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2016-17 fantasy basketball draft prep: 12-team H2H draft analysis

San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, right, drives around Houston Rockets guard James Harden, left, during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 121-103. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)
AP Photo/Darren Abate

After presenting analysis of an eight-team keeper fantasy draft yesterday, we’re turning our attention to a 12-team redraft league today. For this, I’ve enlisted the help of Today’s Fastbreak’s own Jackson Sanders, who also participated in this draft.

In this head-to-head league, owners compete for all nine categories each week, and there are 13 roster spots in addition to one IR spot. Unlike in keeper leagues, owners in redraft leagues need only worry about 2016-17 production. And since it’s a head-to-head format instead of roto, draft-day strategies such as punting categories and disregarding early-season production came into play, as you’ll see below.

What follows is how the draft played out, with picks from Jackson and I in bold. We’ve included analysis after each round to explain our respective strategies throughout.

  1. James Harden, Hou SG
  2. Russell Westbrook, OKC PG
  3. Karl-Anthony Towns, Min C
  4. Stephen Curry, GS PG
  5. Kevin Durant, GS SF
  6. LeBron James, Cle SF
  7. Anthony Davis, Nor PF
  8. Kawhi Leonard, SA SF
  9. DeMarcus Cousins, Sac C
  10. Chris Paul, LAC PG
  11. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Mil SF
  12. Damian Lillard, Por PG

Jackson: At seventh overall, I was considering Paul George, Giannis Antetokounmpo, DeMarcus Cousins and Davis, who ultimately was my pick. While I’m sure to spend many an anxious night staring at the injury report, the truth is that if Davis can put together a mostly healthy season — this is a big if — he will be in the conversation for the No. 1 player in fantasy. I took a risky approach in building around him, but for the games he’s able to suit up, he’ll provide me with a great base of stats across the board. 

Bryan: If Jackson didn’t take Anthony Davis, I would have been torn between him and the guy who I ultimately did select, Kawhi Leonard. On a per-game basis, Leonard finished as the third-ranked player in nine-category leagues last year, as he upped his scoring and three-point output significantly. With LaMarcus Aldridge trade speculation already percolating, I can only hope the Spurs do move LMA this year, freeing Leonard to run wild on offense. Even if they don’t, the two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year won’t hurt me in any category. 

  1. Hassan Whiteside, Mia PF
  2. Paul George, Ind SF
  3. Kyle Lowry, Tor PF
  4. John Wall, Was PG
  5. Paul Millsap, Atl PF
  6. Kemba Walker, Cha PG
  7. Blake Griffin, LAC PF
  8. Draymond Green, GS PF
  9. Klay Thompson, GS SG
  10. Kyrie Irving, Cle PG
  11. Al Horford, Bos C
  12. Isaiah Thomas, Bos PG

Jackson: I wanted John Wall here, but I’ll settle for the best PG left on the board. Walker provided me with a few of the things I was seeking with this pick: scoring, threes and steals. It helps that he was a top-10 rebounder at point guard last year, and he’ll provide a solid amount of assists as well.

Bryan: Since coming to Atlanta, Paul Millsap has been Old Reliable when it comes to fantasy basketball. Last season, he was the 10th-best player on a per-game basis in nine-category leagues, and the Hawks swapping out Al Horford for Dwight Howard wasn’t enough to deter me from expecting a repeat top-20 campaign from Millsap. He’s not going to bomb away from deep like Stephen Curry, but he’s hit somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 treys in each of the past three seasons to go with north of 125 steals and 550 rebounds. If he can maintain his career-best block totals from last year (139), another top-10 campaign could be within his reach.

  1. LaMarcus Aldridge, SA PF
  2. Kristaps Porzingis, NY PF
  3. Carmelo Anthony, NY SF
  4. Serge Ibaka, Orl PF
  5. Andre Drummond, Det C
  6. Derrick Favors, Uta PF
  7. Jimmy Butler, Chi SG
  8. Eric Bledsoe, Pho PG
  9. C.J. McCollum, Por PG
  10. Nikola Vucevic, Orl C
  11. Victor Oladipo, OKC SG
  12. Pau Gasol, SF PF

Jackson: It was between Butler and Victor Oladipo for me after my target, Andre Drummond, went two picks in front of me. I opted to go with the proven commodity in Butler, as tough as it was with Oladipo’s upside. I wanted another elite scorer to add to my core and Jimmy Buckets does more than score; he’ll add nice rebounds, assists and steals while giving me positional flexibility. Plus, he is one of the biggest influencers in free throw percentage, even though I don’t typically prioritize the percentages in head-to-head formats.

Bryan: Eric Bledsoe is a ticking injury time bomb, but on the off-chance he stays healthy, he’ll be a steal at this price. He was the 24th-best player in fantasy on a per-game basis last year, having averaged career highs in points (20.4), steals (2.0) and treys (1.5), and having a spot-up 2-guard like Devin Booker alongside him in the starting lineup rather than a ball-dominant combo guard like Brandon Knight should only help his per-game output. After taking relatively safe picks in each of the first two rounds, I was willing to gamble here.

  1. Mike Conley, Mem PG
  2. Brook Lopez, Bkn C
  3. Andrew Wiggins, Min S
  4. Kevin Love, Cle PF
  5. DeAndre Jordan, LAC C
  6. D’Angelo Russell, LAL PG
  7. Devin Booker, Pho SG
  8. Nicolas Batum, Cha SF
  9. Gordon Hayward, Uta SG
  10. Rudy Gobert, Uta C
  11. Trevor Ariza, Hou SF
  12. Evan Fournier, Orl SG

Jackson: After being sniped on my last two selections, I made sure to get Russell in this spot. He’s one of my favorite breakout candidates this season, and he just turned in averages of 17.8 points, 5.4 assists, 2.4 threes and 1.6 steals this preseason. I inject my core with upside, scoring, steals and threes with this pick.

Los Angeles Lakers' D'Angelo Russell stands on the court during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game against the Denver Nuggets, Friday, Oct. 7, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Bryan: Readers know I’m a proponent of punting free throw percentage, so I wanted to leave this draft with either Andre Drummond, DeAndre Jordan or Rudy Gobert. Jordan has led the league in field goal percentage over each of the past four seasons and has averaged at least 13.5 rebounds and two blocks per game in each of the last three, so he’ll be a huge asset in those three categories. When factoring in punting free throw percentage, Jordan was the fourth-best player in fantasy last year, so I prioritized getting him in the fourth round.

  1. Marc Gasol, Mem C
  2. Jae Crowder, Bos SF
  3. Goran Dragic, Mia PG
  4. Nikola Jokic, Den PF
  5. DeMar DeRozan, Tor SG
  6. Jeff Teague, Ind PG
  7. Dennis Schroder, At PG
  8. Dwight Howard, Atl C
  9. Rudy Gay, Sac SF
  10. Joel Embiid, Phi C
  11. Rajon Rondo, Chi PG
  12. Jabari Parker, Mil SF

Jackson: I’m not worrying about need at this point of the draft, and based on the way the board is breaking, it looks like I’m going to go guard-heavy after starting with Anthony Davis. Schroder is another of my favorite breakouts regardless of position. He was productive in limited minutes last season, and he has literally no competition for minutes with Jeff Teague out of town. More scoring, steals and assists for me here, with potential for solid three-pointers if coach Budenholzer allows Schroder to continue hoisting ’em up.

Bryan: Jackson sniped Schroder from me here, so I pivoted to take Dwight Howard instead, doubling down on the punt FT% strategy. Half-hearted punting is a recipe for disaster, so I’m happy to lose that category each and every week if it means winning field goal percentage, rebounds and blocks. Between Millsap, Jordan and Howard, I’m going to have huge advantages in those three categories, meaning I only need to win two others each week to stay alive come playoff time. 

  1. Bradley Beal, Wsh SG
  2. Nerlens Noel, Phi C
  3. Myles Turner, Ind PF
  4. Ryan Anderson, Hou PF
  5. Gorgui Dieng, Min C
  6. Ricky Rubio, Min PG
  7. Enes Kanter, OKC C
  8. Jeremy Lin, Bkn PG
  9. Tobias Harris, Det PF
  10. Danilo Gallinari, Den SF
  11. Dwyane Wade, Chi SG
  12. Dirk Nowitzki, Dal PF

Jackson: And now we’re all in on the guard-heavy strategy. Bryan took Gorgui Dieng right before me, and I wasn’t about to reach for the guy I ended up taking next. Instead, I welcome Rubio’s elite assists, steals and rebounding at the point-guard position. I’m not at all worried about a potential trade, either.

Bryan: Gorgui Dieng was massively frustrating to own last season, but with Tom Thibodeau now at the helm for the Minnesota Timberwolves, I’m not worried about him getting off to a slow start this year. He’s only going to further build my lead in rebounds, field goal percentage and blocks, allowing me to focus on the other categories from this point forward. There’s top-40 upside here, as he ranked 53rd on a per-game basis last year despite being woefully inconsistent until mid-January.

  1. Emmanuel Mudiay, Den PG
  2. Thaddeus Young, Ind SF
  3. Brandon Knight, Pho PG
  4. Reggie Jackson, Det PG
  5. J.J. Redick, LAC SG
  6. Zach LaVine, Min PG
  7. Marcin Gortat, Wsh C
  8. Chandler Parsons, Mem SF
  9. Jonas Valanciunas, Tor C
  10. Marvin Williams, Cha SF
  11. Kent Bazemore, Atl SG
  12. Greg Monroe, Mil PF

Jackson: While I felt I had done a good job of grabbing solid rebounding guards with my previous picks, I had neglected bigs for long enough. Gortat should start out strong this year with Ian Mahinmi out following knee surgery, and he was ranked fifth on ESPN’s Player Rater last season. I might have missed out on a few of my center targets earlier, but I could do a lot worse this far into the draft.

Bryan: Like with Eric Bledsoe, I’m exposing myself to a massive injury risk here, but the upside is once again too great to ignore. With Parsons yet to be cleared for game action, per ESPN.com’s Tim MacMahon, I’m willing to punt on his early-season effectiveness with an eye on next spring. New Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale had the team running far more in the preseason than they have in the past, which should only help Parsons hit the ground running once he is cleared. Having an IR spot available makes me more inclined to gamble on injury risks like him.

  1. Robert Covington, Phi PF
  2. Avery Bradley, Bos SG
  3. Kris Dunn, Min PG
  4. Jordan Clarkson, LAL PG
  5. Darren Collison, Sac PG
  6. Julius Randle, LAL PF
  7. Steven Adams, OKC C
  8. Robin Lopez, Chi C
  9. Monta Ellis, Ind SG
  10. Jusuf Nurkic, Den C
  11. George Hill, Uta PG
  12. Rodney Hood, Uta SG 

Jackson: My quest for rebounds continues, and for as much hate as Randle gets, he has a nose for the basketball. Essentially a rookie last season, he averaged a double-double, and I’ll take that all day for the 90th overall pick. His field goal percentage this preseason was 50 percent, and if he can carry some increased efficiency into the new campaign, I’ll have a steal. 

Bryan: Darren Collison is suspended for the first eight games of the season due to a domestic violence suspension, but when he returns, the Kings’ starting point guard job is all his. Seeing as he finished last year as the 79th-ranked player on a per-game basis despite starting only 15 of his 74 games, is there any way he doesn’t exceed that by a significant margin now that he’s the every-night starter? Again, since this is a head-to-head format rather than roto, his early-season absence won’t bother me nearly as much.

  1. Harrison Barnes, Dal SF
  2. Jahlil Okafor, Phi C
  3. Eric Gordon, Hou SG
  4. Mason Plumlee, Por PF
  5. Tristan Thompson, Cle PF
  6. Dario Saric, Phi SF
  7. Elfrid Payton, Orl PG
  8. Wesley Matthews, Dal SG
  9. Derrick Rose, NY PG
  10. Ben Simmons, Phi PF
  11. Kenneth Faried, Den PF
  12. Alex Len, Pho C

Jackson: Payton isn’t going to help with percentages, but he provides some insurance to my strategy should one of my bigger-name point guards go down. The Magic bet big on him by dealing Victor Oladipo, and I see an off-brand version of Ricky Rubio as the unquestioned lead guard in Orlando.

Bryan: Wesley Matthews (and the Mavericks as a whole) had an awful preseason, but nearly two years removed from his Achilles injury, I’m expecting him to have a bounce-back campaign this year. He’s the first 2-guard I drafted, and my squad was in desperate need of some three-point shooting after focusing so heavily on bigs and point guards early on. If nothing else, he should chip in around 15 points and 2-3 treys per game, and having Howard and Jordan should help negate his miserable field goal percentage if he has another sub-40-percent shooting year.

  1. Aaron Gordon, Olr PF
  2. DeMarre Carroll, Tor SF
  3. Buddy Hield, Nor SG
  4. Brandon Ingram, LAL PF
  5. J.R. Smith, Cle SG
  6. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Det SG
  7. Ish Smith, Det PG
  8. Mirza Teletovic, Mil PF
  9. Markieff Morris, Wsh PF
  10. Zach Randolph, Mem PF
  11. Brandon Jennings, NY PG
  12. Bismack Biyombo, Orl C

Jackson: Meet my starting shooting guard. He fits pretty well with my strategy, adding steals, complementary scoring and acting as a three-point specialist. He probably won’t play nearly 37 minutes per game again, but the volume should be high enough that he is able to provide exactly what I was shopping for with this pick.

Cleveland Cavaliers' J.R. Smith, right, greets fans before the start of a parade celebrating the basketball team's NBA championship in downtown Cleveland, Wednesday, June 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Bryan: I went back-to-back with sharpshooting 2-guards here, grabbing the $57 million man as a complement to Matthews. Smith’s inexplicably long contract standstill with the Cavs may lead to him getting off to a slow start, but he finished last year as the 93rd-ranked player on a per-game basis in large part due to the 2.6 treys he drained per game. He’s a mediocre free throw shooter, but on my roster, that’s of no concern. His three-point shooting will help fill a huge void.

  1. E’Twaun Moore, Nor SG
  2. Evan Turner, Por SG
  3. Will Barton, Den SG
  4. Joakim Noah, NY C
  5. Deron Williams, Dal PG
  6. Gary Harris, Den SG
  7. Clint Capela, Hou C
  8. Otto Porter, Wsh SF
  9. Jamal Crawford, LAC SG
  10. Matt Barnes, Sac SF
  11. Al-Farouq Aminu, Por SF
  12. Dion Waiters, Mia SG

Jackson: This is one of my favorite picks. Capela was a trendy sleeper early in draft season, but some have distanced themselves after seeing Nene play well this preseason. If you want to buy into Nene staying healthy all year, be my guest, but I’ve been taking Capela in every draft I can. There’s double-double upside here with plenty of blocks and steals, even if his free throw percentage is dreadful.

Bryan: How in the hell did Otto Porter fall this far? Sure, he’s not a high-upside scorer, but he’s a do-it-all rising fourth-year player who just finished last year ranked 60th in fantasy on a per-game basis. With Bradley Beal a walking injury risk and John Wall on the mend from two offseason knee surgeries, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Porter take on a larger offensive share in his final year before becoming a restricted free agent. I’m not at all worried about Kelly Oubre Jr. supplanting him in the Wizards’ starting lineup.

  1. Solomon Hill, Nor SF
  2. Tyreke Evans, Nor SF
  3. Bojan Bogdanovic, Bkn SG
  4. Andrew Bogut, Dal C
  5. Jrue Holiday, Nor PG
  6. Nikola Mirotic, Chi PF
  7. Trey Lyles, Uta PF
  8. Luol Deng, LAL SF
  9. Al Jefferson, Ind C
  10. Wilson Chandler, Den SF
  11. Michael Carter-Williams, Chi PG
  12. Timofey Mozgov, LAL C

Jackson: The last three rounds were all about nabbing upside depth for me, and Mirotic has value even if his potential doesn’t come to fruition. He is one of a few Bulls who can actually hit three-pointers, making two per game in 25 minutes of court time last year; his role as a source of three-pointers on my team is secure. He’s got some low-key awesome defensive production despite the limited minutes — he’s averaged over a steal and a block per 36 minutes over his career – so investing this late was a no-brainer given my roster construction.

Bryan: We have no idea when Jrue Holiday will return, which makes this a somewhat risky pick. His wife recently had surgery to remove a brain tumor, and the two just had their first child a month ago. Whenever he does make his debut, though, I’ll have a mid-round PG value at a late-round draft-day price. With Tyreke Evans likewise sidelined indefinitely and the Pelicans lacking high-impact scorers outside of Anthony Davis and Buddy Hield, Holiday could wind up being my squad’s ace in the hole come playoff time.

  1. Allen Crabbe, Por SG
  2. Zaza Pachulia, GS C
  3. Marcus Morris, Det PF
  4. Tim Frazier, Nor SG
  5. Kyle Korver, Atl SG
  6. Danny Green, SA SG
  7. Terrence Jones, Nor PF
  8. Justise Winslow, Mia SG
  9. Doug McDermott, Chi SF
  10. Frank Kaminsky, Cha C
  11. Willie Cauley-Stein, Sac C
  12. Cody Zeller, Cha PF

Jackson: If healthy, Jones will be a huge part of the Pelicans this season in my opinion, so I have been scooping him up at the end of drafts in virtually all formats. For this team in particular, he is the perfect sleeper as Anthony Davis insurance and an upside power forward who could end up providing rebounds, blocks and out-of-position threes on occasion. Ultimately, the Pelicans’ best lineup probably features Jones next to Davis, and I’ll take the risk that I am right with my very last pick.

Bryan: For my final pick, I took a flier on Justise Winslow to see if he’s able to step into a larger offensive role with Dwyane Wade now in Chicago and Chris Bosh unlikely to ever suit up for Miami again. Outside of Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside, the Heat don’t have many established offensive threats, so there’s plenty of opportunity for Winslow to emerge as a legitimate fantasy contributor. If not, he’ll be sent to the waiver wire early in the year as I look to pick up a free agent off to a hot start (think Evan Fournier from last season).

All 2015-16 rankings via Basketball Monster and are based on nine-category leagues. All ADP and ECR data via FantasyPros and are current as of Sunday, Oct. 23.

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