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Fantasy Basketball Punt Guide: Common Issues


Welcome to another part of RotoBaller's NBA Punt Guide for the 2019-2020 NBA season. You can find the first part -- Trevor Crippen's overview of punt strategy -- here. Go read it. Now. Do it!

Punting is a great way to win fantasy basketball leagues, but you've got to do it right and use it in the right situations, because it can also be a great way to lose a fantasy basketball league.

Today, let's look at some of the issues that can arise from punting in fantasy basketball drafts.

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Common Punting Pitfalls

Misunderstanding What Punting Is

An important thing that punting is not: It is not you saying "well, I'm committing to losing 22 weeks of rebounding and am going to value rebounding exactly zero percent."

You aren't trying to lose. Ideally, you'll occasionally win at rebounding! Punting isn't about committing to losing at anything. Instead, it's about deemphasizing a category when you build your personal list of who to draft.

Let's take rebounding as an example. Andre Drummond has led the NBA in rebounding in three of the last four years. Let's say you decide to punt rebounding (even though you should probably be punting something like blocks or steals of free throw percentage, ideally). That doesn't mean that you're throwing Drummond on some "do not draft" list.

What it means is that in your personal calculus of what you value and how you'll be fighting for the other categories, rebounding isn't taken into account, which means Drummond's value for you personally takes a huge drop. You almost certainly won't draft him because with rebounding out of the equation, he doesn't provide enough value in everything else to live up to his ADP. But there's still a point where you might decide "sure, I'll take Andre Drummond" if he drops far below his ADP.

So, don't think of it as "I am going to lose this category and don't have interest in players who could help me win it." Instead, think of it as "I am probably going to lose this category, but my main concern is drafting guys who help me in all those other categories."

 

Getting Trapped In Your Punting Strategy

Let's say you do a 12-team draft, and let's say the other 11 owners all decide to also punt certain categories.

You should be willing to change things up. Take risks. Use your contingency plans.

If you notice that other owners are making draft picks that signal they're running a certain punt build that you were considering, be open to changing things.

To that end, one thing you can do early in your draft is to take some well-rounded players in those first couple of rounds who can be used as pivots. Don't lock yourself into a punt build until the third or fourth round, at which point you have some information at your disposal about how players who might have committed immediately to a punt build are doing things and you can make your adjustments.

Sometimes, though, you end up in Round 6 and you've realized that you are stuck punting free throw percentage while four other people are also doing that. In that case, maybe you reassess. Maybe you change your strategy and then try to trade for players who fit your build after the draft. Maybe you try to draft some good all-around guys late and then pivot after the draft. Just don't let yourself be stuck all season in a punt build that half your league is also doing. Be proactive.

 

Trying A Multi-Category Punt

Some people are very good at punting and they'll implement a multi-category punt, punting on two categories that go hand-in-hand in order to maximize their ability to compete in the remaining categories.

For some people, that really works.

For a lot of other people -- me included -- that really, really doesn't work.

Punting in two (or more!) categories requires you to basically so many things right. The margin for error shrinks for every extra category you punt, which means your team can be an injury away from complete disaster. Make sure you understand the risks before you embark on this route. It's not necessarily hard to punt one category as long as you follow the advice from the last point I made, but adding a second punt into things makes everything just incredibly difficult. Never bite off more than you can chew.

 

Punting In A Points League

Punting is for category-based fantasy leagues.

Punting is for category-based fantasy leagues.

Punting is for category-based fantasy leagues.

What this means is that when you punt in a category league, you're sacrificing in one area to bolster other areas, because what matters is how many categories you win in.

In a points league, your goal is to score as many fantasy points as possible, so punting isn't really a thing. Sure, some players are undervalued or overvalued because of their level of production, but your goal is to score as many points as you can, so taking a guy who has a poor free throw percentage might help you get more points from his rebounding, but you're still missing out on points from his free throw percentage, you know?

That's not to say you shouldn't take categories into account in a points league. Every player is good at certain things, and you might well think that ignoring them being bad at one certain thing is a good way of you building a team with the guys you want. Fine. But that's not really punting, and you aren't really getting an advantage like you will in a category league.

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