How Does Fantasy Basketball Work?

How to Play Fantasy Basketball: A Comprehensive Guide

Fantasy basketball is an exciting way to engage with the NBA season, whether you're a seasoned fantasy veteran or new to the game. Here's everything you need to know to get started and succeed in your fantasy basketball league.

Understanding Your League Format

1. Head-to-Head Each Category (H2H Each Category)

  • Compete against another team each week across multiple statistical categories.
  • Wins, losses, or ties are determined for each category based on matchup results.
2. Head-to-Head Points (H2H Points):
  • Similar to fantasy football, teams accumulate points based on player performances.
  • A preset value is assigned to each statistical category, and the team with the most points wins the matchup.
3. Roto (Categorical):
  • Compete against the entire league over the course of the season.
  • Teams earn points based on their rankings in each statistical category.

League Scoring Settings

  • Points Scored: 1 point
  • Total Rebounds: 1.2 points
  • Assists: 1.5 points
  • Steals: 3 points
  • Blocked Shots: 3 points
  • Turnovers: -1 point

Keeper Leagues vs. Season-Long Leagues

  • Keeper Leagues: Allow you to retain players from one season to the next.
  • Season-Long Leagues: Conclude at the end of the season without player retention.

Preparing for Drafts

  • Standard Drafts: Understanding your league format is crucial for drafting effectively. Whether it's a standard 12-team Head-to-Head categorical league or a different setup, knowing the allocation of positions and bench slots is key. For instance, in some leagues, you may have flexibility with utility spots and bench depth, allowing for strategic maneuvers like loading up on certain positions. Additionally, player eligibility can vary between leagues, so it's essential to be aware of these differences. 
  • Auction Drafts: In fantasy basketball drafts, the typical format is a snake draft where draft positions alternate each round. However, there's an alternative format called an Auction, where owners bid on players with a set budget. Auction drafts offer more control over team-building strategies but can be challenging for newcomers. Two main approaches in Auction drafts are the Stars and Scrubs strategy, focusing on acquiring top-tier players and filling the roster with role players, and the Balanced strategy, aiming for a more even distribution of budget across the team. Both strategies require budget management and awareness of player values.

Trade Strategy

  • Trades can balance out strengths and weaknesses in your roster.
  • Consider the impact of trades on specific statistical categories.

Utilizing the Waiver Wire

  • In fantasy basketball, it's essential to view the season in weeks rather than individual games due to the NBA's longer season compared to football. While a five-game cold streak in basketball is relatively normal, it could be alarming in football, where each game holds more significance. If a drafted player isn't performing well due to various factors like role, injury, or age, it's advisable to consider replacing them. The waiver wire, where undrafted or released players are available, is a valuable resource for finding replacements. Being aggressive on the waiver wire early in the season can provide significant advantages, as players acquired early can contribute for longer periods, especially in budget-based systems where unused budget doesn't carry over.

Category League Strategy

  • In fantasy basketball, leagues typically operate with either "8-cat" or "9-cat" scoring systems. The difference between them lies in whether turnovers are included as a scoring category. In 8-cat leagues, turnovers are omitted, while they are included in 9-cat leagues. While 9-cat remains the default setting for some platforms, there has been a trend towards the use of 8-cat leagues in recent years. However, turnovers should still be considered, as they can significantly impact player value, especially for high-usage players prone to turnovers. League commissioners may sometimes experiment with alternative category options, but most fantasy advice is geared towards standard 8-cat or 9-cat leagues.
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