Mock Drafts are incredibly helpful, but nothing compares to the real thing. Most people draft differently in mocks, as they are more willing to reach for their favorite targets when they don’t have money on the line or a season-long commitment directly following the draft. Not everyone drafts against hardcore fantasy owners either, so for all those reasons, I thought it would be cool to review a “Yahoo Pro League” that I competed in recently with a $100 buy in. I drafted with 11 strangers and the league rules were simple — a standard 9-category head-to-head league with 13 roster spots and two I.R. slots.
If you have questions, comments or feedback of any kind, find me on Twitter here!
1. Anthony Davis(NO - PF,C) Brick Squad
2. James Harden(Hou - PG,SG) Run & Gun
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo(Mil - SF,PF) Marshall's Team
4. LeBron James(LAL - SF,PF) LTx Fire
5. Nikola Jokic(Den - PF,C) Jonas Nader
6. Karl-Anthony Towns(Min - C) Sactown Kings
7. Kevin Durant(GS - SF,PF) WarnerA
8. Russell Westbrook(OKC - PG) The Big Burners
9. Stephen Curry(GS - PG,SG) Jason's Team
10. Damian Lillard(Por - PG) Basketball Jones
11. Victor Oladipo(Ind - PG,SG) Triple Double
12. Kawhi Leonard(Tor - SG,SF) Kevin's Team
Best picks: Anthony Davis was the best player in fantasy by a mile last season, and I have no problem with Harden and Giannis directly after. Durant and Curry would both be top-3 players if the Warriors cared about the regular season, but you have to love being able to grab them after pick 5. Karl-Anthony Towns is a steal at 6, but I’ll let you know why I let him slip past me shortly. Finally, Damian Lillard is a top-8 pick in my mind, and no I’m not worried about Oladipo regressing at all — if you listen to his teammates and the coaching staff, Oladipo is poised to make another big jump this season.
Worst picks: Is LeBron still a first-round player? Obviously. But pick No. 4 seems like a reach since the Lakers admitted they will reduce his workload after he played 82 games and led the NBA in minutes last season. Westbrook is coming off knee surgery and could miss the start of the season, and he was barely a second-round value last season because he was a disaster in three categories (FG%, FT% and Tos.) I don’t hate the Kawhi Leonard pick, but I prefer waiting until Round 2 after a season filled with more than Drama than Dawson's Creek.
My Pick: I have KAT ranked slightly ahead of Jokic, but Jokic plays two more combined games in the final two weeks of the fantasy playoffs. It’s super important to lock up an elite big early, and Jokic definitely fits the bill after finishing as the 4th best 9-cat asset after the break in 2017.
1. Ben Simmons (Phi - PG) Kevin's Team
2. Paul George (OKC - SG,SF) Triple Double
3. Joel Embiid (Phi - PF,C) Basketball Jones
4. Donovan Mitchell (Uta - PG,SG) Jason's Team
5. Kemba Walker (Cha - PG) The Big Burners
6. Kyrie Irving (Bos - PG,SG) WarnerA
7. Bradley Beal (Was - SG) Sactown Kings
8. Chris Paul (Hou - PG) Jonas Nader
9. Rudy Gobert (Uta - C) LTx Fire
10. John Wall (Was - PG) Marshall's Team
11. Jrue Holiday (NO - PG,SG) Run & Gun
12. Devin Booker (Pho - PG,SG) Brick Squad
Best Picks: Paul George’s usage went from 22.5 to 33.1 with Carmelo Anthony off the floor, and Westbrook is questionable to start the season. He’s going to be a nightmare for opposing fantasy owners despite being rated PG-13. If Joel Embiid can stay on the floor and improve his efficiency slightly, he has as much upside as anyone and is one of my favorites for the MVP Award. Jrue Holiday is still being undervalued despite finishing 11th last season, and he's going to be showing off an improved 3-point shot.
Worst Picks: While I do think Mitchell can be a top-25 player this season and maybe even a future MVP, I think it was a mistake to draft at him at what will be his ceiling in a best-case scenario. John Wall looks like he spent the summer lost at sea (link), he’s had multiple knee surgeries and was barely top-60 in per-game value last season.
My Pick: Chris Paul was 9th in per-game value last season, but yes I’m concerned about his health and workload. If he makes it through 75 games this is a steal, and his stat set is a perfect fit next to Jokic because of his dimes and efficiency.
1. CJ McCollum (Por - PG,SG) Brick Squad
2. Klay Thompson (GS - SG,SF) Run & Gun
3. Andre Drummond (Det - PF,C) Marshall's Team
4. Kevin Love (Cle - PF,C) LTx Fire
5. Jimmy Butler (Min - SG,SF) Jonas Nader
6. Khris Middleton (Mil - SG,SF) Sactown Kings
7. DeMar DeRozan (SA - SG,SF) WarnerA
8. Draymond Green (GS - PF,C) The Big Burners
9. Tobias Harris (LAC - SF,PF) Jason's Team
10. LaMarcus Aldridge (SA - PF,C) Basketball Jones
11. Kyle Lowry (Tor - PG) Triple Double
12. Aaron Gordon (Orl - SF,PF) Kevin's Team
Best Picks: If Kevin Love can be the player he was in Minnesota, he could be a top-20 asset. On the other hand, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about the Cavaliers being absolutely terrible which will hurt his outlook late in the season. Round 3 still seems fair, though. Drummond is a first-round talent if you punt free throws, and Middleton still isn’t getting enough love after finishing 12th(!) last season. With the promise of a faster pace and more 3-point attempts, Middleton is an amazing value here. Tobias Harris was a top-25 player with the Clippers last season, so Kevin’s Team is getting nearly a round of value here.
Worst Picks: Klay Thompson could be top-40 again, but there’s simply no need to grab him before Round 4 and 3-pointers are arguably the easiest stat to find late in drafts. Draymond Green has had some tough luck with injuries, the Warriors are going to take it easy on him and his steal and block rates declined dramatically. Aaron Gordon averaged 1.8 stocks last season which is underwhelming for one of the NBA’s best athletes. He wasn’t very efficient either after his early-season hot streak from deep.
My Pick: Jimmy Butler was 11th in per-game value last season, and there’s no way he falls to Round 3 without all this uncertainty about his future. He’s got a lot of tread on his tires thanks to Thibodeau running him into the ground, but I still think he has a few elite years left.
1. Gordon Hayward(Bos - SG,SF) Kevin's Team
3. Gary Harris(Den - SG,SF) Basketball Jones
4. Clint Capela(Hou - PF,C) Jason's Team
5. Eric Bledsoe(Mil - PG,SG) The Big Burners
6. Blake Griffin(Det - PF,C) WarnerA
7. Jamal Murray(Den - PG,SG) Sactown Kings
8. Myles Turner(Ind - PF,C) Jonas Nader
9. Mike Conley(Mem - PG) LTx Fire
10. John Collins(Atl - PF,C) Marshall's Team
11. Marc Gasol(Mem - C) Run & Gun
12. Dwight Howard(Was - PF,C) Brick Squad
Best Picks: Otto Porter is a great value here as a 3-point shooting wing with good stocks, elite efficiency and minimal turnovers. Gary Harris could be a top-30 asset if he stays healthy, while Eric Bledsoe has been one of my favorite targets in Rounds 3 and 4 this season — he was the 16th best asset after the break last season and should feast in coach Budenholzer’s revamped offense with more pace and 3-point shooting. John Collins is the real deal and this is where you have to take him in competitive leagues or else he’ll be gone.
Worst Picks: I have no clue what people see in Blake Griffin — he was barely a top-90 player (9-category) in Detroit and has played 67 or fewer games in five straight seasons. Gordon Hayward has looked sluggish in the preseason (as expected) and the Celtics will take it easy on him. Dwight Howard at No. 48 overall makes me shudder. The season hasn’t even started and Howard’s back is already toast.
My pick: Fluke injuries and the emergence of Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis really hurt Turner last season, but let’s not forget that he was the 15th ranked player the year before. He transformed his body this offseason, so I’m all in on Yoga Myles at his juicy ADP.
1. Andrew Wiggins(Min - SG,SF) Brick Squad
2. Deandre Ayton(Pho - C) Run & Gun
3. Will Barton (Den - SG,SF) Marshall's Team
4. Jayson Tatum(Bos - SF,PF) LTx Fire
5. Al Horford(Bos - PF,C) Jonas Nader
6. Paul Millsap(Den - PF,C) Sactown Kings
7. Nikola Vucevic(Orl - PF,C) WarnerA
8. Lonzo Ball(LAL - PG) The Big Burners
9. Taurean Prince(Atl - SF) Jason's Team
10. Jarrett Allen(Bkn - PF,C) Basketball Jones
11. Hassan Whiteside (Mia - C) Triple Double
12. DeAndre Jordan(Dal - C) Kevin's Team
Best Picks: Will Barton doesn’t have a lot of “name value,” but he’s one of Denver’s best players, the Nuggets have one of the best fantasy playoff schedules and Barton finished just outside the top-30 in 2017-18. I’m not worried about Mo Bamba hurting Nikola Vucevic, at least not until March-April. DeAndre Ayton looks like the real deal so far and has zero competition, so the opportunity is massive. Taurean Prince has shown that he can be a top-40 player, while Jarrett Allen just needs the workload to be a sexy fantasy asset as a shot-blocking big with good percentages. Hassan Whiteside looks motivated and healthy, so I like him here as well even if he only plays around 25 minutes.
Worst Picks: Andrew Wiggins has never come close to top-75 value, but someone always takes the bait every year. His peripheral stats are almost as bad as his defense, but at least we know why his owner chose his team name. Lonzo Ball’s knee scares me, and now he’ll be sharing the ball with Rondo and LeBron. Deandre Jordan’s block rate dipped from 4.3% to 2.4% and has clearly lost a step, but he still has elite rebounding numbers and a sky-high FG%.
My Pick: This was a boring pick from me, but veterans are usually undervalued and that’s what happened here. He’s getting up there in age and Boston is deeper this season, but I could see him finishing in the top-40 again.
1. Kris Dunn(Chi - PG,SG) Kevin's Team
2. Brandon Ingram(LAL - SG,SF) Triple Double
3. Ricky Rubio(Uta - PG) Basketball Jones
4. Steven Adams(OKC - C) Jason's Team
5. Kyle Kuzma(LAL - SF,PF) The Big Burners
6. Zach LaVine(Chi - PG,SG) WarnerA
7. Nikola Mirotic(NO - SF,PF) Sactown Kings
8. Josh Richardson(Mia - PG,SG) Jonas Nader
9. Joe Ingles(Uta - SG,SF) LTx Fire
10. Lou Williams(LAC - PG,SG) Marshall's Team
11. Robert Covington(Phi - SF,PF) Run & Gun
12. Goran Dragic(Mia - PG,SG) Brick Squad
Best Picks: Robert Covington was top-20 last season for his stocks and triples, but his field goal percentage is hard to live with. Ricky Rubio looked tremendous alongside Donovan Mitchell after the break last season, and Dunn could be a steal in Round 6 if he can improve his efficiency. I think Lou Williams is a great pick here, but I also think he regresses slightly on a much deeper roster.
Worst Picks: Kyle Kuzma is awesome in real life, but doesn’t offer a lot of upside in category leagues and this is way too early. It sounds like Goran Dragic is readily available in trade talks and we saw some signs of regression last season.
My Pick: Josh Richardson was the only player in the NBA with 100+ steals, 100+ triples and 75+ blocks and finished No. 32 overall in 9-cat. He still has plenty of room to grow with the Heat expected to put the ball in his hands more often.
1. Harrison Barnes (Dal - SF,PF) Brick Squad
2. Luka Doncic (Dal - PG) Run & Gun
3. Jonas Valanciunas (Tor - C) Marshall's Team
4. Jeff Teague(Min - PG) LTx Fire
6. Brook Lopez(Mil - C) Sactown Kings
7. D'Angelo Russell(Bkn - PG,SG) WarnerA
8. Dennis Smith Jr.(Dal - PG,SG) The Big Burners
9. Julius Randle(NO - PF,C) Jason's Team
10. Nicolas Batum(Cha - SG,SF) Basketball Jones
11. Darren Collison (Ind - PG,SG) Triple Double
12. Enes Kanter (NY - C) Kevin's Team
Best Picks: Luka Doncic looks like the truth so far and could be top-50 if he shoots it at a respectable level and reels in the turnovers. Jonas Valanciunas has run circles around Serge Ibaka in the preseason and just needs 25 minutes for mid-round value. Brook Lopez is a strong candidate to bounce back in Milwaukee and I’d be comfortable gambling on D’Angelo Russell at this price.
Worst Picks: Brick Squad must not have heard that Harrison Barnes’ hamstring could sideline him for weeks, and his upside isn’t worth this price anyways. Dennis Smith Jr.’s knee and shooting percentages still scares me, and I don’t think it’s out of the question that Teague could lose his job this year.
My Pick: If you know me, then you already know that Jaren Jackson Jr. is my guy. JJJ had the best block rate of any first round center prospect over the last 15 years and averaged 20.0 points, 10.6 boards, 2.0 assists, 1.1 steals, 5.5 blocks and 2.0 treys per 40 minutes at MSU with an efficient shooting line. I don’t care if the Grizzlies bring him along slowly, because I think he could easily be a top-50 guy after the All-Star break, just in time for the fantasy playoffs. I wrote about JJJ and 24 other sleepers in the Rotoworld Basketball Draft Guide, so be sure to check that out here (link)
1. Dejounte Murray(SA - PG) Kevin's Team
2. Dario Saric(Phi - PF,C) Triple Double
3. Evan Fournier(Orl - SG,SF) Basketball Jones
5. Josh Jackson(Pho - SG,SF) The Big Burners
6. Jabari Parker(Chi - SF,PF) WarnerA
7. Serge Ibaka(Tor - PF,C) Sactown Kings
8. DeMarcus Cousins(GS - PF,C) Jonas Nader
9. Jusuf Nurkic(Por - C) LTx Fire
10. Wendell Carter Jr.(Chi - C) Marshall's Team
11. Lauri Markkanen(Chi - PF) Run & Gun
12. Tyreke Evans(Ind - PG,SG) Brick Squad
Best Picks: I was very disappointed because this was the first draft that Dejounte Murray didn’t fall into my lap at Round 8. Tony Parker is gone and the Spurs believe he’s the third player in their new “Big 3.” He was top-80 after the break last season in just 26 minutes per game. Wendell Carter Jr. is a future stud and my money is on him taking Robin Lopez’s job before January.
Worst Picks: Serge Ibaka is washed and his rebounding and block rates have been on the decline for years. Jabari Parker’s stat set doesn’t translate well to category leagues, and Josh Jackson’s percentages are hard to build around.
My Pick: DeMarcus Cousins is way ahead of schedule according to recent reports, and if he’s even 75% of what he was last season, then this is an incredible value. The Warriors also have five games in the semi-finals of Yahoo Playoffs, so that factored in.
1. Carmelo Anthony(Hou - SF,PF) Brick Squad
2. Eric Gordon(Hou - SG) Run & Gun
3. Buddy Hield(Sac - SG) Marshall's Team
4. Kyle Anderson(Mem - SG,SF) LTx Fire
5. Jordan Bell(GS - PF,C) Jonas Nader
6. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson(Bkn - SF,PF) Sactown Kings
7. Trae Young(Atl - PG) WarnerA
8. Willie Cauley-Stein(Sac - PF,C) The Big Burners
9. Jonathan Isaac(Orl - PF) Jason's Team
10. Kristaps Porzingis(NY - PF,C) Basketball Jones
11. Jaylen Brown(Bos - SG,SF) Triple Double
Best Picks: Kyle Anderson should be a lock for top-75 value, so it was a mistake by me to let him fall this far. Buddy Hield is one of my favorite late-round SG targets after he averaged 15.3 points, 2.4 triples, 2.6 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.4 turnovers per game on 45.5% shooting after the break. If Porzingis comes back around January, then this pick will work out for Basketball Jones.
Worst Picks: Carmelo Anthony is well past his prime and is coming off the bench. Trae Young’s shooting percentage could rival Marcus Smart’s, but at least the assists will be nice. Willie Cauley-Stein’s “upside” is non-existent. A 7-footer with his athleticism should be blocking more than 1.2 shots per 36 minutes. The Free Harry Giles campaign begins now.
My Pick: Jordan Bell gives me some DeMarcus Cousins insurance, and could still retain value when Boogie is back as well. Even if he only gets 20 minutes, Bell’s defensive stats (1.6 steals, 2.5 blocks per 36 minutes), out-of-position assists (4.5 per 36) and high FG percentage are very intriguing.
1. Jeremy Lamb (Cha - SG,SF) Kevin's Team
2. Mohamed Bamba (Orl - C) Triple Double
3. Danilo Gallinari (LAC - SF,PF) Basketball Jones
4. De'Aaron Fox (Sac - PG) Jason's Team
5. Elfrid Payton (NO - PG) The Big Burners
6. Dewayne Dedmon (Atl - C) WarnerA's Be...
7. Thaddeus Young (Ind - SF,PF) Sactown Kings
8. Caris LeVert (Bkn - SF) Jonas Nader
9. Dennis Schroder (OKC - PG) LTx Fire
10. Terry Rozier (Bos - PG,SG) Marshall's Team
11. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (LAL - SG,SF) Run & Gun
12. Derrick Favors (Uta - PF,C) Brick Squad
Worst Picks: There’s a lot of picks in here I didn’t like, but the Dewayne Dedmon pick probably stands out the most. He’s not even healthy right and should lose minutes to Alex Len — John Collins and Omari Spellman will also play some center.
My Pick: Caris LeVert is the real deal and I haven’t left a draft without him yet. There’s a good chance he starts this season and he passed the eye test in the preseason opener with 15 points, one rebound, two assists, four steals and one 3-pointer in 21 minutes.
1. JJ Redick (Phi - SG) Brick Squad
2. Kevin Knox (NY - SF,PF) Run & Gun
3. Markelle Fultz (Phi - PG,SG) Marshall’s Team
4. Rajon Rondo (LAL - PG) LTx Fire
5. Domantas Sabonis (Ind - PF,C) Jonas Nader
6. Malcolm Brogdon (Mil - PG,SG) Sactown Kings
7. Isaiah Thomas (Den - PG) WarnerA
8. Bobby Portis (Chi - PF,C) The Big Burners
9. Dirk Nowitzki (Dal - PF,C) Jason's Team
10. Mario Hezonja (NY - SG,SF) Basketball Jones
11. JaVale McGee (LAL - C) Triple Double
12. Allen Crabbe (Bkn - SG,SF) Kevin's Team
Best Picks: Markelle Fultz seems like a good gamble here, but of course he’s a total wildcard. JaVale McGee could crush this draft slot if he gets 20 minutes consistently, and Malcolm Brogdon was a safe pick as a guy who should have a top-100 floor.
Worst Picks: Knox could be an anchor on your field goal percentage this season, and his stat set isn’t appealing just yet with low steal and block rates. Dirk Nowitzki will be on the waiver wire soon after this draft, and I don’t see how Allen Crabbe is going to relevant if Caris LeVert is as good as the Nets (and myself) think he will be.
My Pick: Sabonis is really growing on me as an elite source of rebounds and FG%. He also gives me some Myles Turner insurance. His out-of-position assists fits nicely with my Jokic-CP3 build as well — he averaged 3.0 dimes per 36 minutes.
1. Reggie Jackson (Det - PG,SG) Kevin's Team
2. Josh Hart (LAL - SG,SF) Triple Double
3. Kent Bazemore (Atl - SG,SF) Basketball Jones
4. Fred VanVleet (Tor - PG) Jason's Team
5. Jordan Clarkson (Cle - PG,SG) The Big Burners
6. Markieff Morris (Was - PF,C) WarnerA
7. Taj Gibson (Min - PF,C) Sactown Kings
8. Rudy Gay (SA - SF,PF) Jonas Nader
9. Marcin Gortat (LAC - C) LTx Fire
10. T.J. Warren (Pho - SF) Marshall's Team
12. Montrezl Harrell (LAC - PF,C) Brick Squad
Best Picks- Josh Hart is a stud and was going to be my choice if he fell. There’s no way he doesn’t averaged 26+ minutes. Montrezl Harrell is a per-minute stat machine, but may only get about 20 minutes per night.
Worst Picks: Can’t really hate on anything this late, but I don’t see how Fred VanVleet has standard-league value this season on such a deep roster.
1. Rodney Hood (Cle - SG,SF) Brick Squad
2. Collin Sexton (Cle - PG) Run & Gun
3. Kelly Olynyk (Mia - PF,C) Marshall's Team
4. Trevor Ariza (Pho - SG,SF) LTx Fire
5. Bogdan Bogdanovic (Sac - SG,SF) Jonas Nader
6. Bojan Bogdanovic (Ind - SG,SF) Sactown Kings
7. Jonathon Simmons (Orl - SG,SF) WarnerA
8. Marvin Williams (Cha - SF,PF) The Big Burners
9. James Johnson (Mia - SF,PF) Jason's Team
10. Pau Gasol (SA - PF,C) Basketball Jones
11. Jerami Grant (OKC - SF,PF) Triple Double
12. Nemanja Bjelica (Sac - PF) Kevin's Team
Best Picks: I was surprised Trevor Ariza fell all the way down to Round 13, but he simply didn’t fit my build. I think Olynyk can be top-75 with or without Whiteside, as he’s an efficient 3-point shooting big man with excellent assist numbers.
Worst Picks: Nemanja Bjelica. Maybe the owner is from Serbia, but this was funny enough to make even Kawhi laugh.
My Pick: We get two IR picks and there was still a lot of talent I was eyeing on the board, so I figured I’d stash Bogdanovic and clean up the wire.