Before, I was going to do this whole full-blown draft strategy, go round by round, talk about stuff, but I changed my mind.
For me, I have my list of assist + steal guys, including what round I think they'll go in, I have my rebound + block guys, including what round I think they'll go in, and I have a list of fill-in types of players I'd draft on my team as well (I will go the next step and list what rounds they go in as well, but didn't on here). I use my lists, and hope for the best.
Instead, I'm going to list some tips about drafting. If you have any specific questions, please ask. One thing about draft advice is that it's impossible to cover every scenario, so I'm not even going to try. Hopefully my tips give you something to think about. If its stuff you already know, awesome, then its just review!
1. It is good to have a plan, just be willing to adjust your plan. Things happen. Sometimes you are playing with a wacky group of people, and players are gone earlier than you thought, while other players are dropping farther than you can believe. It's important to be flexible, and to adapt to what the other people are doing.... In other words, its fine if you have a plan like in round 1 you want to get an assist + steal guy, in round 2-3 you want to get a rebound + block guy, in round 4 you want to get an assist + steal guy, but if on the day, with what's unfolding, don't feel like you have to stick to the plan rigidly.
I see this with fantasy baseball as well. I see guys say stuff like "I'm going to do hitter, then pitcher, then alternate between hitter and pitcher every round".... Before the draft, that's fine if that's your plan. But on the draft, you have to take the players that give you the best marginal value.
2. When I draft, I always have 48% FG%, 80% FT%, 1 3PTM/G, 16 PTS/G, 7 REB/G, 4 AST/G, 1 STL/G, 1 BLK/G in mind. As I'm drafting, I'm always seeing where I lie relative to those averages. To make things simple, I average FG% and FT%, but in real life you can't do that unless guys shoot the same number of shots in a game. But on draft day, you have to go with rough numbers. But I'm always checking to see what I'm doing good with, and planning a new strategy going forward.
I also want to say a quick word with the benchmarks. These may not exactly be what it takes to win every category necessarily. This is more in line with 10-12 team leagues, with the standard 10 person lineups. If you play in a more shallow league, the numbers may be higher. If you play in a deeper league than 12 teams, they may be lower. If you play in a league with more starting spots, it may be higher. Its all going to be relative to everyone else in the league obviously. If you haven't played before, or you haven't played in your league before, go by something like this.
At various points in the year, I will look at my own league standings and compare to benchmarks above. Remember, this is what all 10 guys on your team are supposed to average, if you were to win every category. Winning every category is hard. But I contend if you aim to get as close as possible to these numbers, it gives you the best chance to get within the Top 3 of every category.
3. Realize that its impossible to have a perfect draft. The only way to have a perfect one, is to be able to know/control what everyone else is doing. If you do your research, and have a plan, however, you can have a very very nice draft.
4. Realize that you can trade players during the season as well. A big thing I like to say is "take what the draft gives you". Take advantage of picking up players with the best marginal stats relative to the field.. Heck, if a guy that I think has 2nd round talent is available in the 5th round, I'm going to pick him up. If it turns out I have too much of a particular stat, that's why there are trades. If it turns out the guy is a 1st round talent instead of a 2nd round talent, I can unload him for a premium and categories I need.
Fantasy basketball is different than baseball in that the waiver wire isn't as helpful for the most part. It's very hard to play the wire all year and do well... Typically the early part of the season is when the waiver wire has some valuable players. But where fantasy basketball is similar is that its a long season, and making solid trades can really help you out. Its very important to draft a good team, but if you aren't getting the exact balance you want, pull off some trades... Do not reach 2-3 rounds to get a guy to fill a particular category, when you have a guy available that's the better overall fantasy player. Pick him up, and trade him... Get the guy you were eying a round or two later.
5. There is nothing wrong with grabbing a guy a round early or so. With my strategy, I'm talking about a small number of guys that I want. For example, if there are only 20-25 assist + steal guys, and there are 12 fantasy teams, its hard to get 4 of them, right? Well, I'm not going to mess around for the most part. If a guy is there that normally goes in the 4th round, but I'm in the 3rd round, I'll grab him. Because chances are, he'll go one pick before mine in the 4th round! Its only when you're in the 3rd round, and you're eying a guy that is projected to go in the 6th-7th round, where reaching is a little silly
6. If plans go awry, draft the best possible player you can. Ok, so you didn't get 4 assist + steal guys. No worries. If that's the case, I would hope you'd have an extra fill-in 3 point guy, or possible some extra rebound + block guys, or just some extra fill in guys that get rebounds + points, or points + blocks. The season isn't over. Put together some packages to get the guys you want. You may have to wait a couple weeks. Get Blake Griffin. When everyone thinks he's the next Tim Duncan, you can imagine what some in your league might be willing to give up to get him. It's a long season. Don't throw in the towel, just because it didn't all go according to plan. Think of it as a challenge to overcome. If things don't go the way I want them do, I try to illustrate a plan on what I'm going to do, to try and win the league.
In fantasy baseball, I was in a pretty deep 12 team roto league, and in dead last on June 30th. I made a few trades, and finished in 3rd... And I didn't have Tulo...... Same analogy can apply for basketball. It can look bad at times, but you may be a couple of moves away from it not being the case at all.
7. Have Fun! This is something that sometimes gets lost on those of us who are pretty competitive. This is really meant to be something fun to do. The real world has enough problems out there. When I do fantasy sports, I want it to be an escape from all the stress, all the fighting, all the reality out there that's negative. If you are not having fun when playing, then you probably shouldn't play. And that goes with fantasy football, baseball, etc.
If you have any specific questions about your draft, let me know, and feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want. If you're playing head-to-head, I employ pretty much a best player available strategy, and do not even worry about my player categorizations. If you are doing an auction, think of rounds as dollar amounts. Maybe you can't pay a premium for all the players you want. That's fine. Pick up the players at the best marginal cost, and trade them for the players you do want.
If you draft this weekend, best of luck!
I will be checking the comments between now and Monday, but will not do another post until Monday night or Tuesday!
Post #5: Fill In Guys
Post #4: Rebound + Block Guys
Post #3: Assist + Steal Guys
Post #2: Putting A Team Together
Post #1: An Overview