Maximizing your Fantasy Basketball Lineup

By Tyler Dalton (@tylerd91)

Let’s just go ahead and get this out of the way, there is no blueprint to winning fantasy basketball. There isn’t an exact science and there is definitely no book of secrets guaranteeing a league championship. If you ask your friends or fellow fantasy basketball fans how they won you will get various answers. Drafting the best player available every round, using most of your budget on star players, punting a category or two, selecting only players that bring value to multiple categories, etc. All of these have worked before and there are many other paths that I didn’t have the time or room to even list. Considering most of you reading this have already had your drafts, this isn’t going to be a draft strategy piece this is going to be about getting maximum efficiency out of your current lineups. Instead, we will discuss some ways to get the most out of your lineup.


Knowing Your Roster:

Chances are your expectations will not equal what your lineup is actually giving you once the season gets rolling. This goes for every sport. Holding onto a RB hoping they’ll eventually turn it around because you had such high hopes for them over the offseason, holding onto an often injured OF who will never meet his projections. The same goes for basketball, just ask Derrick Rose‘s owners from last year. What hurts owners the most is the fear of making moves, not wanting to get rid of players they were so high on. Eventually everyone has to look at their roster and reevaluate their expectations. Once you can come to terms your sleeper has hit the snooze button a few extra times then you can progress with your roster. Figure out what category each player brings, what your standing is, what  you want to improve, and what categories are basically a lost cause. Then build your lineup out of your strengths, move players that don’t fit your strategy, and don’t be afraid to make bold moves early because chances are you can find a fellow owner panicking and willing to give up a player crucial to your lineup.


Build Around Your Top Players:

Now here’s a path with a few different routes. Have a couple top PGs? Add more and dominate in categories like points, assists, steals, FT%, and FG%. However, another route may be going with more players out of the front court to improve in the categories your lacking such as rebounds and blocks and hope your two great guards can keep you near the top in some of those categories previously mentioned. Whichever path you choose, make sure your decision is influenced by your top talent. Don’t let a Stephen Curry or a Kevin Love go to waste. Find that identity for your team and act on it. Having a balanced roster is great but if it’s not bringing you in many points then maybe you’re too balanced.


Punting Categories:

Like mentioned in the last section, in Head-to-Head leagues balance isn’t always the best. It’s great to be competitive in each category but unless you have the top player at every position (and you don’t) then chances are you’re not going to be able to win every category. Some categories you’re just going to have to move on from. Have a lot of front court players? Maybe assists won’t be your thing. So instead of acting a nervous wreck because you’re not doing so hot in assists don’t trade one of your better forwards for a guard to try to salvage the category. Instead, punting on that category and targeting players that help in the other 7 categories and assists aren’t really their strength could be the key to you winning a championship. For example, moving a Marc Gasol for Al Jefferson wouldn’t be a trade most fantasy owners would do, but if your punting on assists, and don’t value Gasol’s 4 assists per game, Jefferson would be a more valuable player for you. This goes back to knowing your team and finding a strategy that will work best for you, don’t get hung up on players or categories that won’t help you down the road.


Who To Target:

Why you picking on me, Tyler!

So right now you’re either flying high because your line up is going exactly along with these guidelines or maybe you’re in a bit of a panic since maybe that strategy of drafting players with a nickname that includes the word swag isn’t really going to work out (sorry Nick Young). So who are players to target in trades, waivers, and in drafts going forward? Well you want to go after guys who bring value in multiple categories, rarely do you want to go after a player who brings just one category unless you’re a fringe playoff team needing a slight boost in that certain category. Last I checked we’re still less than a week into the season so let’s just stick to improving your team right now. The ideal guys to go after are the players who bring a category that a player at their position usually doesn’t have much value in. A Guard that can rebound well or a post player who can also hit 3PTs is a great way to gain an advantage.


Go For Upside:

Instead of rounding out your roster with the lower ceiling guys aim for the younger guys who have a better chance of breaking out. If you can afford a bench spot or two then why not pick up a promising rookie or young player who will improve as the season goes on? It’s great to have a trustworthy person off your bench in case a starter gets injured but sometimes it’s that one break out player that can bring you home a championship. This strategy can really help, especially with the chances of a rookie busting out like Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal did last year. Rookies like Victor Oladipo, Michael Carter-Williams and Cody Zeller are already owned in a ton of leagues, but guys like Anthony Bennett, Otto Porter (partly due to being injured) and Kelly Olynyk have massive potential and their opportunities will grow as the season progresses.


So these are just five guidelines but like I mentioned at the very beginning, there are so many ways to win fantasy basketball you can’t restrict yourself to just one rule or even these five. Get creative, be bold, and use this as a guide to building your team. If you can go for guys that bring value in various categories, know when to punt a category, staying active on the waiver wire (I will be posting waiver wire finds weekly so continue to check us out), and going for upside instead of those low ceiling players then there’s a good chance you’ll be competing throughout the season.

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Tyler Dalton

About Tyler Dalton

Tyler is studying Advertising and Computer Science at The University of Alabama, while also interning with the Athletic Marketing department. Outside of the usual gumping that happens on a Tuscaloosa Saturday night he’s also a fan of the Titans, Red Sox, Celtics, and the Bruins (yes, even hockey). His very few hobbies outside of debating fantasy sports includes movies, attempting to be Don Draper, ranking the latest hip hop albums, and has probably tweeted by the time you have read this bio. Speaking of Twitter, follow Tyler at @tylerd91!