Fantasy Hoops Strategy: 2015-16 Draft Targets When Punting Rebounds
Punting is a staple strategy in head-to-head fantasy basketball leagues. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but some owners find great success in devaluing a category (or two) with the goal of stacking in the remaining stats.
Whether you believe in punting or prefer building a balanced team is completely up to you. If you want to make use of punting in your fantasy drafts this year, however, we've got you covered.
This is Part 3 of 9 in a series in which we are taking a look at punting in each of the nine standard-league stat categories (points, threes, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and turnovers). In each instalment, we'll briefly discuss each strategy, then give you an "All-Punt" team, where we point out the best target at each position for the build in question (with a couple bonus targets to boot). When possible, we'll try to make sure the targets at each position don't overlap in terms of average draft position (ADP), so that you can conceivably grab all five guys (or at least fill out a full lineup by using the "additional options").
Always remember: punting doesn't mean you're actively trying to be bad in a category, just that you don't mind not being successful in it. The goal is always to target players that bring lots of value outside of the punting category in question, while avoiding guys that draw a large portion of their value from it.
All stats, rankings, and punt values come from the incomparable BasketballMonster.com.
Punting rebounds is likely the least viable of the punting strategies, and you should recognize the risks before giving this one a go.
Much like punting threes mostly results in downgrades to guards and wings across the board while giving bigs a bump, punting boards results in a positional imbalance (but in the opposite sense). One might think that punting something like blocks would result in a similar problem, but there are plenty of power forwards and centers who are valuable without blocks (see Love, Kevin), whereas there are practically none that get by as serviceable fantasy options without boards.
This build naturally results in a small, guard-heavy team. If you go that route, you run the risk of putting together a team that's not only weak in rebounding but also in other areas where big men typically excel, like blocks, field goal percentage, and low turnovers. If you do choose to punt rebounding, make sure you still grab guys that help you in those areas and stay away from guards and wings that are awful in them (low field goal percentage guys like Kemba Walker, for example).
I'm sure that preamble doesn't do much to inspire you to read on or try this strategy, but it's a reasonable contrarian play that can result in some pretty unbeatable stacks in places like points, threes, assists, steals, and free throw percentage if you're willing. Try it out in a couple mock drafts and see if it works for you.
Point Guard - PG Jeff Teague
Reg. 2014-15 Rank (Round): 29 (3)
Punting Rebounds Rank (Round): 13 (2)
Ranking Difference: +16
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 43
Current ESPN Projection: 31
Punting rebounds makes just about every point guard a viable draft target, so elite guys like Stephen Curry and Chris Paul don't really do you a lot of good because everyone's going to draft them in the first round, regardless of strategy. Jeff Teague, on the other hand, is one of the best value jumps at his ADP in the third/fourth round. If you removed his mere 2.5 boards per contest last year, his 15.9 points, 1.0 three-pointer, 7.0 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.4 blocks, 2.8 turnovers, 46.0% shooting from the field, and 86.2% from the line had him knocking on the door of first-round value. His blocks and field goal percentage were subtly among the best at the position, which is very important in this build that devalues bigs.
Shooting Guard - PG/SG Monta Ellis
Reg. 2014-15 Rank (Round): 64 (6)
Punting Rebounds Rank (Round): 39 (4)
Ranking Difference: +25
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 66
Current ESPN Projection: 45
Can Monta Ellis really have it all in Indiana? If you're punting rebounds, there's a decent chance that he could. His line of 18.9 points, 1.0 three, 4.1 assists, 1.9 steals, 0.3 blocks, 2.5 turnovers, 44.5% shooting from the field, and 75.2% from the free throw line last year with Dallas was good enough for top-40 value if you removed his negligible 2.4 rebounds per contest. He should continue to do his fair share of scoring and handling the rock with the Pacers, so there's really no reason to think he can't put up similar numbers and value in a punting rebounds build this season.
Small Forward - SG/SF Klay Thompson
Reg. 2014-15 Rank (Round): 9 (1)
Punting Rebounds Rank (Round): 6 (1)
Ranking Difference: +3
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 13
Current ESPN Projection: 12
Grabbing Klay Thompson at the end of the first round or at the beginning of the second is a decent reason to consider punting rebounds. Klay gives you elite points (21.7) and threes (3.1), while his assists (2.9), steals (1.1), blocks (0.8), turnovers (1.9), field goal percentage (46.3%), and free throw percentage (87.9%) are all close to (or in the case of free throw percentage, above) the standard-league average in terms of value. Really, the only clear-cut negative value in Klay's fantasy stat line during his breakout 2014-15 campaign was his 3.2 boards per contest. He goes into this year with top-five upside when punting rebounds, so he's a prime target early for this build.
Position Position - SF/PF DeMarre Carroll
Reg. 2014-15 Rank (Round): 54 (4)
Punting Rebounds Rank (Round): 51 (5)
Ranking Difference: +3
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 52
Current ESPN Projection: 56
Filling your power forward and center positions in this build can be tricky. For the power forward position, specifically, you'll want to lean on wings who can play the four, like DeMarre Carroll. Carroll's 5.3 rebounds from last season represent value from the small forward position, but not as much when he's your power forward. Meanwhile, his 1.7 threes and 1.3 steals are great gets at the four, while his 48.7% shooting from the field is impressive for a player that attempts 4.3 triples per contest. His 16.9% Usage Rate from last season should see a bump, as he'll likely be more of a focal point for the Raptors this year than he was last season for the Hawks. With that should come more points and assists per game, which would help him exceed his modest ADP without much trouble. He's one of the few power forward-eligible players who doesn't see his value drop in this build, so he's a great pick in the middle rounds.
Center - PF/C Dirk Nowitzki
Reg. 2014-15 Rank (Round): 44 (4)
Punting Rebounds Rank (Round): 44 (4)
Ranking Difference: 0
Current Yahoo O-Rank: 38
Current ESPN Projection: 67
Filling the center spot in this build is a bit like pulling teeth. There are only a handful of guys at the position that actually gain value when punting rebounds, so you'll be facing a pretty big challenge if you're in a standard, two-center league. It's not a bad place to put someone like Serge Ibaka or Brook Lopez, or even deep cuts like John Henson or Bismack Biyombo, just to add some blocks in a build that generally devalues guys that get lots of them. Barring that, you could go with Dirk Nowitzki. Yes, Dirk is far from the fantasy stud he once was, but he still played in an impressive 77 games last year at age 36, averaging 17.3 points, 1.4 triples, 1.9 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.4 blocks, and 1.1 turnovers, while shooting 45.9% from the floor and 88.2% from the line. His average of 5.9 rebounds per contest was his lowest mark since his rookie season and should continue to be on the decline this season, but the points, threes, percentages, and low turnovers all represent decent value at center in a rebound punt, especially if he slips down the draft board.