By Alex Barutha, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
When entering a fantasy draft, being adequately prepared is critical. For novice and experienced fantasy players alike, familiarizing yourself with your league's settings is essential.
In fantasy basketball, almost all leagues operate under either a Points or Categories format. In categorical leagues, the goal is to win as many stat categories as possible. Points leagues are less intricate.
Unlike category leagues, points leagues completely disregard how players accrue fantasy stats. Like most fantasy football leagues, each statistical category is assigned a point value, and each player's points – regardless of how they're earned – are added up to produce a final score over a given period – typically one week.
The NBA's official points format scoring uses the following values:
Points: 1 point
Rebounds: 1.2 points
Assists: 1.5 points
Steals: 3 points
Blocks: 3 points
Turnovers: -1 point
Those may be the default numbers, but most host sites will allow you to tailor the values to your league's specific preferences. You can add or subtract points per category, which will have ripple effects regarding which player archetypes lose or gain value.
If you were to add made 3-pointers as another category alongside points, stars like Stephen Curry and James Harden would become even more sought-after, as would role-playing marksmen like Duncan Robinson and Joe Harris.
In categorical leagues, it can be challenging to manage each category. One benefit of points formats is having more freedom to create whatever roster build you prefer.
If a player is an elite shot-blocker but struggles at the free-throw line, that deficiency is masked in points leagues since shooting percentages aren’t factored in. Players like Russell Westbrook and Ben Simmons typically become more valuable in points formats, as their elite counting stats translate directly to fantasy points without being dragged down by poor free-throw and 3-point shooting.
With that in mind, it's important to consider the type of players who gain or lose value in points formats. Counting-stat monsters like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic tend to rise in rankings, while players valued for their efficiency – think Kyrie Irving or Karl-Anthony Towns – lose some value.
Meanwhile, points leagues depreciate the value of specialists. A bench player who averages 1.5 steals per game but offers little else isn't nearly as valuable as he'd be to a manager in a categorical league who's looking to make a climb up the steals category.
While points leagues aren’t as convoluted as category leagues, it’s still important to have an understanding of what creates a valuable fantasy line. Points are often overvalued at first glance, and it’s the complementary numbers that can provide a higher ceiling:
Player A: 20pts, 5reb, 2ast, 1stl, 0blk = 32 fantasy points
Player B: 8pts, 9reb, 3ast, 2stl, 1blk = 32.3 fantasy points
When it comes to preparing for a points league draft, the bottom line is: You're looking for the best overall fantasy players. Using projections you trust is especially valuable in points leagues, as you can simply plug in your league's scoring values to generate a list of players ranked by their expected total fantasy output. In a sense, that should make building a roster easier, as long you make sure to account for filling each required position.
Speaking of which, always familiarize yourself with your league's roster settings in addition to its scoring values. Most leagues won't require you to jump through hoops, but it's important to know ahead of time if you should be targeting certain positions.
A league that requires two starting centers, for example, makes the position more valuable and raises the importance of locking down productive options at both starting spots. In short, you don't want to be the manager who waits too long and is scrambling for options all season.
Among the other factors to consider in points leagues – or any league, for that matter – is the weekly schedule breakdown. Every team plays 82 games, but not all weeks are created equally, and there will certainly be times when it makes sense to bench an elite player for an inferior option.
If the Wizards play only two games in a given week while the Trail Blazers play four, benching Bradley Beal for Jerami Grant is the logical play even though Beal is the vastly superior player. Here's a breakdown of a realistic stat line for each:
Beal: 28 PPG, 6 APG, 5 RPG, 1 SPG, 0 BPG = 46 FP/G; 46 FP x 2 games = 92 FP
Grant: 16 PPG, 2 APG, 4 RPG, 1 SPG, 1 BPG = 29.8 FP/G; 29.8FP x 4 games = 119.2 FP
In conclusion, note your league’s settings – point values and roster spots – and that will give you a good base of knowledge. After that, do some research on potential sleepers and busts, and you’ll be ready to win your league.