Fantasy Basketball: 1 Dark-Horse Player at All 5 Positions

Daniel HudsonCorrespondent IIIOctober 4, 2012

Fantasy Basketball: 1 Dark-Horse Player at All 5 Positions

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    In fantasy basketball, one of the most effective strategies in an auction draft is to secure a couple stars and then look for several good players at great values. Those players are the dark horses, and I have my favorite at each position.

    In snake drafts, knowing the dark horses can help you prioritize which positions to target. Needless to say, it's important in any draft or league style.

    I've used ESPN's rankings, both in overall and auction price, to do a Player X vs. Player Y comparison. One player is an unquestioned elite, while the other is a dark horse with very similar stats.

    Enjoy and good luck!

Point Guard

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    Player X FG% FT% 3PM REB AST STL PTS
    2012 actual 43.2 78.3 1.0 3.3 4.5 1.5 13.5
    2013 proj. 43.8 79.7 1.5 3.6 7.7 1.6 14.7
    Player Y FG% FT% 3PM REB AST STL PTS
    2012 actual 46.9 87.2 1.4 3.8 5.4 1.1 18.5
    2013 proj. 45.8 88.4 1.6 4.1 6.5 1.3 20.0

     

    It's evident from both last year's stats and this season's projections that Player Y is the superior player. All things being equal, I'd rather have him than Player X.

    But that's just it: Things aren't equal with regard to price. Player X is the 71st pick in snake draft and is priced at $6 in auction. Player Y, on the other hand, is the 14th pick in snakes and costs $43 in auctions.

    Player X is Jrue Holiday of the Philadelphia 76ers. I love his potential to explode with assists in 2012-2013 with the addition of Andrew Bynum.

    Player Y is Kyrie Irving. Good point guard? Absolutely. But the gap isn't from production. It's from hype.

Shooting Guard

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    Player X FG% FT% 3PM REB AST STL PTS
    2012 actual 49.7 79.1 0.3 4.8 4.6 1.7 22.1
    2013 proj. 50.2 78.7 1.3 4.8 4.6 1.7 24.1
    Player Y FG% FT% 3PM REB AST STL PTS
    2012 actual 40.7 81.2 1.3 2.5 3.5 0.8 14.9
    2013 proj. 41.2 82.3 1.8 3.1 4.7 1.2 20.3

     

    It looks like the main difference between Player X and Player Y is the field-goal percentage. Player X has an obviously higher one, but has a lower free-throw percentage and three-pointers made projection.

    For shooting guards, both players contribute solidly in rebounding and assists. When there are several shooting specialists at the 2-guard, your fantasy team could see a great boost from having either of these players.

    Player X is none other than Dwayne Wade (eighth overall, $54), the game's best shooting guard. I can't for the life of me figure out why his three-pointers made projection is so high--it would be a career high per game mark if it came true.

    Player Y is the always-underrated Lou Williams (72nd overall, $6), now with the Atlanta Hawks. He was consistently a bench player while with Philadelphia, but I believe he'll overtake the shoot-only Anthony Morrow before 2013. Williams is a terrific scorer, and his low field-goal percentage can be nullified if you draft Nene or Kris Humphries.

Small Forward

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    Player X FG% FT% 3PM REB AST STL BLK PTS
    2012 actual 41.2 77.0 1.5 6.5 2.9 1.0 0.7 15.3
    2013 proj. 45.8 76.0 1.4 6.1 2.7 1.0 0.7 19.4

    Player Y

    FG% FT% 3PM REB AST STL BLK PTS
    2012 actual 45.5 79.1 0.8 6.4 2.3 1.5 0.9 19.0
    2013 proj. 46.0 78.3 0.9 6.2 2.3 1.5 0.9 19.1

     

    This comparison is almost dead even. Player X matches up with Player Y almost perfectly in every single category, legitimately making him a substitute if you miss out on the much higher rated Player Y

    Player X goes 54th overall and costs $11, while Player Y goes 24th overall and costs $30. This is a classic case of notoriety pushing a player's price up.

    Player X is Luol Deng, who has been as steady a producer as any in his eight-year career. I'd be quite happy to end up with him at such a low cost.

    Player Y is Rudy Gay. As a Memphis Grizzlies fan, it pains me to say that you'd be better off passing on guys like Gay and Carmelo Anthony, saving your money or draft picks and going for the nearly identical Deng at a lower expense.

Power Forward

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    Player X FG% FT% 3PM REB AST STL BLK PTS
    2012 actual 44.8 70.2 0.0 10.9 1.6 1.5 1.2 18.1
    2013 proj. 45.8 70.2 0.0 11.1 1.7 1.6 1.3 19.9
    Player Y FG% FT% 3PM REB AST STL BLK PTS
    2011 actual 50.3 75.8 0.1 12.1 2.2 0.8 0.3 20.1
    2013 proj. 49.0 73.7 0.1 10.5 1.9 0.8 0.3 17.1

     

    I had to go back to 2011 for Player Y because he missed the vast majority of last year with an early injury. Maybe that's why he's rated so low, but he's healthy and ready to produce again.

    Player X provides better steals and blocking, but do you really draft power forwards for steals? It's a bonus, but you can snatch a sneaky guard like Kemba Walker for that. As for blocks, toss in Samuel Dalembert!

    Player X is DeMarcus Cousins (15th overall, $41). He's going to have a great NBA career, but unless you're drafting for a dynasty, you've got a great dark horse in Player Y.

    Player Y is Zach Randolph (68th overall, $7). He doesn't do much in the way of steals and blocks and never has, but he's literally a fraction of the cost of most power forwards!

Center

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    Player X FG% FT% REB AST BLK PTS
    2011 actual 49.2 78.7 5.9 1.6 1.5 20.4
    2013 proj. 50.5 79.5 7.9 1.8 1.7 19.9
    Player Y FG% FT% REB AST BLK PTS
    2012 actual 49.2 77.4 9.6 2.2 1.7 19.2
    2013 proj. 49.4 75.0 9.5 2.0 1.7 18.5

     

    Once again, we have a player that missed most of the 2011-2012 season, so we had to go back a couple seasons for his stats. Player X leaves a lot to be desired in the way of rebounds, but otherwise, he's every bit as good as Player Y.

    Player X is rated 74th overall and costs $6, while Player Y is 10th overall and costs $50, both second among centers behind only Dwight Howard. How are the stats so close but the prices so different?

    Player X is Brook Lopez, an understated center who now plays on a juggernaut in Brooklyn. If Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace can give him some rebounding pointers, Lopez could end up as a top five center.

    Player Y is Al Jefferson, a well-respected, steady player. I feel comfortable with Jefferson as my starter, but clearly, you pay for that comfort.