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Fantasy Basketball Rankings and Projections for the 2015-2016 NBA Season

Anthony Davis and Stephen Curry Will Get Their Points, But You'll Win by Exploiting Matchups with Other Players in the Lineup.

Anthony Davis and Stephen Curry Will Get Their Points, But You'll Win by Exploiting Matchups with Other Players in the Lineup.

Daily Fantasy Basketball Tips

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With the 2015-2016 NBA season tipping off this week, I wanted to put together a list of fantasy basketball players for the season. While most drafts have taken place, this is going to be a nice snapshot of the preseason value of players.

It’s valuable, because in a month or two, you’ll be looking back and asking yourself why certain players were so highly valued. At that point, you can highlight the first month busts and determine whether they are solid “buy low” players. Injuries, team chemistry, and early season rust mean some of the best players start slowly. That’s when you can find value.

The same technique is going to help daily fantasy basketball owners find value, especially in the time before the All-Star Break. Early season statistics are less meaningful, because they have a smaller body of work behind them. DFS owners overreact in the early stages of the NBA season, while algorithms and manual adjustments used by DraftKings, FanDuel, StarsDraft, and Yahoo are going to have a similar knee-jerk. With that in mind, here are a few tips when considering DFB matchups.

Exploit Matchups on a Nightly Basis

At a point last year, I began to play any guard combination which was playing the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers’ team defense was awful. With Kobe Bryant and several other guards injured, their perimeter defense was even worse. If you started guards against the L.A. Lakers, you were almost certain of getting equal or better value than what you were paying. I won a lot of contests that way.

I’m not saying you should start players against the Lakers this year. I’m saying you should get a scouting report on the worst 5 team defenses in the NBA, the worst 5 perimeter defenses in the NBA, and the worst 5 interior defenses in the NBA. Once you have that information, you can cherry-pick the best match-ups each night. Make sure you don’t play ONLY the obvious (star) players in that situation. Find matchups to exploit, and then exploit them.

Remember, a player’s stats are only 50% of the equation in fantasy sports. (Golf is different.) Almost as often as picking the best players, you should be picking against the lousiest opponents.

Consider Scorers on Bad Teams

Don’t avoid potential scorers on bad teams. The stigma of losing causes some DFS entrants to stay away from certain teams and players. Don’t be one of those owners. As they say in the NBA, somebody has to fill up the score sheet.

Think about it…most NBA games are still decided by less than 10 points. That means somebody is collecting stats on the other side. Find the couple of players who fill up the stat sheet on bad teams and keep a special eye on their matchups.

Here’s why,

The bad teams usually have bad team defense. Bad defenses usually mean shorter possessions for their opponents. That translates to more possessions in the game, meaning your guys have more chances to accumulate stats. Use the list (of bad defenses) above as a guage, but try to expand it out to maybe the 10 worst of each category.

Eliminate one sort of bad team, though: avoid players on teams with the worst defensive rebounding stats. If a team gives up lots of points because they give up too many rebounds (thus can’t get possession of the ball back), this is going to cut down on the effectiveness of the strategy. Find bad defenses with average defensive rebounding stats; players from these teams should be gold.

Read the Injury Report for Sleepers

This goes without saying, but I’m talking about REALLY reading the injury report. Don’t just monitor the injuries in the hopes you’ll catch a star returning to action. Look behind the injuries to the emerging trends in the backups being used. Take a look at the backup’s points-per-game (PPG). If it’s well above the points you spend to use him, add him to your team. Doing this can be like reading the tea leaves with only a few games under a player’s belt, but it helps you stay ahead of the pack.

Anytime you make starting decisions, see what the yearly NBA fantasy basketball experts and tout services are saying about free agent pickups. As long as these guys aren’t too obvious as starters, you can find good value with a little research. That’s the point: look down the list and make evaluations on an individual basis. Find lesser known players going against bad teams or high-octane offenses. In doing so, you’ll beat the salary cap.

Exploit Opponent Injuries, Too

Remember to evaluate the injuries along the lineup of your players’ opponents. That is, if a presence in the middle is suddenly lost to injuries, the team is likely to become more vulnerable on defense.

When choosing opponents, don’t simply go on the past, but try to project the future. That’s one of the joys of playing daily fantasy basketball, is the ability to make evaluations on the fly throughout the season. It’s 3D fantasy basketball. Looks beyond the surface stats to project what is to come next.

Ignore Season-Long Injury Concerns in DFS Contests

The list below factors in the idea of season-long points acquisition. In short, that means injuries are a concern. If a player posts big stats, but is injury prone, he’s going to be devalued in the yearly rankings. On a weekly or daily basis, that same player could be much more highly rated, because he has a better chance of not-getting-hurt.

Take a look at Kobe Bryant or Dwyane Wade on this list. It’s a bad bet to assume Kobe Bryant is going to make it through the 2015-16 season without any injuries, so he gets moved down the list to a point his injury would not be catastrophic. But as long as he’s on the court and in relatively good condition, Black Mamba should put up much better numbers than many guys ahead of him.

It’s much more likely Kobe Bryant is going to make it through any given game, if he enters the contest healthy. Daily fantasy basketball decisions are much different than yearly leagues, for that reason.

Fantasy NBA 2016 – Top 100 NBA Basketball Players

Remember, this is not a list of who I think are the best NBA players of 2015 and 2016. If I were picking a team to win the NBA Title this year, I would select Joakim Noah before dozens of the players listed ahead of him on this list. His combination of defense, rebounding, toughness, and attitude make him valuable in a real world NBA setting. So many of his best traits do not translate to daily fantasy basketball. Owners who confuse the two things are going to lose…often.

1. Anthony Davis, C, New Orleans Pelicans
2. Stephen Curry, PG, Golden State Warriors
3. James Harden, SG, Houston Rockets
4. Kevin Durant, SF, Oklahoma City Thunder
5. Lebron James, SF, Cleveland Cavaliers
6. Russell Westbrook, PG, Oklahoma City Thunder
7. Chris Paul, PG, Los Angeles Clippers
8. DeMarcus Cousins, C, Sacramento Kings
9. Damian Lillard, PG, Portland Trailblazers
10. Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Antonio Spurs
11. Blake Griffin, PG, Los Angeles Clippers
12. John Wall, PG, Washington Wizards
13. Klay Thompson, SG, Golden State Warriors
14. Paul George, SF, Indiana Pacers
15. Jimmy Butler, SG, Chicago Bulls
16. LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, San Antonio Spurs
17. Paul Millsap, PF, Atlanta Hawks
18. Carmelo Anthony, SF, New York Knicks
19. Marc Gasol, C, Memphis Grizzlies
20. Nerlens Noel, C, Philadelphia 76ers
21. Serge Ibaka, PF, Oklahoma City Thunder
22. Draymond Green, SF, Golden State Warriors
23. Rudy Gobert, C, Utah Jazz
24. Nikola Vucevic, C, Orlando Magic
25. Kevin Love, PF, Cleveland Cavaliers
26. Eric Bledsoe, PG, Phoenix Suns
27. Gordon Hayward, SG, Utah Jazz
28. Chandler Parsons, SF, Dallas Mavericks
29. Pau Gasol, PF, Chicago Bulls
30. Jeff Teague, PG, Atlanta Hawks
31. Kenneth Faried, PF, Denver Nuggets
32. Hassan Whiteside, PF, Miami Heat
33. Rudy Gay, SF, Sacramento Kings
34. Kyrie Irving, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers
35. Victor Oladipo, SG, Orlando Kings
36. Brook Lopez, C, Brooklyn Nets
37. Kyle Lowry, PG, Toronto Raptors
38. Chris Bosh, C, Miami Heat
39. Andre Drummond, C, Detroit Pistons
40. Monta Ellis, PG, Indiana Pacers
41. Al Horford, C, Atlanta Hawks
42. Goran Dragic, PG, Miami Heat
43. Reggie Jackson, PG, Detroit Pistons
44. Nicolas Batum, SG, Charlotte Hornets
45. DeAndre Jordan, C, L.A. Clippers
46. Jonas Valanciunas, C, Toronto Raptors
47. Derrick Favors, PF, Utah Jazz
48. Isaiah Thomas, PG, Boston Celtics
49. Danny Green, SG, San Antonio Spurs
50. Brandon Knight, PG, Phoenix Suns
51. Ty Lawson, PG, Houston Rockets
52. Al Jefferson, C, Charlotte Hornets
53. Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Minnesota Timberwolves
54. Tyreke Evans, SF, New Orleans Pelicans
55. Andrew Wiggins, SG, Minnesota Timberwolves
56. Khris Middleton, SF, Milwaukee Bucks
57. Mike Conley, PG, Memphis Grizzlies
58. Bradley Beal, SG, Washington Wizards
59. Kemba Walker, PG, Charlotte Hornets
60. Derrick Rose, PG, Chicago Bulls
61. Dwight Howard, C, Houston Rockets
62. Dirk Nowitzki, PF, Dallas Mavericks
63. Tim Duncan, PF, San Antonio Spurs
64. Greg Monroe, PF, Milwaukee Bucks
65. J.J. Redick, SG, Los Angeles Clippers
66. Danilo Gallinari, SF, Denver Nuggets
67. Tobias Harris, PF, Orlando Magic
68. Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF, Milwaukee Bucks
69. DeMarre Carroll, SF, Toronto Raptors
70. Jarrett Jack, PG, Brooklyn Nets
71. Kobe Bryant, SG, Los Angeles Lakers
72. Dwyane Wade, SG, Miami Heat
73. Zach Randolph, PF, Memphis Grizzlies
74. George Hill, PG, Indiana Pacers
75. C.J. McCollum, PG, Portland Trailblazers
76. DeMar DeRozan, SG, Toronto Raptors
77. David Lee, PF, Boston Celtics
78. Nikola Mirotic, PF, Chicago Bulls
79. Ricky Rubio, PG, Minnesota Timberwolves
80. Kyle Korver, SG, Atlanta Hawks
81. Thaddeus Young, SF, Brooklyn Nets
82. Gorgui Dieng, C, Minnesota Timberwolves
83. Arron Afflalo, SG, New York Knicks
84. Markieff Morris, PF, Phoenix Suns
85. Ryan Anderson, PF, New Orleans Pelicans
86. Wesley Matthews, SG, Dallas Mavericks
87. Robin Lopez, C, New York Knicks
88. Jordan Clarkson, PG, Los Angeles Lakers
89. Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Milwaukee Bucks
90. Jahlil Okafor, C, Philadelphia 76ers
91. J.R. Smith, SG, Cleveland Cavaliers
92. Trevor Ariza, SF, Houston Rockets
93. Enes Kanter, C, Oklahoma City Thunder
94. Marcin Gortat, C, Washington Wizards
95. Eric Gordon, SG, New Orleans Pelicans
96. Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, Denver Nuggets
97. Jrue Holiday, PG, New Orleans Pelicans
98. Terrence Jones, PF, Houston Rockets
99. Elfrid Payton, PG, Orlando Heat
100. P.J. Tucker, SG, Phoenix Suns

25 Honorable Mention Fantasy Basketball Players – 2015-2016 NBA Season

Below is a list of NBA players to consider once you get out of the Top 100 picks. Some of these are going to be off the board long before you select them, but are likely to be overvalued. Others are young guys who will only reward you if you’re patient. Stash them and hope they learn the game in the second half of the season.

Again, I might want Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls on my real world NBA team, but that doesn’t mean I want him on my fantasy team. Building an NBA Champion and a fantasy basketball champion are two very different beasts. While Noah’s defense and intangibles are an asset IRL, in a local fantasy league, DraftKings, or FanDuel, they are likely to get you beat on a consistent basis (if you overpay for such players).

Jusuf Nurkic, C, Denver Nuggets
Tyson Chandler, C, Phoenix Suns
Roy Hibbert, C, Los Angeles Lakers
Joakim Noah, C, Chicago Bulls
Kristaps Porzingis, PF, New York Knicks
Robert Covington, PF, Philadelphia 76ers
Julius Randle, PF, Los Angeles Lakers
Myles Turner, PF, Indiana Pacers
Wilson Chandler, SF, Denver Nuggets
Stanley Johnson, SF, Detroit Pistons
Jabari Parker, SF, Milwaukee Bucks
Otto Porter Jr., SF, Washington Wizards
Avery Bradley, SG, Boston Celtics
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Detroit Pistons
Alec Burks, SG, Utah Jazz
Evan Turner, SG, Boston Celtics
D’Angelo Russell, PG, Los Angeles Lakers
Tony Parker, PG, San Antonio Spurs
Mo Williams, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers
Deron Williams, PG, Dallas Mavericks
Jeremy Lin, PG, Charlotte Hornets
Louis Williams, PG, Los Angeles Lakers
Zach LaVine, PG, Minnesota Timberwolves
Rajon Rondo, PG, Sacramento Kings
Trey Burke, PG, Utah Jazz

2016 NBA Fantasy Basketball Cheat Sheet

This might not be the most timely NBA basketball primer, but this guide should be a handy resource to look back upon in December 2015 and January 2016. Remember, the first month or two of the NBA season is not going to be an indicator of the yearly trends. Find the emerging trends first and you’ll win a lot of FanDuel and DraftKings basketball contests.

1 Comment

  1. Flip Robitard

    I’m a little surprised that King James only made it to number 5 on the this. I would’ve had him 2 or 3.

    Nice call on Kawhi Leonard, though. I always feel like he’s undervalued by a lot of fantasy owners (especially in daily fantasy NBA leagues), so I was glad to see him crack the top 10.

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