just make sure you stay away from the bigs who derive a lot of their value from their shooting efficiency.
As with all punt strategies, this approach is best decided on and implemented a few picks into your draft. A lot of the early-round guys have a less-than-desirable field goal percentage at a high volume, so if you end up with two or three of them early, that would be the perfect time to refer to this article to fill out the rest of your team.
Point Guard - PG Ricky Rubio
Reg. 2016-17 Rank (Round): 47 (4)
Punting FG% Rank (Round): 35 (3)
Ranking Differential: +12
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 41
Current ESPN Projection: 56
A lot of point guards get an upgrade in a field goal percentage punt, but Ricky Rubio should be one of the first that comes to your mind with his career 37.5% mark. Once you can look past his lack of shooting accuracy, he actually has a lot of great stacking options in his line.
His assists (9.1), steals (1.7), and free throw percentage (89.1%) are all elite, and he even tosses in decent rebounding (4.1) for a point guard. He won't give you much help in terms of threes (0.8), blocks (0.1), and turnovers (2.6), so you'll have to be mindful of making up ground in those areas with your other picks.
Early-round targets: PG Russell Westbrook, PG Damian Lillard, PG Kemba Walker
Mid-round targets: PG Dennis Schroder, PG/SG D'Angelo Russell, PG Markelle Fultz
Late-round targets: PG Marcus Smart, PG/SG Jamal Murray, PG/SG Reggie Jackson
Shooting Guard - SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Reg. 2016-17 Rank (Round): 104 (9)
Punting FG% Rank (Round): 68 (6)
Ranking Differential: +36
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 87
Current ESPN Projection: 81
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope didn't light the fantasy world on fire in 2016-17, but if you removed his 39.9% field goal percentage from the equation, he finished the year ranked firmly as a middle-round asset at 68th overall in nine-category leagues. He may have moved from the Detroit Pistons to the Los Angeles Lakers this summer, but there's no reason to think that KCP can't give you a lot of the same numbers again on his new squad with a fairly similar role.
And what he gives you in good supply is scoring (13.8), threes (2.0), assists (2.5), steals (1.2), free throw percentage (83.2%), and ultra-low turnovers (1.1). Getting solid help in six different categories near the end of the middle rounds is a big plus when you're punting, even if his rebounds (3.3) and blocks (0.2) don't move the needle. Since big-man stats such as those are typically scarce in this build, make sure you address them when picking your power forwards and centers.
Early-round targets: PG/SG James Harden, PG/SG Eric Bledsoe, SG/SF Jimmy Butler
Mid-round targets: SG Devin Booker, PG/SG Victor Oladipo, PG/SG Lou Williams
Late-round targets: SG Eric Gordon, SG/SF Rodney Hood, SG/SF Wesley Matthews
Small Forward - SF/PF Robert Covington
Reg. 2016-17 Rank (Round): 36 (3)
Punting FG% Rank (Round): 22 (2)
Ranking Differential: +14
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 58
Current ESPN Projection: 61
Robert Covington is not exactly a household name, but he was a fantasy stud last year, ranking 36th in nine-category leagues despite a putrid 39.8% shooting percentage. With field goal percentage removed from the mix, his ranking shoots all the way up to 22nd overall, so you'll absolutely want to jump on that second-round ceiling at his current ADP of 80.0 if you're punting it.
If you do manage to grab him, the points (12.9), threes (2.0), steals (1.9), and free throw percentage (82.2%) are all great, but it's the rebounds (6.5), blocks (1.0), and reasonable turnovers (1.9) that make him a top target for someone punting field goal percentage. In a build that generally devalues big men, it's essential to make up ground in the stats typically dominated by them whenever you can.
Early-round targets: SG/SF Gordon Hayward, SG/SF Klay Thompson, SG/SF Khris Middleton
Mid-round targets: SF/PF Carmelo Anthony, SG/SF Trevor Ariza, SF/PF Danilo Gallinari
Late-round targets: SF/PF Marvin Williams, SG/SF Kent Bazemore, SG/SF Terrence Ross
Power Forward - PF/C Kevin Love
Reg. 2016-17 Rank (Round): 30 (3)
Punting FG% Rank (Round): 21 (2)
Ranking Differential: +9
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 36
Current ESPN Projection: 40
There are not many power forwards and centers that get better when you get rid of field goal percentage, but Kevin Love is a headliner of those who do. His 42.7% mark from the field is definitely at the lower end of what you'd typically get from guys that play his position, so he stands out as a big target in the early rounds.
One of the greatest advantages of drafting Love is that he gives you a healthy helping of rebounds (11.1), since those are so hard to come by in this build. To that end, it would be nice if he contributed more in blocks (0.4) and turnovers (2.0), but the boards alone are worth it and beggars can't be choosers.
On top of the boards, he also offers three elite stacking options in his points (19.0), threes (2.4), and free throw percentage (87.1%), while also tossing in passable assists (2.0) and steals (0.9) for a big man. All that category juice makes him a must-have in this punt.
Early-round targets: SF/PF Paul George, SF/PF Draymond Green, PF/C Paul Millsap
Mid-round targets: PF/C Serge Ibaka, SF/PF Harrison Barnes, SF/PF Jae Crowder
Late-round targets: SF/PF Dario Saric, SF/PF Nikola Mirotic, PF/C Ryan Anderson
Center - PF/C DeMarcus Cousins
Reg. 2016-17 Rank (Round): 13 (2)
Punting FG% Rank (Round): 11 (1)
Ranking Differential: +2
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 14
Current ESPN Projection: 14
Much like Kevin Love, DeMarcus Cousins is one of the few bigs in fantasy hoops who gets more valuable when you punt field goal percentage. His 45.2% mark is a bit closer to the overall league average than Love's 42.7%, but it still rests on the lower end of what you'll get from your power forward or center.
What makes Boogie particularly tantalizing in this build is his elite rebounds (11.1) and blocks (1.3), since a field goal percentage punting team devalues the vast majority of bigs who excel in those particular areas. His 3.7 turnovers are a pain, but he makes up for it with stacking options galore in his scoring (27.0), threes (1.8), assists (4.6), steals (1.4), and free throw percentage (77.2%) to go with the aforementioned boards and blocks.
If Boogie ends up being one of your first two picks near the turn of a standard 10- or 12-team draft, you'll want to consider punting field goal percentage then and there.
Early-round targets: PF/C Kristaps Porzingis, @ Marc Gasol, C Brook Lopez
Mid-round targets: C Jusuf Nurkic, PF/C Nikola Vucevic, PF/C LaMarcus Aldridge
Late-round targets: PF/C Dirk Nowitzki, PF/C Pau Gasol, PF/C Frank Kaminsky