by Ray Kuhn
This is it. We are now in the home stretch. After an off-season of preparation, the most important day of your fantasy season is here. It is Draft Day.
So what do you need to do prior to your draft to give yourself the best chance at success?
There are two facets of your draft and each have equal importance; everything you do prior to the draft starting, and then the actual execution during the draft. Your fortunes, either for success or failure, will not be entirely dictated by your performance during the draft, but it certainly determines how your season begins and whether you are in a position of strength or weakness. And the direction in which your draft goes is dependent upon your preparation. In draft strategy will be covered in a separate article.
We will operate under the assumption here that you general knowledge of the player pool. Let’s take that as a given, and then also keep in mind that every league is different. That is where your preparation should begin.
Think of this process as a blank slate. Begin by doing your research. Before your even think about rankings these are various things that should be reviewed. This is the very first thing you should be doing before you think about even looking at a Cheat Sheet. The main objective here is to remain as unbiased as possible. Yes, you want information, but you also do not want to be overloaded with knowledge. Perhaps even more importantly, you don’t want to interpret other people’s opinions as fact. These are some things to be aware of:
- Off-season transactions.
- Coaching changes.
- System changes.
- Depth charts.
- Last year’s performance.
Now that you have done your own research, sit down with a blank pad and come up with your own initial rankings. These will be general rankings that you can later tailor to your specific league. The thought is that these rankings will have as little bias as possible, other than your own, and are also something you can back up with statistical facts or trends.
Again before you consult any outside sources for your rankings, make sure you are up to date with everything that has taken place so far this preseason. Take a look at the up to date stats, but don’t put too much stock into them as they must be put into the proper context. Some information can be gained from comments by coaches and practice reports from team beat reporters. Don’t overreact to any of this news, but it is just another piece to the puzzle.
Now that you have a set of rankings that your are comfortable with, look at other sources. See what their rankings are and what the rational is. How does this compare to your rankings? Who are the popular sleepers and busts? Based on this information, adjust your rankings as you see fit and are comfortable with. This final set of rankings will be what you work off moving forward. Of course, they shouldn’t remain static and you must stay on top of current events and how they impact your rankings.
Injuries should be the main driver of change to your rankings. It often results in a two straight, the injured player moves down and a replacement moves up. There is often not a direct correlation as I wouldn’t replace Kevin Durant at the top of your rankings with Perry Jones just because it appears he might be the biggest beneficiary of playing time.
With your rankings in hand, break both the overall and position rankings into tiers. This will aid you in making draft day decisions and will get more into that when we discuss In Draft Management. Also, I would highlight injury risks, sleepers, and busts so each of the three stands out.
These rankings are likely done based on the standard 8 or 9 category leagues (turnovers are not always counted), and you must make sure to tailor your rankings the specific categories your league counts. This is also a good time to talk about your league specifically. While at its core, fantasy basketball is the same, but there things that make every league different. Those must be noted prior to the draft:
- Are you doing an auction or a draft? If it is an auction, then you must convert your rankings to dollar values. There has been a lot written on this subject, and I have to find a concrete method that I singularly trust for this. A good source of data for this, is what has historically happened in your league.
- Know how many teams are in your league and what the roster settings are. This is the only true way to calculate position scarcity and know exactly what to target.
- Is your league head to head or rotisserie? In head to head leagues, you can punt a category and you just need to win one matchup every week, whereas in Roto, you need to beat the field on a cumulative basis.
- If your league is Roto, then take a look back at the historical standings for your league. This will provide you statistical targets you need to hit for each category in order to finish in the money. I tend to use third place in every category as a benchmark.
- Are lineups set on a weekly or daily basis?
- How are free agents acquired?
Yes, a lot of this is common sense, but sometimes a reminder can be useful. And if you are new to fantasy basketball, then these tips could help you have success this season. Every league is different, and there is a lot to keep track of. It is not enough just to have knowledge of basketball.
We will have you covered all season long here at RotoProfessor, as this is just the beginning of a six month journey.