Fantasy Basketball draft strategy is tough. Mostly because there are so many of them...
I've been meaning to write an article about punting, but it seems to come up every week anyway.
YOUR PUNTING STRATEGY WILL DICTATE YOUR DRAFT STRATEGY.
While some managers probably don't punt any cats, this can be a major advantage for you. It also changes the value of players in your draft.
Andre Drummond and Dwight Howard become 1st round picks if you are punting FT%. Brandon Jennings moves up a LOT if you are punting FG%.
I find basketball the most complex Fantasy sport to draft - since there are so many unique valuations possible...
Some managers punt points (since it's the most overvalued category), others bravely punt assists. Still others throw the blocks category away.
Punting assists means taking all bigs and swings, punting blocks means finding power forwards that have been inaccurately given C eligibility.
There's not really a wrong way to go - unless your entire draft strategy is predicated on obtaining 5/6 specific players. There is always a chance one of your targets will get scooped up higher than projected - or (*gasp*) that another manager is employing an identical punt strategy.
I'll go through a logical draft strategy for standard, 1-year, 12-team leagues. But please note that the particulars of your draft (auction/snake/non-snake) make a HUGE difference.
Like in the baseball batter's box, the most important thing is to have a plan in the first place. You can always improvise if things aren't going your way with 2 strikes, but randomly flailing away at pitches makes no sense...
So here is what I think is a logical draft strategy. (Even WHEN you draft makes a big difference, so adjust accordingly.)
Take a proven, multi-cat beast. Ideally, find a player with no statistical weaknesses. This player will fit into ANY strategy - should a particular strategy emerge/evolve/change during your draft.
Take an elite SF (because there are so few of them) or an elite PG. Call it position scarcity or supply & demand. But scoop up rare commodities here.
Balance your squad. Unless you have a very clear punt strategy, fill out your team weaknesses here. (This is especially important if you are playing roto.)
Take a PG. If you already have one, now you have 2. This will either start the run on PGs, or is firmly in the middle of the inevitable point guard run...
Take a big, and find the pattern with your team. If you don't have a punt strategy yet, now is the time to consider one. Your team strengths should be obvious - and hopefully you picked up on other teams' strategies as well. (TIP: A draft is like a poker game. Count the cards. Try to figure out what everybody else is trying to do...)
Find an undervalued player. By now, there are likely a couple players that are undervalued. This could be an injured stud from last year (like Jrue Holiday) or a rookie with immense upside (like Jabari Parker). This is the round to take some risks, and look for upside. (TIP: Don't start reaching for players until round 6. The value is simply too high in the first 5 rounds. You don't want to miss in the first 60...)
Take a player with high upside or a highly ranked player still on the board. In my experience, there are usually a player or 2 ranked way higher than your current ADP still on the board (usually injured or coming off a major injury). At this point, you may be able to get round 3 value for a round 7 pick. There is obviously risk, but you want to find the highest upside possible. It's all about return on your investment.
Breakout candidate or best rookie available. Look for a guy in a good situation - with a chance to get huge numbers. If you don't take a high upside young player now, they will likely go soon (if they are not taken already). Rookies are way overvalued, but if you have your eye on a particular youngster, make sure you get him here. (TIP: Never reach in the first 5 rounds. You need a steady foundation for your team.)
See who's left on the board. Many guys are now drafting their 'sleepers'. Go the other way: Find the highest ranked player left on the board. An injured player ranked in the top 50 might still be available...
Rounds 10 - 13:
The gloves are off. Time to go nuts. There isn't really a difference between the late rounds in terms of value, so it's time to test your BBIQ to the max. Take the biggest risks you can, but also look for opportunity. Value picks can win leagues. It's not always about finding the most hyped rookie or sophomore on the board. Sometimes the true value lives in snagging the perennial All-Star coming off a 1-year injury absence. Or a guy who is likely to get traded in-season. I highly encourage you to familiarize yourself with advanced stats. Understanding player efficiency is way more important than aggregate stats IMO.
You got through your draft. Congratulations. If you drafted a winner, simply set your lineups every week and collect your electronic trophy. If you screwed up, don't worry: All you really need from your draft is a good foundation anyway. If you have 6 solid players that will produce well all season, I consider that a good draft.
An active manager can always outperform a good drafter. The key, though, is to be BOTH.
Now go win your league. And if you screw up, you’re dead to me.