In reality, the NFL is the top dog. In fantasy it’s no different. It’s no breaking news that fantasy football is way more popular than fantasy basketball. Yet as someone who plays fantasy sports year round, you might be surprised to know that fantasy basketball is my favorite. I plan on writing about fantasy basketball this season for @TJRsports, and I’m going to begin by offering some tips for beginners on enjoying the sport.
I have been active in fantasy basketball for nearly a decade, yet in the past few years I have become more serious about the sport. I consider myself an authority on the subject. If you don’t believe me ask the other members of a league that I have won the last two seasons. I play in a 12-team keeper league. We play rotisserie style. That means cumulative statistics are more valuable than head-to-head victories. I enjoy fantasy basketball because it has helped keep my interest in the NBA strong despite watching my Minnesota Timberwolves play basketball like the US Congress legislates.
To enjoy fantasy basketball the key is to choose a style you will enjoy and one that will not consume your life. The boss probably won’t like you picking out your lineups at the office, so instead find a league that is fun and not overwhelming.
Question 1: To Play Rotisserie or Head-To-Head?
When I started playing fantasy basketball, I played exclusively Head-to-Head. Our league had 10 categories and you received 1 win if you won a category and 1 loss if you lost a category. At the end of the week, your “wins and losses” would be added to your total and your overall record would dictate where you were in the standings. I have since switched to Rotisserie and found that style of play to be much more fair and fun.
First, in rotisserie leagues, you have a limit on the number of games per position. The positions available are point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, center, guard (which can be shooting or point guard), forward (which can be small forward or power forward) and then three utility positions. Each of these slots has 82 games or a full NBA season. That means the total amount of games players can play on your team is 820 games. The reason that this is so important is that in any league you join you will always have those people who will rotate 4 or 5 players in and out every day. If you’re playing head-to-head it gets extremely tedious to match this. Eventually you will end up losing and maybe end up developing a small ulcer. Head-to-Head does not reward your drafting ability. It only rewards the geek who is online at 2am when players become available for pick-up. Who wants that? At that time I’d rather be dreaming about a jump shot not trying to decide who is going to hit the most jumpers the next day.
Question 2: What type of draft is best?
There are two main types of drafts: snake-drafts or standard drafts. In a snake draft, whatever pick you draw in the first round you get the opposite pick in the second round and so forth. For example, if you’re in a 10-team league and get the #3 pick in the first round. In the second round you would get the 3rd to last pick, or #18. Then, the third round you would get the 3rd pick and on it goes.
Another style of drafting is the standard draft. In this draft you have the same selection each round throughout the entire draft. For example, if you get the #3 pick in round one, you would pick 3rd in every round. So, your picks would go #3, #13, #23, etc.
My advice for anyone starting a league would be to use a snake draft. Snake drafts have become the standard now because they are simply fairer. They create more balanced teams, and in theory create a more competitive league. Another piece of advice, if you’re planning to start a league that you will play in every year always redraw for the draft order. Simply letting the person who finishes last pick first next year isn’t really fair because you’re encouraging tanking. Also, just because someone picks first doesn’t mean they will win. The last two years I have picked 3rd and 8th and won both years. A player should not be rewarded with the #1 pick next season just because they finished last.
Question 3: Keeper League or a Redraft League?
To answer this question I am simply going to give my opinion. For those of you who are unfamiliar, a keeper league is where a certain number of players can be held over from season to season. Generally, it is 2 or 3 players per team. A redraft league is when the season ends, all rosters are wiped clean and each team starts anew.
My personal opinion is that if you’re in a league with friends or in any long-term league do a keeper league. There are a couple of different reasons why. First, it rewards good drafting. If someone drafts extremely well, I feel it is fair to reward them for it. Especially in a league where rookies are drafted, it is not guaranteed that you will just keep the first two picks. For example, in the first year of my keeper league I kept Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving. I drafted them in the 1st and 7th rounds (hold your applause please). Also, it’s more fun. Most of us have a favorite player and if you’re able to get him in your draft you can follow him for years and you can develop a personal connection to him, although I wouldn’t recommend sending him obsessive fan mail.
Fantasy basketball can be a great way to increase your appreciation for the game. It has really helped me develop a passion for the NBA, a passion I hope that I can share with you throughout the season. Plus, it will make watching games much more enjoyable, even if your team is terrible, and it will help you grow a connection with players you otherwise would not. Get your draft boards ready. It’s time to play.
Thanks for reading.
Chris Paul is my favorite player in the NBA so I thought I'd provide some highlights of him.