Using Fantasy Football Strategy to Draft Your Fantasy Basketball Team: Point Guards
It's fantasy football season.
You can't deny that statement. The NFL regular season opener is upon us, sports fans -- and with that, fantasy football draft talk as we know it is basically dead.
That means no more discussing the common drafting principles you've seen for the past umpteen weeks.
Is that really the case? Or can we use some of the principles of drafting in fantasy football for fantasy hoops as well?
With the purpose of figuring out the answer to that question I'll be running through each position, looking for trends to compare to fantasy football positions and how they should be valued on draft day as a result.
Each position's value will be determined based on the strategy of Value Based Drafting (VBD), which instead of valuing a player based on number of points alone, values how much a player outscores others at his position.
If you're not all too familiar with fantasy basketball, however, it's not about simply outscoring your opponent -- it's about winning more statistical categories than your opponent. Those categories, in a standard nine-category league, consist of: points, rebounds, assists, steals, turnovers, blocks, three-point makes, field goal percentage and free throw percentage.
So, value is determined by how much better a player performs in those nine categories than do his positional peers.
Another factor in the valuation of a position or a player -- one that fantasy football doesn't have much at all -- is position flexibility. A large amount of fantasy basketball players can be slotted at two different positions so it provides you with more roster flexibility. On top of that, in a standard Yahoo 12-team head-to-head league (with 13 players on each team) your roster breakdown is even more flexible.
In a standard starting lineup you not only get one point guard, one shooting guard, one small forward, one power forward and two centers, but you also have one guard spot, one forward spot and two utility positions to fill. You also get three bench spots for any positions of your own desire.
So now that we've noted some structural differences let's see if there are some trends to tell us: how each position is being drafted and how it relates to a fantasy football position, how each position should be drafted according to value and how that value relates to a fantasy football position.
Today, we start with the point guards.
Trends By Round
(Picks based on Yahoo ADP as of 9/8/2015)
As you can see, top point guards are going really early. The top six floor generals are going in the first round with the next four point guard-eligible players going shortly thereafter in the second and third rounds.
From that point on, 22 point guards are being selected between rounds 7 and 12. Avery Bradley is the lone point guard-eligible player going in Round 13.
Based on this breakdown, the top point guards are being drafted a lot like the top running backs in fantasy football. They're being drafted really early and really close in terms of ADP. Their average draft round ranges from Stephen Curry at 1.1 to John Wall at 1.8 and their average picks range from Curry at 2.2 to Wall at 14.0 (technically outside the first round).
So that makes six of the top 14 (42.8%) picks point guards, much like fantasy football's top eight running backs who are going in the top 14 picks, according to FantasyFootballCalculator.com.
After the first round, it isn't all that consistent of a comparison, though there are a few instances where point guards resemble running backs. Seven timeshare-type running backs are currently being drafted in the seventh round while six point guard-eligible guards are being drafted in the same round in fantasy hoops drafts. We also see backup as well as time-share point guards, if you will, going in the late rounds similar to the late round selections of both handcuff and specialty backs in fantasy football.
With that being said, based on our VBD principles, are point guards worthy of the running back comparison? Should they be drafted in comparison to another fantasy football position, and how so? Let's find out.
Utilizing BasketballMonster.com (BM) and their player per game values (this is a system of assigning a value to each fantasy basketball category, where the standard-league average is represented by 0.0), I've come to the conclusion that point guards should not be drafted like running backs. Rather they should be drafted like quarterbacks.
This is actually something that came up in good fun in our numberFire NBA writers draft a year ago. A mere three point guards were selected in the first round before four were picked up in each of the next four rounds. Late Round Point Guard became the topic of discussion as time went on, especially as guys like Eric Bledsoe, Kemba Walker and Mike Conley stayed on the board until Round 4. That was the point at which the term stuck and was therefore included in the aforementioned recap of the draft.
All three of those point guard-eligible players finished five places ahead of their 9-category ADP last year. What the trio also has in common is the fact that each earned a value of at least .08 from BasketballMonster. Bledsoe, at .12, finished just .09 behind Wall, the last point guard with a first round ADP at this time.
Therefore, Bledsoe's average pick of 32.7 provides significant value.
Another example of the potential success of this strategy is Darren Collison. With an ADP of 96th a year ago, Collison was picked 117th overall in our draft and finished 46th on a per game basis in 2014-15. Like Bledsoe, BasketballMonster gives him a value of .12, which is 12th among point guards. That's better than Conley, Walker, Victor Oladipo and Goran Dragic -- all players drafted ahead of Collison last year.
Collison played in just 45 games due to injury, but remember this is per game value.
Much like quarterbacks in fantasy football, point guards can provide a lot of value late in drafts. This isn't to say that a select few point guards, like Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul and Curry, aren't worthy of early picks. They provided values of .57, .82 and 1.00, respectively a year ago. Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard aren't far off with values of .44 and .34 but after that there's a bunch of point men with values ranging from .01 (Dragic) to .21 (Wall).
You could find a lot of value in rounds four through six, where 11 point guard-eligible players with positive BM values are being selected. It's not always going to pay off. In fantasy football, if you put a really good team around an Aaron Rodgers, you could be the favorite to win your league. You could say the same with point guards like Curry, Paul and Westbrook.
If you draft for value at the point guard position, you have to draft smart at your other positions and make up for any deficient categories your point guard may have. How?
Don't sweat it! I'll have a breakdown of every other position in the coming days, so stay tuned. Until then, start the #LateRoundPG movement.