Football is back, but for fantasy hoops players that means one thing. It’s time to prepare for your fantasy basketball drafts! With nearly all of the offseason moves done and dusted, (still looking at you, Eric Bledsoe), it’s time to begin releasing my fantasy basketball rankings for the 2014-15 season.
I’ve been tinkering with how to formulate these rankings over the past few weeks and I think I’ve hit on a way to give a more accurate guide for head to head leagues. In head to head leagues, it’s imperative that you punt categories in order to be successful. What I’ve found on many sites, is that the rankings that are released are tailored more towards rotisserie leagues, factoring in all eight or nine categories. But, for a head to head league, which is the most popular format in my opinion, the fact that Dwight Howard kills your free throw percentage shouldn’t matter one iota in a head-to-head league. So, when pouring over these lists, I’ve derived each player’s value by removing their two worst categories from the calculations. Obviously, in roto, these rankings are meaningless, but they give you a great overall look at how good each player is in a head-to-head format. Some of the names may look very out of whack to what you are used to, but that’s the point. I’m trying to turn the nature of head-to-head rankings on it’s head and hopefully these numbers give you a better indication of each players categorical value.
The rankings I’ll be presenting are for eight category leagues and take into account each players best six categories.. For each player, I’ll mention which two categories I’ve excluded from my calculations.
The Top 10
1. Kevin Durant, SF, Oklahoma City Thunder (Exclude Rebounds, Blocks)
Ho hum, I thought you promised some out-there rankings, Josh? Hold, hold on, I’ll get to that, but no matter what format you are playing, Durant is number one. Rebounds and blocks are his worst two categories, but in saying that, they are still extremely good. Durant averaged 7.4 rebounds and 0.7 blocks last season, which is still way above average. Durant is the rare player who contributes to all eight categories and is a beast in any fantasy league. If he doesn’t go number one in your league, someone is doing it wrong.
2. Steph Curry, PG, Golden State Warriors (Rebounds, Blocks)
Now we start getting a little more interesting. Curry is elite in scoring, three-pointers, assists and free throw shooting and his deficiencies in boards and blocks bring his overall value down a little. I think we are over the “ankles made of glass” narrative, having missed only eight games in the last two seasons combined. He’ll likely last until pick four in most leagues and that will be a bargain.
3. James Harden, SG, Houston Rockets (Blocks, Field Goal Percentage)
Where’s LeBron? Where’s the Brow? Fret not, they are coming, but in head-to-head leagues, especially with the positional scarcity at shooting guard, Harden gets the nod at number three. While it may be infuriating to watch him play actual basketball, Harden fills up the stat sheet like few others. Last season, post All-Star break, Harden was the number one player in nine category roto leagues, let along eight category head-to-head and if he has truly figured out how to play with Howard, the numbers will keep coming.
4. LeBron James, SF/PF, Cleveland Cavaliers (Blocks, Free Throw Percentage)
I wonder how long it’s going to take me to write Cleveland Cavaliers. I swear, each time I talk about LeBron, I’m automatically writing Miami. Eventually, it will sink in, right? Well, LeBron is back in Cleveland, but he has company. With Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving in town as well, he’ll be sharing the ball as much if not more than in Miami, and even last season, his fantasy value took a hit. Still, getting LeBron at number four would be considered a win and his crazy field goal percentage if paired with a centre, can almost single handedly win you that category.
5. Anthony Davis, PF/C, New Orleans Pelicans (Three-pointers, Assists)
I love Davis. Love him. He’s going to be the league’s next true superstar. He’s ballin’ in Spain at the FIBA World Cup and looks set to explode this season in the NBA. He was fantastic last season from a fantasy perspective with only injury holding him back. In a head-to-head format, Davis is pushed out of a top three place by Harden and Curry due to their massive contributions in multiple categories, but in a roto league, I push Davis up to two or three.
6. Andre Drummond, PF/C, Detroit Pistons (Assists, Free Throw Percentage)
If there’s anyone I love more than Davis, it’s Drummond. And in head-to-head leagues, he really shines through. Even if teams decide to hack him more this season, you won’t care, because you’ve punted free throws. And that’s the beauty of head-to-head fantasy basketball. Build your team as you want. Drummond is an elite rebounder. To end last season, Drummond averaged 19.1 points and 17.9 rebounds in the last two weeks. Factor in his elite field goal percentage and his great steal and block numbers and Drummond is a categorical beast.
7. Chris Paul, PG, Los Angeles Clippers (Rebounds, Blocks)
A staple in the top five for basically his whole career, people are souring a little on CP3 – mainly because of his injuries. He has missed 32 games in the last two season to various injuries and it feels almost inevitable that he’ll miss a few weeks at some stage. He is the premier assist man in the league and is still a great fantasy option, but is slowly slipping down draft boards.
8. John Wall, PG, Washington Wizards (Rebounds, Field Goal Percentage)
Wall bounced back from a injury plagued 2012-13 season to put up the best numbers of his young career. He is also a great source of blocks for a point guard and one of the top three assist men in the league. He also increased his three-point shooting from 0.2 up to 1.3 last season and helped round off his overall game.
9. Dwight Howard, C, Houston Rockets (Three-Pointers, Free Throw Percentage)
The ultimate representation of the difference between head-to-head and roto, Howard is a beast in this format. In roto leagues, I wouldn’t touch Howard with a ten-foot pole, unless I was trying to execute a difficult punt strategy, which although it can be done, is quite challenging. In head-to-head though, Howard gives you blocks, boards, points, and an elite field goal percentage. You may not need to grab Howard in the top 10 as other drafts are swayed by his deficiencies and other sites’ rankings, but his fairly clearly places him in the first round.
10. DeMarcus Cousins, PF/C, Sacramento Kings (Three-Pointers, Free Throw Percentage)
Boogie took a big last season and without Isaiah Thomas this season, he may have even more of the offensive load after registering a usage rate of 32.7 percent last season. An elite source of steals for a centre, Cousins also gives great rebounds, blocks and scoring and increased is field goal percentage up to 49 percent, up from 46 percent in 2012-13.
And so we have the top 10. I’m sure there’ll be some kick back on a few of these rankings, so remember to leave comments below or on Twitter @redrock_bball.