In last week's column, "Rankings in Review," I listed the top 216 players in nine-cat and eight-cat fantasy leagues for the 2013-14 regular season. These per-game rankings were based on standard deviations and z-scores, and they form the basis of today's column — by comparing a player's end-of-season fantasy value to their Average Draft Position (ADP), we can quantify the biggest busts and value-picks for the 2013-14 season.
The rankings are my own, but the ADP data is drawn from the National Fantasy Basketball Championship drafts for 2013-14. The NFBKC is a premier site with significant stakes and lucrative pay-outs (the 'main event' paid a $15,000 grand prize this year), and it draws informed and competitive fantasy owners, so the ADP data is as reliable as possible. Also note that I'm using eight-cat rankings to mirror the format of NFBKC's leagues, and my rankings exclude players who averaged less than 20 minutes per game or played in fewer than 30 games.
Before looking at the entire list, here are quick lists of the biggest value-picks and busts in typical 12-team, 14-player leagues (aka players with an ADP up to 168). These are based upon 8-cat ranks:
Top 15 Value Picks: Lance Stephenson, Randy Foye, Isaiah Thomas, Manu Ginobili, Corey Brewer, Jamal Crawford, Michael Carter-Williams, Mario Chalmers, Robin Lopez, Darren Collison, Arron Afflalo, Kyle Lowry, Kyle Korver, DeMar DeRozan and Nick Young
Top-15 Busts: O.J. Mayo, Greivis Vasquez, Ersan Ilyasova, Enes Kanter, Ben McLemore, Danny Granger, Omer Asik, Tiago Splitter, Jonas Valanciunas, Moe Harkless, Harrison Barnes, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, J.J. Hickson, Kevin Garnett, Roy Hibbert
It’s worth remembering that this year’s best ‘value picks’ in typical leagues included 14 guards and just one big man (Robin Lopez), whereas the ‘busts’ included only three guards with six forwards and six centers.
Now, let's take a look at the complete list of this season's biggest values and busts. There were 37 players who made my top-216 for fantasy value, but whose ADP did not crack the top-250 of the NFBKC. For curiosity's sake, and as a rough gauge of their value, I assigned each of these players an ADP of 250. For example, Jodie Meeks took off thanks to Kobe Bryant's injury-plagued season, and he finished as the No. 55 value in eight-cat leagues. I assigned him a theoretical ADP of 250, even though it was higher than that, and as a result he is the top value in my analysis at +195 (his actual ranking subtracted from his ADP). Players to whom I assigned an ADP of 250 have an asterisk next to their name.
|Player Name||Eight-Cat Ranking (2013-14)||Average Draft Position (2013-14)||Difference between ADP & actual Rank|
|Tim Hardaway Jr.||195||227.5||32.5|
Note: I've also provided this table on Google Sheets, along with the end-of-season ranking data upon which it is based. Unfortunately, the lovely formatting of my Excel spreadsheets doesn't translate to Google's system. If you want the original documents, just send me a note with your email address on Twitter (@Knaus_RW) and I will email you my original file with all the formulas, etc. It took a long time to compile all of this data and to make these charts, so I'm all for sharing it with those people interested enough to reach out.
Overall, this table shows 137 players exceeding their ADP with 79 players losing value. It is skewed in favor of 'value-picks' because, as noted, I assigned an ADP to players who went undrafted in most NFBKC leagues and also tossed out players who were drafted but didn't meet my original 20-minute/30-game criteria. Low-end players therefore surged in value, while some high-profile busts like Kobe Bryant, Al Horford and others were excluded entirely.
Unsurprisingly, ranked players whose ADP slipped beyond 250 are considered terrific value picks, and they comprise 13 of the top 15 players in my complete list (Trevor Ariza and Terrence Jones are the exceptions). All of the top-10 values are PGs, SGs or SFs, with Timofey Mozgov* finally breaking the streak as the No. 11 value.
Value by Position
My ranked group of 216 qualifying players included the following number of players by position (I assigned each player one position, making informed decisions for combo guards, swingmen, etc.):
As you can see, the top-216 players break down evenly by position, without any significant concentration of one position over another, though guards do seem to be more plentiful than forwards.
Among the top-50 values of the season, however, there are a slightly disproportionate number of Point Guards (15) and Small Forwards (12), as opposed to Shooting Guards (10), Power Forwards (8) and Centers (5).
And here is the position breakdown of the bottom-50 players, aka the busts:
As mentioned, O.J. Mayo was the biggest 'bust' of them all with an ADP of 57.5 and an end-of-season ranking of 168.
This season's rookies were a mixed bag, but six exceeded their ADP: Ryan Kelly* (+78.0), Giannis Antetokounmpo* (+65), Michael Carter-Williams (+61.3), Nate Wolters* (+42.0), Tim Hardaway Jr. (+32.5) and Victor Oladipo (+7.4). Gorgui Dieng wasn't considered because in spite of his late-season surge he only averaged 13.6 minutes per game.
Trey Burke (-27.8) and Ben McLemore (-80.8) were significant busts, and the list of useless rookies would have been much longer if I hadn't tossed out players logging under 20 minutes per game (see also: Anthony Bennett). It should be kept in mind that the 2014-15 rookie crop is far deeper and more talented, so there should be more than this year's eight rookies with substantial roles.
Value by Round
In this section I take a look at the cumulative 'value' of each 12-player round, based upon last year's ADPs, with the understanding that early rounds provide extremely limited room for 'value' while the later rounds are a bonanza of potential breakthrough players. Kevin Durant's ADP of 1.1, for example, meant that even as the No. 1 fantasy player he came in as a +0.1 'value' in my breakdown. LeBron James' ADP of 1.9 means that despite being the No. 3 overall player in eight-cat leagues this season, he received a -1.1 value in my assessment. Nevertheless, by examining the cumulative values (plus or minus) of each round we can pinpoint the spots in drafts which are most prone to busts or values.
As you can see, I limited the chart to 12 rounds of 12 players each, for a total of 144 players under consideration (the values for later rounds balloon quickly, for reasons already explained). The only rounds with positive values were 8, 9 and 12, while the biggest 'danger zone' for busts were in rounds 5, 6 and 7.
This immediately suggests that finding 'mid-round value' is harder than it sounds. When drafting in the early rounds, you're basically just hoping that a player will live up to his ADP, and when drafting in the late rounds you're looking for the ever-popular 'upside' that can turn a flier pick into a major fantasy contributor. In the middle rounds, however, it may be wiser to play it safe than to go for a home-run and risk falling prey to what seems like an epidemic of sub-par production.
I’ll end my musings on this topic here, though there are many more angles from which the above data could be considered. Next week I hope to explore my top-216 rankings from a complete different angle, examining the concentration of different statistics across the rounds, and (maybe) correlating non-fantasy stats such as minutes and touches to end-of-season fantasy value.