Using Early Yahoo ADP & Rankings to Your Advantage (21-22 Fantasy Basketball)
The NBA season doesn’t get underway until October 19, but if you’re itching to draft, you can take full advantage of Yahoo’s fantasy basketball ADP. Because player values have yet to catch up with general consensus and available data, there are plenty of guys who are being highly overvalued and many more who are being slept on.
In this piece, I’m going to highlight players from each of the top-10 rounds who are values or fades at current ADP. I’ll close the article with some general strategy for building a winning team in early Yahoo drafts and dunking on the competition.
Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN) ADP 9.1
It’s been a rough couple of years for Towns, who has appeared in just 85 games over the last two seasons. Despite injuries and family tragedy, KAT still averaged at least 24/10/4 with one at least two triples and one steal in that span. As long as he’s healthy, the big man is a strong contender for a top-5 finish given his ability to score, rebound, shoot efficiently, and fire from beyond the arc. If you can land him at the end of the first round, you’ve got yourself a value.
LeBron James (LAL) ADP 11.8
It’s tough to rank James inside the first round, even after he put up 25/7/7 last season, but it’s clear the move to add Russell Westbrook was a calculated effort to let James take some games off or at least alleviate some of his workload while on the court. He’s fine as an end-of-the-second-round guy based on his track record of elite production, but I can’t see him providing much more than that in his 19th season. There are much better picks this early in your fantasy drafts.
Paul George (LAC) ADP 18.9
Playoff P impressed last postseason, leading the Clippers past the top-seeded Jazz without Kawhi Leonard. With Leonard expected to be out through at least the All-Star Break, expect PG13 to take on a high usage rate and contribute significantly across most categories. His only true deficiency is in blocks, but you can certainly build your team with a punt-block strategy in mind. He’s a borderline top-5 player who’s going in the early-to-mid second round, making him quite a value.
Julius Randle (NYK) ADP 21.3
Randle led the Knicks in scoring, rebounds, and assists last season with a 24/10/6 line that earned him Most Improved Player honors. New York added Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier in the offseason to help ease the load, and Mitchell Robinson is expected to be healthy to start the season. That could lead to a decline in the aforementioned scoring, rebound, and assist totals that made him such a dominant fantasy force a season ago.
Jimmy Butler (MIA) ADP 25.4
Fresh off signing a max extension, Butler will look to continue his strong play in Miami this season. He averaged 21/7/7 last season with 2.1 steals and just 2.1 turnovers. In two seasons with the Heat, he’s averaged 6.8 boards and 6.5 dimes. While the assist numbers will likely take a hit with Kyle Lowry on the roster, Butler shouldn’t fall off enough in that category to drop outside the second round of drafts. He’s not a three-point shooter, but he’ll provide strong contributions nearly everywhere else, including elite steal totals.
Kawhi Leonard (LAC) ADP 26.8
After undergoing surgery to repair a torn ACL, Leonard is out until at least the All-Star Break, though no definitive timetable has been given for his return. He’s a risky pick in the later rounds of fantasy drafts and should only be taken if you have multiple IR spots in which to stash him. Even thinking of selecting him in the early third round of fantasy drafts is a disastrous move. If you’re playing with league mates who haven’t stayed up-to-date on injuries, or someone is forced to auto-draft, you could see Leonard selected this early and reap the benefits of dodging that bullet.
Jrue Holiday (MIL) ADP 42.6
Holiday played an integral part in the Bucks’ championship last season, and his role should remain the same in ’21-22 as a floor general of one of the league’s best offenses who can stuff the stat sheet on a nightly basis. He averaged 17/6/4 a season ago, contributing 1.9 triples and 1.6 steals while shooting better than 50% from the floor. He’s an easy pick in Round 4 if he’s still on the board.
Ja Morant (MEM) ADP 38.8
Morant made negligible improvements in points, assists, and rebounds in his second season, though he took noticeable steps back in shooting, which resulted in a disappointing season for fantasy managers. If Morant can improve his efficiency in 21-22, he could be a top-50 guy, but Memphis’ crowded backcourt ensures that this will likely be his ceiling moving forward. Spending an early third-round pick on Morant and gambling on a ridiculous improvement in efficiency is not a recommended strategy.
Lonzo Ball (CHI) ADP 59.1
Ball took a leap forward as a shooter last season, nailing a career-best 3.1 triples per game to go with his well-rounded averages. Ball is an effective rebounder and facilitator capable of posting triple-doubles any time he takes the floor. As long as he can maintain his elite long-range shooting with Chicago, he’s got a chance for top-50 numbers, leading and distributing to an offense of capable scorers.
Ben Simmons (PHI) ADP 52.5
After an embarrassing performance in Philly’s second-round loss and tumultous offseason, Simmons’ stock is in the toilet. Still, it’s tough to entirely fade a PG who racks up rebounds, assists, and steals in droves. Simmons’ knocks are the same as they ever were, and his value takes a hit thanks to poor FT% and the complete absence of a long-range game. It’s tough to pin down his value until we find out where he’s playing next season, so for now, he should be viewed as a risk/reward pick in the eighth or ninth round. His fifth-round ADP is completely laughable.
Richaun Holmes (SAC) ADP 61.0
Holmes parlayed his career 2020-21 season into a four-year extension in the offseason, and there’s no reason to believe he can’t post similar numbers in ’21-22. The big man provides fantasy managers with solid scoring and rebounding, elite FG% and blocks, and few turnovers. Taking him in the late-third or early-fourth rounds wouldn’t be a reach at all, but landing him three to four rounds later is an absolute bargain.
OG Anunoby (TOR) ADP 63.6
Anunoby posted career highs in points (15.9), rebounds (5.5), assists, (2.2), steals (1.5), and threes (2.4) while shooting 48/39/78 splits. He’s taken major steps forward and developed a well-rounded and efficient game that’s perfect for 9-cat fantasy leagues. Pascal Siakam will likely be out to start the season, boosting Anunoby’s value even further. Expect top-40 numbers at a severely-discounted price.
Jamal Murray (DEN) ADP 63.7
We know what Murray can do when healthy, but after tearing his ACL in April, it’s unclear when or if we’ll see him this season. He’s not someone to spend a premium pick on in fantasy drafts. Based on current Yahoo ADP, Murray is flying off the board in the sixth round. That’s a problem for someone else in your league to manage.
Robert Williams (BOS) ADP 79.6
Time Lord was a huge fantasy pickup last season, and his strong play earned him a four-year extension with the C’s. After sharing time in a crowded frontcourt rotation last season, he looks like the bona fide starter, which should be a boon to his fantasy value. Health has been a problem for him throughout his career, but as long as he can stay on the court, receive minutes in the mid-to-high 20’s, and improve his poor shooting from the charity stripe, he could be a third-round value thanks to strong rebounding, FG%, and blocks. His current ADP is nowhere close to his ceiling, so take advantage while you can.
Klay Thompson (GSW) ADP 74.8
Thompson hasn’t played since 2018-19 due to a torn ACL and torn Achilles. He’s targeting a return on Christmas, but it’s unclear how much he’ll play when he returns and how much rust he’ll have to knock off. He’s worth a late-round gamble if you have a vacant IR spot, but there’s absolutely no reason to target him in the seventh round. That’s setting your team up for failure right off the bat.
Bogdan Bogdanovic (ATL) ADP 85.5
Bogdanovic was huge for Atlanta when Trae Young was out, and he played well alongside Young as well. Over the final 29 games of the regular season, Bogi averaged 20.4 points, 3.9 dimes, 3.8 boards, 1.5 steals, and just 1.3 turnovers while shooting 50/48/90 splits and chipping in 4.1 triples. That elite production was good for first-round value for large stretches of that span. He be a huge value to fantasy managers if he remains healthy for the entire season, offering strong numbers in points and triples while contributing useful peripheral stats as well. He’s one of the best values in fantasy drafts right now based on the comically-low ADP.
Derrick White (SAS) ADP 88.5
White came into his own as a three-point shooter last season, notching career highs in threes attempted, threes made, and three-point percentage. That lead to a spike in scoring to go along with quality contributions in the peripheral categories. Most notably, he averaged a block per game from the guard position – one of just three players with that positional eligibility to do so. With DeMar DeRozan gone, White could see his minutes, production, and fantasy value shoot up. He’s got top-50 upside at a top-90 ADP. That’s the definition of a draft-day steal.
RJ Barrett (NYK) ADP 89.8
Barrett ranked 154 in per-game fantasy value and 102 in total fantasy value last season in large part due to his poor shooting and lack of defensive stats. He’ll need to take another step forward in efficiency if he hopes to be fantasy relevant on a team that just added Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier to contribute on offense. Barrett’s primary value to this point in his career has been points, and a decrease in volume doesn’t bode well for a career 42/68/35 shooter.
Isaiah Stewart (DET) ADP 103.0
The All-Rookie selection averaged an impressive 13.3 points, 11.2 boards, and 2.1 blocks per-36-minutes in his inaugural campaign, and with Mason Plumlee off to Charlotte, Stewart should be in line for an expanded role in his second season. The arrival of Kelly Olynyk complicates things, but Stewart should see a significant uptick in the 21.8 minutes he averaged as a rookie. He’s got top-60 potential and is currently going outside the top-100.
Lauri Markkanen (CLE) ADP 97.0
It’s tough to know how Cleveland will dole out its frontcourt minutes, but Markkanen will have to compete with Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen for playing time. Markkanen is an interesting late-round flier due to his upside as a three-point shooter, but he remains a guy to target in the later rounds of drafts rather than inside the top-100. There are too many question marks right now.
Derrick Favors (OKC) ADP 112.2
Favors logged just over 15 minutes per game last season, but his per-36 averages were impressive: 12.8, 13.0, and 3.5 combined blocks/steals while shooting better than 63% from the floor. Al Horford had plenty of success in OKC when healthy and on the floor, and Favors could fill a similar role if the Thunder decide not to give Isaiah Roby a major role this season. Favors will likely be slept on, but he’s got a realistic path to top-80 numbers, assuming he gets 25 minutes a night.
Steven Adams (MEM) ADP 108.6
Adams had a disastrous 2020-21, averaging 7.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 1.6 combined blocks/steals while shooting just 44.4% from the charity stripe. Though he turned in one of the worst seasons of his career, Adams could bounce back in Memphis, where he’s likely to start at center for the Grizz. Given his track record, he’s worth a late-round flier, though expecting much more than late-round production is taking a leap of faith. The Grizzlies could opt to play Jaren Jackson at center, where he could stretch the floor as a three-point shooter – something that’s not a part of Adams’ game.
- Use your own rankings – you’d be surprised how many of your league mates will rely on Yahoo’s default rankings and data to make split-second draft decisions. Guys like Jonathan Isaac won’t even show up on the “best available” list in a standard, 12-team draft because he’s so far down the default rankings.
- Monitor injuries – guys like Pascal Siakam, Jamal Murray, and Klay Thompson won’t be available for their respective season-openers. Understand the risk that’s baked into drafting them.
- Take the best player available! It may sound like an obvious idea, but don’t let a planned punt-build strategy keep you from drafting the best player available, especially if you’re able to get some screaming values (you will be). Post-draft trades are totally fine.
- Go for upside in the later rounds – this is true for fantasy drafts of any sport, but target players with league-winning upside at the end of drafts. You can’t play everyone on your bench every week, so why not fill that bench with the highest-upside picks?
- Draft early, draft often – as mentioned above, Yahoo’s rankings and ADP data are going to be re-shaped throughout the offseason, so take advantage of some wild discrepancies now!