This week's column seeks to answer a few basic questions about the distribution of fantasy values in 8-cat and 9-cat leagues -- which NBA positions have yielded the most fantasy value in 2015-16? And how has that value been distributed across the top-200 players? This is a follow-up of sorts to last week's column which examined the distribution of fantasy-relevant stats across the top-200 players for the 2015-16 season. Click here if you missed that analysis.
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To determine the top-200 lists, as usual, I eliminated any players who have appeared in fewer than 10 games or who have averaged fewer than 15 minutes per game -- this left 286 players in the pool. I then assigned z-scores to each player and eliminated those who fell below the top-200, and re-calculated to arrive at overall values.
For 8-cat purposes, the three guys who fell just below the line for season-long value (ranked 201-203) were Joffrey Lauvergne, Dion Waiters and Terrence Jones. For 9-cat purposes, those just below the line were Frank Kaminsky, Terrence Jones and Rodney Stuckey. It just hasn't been T-Jones' season, and owners still stashing him can only be praying for a trade.
Before diving into the position specifics, I'll note a few interesting exceptions -- Paul George (SG/SF/PF) and Tyreke Evans (PG/SG/SF) are the only top-200 players (8-cat or 9-cat) with position eligibility at three different positions for ESPN. Yahoo is far more lenient, which is one reason I did not use their eligibility listings for this analysis. The general findings hold true for all sites, however. Curiously, Wizards' forward Jared Dudley (SG/SF) isn't eligible at PF on either ESPN or Yahoo, even though it's been his primary position all season.
Let's proceed to the positional breakdowns for 8-cat value. Here is a list of each position's average fantasy value (AFV) as of Jan. 20, with multi-eligible players counted twice (or three times in the rare cases mentioned above):
Here are the average fantasy values in 9-cat leagues:
Centers as a group fare poorly in both 8-cat and 9-cat leagues, unlike small forwards who do very well in both formats. Point guards take a large and somewhat predictable drop in 9-cat leagues, where high turnovers take a chunk out of their position-leading average value in 8-cat. We'll see in a moment that center-eligible players are also relatively scarce in the top-200, making it doubly difficult to find productive centers. Small forwards, power forwards and especially shooting guards, on the other hand, prove to be uniquely abundant.
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Here are a table and chart showing the number of position-eligible players in the top-200 for 8-cat leagues:
Here are the same table and chart, but for 9-cat position-eligibilities:
As mentioned above, SGs are readily available, and combined with PFs the two positions account for nearly half of the position-eligibilities in 8-cat or 9-cat. Centers prove to be the scarcest position with fully 30 fewer eligible players than SGs in 8-cat leagues -- it's much easier to scrounge up a SG on most waiver wires than it is to find a reliable C. That's part of the reason why I generally find it more appealing to stash a guy like Jusuf Nurkic over popular PF stashes (Bobby Portis, Aaron Gordon, Markieff Morris, etc.).
To help summarize this information, here is a chart displaying the z-scores for every top-200 player, by position-eligibility. I'm using 8-cat values for this particular chart:
Stephen Curry's off-the-charts value in 8-cat leagues gives PGs a spike to begin the chart, though toward the end of the top-200 point guards visibly drop below PFs, SFs and particularly SGs. In fact, SGs maintain surprisingly robust value even as they drift toward the end of the top-200, further confirmation that they're easier to find on waiver wires. Centers, yet again, are the laggards of the bunch -- their values are consistently below the other four positions and their line stops abruptly before even reaching 50 eligible players.
As a final note: half of my column each week is developing a unique and fantasy-relevant question which can be answered (or at least hinted at) via statistical analysis. If any readers have questions they'd like to pose, or problems they'd like to solve, I'd love to hear about them as potential topics for future columns. Even if you have a casual query, you can send it to me on Twitter @Knaus_RW. Good luck this week.