Fantasy Basketball: 2017-18 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 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 9 of 9 in our handy series of punting guides, in which we'll focus on punting turnovers.
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.
To get an idea of how punting turnovers can change rankings in fantasy hoops, just find yourself a rankings website you trust that has both nine-category and eight-category lists and study the differences. Most of the changes in value, you'll notice, occur in the earlier rounds, since the league's biggest stars rack up a lot of turnovers as a natural extension of their high usage rates.
If you want to keep things simple, one of the easiest guidelines to follow when punting turnovers is to target big-name stars that get big minutes and accumulate all kinds of counting stats. Efficiency matters less than usual here, since six of the eight remaining stat categories you have left as stacking options are volume-based (points, threes, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks). You should still keep an eye on your percentages, of course, but you'll notice that you'll naturally end up with a strong free throw percentage and low field goal percentage, since guards are usually the biggest culprits when it comes to giveaways.
One important thing to keep in mind is that you'll have many enticing options in the early rounds of this build, but that things will get a little thinner near the end. That's when low turnover glue guys and specialists typically make the best selections for creating a balanced team in nine-category leagues. You might have to get creative in the last few rounds or simply trust that you've done a good enough job of building your team up to that point and start grabbing the best available guys with your last few picks, regardless of turnover rate.
Point Guard - PG Dennis Schroder
Reg. 2016-17 Rank (Round): 108 (9)
Punting Turnovers Rank (Round): 60 (5)
Ranking Differential: +48
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 51
Current ESPN Projection: 45
With Paul Millsap, Dwight Howard, and Tim Hardaway Jr. all out of Atlanta, Dennis Schroder is about to have all the usage he can handle. For a guy that turned the ball over a whopping 3.7 times per 36 minutes last year, that kind of added responsibility won't be a good thing for his fantasy owners in nine-category leagues. If you're playing eight-category or punting giveaways, however, he suddenly becomes someone that could flirt with top-50 value.
If you can absorb all those turnovers, Schroder's contributions in points (17.9), threes (1.3), rebounds (3.2), assists (6.4), and free throw percentage (85.5%) will all help your team, and his field goal percentage (45.1%) shouldn't be too detrimental. Considering the current Hawks roster, he could even see a boost in all those delicious counting stats as the team's new focal point.
He doesn't give you much on the defensive end (0.9 steals, 0.2 blocks), but you can definitely make those things up with some of the other high-volume guys listed below at other points in the draft.
Early-round targets: PG Russell Westbrook, PG John Wall, PG/SG Eric Bledsoe
Mid-round targets: PG/SG D'Angelo Russell, PG Lonzo Ball, PG Dennis Smith
Late-round targets: PG/SG Jamal Murray, PG/SG Reggie Jackson, PG/SG Kris Dunn
Shooting Guard - PG/SG James Harden
Reg. 2016-17 Rank (Round): 7 (1)
Punting Turnovers Rank (Round): 1 (1)
Ranking Differential: +6
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 3
Current ESPN Projection: 3
Most of the big-name guys typically drafted in the first round in fantasy hoops tend to be a pain in the turnover department, but no one more so than James Harden. His 5.7 giveaways per game last year killed his fantasy owners in nine-category leagues, all but forcing them to punt the category from the get-go. Luckily for those people, this article exists.
If you're choosing to punt turnovers, Harden quickly becomes one of the best assets in fantasy hoops, period. In fact, just last season, when punting cough-ups, Harden was the number-one player in fantasy. He might see a slight dip in the 11.2 assists per game this season with Chris Paul in town, but that probably just means more scoring and threes instead.
Harden essentially gives you plenty of everything outside of turnovers, with lots of juice in points (29.1), triples (3.2), rebounds (8.2), assists (11.2), steals (1.5), blocks for a guard (0.5), and free throw percentage (84.7% in a league-leading 10.9 attempts per contest). The field goal percentage (44.0%) at such a high volume might force a double-punt of turnovers and shooting from the field, but Harden is straight cash outside of those two areas and well worth one of the first few picks in any draft.
If you grab him in the first round, consider this build right away.
Early-round targets: SG/SF Jimmy Butler, SG/SG DeMar DeRozan, PG/SG Goran Dragic
Mid-round targets: SG Devin Booker, PG/SG Victor Oladipo, PG/SG Jeremy Lin
Late-round targets: SG/SF Josh Jackson, SG Milos Teodosic, SG/SF Lance Stephenson
Small Forward - SG/SF Khris Middleton
Reg. 2016-17 Rank (Round): 63 (6)
Punting Turnovers Rank (Round): 51 (5)
Ranking Differential: +12
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 37
Current ESPN Projection: 30
Most wing players are generally catch-and-shoot guys who don't handle the ball a whole lot, so they therefore don't accumulate a lot of turnovers. Khris Middleton, however, is an exception to that general rule.
Middleton does a nice chunk of the ballhandling for the Milwaukee Bucks, as evidenced by his solid 3.4 assists per game. If you're punting his 2.2 turnovers, there are a lot of other advantages to be gained from his line beyond dimes as well. He scores the ball (14.7) at a decent clip, contributes in threes (1.6), rebounds (4.2), and steals (1.4), and shoots a solid split from both the field (45.0%) and the line (88.0%).
There simply aren't a lot of shooting guards and small forwards outside of the first couple rounds that get a value bump in this build, so Middleton is a top target at either wing position.
Early-round targets: SF/PF Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF/PF LeBron James, SF/PF Paul George
Mid-round targets: SF/PF Carmelo Anthony, SF/PF Ben Simmons, SG/SF Andrew Wiggins
Late-round targets: SG/SF Kent Bazemore, SF Taurean Prince, SG/SF Joe Ingles,
Power Forward - PF/C Kristaps Porzingis
Reg. 2016-17 Rank (Round): 35 (3)
Punting Turnovers Rank (Round): 37 (4)
Ranking Differential: -2
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 21
Current ESPN Projection: 29
With all the turnover on the New York Knicks -- namely the exodus of one Carmelo Anthony -- Kristaps Porzingis is now unequivocally the man in the Big Apple. He was already a solid fantasy asset when Melo was around, but with a likely increase in usage and shot attempts, the Zinger's roof just got raised.
If you're punting his 1.8 turnovers per contest (not bad, but likely to increase with his usage rate), his very-early-round upside becomes even more enticing. His shooting split of 45.0% from the field and 78.6% from the line isn't much to get excited about, nor are his assists (1.5) or steals (0.7), but your team is likely to be beastly in freebies, dimes, and pilfers anyway, since this build so heavily benefits point guards.
What you will get is elite blocks (2.0) and rebounds (7.2), which is crucial because you'll need a bit of help in those areas. Toss in the solid scoring (18.1) and three-pointers (1.7) and you've got yourself one of the top big-man targets when punting giveaways.
Early-round targets: SF/PF Draymond Green, PF/C Blake Griffin, PF/C Paul Millsap
Mid-round targets: PF/C Nikola Vucevic, SF/PF Robert Covington, SF/PF James Johnson
Late-round targets: PF Marquese Chriss, PF/C Greg Monroe, SF/PF Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Center - PF/C Joel Embiid
Reg. 2016-17 Rank (Round): 37 (4)
Punting Turnovers Rank (Round): 21 (2)
Ranking Differential: +16
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 28
Current ESPN Projection: 35
Joel Embiid flashed superstar potential in his mere 31 games played during his rookie season in 2016-17, coming in as the 37th-ranked fantasy player in nine-category leagues on average. Punt his ridiculous 3.8 turnovers per contest and that number jumps all the way up to 21st. His injury history is obviously a concern come draft day, but if the Philadelphia 76ers trust the process enough to give him the max $148 million over five years, you can spend an early-round pick on him for his first-round upside.
In a mere 25.4 minutes per contest last season, Embiid was a fantasy stud, giving you a healthy helping of scoring (20.2), threes (1.2), rebounds (7.8), assists (2.1), steals (0.9), and blocks (2.4), while shooting a solid mark from both the field (46.6%) and the line (78.3%). Per 36 minutes, those numbers inflate to an otherworldly 28.7 points, 1.7 threes, 11.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.2 steals, 3.4 blocks, and 5.4 turnovers. He's not going to get a full 36 per night, as the Sixers should continue to be cautious with him, but those numbers made him the fifth overall player in nine-category leagues on a per-36-minute basis last year when punting giveaways. Fifth.
He is the big man to own in this build.
Early-round targets: C Karl-Anthony Towns, PF/C Nikola Jokic, PF/C DeMarcus Cousins
Mid-round targets: C Jusuf Nurkic, PF/C Dwight Howard, C Steven Adams
Late-round targets: C Enes Kanter, C Kelly Olynyk, C Dewayne Dedmon