A Beginners Guide to Fantasy Basketball
So you’ve decided to exercise your precious time and play fantasy basketball. It truly is a rewarding, fun and engaging experience. It gets even better when you and your friends battle it out for bragging rights in the same league. Argue about whose team is better at a bar? Check. Make excuses about your player being injured? Check. Send a low-ball trade offer to your buddy? Check. If you have the time, patience, and perhaps a bit of luck, you’re in for a hell of a ride for the course of 7 months.
Keep in mind most, if not all fantasy leagues are calculated through the following categories;
1. Field Goal %
2. Free Throw %
8. Three Pointers Made
9.*Turnovers (Some league settings don’t count turnovers)
Optional added categories also include:
11.*2P Field Goal %
12.*3PT Field Goal %
Hence, when I refer to “9 cat”, it’s referring to the most popular option, which is a 9-category league featuring FG%, FT%, Points, Rebounds, Blocks, Assists, Steals, 3-P made, and Turnovers.
So how do you exactly play and win? We first dive into the basics of the different type of league formats;
Draft and Auction – In a draft league, owners are either randomly selected or predetermined (depending on league settings) to take turns in selecting players. The standard league size is 12 owners and most tend to be a “snake” format. For example, Player A can receive the #1 overall pick, but won’t be able to select a player until pick #24. Player B who has the #12 pick, will select consecutive picks at pick #13. The reasoning is because the #1 overall pick is usually the best player in all of fantasy and holds the highest value, so you won’t get to pick another player until the turn of round 2. In an auction, each owner is given a budget to build a team. Owners will take turns bidding on individual players, where overspending and not making your opponent’s pay more will be based on strategy. In my opinion, auction drafts are more advanced and will require a deeper understanding of fantasy basketball to succeed.
Head-to-Head – Fantasy owners are paired up against each other for a week in which the team calculates statistics in the 9 categories to determine the winner. You need to best your opponent with a score of at least 5-4 to be the winner. This format is probably the most popular option, since you will go through different opponents every week and it normally ends with a playoff setting in most leagues.
Rotisserie aka Roto – Roto uses the same 8 or 9 statistical categories but instead of being calculated on a weekly basis. It is calculated cumulatively throughout the entire season. The team that leads each category is awarded as many points as there are teams in the league (i.e. if there are 12 teams, then the leader of each category is awarded a 12, the team in second gets a 1, and so on). The league winner is determined based on highest total point score at the end of the season.
Roto leagues are designed to reward owners who achieve balance across their entire roster & are extremely difficult to win if you score very low in any one category. Head-to-Head allows you to have the freedom to surround your team with the players to help you win specific categories, as long as you win your matchup 5-4. Roto leagues also takes the headache of an injured player because stats tend to balance itself out at the end of the season.
*There are also leagues which features “Keepers” in which leagues are usually played amongst the same group of friends year after year. Keepers are designed to let managers select players whom they want to keep the following year. For example, every manager in the league will have the option of keeping one player they had from the previous season. This format can be fun, but yet it can also lead to some very stacked teams.
Size of the Fantasy League - In most cases, the ideal standard league size is 12 teams. Some people play with 8, some with 10, perhaps even 6. The less teams you play against, the less challenging it becomes. The reason to this is because every team will be stacked with players who are going to produce stats. After all, fantasy hoops is all about statistics. Sure, there is still some competitiveness to this, but it becomes less fun. Personally, I find 12 teams to be the most standard and appropriate way to play fantasy basketball. It will challenge you at times during the season to rethink your moves, but won't require you to overwork yourself. The advanced fantasy hoops players can go up to even 30 teams in a league, which is very challenging and require the utter most dedication to scooping up waiver wire gems that can make or break your season, but more on that in my next piece.
If you really want to win your fantasy league, be prepared to be dedicated and follow up-to-date news. Fantasy basketball can be time-consuming and it takes practice and experience to excel. Winning your league for the first time WILL be worth it. Embrace the grind! The satisfaction of winning is a great feeling.
I will be writing more pieces in the upcoming weeks for the upcoming season in regards to draft strategies, busts, sleepers, breakouts, my personal ranking, and much more! Follow me on twitter @fungo24